Imitating The New Yorker Cartoonists

Imita­tion is the sincerest form of flat­tery.” This is the famous quote used since it was stated by the English cleric and writer, Charles Caleb Colton who lived from 1780 – 1832. Artists, through the years, have learned from each other and often there is an obvious simi­larity achieved in their work. I found that it was chal­lenging to imitate the art styles of others. As a layout artist, I could present a partic­ular artist’s style- — with the plan of the client hiring the artist known for that style.

In 1968, Charles Matheny Adver­tising was located on the second floor of the Belli Building (where I was begin­ning my graphic art career) we both admired James Thurber who was an Amer­ican writer with a unique style of wit and humorous illus­tra­tion. Thurber’s cartoons and short stories were published mostly in The New Yorker, and he was also a jour­nalist and a playwright—

–but he could no longer be reached :
James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 21961).

So imita­tion was our answer.
I offered a similar “look” (not truly copying his style — not really fooling Thurber fans). Charles Matheny had a long career in copy­writing for adver­tising. There were various campaigns for his client, Cali­fornia Casu­alty. These ads, folders and counter card show the art style that didn’t take much time to execute so it fit the client’s sched­ules and budget for this campaign.

In 1975, there were two ad campaigns, promoting the use of BankAmeri­card. I was to study Robert Weber’s cartoon style. His work was easy to find as his cartoons were also published often in The New Yorker maga­zine. Robert Maxwell Weber (April 22, 1924 – October 20, 2016 Known for over 1,400 cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker from 1962 to 2007 – this was an artist that could be reached in the 1970s ! The first ad shows Weber’s style. Next, my layout (imitating Weber’s style) and the final ad by Weber as printed in many publications.

With the second BofA ad — I again tried to guess the image that would sell the concept to the client, National BankAmeri­card Inc. (that I knew as NBI). (After all these years, my files are incom­plete and I cannot remember the creative director that guided me.) I was not able to have a copy of the second final printed ad showing Weber’s final art — but here is the Xerox from those days that shows his plan. I was able to use this image in preparing the type and place­ment of the art before his final illus­tra­tion arrived.

Charles David Saxon (November 13, 1920 — December 61988)

Maxwell “Bud” Arnold formed an adver­tising agency in 1970. He was creating effec­tive adver­tising campaigns for clients but he also felt that he could use adver­tising to reach an audi­ence on socially conscious issues. In September of 1976, for Maxwell Arnold’s client, Golden Gate Transit, I was asked to imitate a Charles Saxon style. (This was the only time that I had free-​lanced for Mr. Arnold. He died May 242013.)

After being an editor for Dell Publishing before and after his service in WW2, Saxon began his career as a very well know cartoonist — first for The Saturday Evening Post and in 1956 he started producing his outstanding 92 covers and 700 cartoons for The New Yorker.
Following the two SAXON covers, below, this was my “Saxonish” drawing that’s Bud Arnold submitted to Golden Gate Transit for an approval of style—

—but the finished art was assigned to still another artist who was showing in several popular maga­zines and also worked for year for Disney : Henry ‘Hank’ Syverson (October 5, 1918 – August 12, 2007) Besides being a constant cartoonist for the Saturday Evening Post, This Week and The New Yorker maga­zines, his draw­ings reached other coun­tries with PAN AM Airways ads.
Here are some of Syverson’s creations :

The last ad appeared in October in the Marin County’s Inde­pen­dent Journal. It was then that I found out that the client had changed the artist from Charles Saxon to Hank Syverson.

Ann Thompson

Lunch With Dugald

Lunch With Dugald
by Newell Alexander

Rose­mary and I had flown to San Fran­cisco from L.A. to act in a series of commer­cials for a now defunct Bay Area amuse­ment park. In the first shot of the day, Rose­mary, two little kids and I were riding in a basket on the back of a huge elephant. We were stuck as the animal proceeded to go rogue, he ran through a large part of the park before he could be stopped with us unable to get off. Later, in another shot I was supposed to stand next to a Tiger who decided to lie on top of me, I was trying not to panic. The trainer kept screaming at the cat and jerking on a long chain. I was begging him, “Don’t make him mad.” The Tiger finally lost interest, stood up and saun­tered away. The produc­tion was a disaster, the director quit in the middle of the day, the whole thing was a wash, I don’t think the spot ever aired. But all was not lost, we both had a good payday and we were going to get to see my old pal, famed San Fran­cisco artist Dugald Stermer, so the trip was not a total failure.

