Tuesday, July 15, 2008

THE OFFICE PARTY Drawings by Whitney Darrow, Jr.

One of the disappointments in the Mike Lynch Cartoons favorite gag cartoon cliche poll was seeing just how low down the gag totem pole the classic Boss Chasing Secretary gag was. OK, I guess it's not politically correct in 2008. But, back in its heyday, the book THE OFFICE PARTY must have been on the stands.

THE OFFICE PARTY is a hardcover book by Corey Ford, illustrated by Whitney Darrow, Jr. It was published by Doubleday in New York in 1951, and the copyright is 1951 for Mr. Darrow's illustrations, and 1950 and 1951 for Mr. Ford.

The conceit in the book, which I'm sure you all ready understand by the cover, is that 1950s white collar office workers act like crazed baboons at office parties. Their ids are outta control!

I'm sure that that TV show THE OFFICE would be higher rated if only they had a couple of office party scenes.

Above, old Mr. Murgatroyd dances in his boxer shorts. Look at the terrific figure of Murgatroyd; body swayed back, arms akimbo, and all looking so correctly balanced on his one tippy-toe foot.

Passion runs high in the office of Mr. Freem. Darrow's line work (or rather, brush work) is relaxed and solid. We get a swift sense of motion from the pitch forward of Mr. Freem's secretary, even though Darrow does not draw her legs. I like how the hands work: four manicured, nail polished fingers hold the paper -- but her right hand is a suggestion of the shape of a hand. And it all works just fine.

Above: one of my favorite drawings, with the ironic title "Just One Big Happy Family." It's still true of most offices over 50 years later. I keep looking at the liberal wash effect. Is it charcoal? Watercolor? Fingers smearing charcoal?

Sidebar about pro cartoonists: The nice thing about cartoonists is that they are friendly and there is no irony in the happy family scenario. For instance, cartoonists from the New Yorker, Mad Magazine, freelancers, editorial cartoonists, animators -- they all rub elbows at the annual Reubens, with no sense of a pecking order. Of course, alcohol helps the friendly atmosphere at the annual Reubens.

Bill W. could have set up a full-time Alcoholics Anonymous kiosk at one of these parties.

I find bottles difficult to draw. Darrow comes up with so many here that look correct. Nice little details: the corks on the table, the bubbling of the alcoholic punch as it becomes more than the sum of its parts, and the half-drunk evil scheming look in the wassail-mixing gentleman.

Above: Mr. Trench indulges in a little boss-chasing-secretary action. Look at those breezy action lines.

Above: now say this to yourself in a Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom voiceover: "At last we see the predator corner its prey, playing with it. All she can do is watch in anticipation now that the pursuit is over."

Above: You can tell who the boss is: he always has a mustache and a stogie and looks well fed. Lovely touch here: all four feet are floating above the ground.

And within minutes, Mr. Furbish & Miss O'Malley are live-blogged! A wonderful juxtaposition of expressions.

Above: Mr. Murgatroyd: the morning after!


Mark Anderson said...

I just ADORE Darrow. Like Day, he's another perfect cartoonist for me. Not a line out of place, nothing more than what's needed, seemingly thrown onto the page... WOW.

Gabriel said...

I've just seen you have linked my blog in this post. Thanks a lot, Mike!!