How to Guess Your Age
Gluyas Williams in Life magazine, 1924.
Largely fascinating to me because you so rarely see Williams in color. This is early enough in his career that the composition has little of the humorously detailed elegance he’d achieve later (in part under Rea Irvin’s art direction in the New Yorker), but that doesn’t mean the composition doesn’t work to convey meaning. The vast empty red space of the carpet pulsates from the center of the drawing, suggesting the suppressed violence separating each figure from every other. For a cozy domestic cartoon, there are emotionally savage undertones that are disquieting the longer you look at it — not a single person is grinning-and-bearing even under false bravado, as would normally be the case in a Gluyas Williams cartoon. Unhappiness, annoyance, and mutual dislike reign.
And we are back from our unintentional posting hiatus! More Gluyas Williams scans (I’m finishing those up today), this time from the Robert Benchley collection Chips off the Old Benchley, first published by Harper & Brothers in 1949, making it Benchley’s only posthumous collection on the list.
From Bed to Worse (Harper & Bros., 1934) gives us our second to last set of Gluyas Williams drawings, and a consistently fine set it is (aside from the scan quality, for which I totally take blame). I’m glad people seem to like these posts, so I think this place will become an archive for little odds and ends. Hope you enjoy whatever is to come!
Our final Williams illustrations come to us from Of All Things, first published in 1921, which means it serves as quite an interesting time capsule of his early style. Note the presence of panel borders, and the dense use of blacks which sometimes confound the figures with their surroundings, giving only a vague compositional suggestion. (Maybe it’s just a matter of taste for me, though, to think the big googly eyes don’t really work) It’s juvenalia, to be certain, but the fascinating historic kind, rather than marginal, and it serves to show an important lesson for the young artist: often, the only place you can see the need for improvement is on the printed page. Tomorrow: bizarre mid-career cartoons from William Steig!
Gluyas Williams, from Life magazine, September 1922. Love the control of the white space, and the clarity of solid black against line work of just one width. And his characters — so expressive, even though most of them have their backs to the viewer. Taken from this website, which has lots more to choose from.