It had been several years since I had seen Dugald, so Rose­mary and I rented a car and added an extra day to our trip so we could have nice long catch-​up lunch. Dugald called in his no nonsense manner, “Meet me at Delancy’s, it’s near my studio in the Embar­cadero.” The meal was delightful, Dugald’s pres­ence gave us lots of atten­tion, the staff approached our table as if he were a Francis Ford Coppola Godfa­ther, we later found out he was a long standing member of the board of the Delancy Street Foun­da­tion that managed the restau­rant. I did give him some grief over him having a sand­wich named after him on the menu. Dugald wasn’t a big fan of show busi­ness ; his ex-​father-​in-​law was James Bacon, a long time promi­nent enter­tain­ment colum­nist for the Los Angeles Herald-​Examiner. Dugald’s former wife Carol was raised in Holly­wood amid all the glitz and glamour, neither she nor Dugald were attracted to celebrity.

After lunch we walked around to Dugald’s studio, which was in the complex, it’s hard to describe how he had designed his work­space, it was remi­nis­cent of what Tom Mix or Ken Maynard’s den would look like, Indian pottery, rugs, Western memo­ra­bilia, a real Western ambiance. Several left-​handed guitars adorned the walls. After his passing it was dupli­cated in a display at the Cali­fornia College of the Arts.

When he first came to Houston, I watched Dugald tran­si­tion from a West Coast casual look, to boots, vest, Levis, and western shirts, a signa­ture look he retained to the end. In his studio we looked at some of his work, we remi­nisced, Rose­mary and I sang, and we drank some rare Irish Whiskey, of which he was very fond. It was the last time we were face-to-face.

The next week after our lunch, I wrote Dugald the following letter using the Delancy Restau­rant address.

Dear Mr. Stermer,
We had lunch in San Fran­cisco last week at Delancy’s, we saw you
having lunch with one of our favorite actors, Newell Alexander, we were going to ask him for an auto­graph but we somehow missed him when you guys left. My wife asked the staff who you were and the waiter said you just ate his sand­wich. Ha ! Since you know him could you send this enclosed package to him ? It has return postage.
Thanking you in advance, this means a lot to us.
Babs and Sven Yevhoods 
P.S. We met Newell at the Cow Palace when he was touring with Neil Young.

I got an answer to my letter a few days later, it was on his letter­head, in the middle of the page were two words hand lettered in his trade­mark callig­raphy, “Nice Try.”

I first met Dugald when I was working as a designer/​paste up artist in a small six-​man studio in booming Houston, Texas. He had been working for a short while for the Dick Kuhn Studio in Los Angeles, he was recruited by our studio owner, Bill Middaugh. I was a little disap­pointed when my boss Bill, came back from a Cali­fornia trip all-​aglow over Dugald’s work. I saw the attrac­tion when I leafed through Dugald’s port­folio, his work was so good I couldn’t be jealous. I had one year of art at the Univer­sity of Houston, he was a grad­uate of the UCLA School of Fine Art. He and Olympic Cham­pion Rafer Johnson were class­mates and they were exchange students together in India during Dugald’s Junior year.

I was assigned to pick Dugald up at Hobby Airport in South Houston, I was curious, I knew he and I were about the same age. We both were family men, I had three chil­dren, he had four. The years he had spent in art school, I had spent in the U.S. Navy as an aviator.

We were doing very well at the studio, the addi­tion of Dugald was amazing, he and I worked well together, word was out that we were a “hot shop,” doing good, creative work. Our boss Bill came in with the news that we were getting a chance to land an ad campaign for the largest bank in Houston, no pitch, just design an ad, if they liked it we could have the account. It was to be a full-​page four-​color ad on the back of Hous­tonian Maga­zine. We briefly brain­stormed and Dugald did a rough sketch, it said in small type, “member of,” and then “FDIC” in a huge bold font. He added a small photo of the bank building about the size of a postage stamp on the bottom margin. Sizing up the work, Boss Bill said, “I don’t think they’ll get it.” There was a long silence, “How about doing an alter­nate ? Just make the building big and FDIC small.” Dugald refused to change it. I wouldn’t change it either and we didn’t get the account. Dugald’s reac­tion ? Fuck ‘em.” The story got around the ad commu­nity in Houston and our busi­ness skyrock­eted. It was a lesson well learned. I used the same tech­nique later when I was working as an art director on major accounts at a large agency in Dallas. I won some battles and lost some.

