Thursday, April 03, 2008

HONEY I'M HOME! edited by Marione R. Nickles

Above: Frank O'Neal draws a sit-com-like gag for the cover of HONEY I'M HOME. I don't know what those blue shapes are, but they pretty much get in the way of the graphic to today's design sensibilities.

Here is a small sampler from a collection of Saturday Evening Post cartoons culled from HONEY I'M HOME!, a Bantam Books paperback edited by Marione R. Nickles, copyright 1954 by E.P. Dutton and Company, Inc.

Above: the dedication. Ms. Nickles employs a Syverson-drawn little guy to point at YOU!

Fred Levinson draws a subtly masterful cartoon. The black pants draw our eye to the whole point of the gag. The doctor's office is suggested by a cabinet, one bottle with a medical cross on it, and a half-hidden stethoscope. Effective and minimalist. What struck me as odd is that these 2 fellows have the same hair and mustache -- something I didn't notice until maybe the third time I looked at it.

An early Joe Farris cartoon. No words. The boy's effective expression telegraphs all that we need to know -- and seals the gag. Joe is still cartooning, still working in the NYC area. I've recently seen his work in The Funny Times.
Pete Wyma shows us that you can take the husband out of the tavern, but you can't take the tavern out of the husband. Look at how adeptly Wyma shows those toes through the split shoes.

Clyde Lamb draws a snappy cartoon line here. Aside: I was in Pittsburgh over the weekend and was surprised that people can still smoke in restaurants there. The time's are a-changin'.

Even in the early years of his MARMADUKE newspaper panel, Brad Anderson was contributing to the gag cartoon market. I like the economy of the bicycle wheel spokes.

Lem Grier with a wordless and universal cartoon that's less about fishing and more about crummy human nature.

The one and only Mort Walker shows us an early women's rights cartoon. The TV is more important than the traditional roles of family! This cartoon would sell today.

Above is one of the top cartoon cliches, and I'll be darned if Clyde Lamb didn't come up with a new and funny take on the idea. Related: My friend Roy Delgado bemoans the lack of good cannibal cartoons in today's market. I would agree with my Italian cartoonist colleague if only he would stop making fun of the Irish!

An early Henry Boltinoff cartoon. We looked at dozens and dozens of houses before buying one this past summer. If this were a print, I'd buy it.
The angry husband at breakfast. I thought that Stan Hunt's gag was maybe a bit shopworn, but look at his lines: even the individual plates and casually placed utensils are shown. Just a lovely bit of clean line drawing.

Bo Brown with a good dowagers-in-a-meeting gag. I don't think there are many dowagers-in-meetings gags now, but back in the day, they were a genre, perhaps best remembered in New Yorker drawings by Helen Hokinson. Here's a bit of her bio from the Mendota Museum (Mendota, IL) site:

"Her drawings for The New Yorker featured plump well-to-do club women who wore high heeled shoes and were conscious of hats, fashions, caring for pets, and gardens. After a time she became fearful people were laughing at rather than with the buxom, strong minded but occasionally befuddled women whom she had stamped as her own, and launched a crusade to defend and explain them.

"Helen Hokinson published several books of her own cartoons: So You're Going to Buy a Book in 1931, My Best Girls in 1941, and in 1948 her last book, When Were You Built? The Hokinson estate published: The Ladies, God Bless Them in 1950, There Are Ladies Present in 1952, and The Hokinson Festival in 1956."

A wordless smoking gag from Jerry Marcus. I really like the expressions in their eyes, and the fellow's puckered lips. This move is obviously leading (just look at her dreamy expression) to an effective acquisition of "first base;" but perhaps he will take a moment to suck on a breath mint before the maneuver begins.
Another cannibal cartoon by Herbert Goldberg. This is the first time I've seen cannibals wearing polka-dotted skirts, but it doesn't detract from the cartoon. I like the woman's expression of disgust in her ineffectual, stating-the-obvious new spouse.

