Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Esquire Cartoon Album

Bob Mankoff retired from his Cartoon Editor post at The New Yorker at the end of last month, and on Monday, May 1, 2017, Esquire Magazine announced he would be their Cartoon and Humor Editor.

Here's a look at some of the history of Esquire cartoons, and its surprisingly diverse roster of outstanding cartoonists:

Some magazines, like Collier's and Look, fade away. Others, like Esquire magazine, change with the times. Once a major market for cartoons, Esquire is still published, but with no cartoons (for now).

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 Giambarba 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 drawing 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 known for her syndicated 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, Collier'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. Not that we are counting, but there are a number of female cartoonists represented already.



"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."

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, if he hitches up with this woman, going to be the look on his for life.


It was refreshing to see a non-white male cartoonist and several female cartoonists in a "best of" magazine collection whose audience was probably pretty darn white male.

-- Edited from a May 12, 2008 blog entry. 

1 comment:

Donald Benson said...

Got this one years ago; was once fairly easy to find in used book stores alongside the more plentiful New Yorker collections. Did Esquire put out any other hardbound volumes?

There was also an Esquire book of humor, which, if memory serves, included some cartoons and a more hostile than funny parody of MAD magazine.

Recall Esquire showing up as a gag in a few wartime animated cartoons. It was the racy but respectable magazine prior to Playboy, with Vargas girls instead of photographic pinups.