I never knew Dugald as an illus­trator, he did however do the linocuts and hand set all the type in the work he did on his small letter­press he called “The Impress.” The small 4 x 5 inch books were gems that he printed on hand­made paper, the text was simple and clever, the art was very tasty. His press was set up in his house and he spent many late nights drinking Irish whiskey and making small delightful pieces of art. His mastery of typog­raphy was amazing and he won numerous awards in the Houston and Dallas-​Fort Worth Art Director’s competitions.

Howard Gossage was flown in to judge the Houston Art Director’s show. He was an icon in the adver­tising San Fran­cisco adver­tising commu­nity, Howard was blown away by Dugald’s work. Dugald won several awards and with Howard’s help he landed the Art Director’s job at Ramparts Maga­zine in the Bay Area. Dugald assisted me in getting a job at CA maga­zine in Palo Alto. I free-​lanced some for Dugald at Ramparts but only for a few months. The mail boy at the maga­zine, and our weed connec­tion, was a young eager kid named Jann Wenner. Jann went on to trans­form the anti-​war maga­zine Ramparts into today’s Rolling Stone Magazine.

My tenure at CA was brief, I moved back to Texas and didn’t see Dugald for many years. I watched his ascent into art fame as I labored in Southern Cali­fornia building an acting career.

Dugald and I only had one moment of discord, I made an off-​hand remark in a post, “Keep the lenses of your Art-​O-​Graph clean.” (An Art-​O-​Graph is a tool to aid drawing). I knew he was pissed because of several one-​word responses to my e-mails.

Every once in a while when I have a moment I will log on to Dugald’s website and just browse through some of his work. His design sense helped him place his art on the page in very tasty ways. He would scoff at the notion, but I consider him a master.

Dugald Stermer mastered the appli­ca­tion of art and ideas.

The Ramparts covers, above show one example from each of the years when Dugald was the art director at the maga­zine. The two exam­ples— Ben Franklin and Woody Guthrie — show styles far different than illus­tra­tions that he produced later. The edito­rial page, in 1969 explained that Ramparts had been loosing revenue and had to go into bank­ruptcy, Chapter 11. Dugald left his posi­tion as art director in 1970. The maga­zine needed to raise its subscrip­tion price and had legal prob­lems. It lasted until 1975. Then it was taken over and became the Rolling Stone Maga­zine. Another offshoot was Mother Jones Magazine.

At the left of this story, under Artist’s Sites, you will see Dugald Stermer’s website showing his deft illus­tra­tion and lettering styles known to his many admirers.
More on Newell Alexander can be found on IMDb.

Ann Thompson

IT” Was An ATM !

In August of 1974, I was free-​lancing at 300 Broadway, second floor. I was assigned the chal­lenge of creating a new image for Redwood Bank. I began with the colors so popular in those years, magenta and red. Here you see, just portions of pages of devel­op­ment — the last section shows the devel­oped logo used with the basic logo of each of the bank branches.

So busy was I, with the logo devel­op­ment, I wasn’t yet informed what this new “IT” was offering. As approved copy arrived for type­set­ting and I received my instruc­tions for a line drawing of the “Instant Teller” — I saw that this was very different ! There were many promo­tional pieces required : news­paper ads, folders, bank displays, outdoor boards, taxi backs and more. (In the third item below which was produced to mail the IT card to the Redwood Bank account holder, you can see that this is just my mock-​up of what would be the actual plastic card.)

I have to laugh at myself because at that time, I thought that this form of banking — using a piece of equip­ment instead of the personal inter­ac­tion with a human bank teller — would never catch on. Then, when it was said that a person would do their banking out on the street — then I was sure this was risky and a “bad Idea”! Recently, I looked up the first install­ments of this kind of service. In the US, a patent record issued to Luther George Simjian shows his 132nd patent (US3079603), was first filed on June 30,1960. There are reports of many banking machines with many names devel­oped in many coun­tries, but the “Instant Teller” was new to this area. I must have been too absorbed in my work to even read or hear any news reports about the new convenience.

