Cover art by Peter Arno, The New Yorker, October 27, 1928. © Condé Nast, 2012

The New Yorker: cover art by Peter Arno, October 27, 1928. © Condé Nast, 2012.

Peter Arno was a famous American cartoonist. His cartoons were published in The New Yorker from 1925 up until 1968. From the book The comic worlds of Peter Arno, William Steig, Charles Addams, and Saul Steinberg by Iain Topliss:

By that date [May 1930] Peter Arno (1904-1968) was the most celebrated and influential cartoonist working at The New Yorker ―and perhaps in America― a position he consolidated over the next twenty years. His drawings of clubmen and chornies, dowagers and doormen, lushers and lechers, comically compromised in the cabaret world of hotel lobbies, gentlemen’s clubs, theaters and speakeasies of a New York City that was the very capital of capitalism, had made him the most famous cartoonist of his day. The first collection of his drawings, Peter Arno’s Parade, with an enthusiastic introduction by William Bolitho, was issue in 1929 by the libertarian publisher Horace Liveright (of Boni and Liveright fame) and was so successful it was reprinted twice within a month of its appearance. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005, p. 21)

[UPDATE–March 4, 2013] Another New Yorker cartoonist himself, Michael Maslin has been working on a biography of Peter Arno since 1999. On January 8, 2013 –the date marking the anniversary of Peter Arno birth– Bob Mankoff shared an excerpt of this upcoming biography on his blog:

On an early-spring afternoon at the end of last millennium, I was heading to Manhattan, driving south along Route 7, on the westernmost edge of Connecticut. Perhaps it was the geography that started me thinking about New Yorker cartoonists (as a New Yorker cartoonist myself, married to another New Yorker cartoonist, the magazine’s history and its contributors are never far from my thoughts). Driving along, eyeing the road signs pointing the way to towns like Cornwall (Thurber country—at least for the last sixteen years of his life), Sharon, Amenia, Kent, New Milford, and Ridgefield, I couldn’t help but think of the magazine’s cartoonists who had settled down in this part of the world, a fan-shaped area just north of Manhattan, roughly defined by the Hudson River to the west and the Housatonic River to the east. William Steig, Al Frueh, Joseph Farris, Charles Saxon, Robert Weber, Sam Cobean, Lee Lorenz, Richard Taylor, Mick Stevens, Jack Ziegler, Roz Chast, Helen Hokinson, Edward Sorel, Danny Shanahan, Liza Donnelly, Robert Mankoff, Peter Steiner, Donald Reilly—all lived there at one time or another, and some still do.

Driving southwest along Route 7, toward the New York state line, and edging closer to Manhattan, I came upon road signs for Harrison. Here, another cartoonist came to mind: I recalled that Harrison was once the home of Peter Arno. As if struck upside the head, I realized at that very moment that Peter Arno’s life was, as far as I knew, unexamined. What I knew of Arno came mostly from New Yorker-cartoon collections (the magazine called them “albums”) and Brendan Gill’s book “Here at The New Yorker.” I’d read Gill’s book while still in college, and had retained a few of the quirkier Arno items. Gill told of Arno showing up at a New Yorker party with his own cocktail shaker; and there was a sketch of a car Arno designed, as well as a staged photograph of Arno, in a tuxedo, working at his drawing board, crow-quill pens sticking out of his mouth like F.D.R. gone mad with cigarette holders. (read more at Mankoff’s blog The Cartoon Bureau: “Happy Birthday, Peter Arno” by Bob Mankoff, January 8, 2013)

One can read more about Michael Maslin’s project of writing Peter Arno’s biography on his website: “Finding Arno” (August, 2004)


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