Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Peter Arno


Harry Lee Green presents another grand sampling of that epitome of gag cartoonists, The New Yorker's Peter Arno.

Like Harry, I have that giant COMPLETE CARTOON OF THE NEW YORKER book/CD-ROM set and, also like Harry, I've never looked at the CD-ROMs. I had heard that they are not indexed properly, as he states. That seems to defy common sense.

Anyway, above is the seminal Arno cartoon, the one along with the man in the shower cartoon, that gets reprinted over and over.

I wrote about Arno before (Peter Arno's Favorite Part) but would like to add that his composition and gray-spotting is wonderful to look at. The whole story (above) is there: we are on an airfield; plane just crashed -- we know this because men in foreground are running toward it; the pilot is safe. What tips the scales from a "good" to a "great" cartoon is the drawing of the designer, who dominates the foreground. The problem, that Arno solves here, is this: How do you draw a character who looks like the scientist behind the plane's construction? Arno's drawn him as a bookish, skinny, bespectacled sort with a blueprint.

That's a lot to take in in the requisite 4-5 seconds it takes to look at a gag cartoon. And Arno does it so well that it looks easy.

6 comments:

Paul Giambarba said...

Mike -- Don't neglect the CD-Rom. There are some great, no -- terrific -- cartoons hidden in the early years. Arno is my favorite, too.

Mike Lynch said...

Well, with your recommendation, I'll HAVE TO look at the CD-ROMs. Thanks for your comment, Paul.

Nelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nelson said...

This reminded me that just last week I found a fascinating book: Chas Addams - the life of a cartoonist.
It mentions Arno and other Addams contemporaries -- and includes numerous examples of Addams' wonderful cartoons.
I was surprised to learn what an interesting "private" life Addams had as well.

Paul Giambarba said...

Here are a few names to look out for in 1925-- Of course the early Peter Arno, Rea Irvin, Miguel Covarrubias, Eldon Kelley, Wilton Williams, Gilbert Wilkinson, Ralph Barton; in 1926 James Daugherty (who was cartoon editor for years), Barbara Shermund, Reginald Marsh, the brilliant Alice Harvey and Helen Hokinson, and more early Arno. The image resolution is mostly terrible. More's the pity.

Michael said...

Hi Mike,

I'm not sure why the Complete Cartoons DVD-ROM didn't work for Harry Green. The search feature works beautifully for me (I just went to it, typed in "back to the old drawing board" and the Arno drawing came up within seconds. I didn't even have to identify the drawing as belonging to Arno). The best quality -- besides, of course, looking at the original issues of the magazine -- can be found on the 8 discs accompanying The Complete New Yorker. As a bonus, you see the drawings exactly as they were published in the magazine. There are some glitches on the discs, indexing-wise, but they're minor.