Promo­tional pins, T-​shirts, and plastic tote bags —were added to the Redwood Bank’s campaign. When the equip­ment and the card that acti­vated the Instant Teller were ready, this news­paper story (below) appeared in San Rafael’s Inde­pen­dent Journal on August 21, 1975 describing a period of time when the equip­ment would be prac­ticed — inside the bank — to be followed by the instal­la­tion OUTSIDE and avail­able “24 hours a day, 365 days a year”! One of the last of my assign­ments was this round handout, a reminder to try “IT”.

There were many years when Redwood Bank offered this new method of banking at each of their branches. I never thought to take a photo when the bank had the large brightly colored images of the “IT’ logo at his loca­tion at 1447 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA.— I thought it would, always, be there.

The first photo, the loca­tion, 1447 Fourth Street, as it was in 1964. The second photo is how it looks now. It was orig­i­nally a Pacific Gas and Elec­tric building. Today, it has two-​tenants, a dental prac­tice and herb store /​clinic. The bank has become Redwood Credit Union at the Montecito Shop­ping Center on Third Street in San Rafael. It has a green color scheme and ATMs outside.

I found it odd that there is no Internet refer­ence about the Redwood Bank and its branches, nor any refer­ence to the 1975 intro­duc­tion to “IT”! But recently, I found out that a personal friend, Ann Cameron, whose title at that time was Senior Oper­a­tions Officer, Redwood National Bank, was at the bank at that time ! She was able to bring a huge scrap­book of photos, news­paper clip­pings and bank publi­ca­tions. I asked Ann for her personal expe­ri­ences with the intro­duc­tion of “IT”!

She wrote :

Getting the first ATM (we called the Instant Teller) in Marin Co. sounds cool. And Redwood Bank was a bastion of cool, at least in the corner offices ! But for those of us who had to make it work it was night­mare. For starters during the roll out we had to wear T-​shirts that had the slogan, YOULL LOVE IT AT REDWOOD right across our chests. UGG we all hated it ! In the first iter­a­tion the money had to be loaded in to little envelopes, a five-​dollar bill and a twenty. Then the envelopes were loaded into trays that fitted into the back of the machine. Of course it broke down all the time and many nights a client would call me at home to come down and give them money from the back of the IT. As it was free standing kiosk in the parking lot secu­rity was always an issue. Auditing would have been most displeased if they ever figured out we just opened the doors and doled out money. The next gener­a­tion of IT did not use the envelopes. The currency was fed into the trays, $20.00 in the top tray and $10.00 bill in the bottom. Of course if you reversed the trays then the machine dispensed $20s where the $10s should be. I had a huge dog in those days and always took him with me on my night excur­sions to the Bank, my secu­rity. Inter­est­ingly during this same period Redwood was also exper­i­menting with what is now on-​line banking, we called it computer banking. We had a handful of clients who had access to their accounts via their home computer. Even­tu­ally the Bank decided they did not have the infra­struc­ture for all the compli­cated program­ming that needed to be in place to make computer banking viable.

Ann Cameron

From the scrap­book, I show these addi­tional images :

The first shows the outdoor instal­la­tion of the Instant Teller located in the bank’s parking lot with a group photo of the bank’s employees in 1976.
Second, is a clip­ping from the Vallejo Inde­pen­dent Press, August 12,1979.
Third, two pages from the Redwood Bancorp Annual Report 1975, which describes Redwood Bank’s inno­v­a­tive approaches to banking. (The illus­trator is not cred­ited and most likely would have been one of our Geezers, back in the day.)

Ann Thompson

Color is important, Ask Alan

Color is impor­tant, Ask Alan Lefkort !
In the previous collec­tion, I wanted to show the 1963 Award of Excel­lence for Direct Mail that was awarded to Alan Lefkort. The pages from the ADASF annual of that year were only in black and white. You will see that this winning design was not clear enough to show the image that made it a success.

