Monday, 26 July 2010

The last one is the least convincing.

Hello, sorry for the silence. It's likely to continue for a while longer, though, because I am on holiday, and there is very little Internet. However, I know you're desperate to learn what sort of things Sri Lankan taxi-drivers have written on the canopy of their tuk-tuks, so here are a few.

Still waters run deep.
I love and trust you.
Don't think too much.
Out of debt out of death.
Honesty is the best policy.
New grade dragon power.
I love you but please don't kiss me.
Fully insured.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The cartoon critic.

One of the many terrific books by James Thurber is 'The Years With Ross', an account of his experiences of the early days of the New Yorker magazine, and in particular its eccentric, energetic, unpredictable founder and editor, Harold Ross.

Ross was deeply involved in every aspect of the magazine (except perhaps the financial), including scrutinising the submitted cartoons every Tuesday, pin-pointing weaknesses with a white knitting needle. Thurber says:

'I was on hand when he pointed his needle at a butler in a Thanksgiving cover depicting a Park Avenue family at table, and snarled 'That isn't a butler, it's a banker.' Suddenly, the figure was, to all of us, a banker in disguise, and Ross dictated a note asking the artist 'to make a real butler out of this fellow.'

On another occasion he stared at a picture of Model T driving down a dusty road for two minutes, before saying 'Take this down, Miss Terry. Better dust.'

It was Ross who decided, though not without misgivings, to publish not just Thurber's brilliant articles and short stories, but also his equally brilliant but untrained and elliptical cartoons, such as this one:

Of course, this sort of naif style looks perfectly normal to us, but in those days of the elegant draftsmanship of Peter Arno or Charles Addams it was rather shocking. According to Thurber, one angry artist:

'...yelled at Ross one day during the thirties, 'Why do you reject drawings of mine and print stuff by that fifth-rate artist Thurber?'
'Third-rate,' said Ross, coming promptly and bravely to the defence of my stature as an artist and his own reputation as an editor.

Elsewhere, Thurber quotes E.B.White, on finding Thurber trying his hand at the more usual elaborate cross-hatching style of cartooning: 'Don't do that. If you ever got good you'd be mediocre.'

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Right here, right Now.

Sorry, seems like I'm always plugging stuff these days. This should be the last one for a while, though: I co-hosted The Now Show again this week,  and if you don't believe me, then here's the proof.

See? Told you so. Or, if you prefer being made to listen to things at a specific time, it's on Radio 4 today at 12:30.