Monday, May 12, 2008

Esquire Cartoon Album

Some magazines, like Collier's and Look, fade away. Others, like Esquire, change with the times. Once a major market for cartoons, Esquire troops on today, with no cartoons.

today, I'm showcasing a few cartoons from the old Esquire magazine as reprinted in ESQUIRE CARTOON ALBUM, © 1933 - 1957 by Esquire Inc.

"My other boss always gave me a raise when he got fresh — you just got fresh."

The cartoons range in age from the 1930s to the 1950s. By her bobbed hair and his attire, the above cartoon looks like one of the older ones. I like her playing with her hands on her knees. I can't make out the signature of the cartoonist.

"No, no Miss Balcom — this model buttons up the back!"

By now, you're beginning to get the idea: high end drawings coupled with the NYC fashion/business/partying lifestyle. Gilbert Bundy drew this with the touch of a commercial illustrator. Paul Giambara writes about Bundy here.

Above E. Simms Campbell, one of my favorites. He was one of the few people of color whose talent plowed the way. Simms was a very successful cartoonist whose work appeared everywhere. Esquire signed him to a big contract and his work appeared in every issue from 1933 to 1958. More information at The Pioneering Artists of Color site.

"When I'm reasoning with you, you shut up!"

Above: the one and only Sid Hoff contributes a big wife v. little hubby cartoon. I like the fellow's lightbulb-shaped head.

"The liquor has run out, sir!"

Gregory D'Alessio with a lovely drawing. The book designers for some reason spotted some of the cartoons with color -- or rather, blotched the whole thing in a block of color. Robin's egg blue is pretty, but unnecessary. It doesn't add anything. Mr. D'Alessio was married to Hilda Terry, another cartoonist, who may be best know for her feature TEENA.

"O.K. Rembrandt — where the hell's our planes!"

Dorothy McKay (née Jones) with a wonderful expression on the painter's face. Her cartoons can also be seen in the old Life magazine, Colleier's, New Yorker and others. She was originally from San Francisco, and studied at the California School of Fine Arts before moving to New York City.

"How do you suppose they hang on upside down?"

Above: you begin to see that some of the cartoons are pretty wacky -- not only in subject matter and point of view -- but in coloring as well. Robert J. Lee was a precursor to Gary Larson.

"Now that was what I call a skirt sale."

Esquire was then and is now -- never short on the cheesecake. Jean Van Saun shows a masterly touch at the feminine figure, and packs in a lot of character, in this one.

"Say the words that will make me the happiest man in the world — say you'll be mine, Mr. Swejckowski, for $62.50 plus overtime."

Ahh. Life before NAFTA and China! Ned Hilton (Doesn't he have a cool signature?) with an accomplished line drawing of our polish-named blue collar worker getting begged by Mr. Capitalist.

I love Hilton's ink line.

"I pass."

Another lower class/upper class cartoon. This time, it's a good gag about urban life. I think the signature is of Irving Phillips, but I can't be sure.
"That's what I love about a big city — everybody minds their own business!"

Prolific cartoonist Henry Boltinoff shows that he can do the ink and wash magazine gag style as good as the rest of 'em.

"Of course I can live on $1000 a month — but what will you live on?"

Above: Barbara Shermund has a wonderful sense of color. The daffy-looking blonde seems pretty savvy. The befuddled look on the face of our man there is going to be his look for life.

It was refreshing to see plenty of non-white male cartoonists in a magazine whose audience was probably pretty darn white.


Nancy said...

Not to mention female cartoonists. Esquire must have had a very good editor, who hired for talent and not for looks.

Mike Lynch said...

Touche, Nancy!

Anonymous said...

Neat stuff! Love these old cartoons.