I reached Alan to see if he could share the actual letter­head and enve­lope, for me to show here. He told the story of being told by Bob Pritikin that the stationery could only be printed in one color, black. Alan had to fight for color ! The whole adver­tising world knew that the copy­writers used yellow legal tablets as they came up with a winning head­line, body copy and all copy needed to reach the public in print and all other media of advertising.
As copy devel­oped, there were a lot of ideas that the copy­writer tossed to the waste­basket. This was the normal process until the best copy ideas were born.

1963 Award of Excel­lence San Fran­cisco Art Direc­tors and Artists Club
The small type at the bottom of the letter­head reads : Board of Direc­tors /​Howard Gossage, Peggy Green­field, Hal Larson, Dan Lewis, Fred Manley, Hanley Norins, Bob Pritikin, Nelson Shreve, George Sutton, Julian Watkins.

Alan Lefkort was often “covering two bases”: art director and copy­writer. He brought the two valu­able talents to many San Fran­cisco adver­tising agen­cies : McCann, Y&R, Dailey & Asso­ciates, D’Arcy-MacManus & Masius and Guild, Bascom & Bonfigli. Clever concepts of words and images came together in one place, on Alan’s drawing board. Visiting Alan, I saw a large collec­tion of printed pieces of a variety of corpo­ra­tions that adver­tised through San Francisco’s talented teams.

The Adver­tising Club of San Francisco’s Cable Car Awards, 1981 publi­ca­tion was among Alan’s collec­tion. This 48-​page collec­tion was called “The Sweep­stakes Awards” because of the record amount of entries that year. Alan was the first ever to win the Marget Larsen Award for art direc­tion. He was, at that time, vice-​president and exec­u­tive art director for Dailey & Asso­ciates, San Francisco.

Marget Larsen Award This was the art direc­tion award that Alan received for the image that he created for this “Black and White News­paper Ad” cate­gory even though his copy “Berth Announce­ment” was also a ‘winning’ copywriter’s line for the whole campaign for Philip­pine Airlines.

Ann Thompson

Photographers Art Directing Themselves

Photog­ra­phers Who Art-​Directed Their Own Photographs.

My schooling and first jobs as an illus­trator /​graphic designer had been varied, but I had no expe­ri­ence in directing a photog­ra­pher — on loca­tion or in a photo studio. After viewing an art director’s layout or being informed of a client’s wishes — most, or maybe all, profes­sional commer­cial photog­ra­phers have the talent to capture a required image. The art director attending is prob­ably only there to witness the photog­ra­pher in action, suggest minor changes or is just happy to get out of the agency for the day.

Below, I show a variety of subjects for a commer­cial need where the photog­ra­phers needed no “art direction”.

In the late 1960s, I was still at my loca­tion at the south-​east edge of North Beach, S.F. — the home and work loca­tions of many Italian/​Catholics. I was offered designing assign­ments from one of my steady clients, Alessandro Baccari, who had his office (always a wonderful walk to and from) the Maybeck Building at 1736 Stockton Street, near the Saints Peter and Paul Church on Wash­ington Square. In 1967, he referred a repre­sen­ta­tive of the Catholic publi­ca­tion, Catholic Home Messenger, to my studio. I was supplied all of the photos that were to reflect the copy that was written for an eight page insert for their publi­ca­tion. The subject was “Lone­li­ness”. The only addi­tional photo that I needed was one that had to have a vague back­ground image that would cover the first and last page of the insert. It needed to be ambiguous by showing an uniden­ti­fi­able person. A weekend visit to Golden Gate Park was the first time that I art-​directed a shoot.

1967 — (my job #223) Catholic Home Messenger 1 Pg : “Lone­li­ness”

Photog­ra­pher, Tom Vano, had his own personal pet-​project for the College of Holy Names in Oakland. Tom’s photos of the campus and the classes were deliv­ered to me at the time that I received the assign­ment to design a brochure. Its purpose was to include an invi­ta­tion to finan­cially support the new planned devel­op­ments for the college. I was to draw the map with each proposed building and open area, shown with dashed lines. The brochure was written by Morrison Stewart and offered in three languages : English, Chinese and Spanish which were type-​set by Reardon and Krebs.

My paste-​up boards went to the agency, Alessandro Baccari and Asso­ciates — then sent to Hogan-​Kaus Lith­o­g­raphy for printing. A week later, a set of printed copies was sent to me.