A wonderful bit of dark humor that's very funny and perhaps would make today's editors too squeamish. I can't make out the signature, but just look at all the toys and dishes and gloppy food on the floor and the wall.

I worked in an office and anyone who's ever worked in an office learns never to speak your mind. This is what obviously happened here in Brad Anderson's cartoon. Interesting how if you just add a computer monitor to each desk, this would be updated for the 21st century.
Dick Cavalli with a slob chef and a snob chef, finding common ground. Look at how much he draws to give you an absolute feeling of where you are: the sidewalk, the awning, five tables, three patrons, and the two chefs.

I looked at the drawing, read the punchline, and then had to look back at the drawing before i got this -- one of the strongest gags in the collection, drawn by Gallagher. Great details: the quivering feet and the tongue lolling out.

Ted Key shows us what a master cartoonist can do: make a so-so gag into a very funny gag by drawing what may be the wobbliest baby ever. Look at those squiggly lines! Another really funny gag, made that way by Mr. Key's drawing.

I like Irwin Caplan's line work. It's crisp and very readable. And a great Margaret Dumont-like dowager!

Another kinda obvious gag, but Peter V____ (I can't make out that last name!) draws some cartoony exaggeration and -- voila! -- we have a decent cartoon about human behavior. The half a table and the half a door bracketing the cartoon shows us that we are in a waiting room in an economical way.


Steven Rowe said...

I'm amused by your comment on that being an "early" Henry Boltinoff cartoon. When did Boltinoff start cartooning - he's everywhere in the magazines of the very early 1940s - I think I've seen him in late 1930s - did he start then? or earlier?

Eli Stein said...

Glad to help you out with a couple of cartoonists' names, Mike.
The "I gave him away!" cartoonist is Sivic, which I believe was the pen name of Sid Gordin. Sivic was very widely published in those days.
The "Would you rather I didn't smoke?" cartoonist is Peter Vatsures.
Sorry I can't give you any more info on these two guys, but maybe your other readers can help.

Mike Lynch said...

Orlando Busino emailed some more information:


The "Would you rather I didn't smoke?" cartoon was drawn by Peter Vatsures.

The "I gave him away." was drawn by Sid Gordin. Sid produced his cartoons with his wife whose name I believe was Vicky ... hence the signature "Sivic."

My continued thanks to Orlando for his help on straightening out some of the unwritten history of gag cartoonists! You are the greatest!

Roy Delgado said...

Hey Bob . . I remember the Clyde Lamb cannibal cartoon when it was published! The cannibal using the word 'kindling' ! What a funny word coming out of a cannibal's mouth . . priceless !

Mike Lynch said...

Steven: Touche! You are correct. Boltinoff was cartooning by the 1930s, and worked for National Periodical Publications (DC Comics) for many decades beginning in 1940. Despite a steady load of comic book work, he did do a lot of magazine gag cartooning and syndicated newspaper comic work.

I remember him from the long-running syndicated cartoon panel "Hocus Focus," where you would have 2 similar drawings and have to find the "10 differences between the drawings." Those, as well as his DC filler work, were drawn in a clean line style. I had never seen Boltinoff's gag cartoons of that period, drawn in a more pillowy line, and I've never seen him handle wash before.

Unknown said...

I'm glad I came across your site. I was cleaning out my spare bedroom when I found a hardcover book of "Honey I'm Home" cartoons from the Post. The book was published in 1954 by E.P. Dutton & Co. If you or any of your readers are interested in the book, please let me know as I moving soon, and this time I'm taking only what I really need. Please email me at or if interested and thank you for reading.

Michael Glenn Smith said...

I know Peter Vatsures! He is 80 years old and lives in Dallas. I just saw him a couple of weeks ago. He still paints, but now devotes most of his time to his music. He is also a musician and is currently putting together a series of delightful CDs that is just "cocktail music" of the 1950s and early 60s.