Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The New Yorker

The first cover was by Rea Irvine, who invented the magazine's mascot, the "dandy," Eustace Tilley. The current cover is by Barry Blitt. Notice the newsstand prices--fifteen cents in 1925, $8.99 today.
Yesterday I wrote about Al Parker (the item below), one of the greatest magazine cover illustrators to ever wield a brush. I mentioned Parker's covers for The Ladies' Home Journal (now published eleven times a year) and the Saturday Evening Post (now published only six times a year). Both were once weekly magazines. Both have seen their readership and ad revenue decline in recent years due to television and the present day 24/7 news cycle. Newsweek ceased publication in 2012 (except in digital format). Look and Life bit the dust long before that. Of all the weekly news magazines launched in the 1920s, only two continue in their original form, Time, and The New Yorker (above). And of those, only one, The New Yorker, continues to predominantly use the illustrator's art on their covers.
Constantin Alajalov cover December 8, 1945, the year I was born. Notice that twenty years after its founding, The New Yorker was still only fifteen cents.
To be perfectly fair, comparing The New Yorker to all the others is somewhat unfair. The New Yorker always was, (until recently) a regional magazine in a very high revenue market, while all the others had the expenses of publishing, in some cases, on a world-wide scale. Today, several other cities in the U.S. have similar publications following The New Yorker model. So far as I know, each seems to be surviving, if not thriving. Almost from its start in February, 1925, The New Yorker has long been one of the most traditional and prestigious magazines, not just in the United States, but also in the rest of the world. Its covers have always been synonymous with efficiency when it comes to selling and enchanting. Many artists have contributed to this success, among them Art Spielgeman, Tomer Hanuka, Jacques de Loustal, Barry Blitt, Edward Sorel, Ilonka Karasz, and the almost mythical Arthur Getz, who contributed to the magazine for fifty years.
First Tracks, Feb 4, 2013, Birgit Schossow.
The New Yorker was originally established as a venue for now-legendary wits like Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and James Thurber. Unlike many of its publishing peers, the magazine went through only three editors in its first sixty-six years, during which time its unimpeachable literary standards and sophisticated cartoons claimed a unique place in the genteel culture of East Coast WASPs. In 1985 the mighty media giant S.I. Newhouse bought the magazine. Then in 1992 he handed its editorial reins to Tina Brown, the high-powered Briton who had famously salvaged and relaunched Vanity Fair in 1984. Many feared that Brown's celebrity and advertiser-friendly predilections would coarsen The New Yorker's tone. They were not reassured by the introduction of full-page photographs, ad-rich theme issues, and pious chronicles of the lives of media moguls. However, Brown, quickly raised The New Yorker's profile, circulation, and spending, laying claim to the irreverent spirit of the magazine's founder, Harold Ross.
The New Yorker cover is frequently a chronical of our changing times as drawn by Barry Blitt.

Suspicions of professional favor-trading between Brown and her husband, Random House head, Harry Evans, have often circulated, but the couple claims they are more prone to competition than collusion. When Tina Brown became the editor of The New Yorker, she hired Raw co-founder (and Art Spiegelman's wife) Françoise Mouly, as the new art director. The magazine soon became friendlier to comic strip artists, both European and American.
Instead of being tucked away on the inside pages, The New Yorker often displays the best of the cartoonist's art on its covers, as seen in Art Spielgeman's "tribute" to Mother's Day.
The New Yorker is a weekly magazine dedicated to ideas. It is timeless and immediate, energetic and thoughtful, serious and at the same time, funny. The publication is about good writing, a point of view, and a deeper understanding of the world. A typical issue of The New Yorker contains an eclectic mixture of political and business coverage, social commentary, fiction, humor, art, poetry, and criticism. Contributors to The New Yorker include both recognized talents of long-standing and newly discovered voices. Inspiration for The New Yorker covers, comes, for the most part, from three sources--national news events, celebrities aligned with regional arts happenings, and the gradual changes in American life (above), as seen by some of the best comic artists money can buy.
It's important to note the dates at the top of each cover. Some illustrations, such as these by Jacques de Loustal (above-top, and Ed Sorel (just above), seem well ahead of their times.
There are numerous examples of major news stories taking instant precedence over all other covers. I've chosen three, 9/11, the death of Osama bin Laden, and the stunning results of our most recent presidential election. The 9/11 cover (below)was created jointly by New Yorker art director, Françoise Mouly, and artist Art Spiegelman for the September 24, 2001 issue. Mouly repositioned Spiegelman's silhouettes, so that the North Tower's antenna broke the "W" of the magazine's logo. Spiegelman wanted to see the emptiness, and suggest the horrific image of all that disappeared on 9/11. The silhouetted Twin Towers were printed in a fifth, black ink, on a field of black made up of the standard four color printing inks. An overprinted clear varnish helps create the ghost images that linger through the blackness.
Artist, Ana Juan created the lower, commemorative, image.
Gürbüz Doğan Ekşioğlu woke up on Monday, May 16, 2011, at his home in Istanbul. He turned on the TV news, as was his daily habit. As soon as he found out that American forces had killed Osama bin Laden, Gürbüz began sketching. He noted later that Osama bin Laden was like a sketch that he did not like, so he erased him. That same day, his cover (below) was on newsstands around the world.
The Death of Osama bin Laden, 2011, by Turkish artist Gürbüz Doğan Ekşioğlu.
Not many people (myself included) were expecting the results of the 2016 presidential election. From all indications, that included the electoral college winner of the nationwide poll himself. Due to the fact that New York is the home of Hilary Clinton and, largely a Democratic blue state (especially New York City); and despite the fact that the city is, and was, the hometown of Donald J. Trump, virtually no one expected him to be elected President. Come the morning of November 9th, 2016, New Yorkers and the city's progressive establishment were nearly apoplectic. That probably included New Yorker cartoonist and frequent cover artist, Barry Blitt. In any case, his cartoon cover with its dark humor exquisitely captured the horror and dispair that gradually settled over the city--a sense of disbelief which lingers yet today.
Donald Trump turns New York on its ear.

April 11, 2016, Hanuka, Take the L Train


No comments:

Post a Comment