I never even met Tom Vano, but I received word, much later, that he was very pleased with my arrange­ment of his photos. He knew his subject very well. Had I been to the photo shoot, I would have learned from him, but I would have been of no help. Before this assign­ment, I hadn’t even known of the college.

1968 — (my job #321) College of Holy Names 1 cover + 5 pages (#3,4,5,6,7)

Later, in 1974, when working on a brochure for U.S, Leasing, I needed the simple subject of marbles. The cover needed a photo of a child’s hand as in a game of “Marbles”.

A call to photog­ra­pher, Earl Wood, was all that was needed. Earl had an exten­sive port­folio of his photographs showing his past efforts in shooting intri­cate subjects. This job was simple. He left the studio and returned with a lot of shots of various marbles. He had called our mutual friend, Dave Nelson (a top lettering man at the Logan, Carey & Rehag art studio) — and arranged for Dave’s son, Chris, to be the model. Earl directed his own “table-​top” (or ground-​level?) shot. The photos were exactly what the client wanted.

1974 — (my job #1192US Leasing NCR Folder (Cover and inside Cover)


Larry Keenan. Jr. was known for his “reporting syle” of photog­raphy. (See his link at the column at the right.)

As I was sketching thumb-​nail ideas for the up-​coming San Fran­cisco Ballet’s holiday poster for the “Nutcracker”, Larry visited the studio and offered to try some exper­i­men­ta­tion using an existing photo from the ballet’s collec­tion. On his return, days later, Larry said that he tried a series of filters and achieved this ”Holiday Orna­ment” look, trans­formed from the orig­inal image. He had worked without any direc­tion. The client accepted this effect, exactly as he presented it. The image was used for full-​sized posters, small posters, direct mail (which offered ticket prices and perfor­mance times). All items were printed at Pisani Press.

1974 – 1975 (my job#1271) “Nutcracker” 1 Poster

December 22, 1975. I had never met George H. Knight before he appeared with a full enve­lope of the photographs that he had taken, from all across the country. He had been contracted directly by Consol­i­dated Freight­ways. The photographs had been taken along one of the many routes of the CF trucks. Who could go wrong, designing around photographs like these ? I tried to imagine all of the plan­ning that this man had to do before capturing each subject.

We, in the studio, affec­tion­ately referred to George as “the cat in the hat”. George was a nice and hard working photog­ra­pher who seemed to always be wearing his plaid, pork-​pie hat : rain or shine, outdoors or indoors. I knew, or knew of, many commer­cial photog­ra­phers in San Fran­cisco. Here was George Knight, a low-​key and unas­suming talent. I learned later of his respected repu­ta­tion that included historic reporting of the changing views of San Francisco.

I had the assign­ment of designing the 1975 Consol­i­dated Freight­ways’ 200th Anniver­sary annual report. I had no influ­ence on photo subject matter other than the selec­tion or crop­ping of George’s photos.
As the photos were laid out, in the sequence that a CF ship­ment would make on its journey east to west — it was the perfect oppor­tu­nity to show the old and the new views of each loca­tion depicted. Adding old images and photographs avail­able from archives — the report became an enter­taining story, along with the charts and finan­cial copy impor­tant to Consol­i­dated Freight­ways stock­holders. As an ”extra”, I had the idea of creating a map of our country’s orig­inal trails. I was glad that the client “went for it”!

This story is also about the way the repre­sen­ta­tive of Consol­i­dated Freight­ways was kept from knowing that a female was designing their annual report. I supposed, that he believed “trucking” was a man’s world. I had to hide all images of the project from my work area, when­ever he visited the studio. I was kept out of the confer­ence room when my layout of the full thirty-​six pages, was presented by the two men in our studio.

By March of 1976, this CF client may have found out that I had designed the whole job — this was when a framed award arrived in the mail for me, showing my name as graphic designer “for the 1975 Annual Report of Consol­i­dated Freight­ways, Inc.” (An addi­tional report of this award — might have reached him.)

Without George Knight’s exper­tise in choice of loca­tion, timing and general hard work that was needed to provide me with these highly profes­sional photos — I would not have had the inspi­ra­tion to put all of these pages together making a unique annual report cele­brating the CF’s 200th year.

12 – 22-​1975 — (my job #1450) Consol­i­dated Freight­ways 1975 Annual Report (Cover + Spreads 1 — 9)

Ann Thompson