Saturday, February 24, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: A Night-Club Map of Harlem

Manhattan Magazine's first issue of January 18, 1933 is a real rarity, and its centerfold is a gorgeous map of Prohibition Era Harlem created by African-American illustrator E. Simms Campbell. The map was published again in the brand new men's magazine Esquire nine months later. In 2011, Swann Galleries offered a copy of the original centerfold from Manhattan Magazine with a presale estimate of $600-$800. Just look at how well it did in the sale!

E. Simms Cambell
A Night-Club Map of Harlem
Manhattan Magazine, January 18, 1922



E. Simms Campbell
Swann Auction Galleries, Sale 2239, Printed & Manuscript African Americana, Lot 407
Hammer Price, March 10, 2011





Drawn in 1932 and published early in 1933 in the first issue of Manhattan Magazine, E. Simms Campbell's original A Night-Club Map of Harlem is an iconic memento of the Prohibition Era and the Harlem Renaissance. When the original artwork was offered for sale at Swann Galleries in 2016, the auction house noted the incorrect use of the word engraved in the lower right-hand corner. Perhaps this is a nod to John Held, Jr., who used the word frequently in this manner on his imitation woodblock prints in The New Yorker and elsewhere. 


E. Simms Cambell
A Night-Club Map of Harlem, 1932
Original art

E. Simms Cambell
A Night-Club Map of Harlem, 1932
Original framed art


E. Simms Campbell
Swann Auction Galleries, Sale 2408, Printed & Manuscript African Americana, Lot 415
Hammer Price, March 31, 2016





The original 1932 artwork was shown at the Smithsonian in 1996 according to Mike Thibault, whose detailed photograph of the slightly cropped printed map is posted on flickr.
E. Simms Cambell
A Night-Club Map of Harlem
flickr photo by Mike_Thibault




Note:  Mike Thibault has posted some additional close-ups of the original map artwork from Swann Galleries on facebook here.

The original artwork was acquired by Yale's Beinecke Library. Read the announcement here.

Attempted Bloggery continues to examine the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). I am looking for scans or photographs of original Campbell art or of obscure published works.
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Friday, February 23, 2018

E. Simms Campbell and Abner Dean in Esquire, January 1936

The Dionne quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934 in Canada. Their birth and development became an ongoing news story. E. Simms Campbell's color cartoon for Esquire's January 1936 issue is a rare instance of the African-American artist depicting members of a black family. The cartoon features the mother, surrounded by her own numerous children, commenting on the news item with what is supposed to be  a clever quip. The caption is written in some unfortunate dialect.


E. Simms Campbell
"All dat fuss ovah jes five babies[.]"
Esquire, 
January 1936, page 79

Detail

E. Simms Campbell's signature and the printed caption


On the other side of the page is a beautiful but cryptic winter cartoon by Abner Dean. A man standing on a Manhattan balcony during a snowstorm wears a top hat and carries what seems to be a bag. He is saying, "Oh well—I might as well go in and take it!" Take what?
Abner Dean
"Oh well—I might as well go in and take it!"
Esquire,
January 1936, page 80

Note:  If you have any idea what's going on in the Abner Dean gag, please explain it to me. I just don't get it.

Meanwhile Attempted Bloggery will continue to look at the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). I seek scans or photographs of original art or obscure published works that will help to shed light on this artist.
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Thursday, February 22, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: Just Married

A groom on his wedding night discovers a bit more about his wife's past than he wishes to know in what is very likely a syndicated newspaper panel cartoon from the very first year of E. Simms Campbell's Cuties. As pointed out by Swann Galleries, which sold the original 1940 art in 2004 for twice the $1500 high estimate, it is actually quite unusual for this African American artist to depict an African American couple. Campbell goes out of his way to pose the bride alluringly, even as she takes in what has just happened.

E. Simms Campbell
"W-W-What's this[?]—'To the one and only Mable from the red caps of Grand Central Station!'"
Original art, 1940
Cuties[?]

E. Simms Campbell
Swann Galleries, Sale 1998, Printed & Manuscript African Americana, Lot 62
Hammer Price, February 26, 2004







Note:  Attempted Bloggery continues to examine the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). I seek readers' scans or photos of original Campbell art or rare published works new to the internet.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

E. Simm's Campbell: No Credit at the Harem

Cartoonist E. Simms Campbell created his famous "Harem Girls" for the first issue of Esquire  in 1933 and over the years they remained very popular with readers. Later he brought the concept over to Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine. In January 1962, we learn why it's important to keep one's account at the harem in good standing. It perhaps isn't terribly funny, but the sultan's financial situation may be relatable to anyone who has ever fallen behind on payments for more mundane items, and very likely the gag is meant to be more looked at than laughed at anyway. The strategically-placed flowers tell us that in 1962 Playboy was still leaving something to the imagination, although perhaps less than Esquire.

E. Simms Campbell
"I'm terribly sorry, your majesty—but you haven't paid for those last girls."

Original art
Playboy, January 1962, page 141



E. Simms Campbell
Christie's Sale 2367, The Year of the Rabbit:  The Playboy Collection, Lot 26

New York, December 8, 2010




Note:  Now comes the reckoning! Attempted Bloggery is looking at the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). I seek scans or photographs from readers of original Campbell art or rare published works not already available on internet.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: What's Good Enough for Dear Old Charlie

Why have a caption if the speaker is otherwise engaged and can't possibly say it? E. Simms Campbell's cartoon from the October 1961 issue of Playboy contains a lengthy block of caption that is unsayable under the circumstances depicted until this couple comes up for air. It would also be an incredibly foolish thing to say, reminding an adulteress of her spouse's goodness. The magazine's message, apparently, is that the girl next door is attractive and available, regardless of her marital status. The perspective here seems a bit troubling, particularly of that oddly-tilted lunette meant to frame the couple's heads and the inexplicably-curved base of the wall below it. Most likely none of this mattered to dear old Hugh Hefner or the Playboy reader.


E. Simms Campbell
"You're my best friend's wife—and what's good enough for dear old Charlie is good enough for me."

Original art
Playboy, October 1961, page 76
E. Simms Campbell
Christie's Sale 2367, The Year of the Rabbit:  The Playboy Collection, Lot 29

New York, December 8, 2010



Note:  Attempted Bloggery is looking at the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). I seek scans or photographs from readers and their best friends' wives of original Campbell art or rare published works not already available on the internet.
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Monday, February 19, 2018

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #604

Hold still for my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #604 for February 12, 2018. The cave drawing is by Mick Stevens.

"Now give me a funny caption."


In the lingo of Walt Kelly, these were prehysterical:
"No one likes a critic."
"Now pretend you're charging at me."




Note:  Last time, cartoonist John Klossner took us to a top-tier restaurant. My caption was not even on the menu. Allow me to show you to your table in Contest #603.

You can see more of the primitive art of Mick Stevens here in the blog archives.

Attempted Bloggery supports net neutrality.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: Surprise!

Lucky for us, it seems as if every time a young woman pops out of a cake, there's a cartoonist on hand to record the proceedings. E. Simms Campbell's cartoon from the April 1961 issue of Playboy pokes fun at the one club member who has good reason to be upset. The men's faces say it all here with their appreciative ogling. Even the men in the foreground whose faces are hidden from us are shown to be giving the performance their rapt and expert attention. The woman's face, on the other hand, is not seen; her personality is not discernible but her improbable proportions are. All we are meant to know about her is that she is giving the men, save one—and presumably the magazine's readers—what they want. 

E. Simms Campbell
"My wife!"

Original art
Playboy, April 1961, page 139

E. Simms Campbell
Christie's Sale 2367, The Year of the Rabbit:  The Playboy Collection, Lot 28

New York, December 8, 2010


Note:  Surprise! Attempted Bloggery is looking at the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). I seek reader scans or photographs of original Campbell art or rare published works not already available on the internet.
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: Life Net Leering

Even pin-up girls need to be rescued sometimes. An original Playboy cartoon from 1962 by E. Simms Campbell shows a firefighter taking advantage of what ordinarily would be considered a life-threatening situation but is not presented as a danger to anything but the woman's modesty. Cartoons of this sort attempt to make us co-conspirators in a preposterously elaborate scenario concocted for the sole purpose of allowing us to leer at an attractive woman. At the same time, we are dared to imagine the view the firefighter on the left must have. The tone is meant to be playful and the message  to men is meant to be reassuring: "We enjoy looking at what you enjoy looking at." It has been repeated time and time again in countless men's magazines and pin-up calendars. 

E. Simms Campbell
"Wow....let's toss her up a few more times!"

Original art
Playboy, March 1962, page 61

E. Simms Campbell
Christie's Sale 2367, The Year of the Rabbit:  The Playboy Collection, Lot 30

New York, December 8, 2010


Things haven't changed all that much in the last 200 years.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard
The Swing, c. 1767
The Wallace Collection, London



Note:  Let's keep looking at the art of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). Attempted Bloggery seeks scans or photographs of original Campbell art or rare published works new to the internet.
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Friday, February 16, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: The Flaming Gourmet

What strikes me about E. Simms Campbell's cartoon for the July 1961 Playboy is how it tries to be sexy even though the gag doesn't require it. The redheaded woman in the low-cut gown is statuesque and imposing, standing a full head taller than her husband, perhaps a full chef's hat taller. Despite the height difference, her criticism is rightly intended to put him down further than nature already has. I think there's a deliberately unspoken idea here which goes beyond the cartoon to the message of the magazine, ensuring even the diminutive, ne'er-do-well male reader that there's a tall, curvy woman available for him despite his all-too-apparent shortcomings.

E. Simms Campbell
"You...and your flaming gourmet dishes!"

Original art
Playboy, July 1961, page 71







E. Simms Campbell
Christie's Sale 2367, The Year of the Rabbit:  The Playboy Collection, Lot 27

New York, December 8, 2010





Note:  It's time for us to explore the art of E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971), a leading African-American cartoonist. Attempted Bloggery seeks scans or photographs of original Campbell art or obscure published works.


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