Sunday, June 22, 2014

Whitney Darrow Prepares a New Yorker Cartoon

Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1909-1999) produced about 1500 cartoons for the New Yorker. A fine draftsman who studied at the Art Students League, Darrow put a lot of careful planning into his cartoons.

"Reverend, you certainly sold me!" Whitney Darrow, Jr., 1950
The original drawing was 9x12 inches, built up with carbon pencil line and charcoal, and solidified with watercolor wash.

Once he got an idea, his first step was to make a number of small sketches to help visualize the situation. Should it be indoors or out? Should the salesman be taller than the reverend?

After he worked out the composition, he submitted a rough to The New Yorker. He had two possible captions: "You certainly sold me!" or "Well, you certainly sold me!" The caption actually used (see above) was still another variation.

Once he knew the setting and arrangement of figures, he did a larger sketch to work out the perspective and the cropping.

The final drawing may seem spontaneous, but it was the result of a lot of preliminary work to finalize the gestures and expressions.

Even after the rough was approved, he redrew the composition several times. If you compare this one to the final at the top of the post, he deleted the woman at the right, and he lifted the salesman's hand (and hat) onto the reverend's shoulder.
Adapted from the Feb. 1950 issue of American Artist. Thanks, James!


Jtoritto said...

I am so happy you posted this! I would love to a cartoon for the New Yorker! Or playboy! Still great article!!

docnad said...

Thanks, James. Darrow makes it all look deceptively easy.

Paul Sullivan said...

It is amazing that Darrow put so much preliminary effort in his work. I commend him for it. The world would have a lot more excellent watercolors if watercolor painters put as much planning into their work.

As an old art director I have to note that with all that preliminary work, Darrow still wound up putting someone between the fat gut and the preacher. Thumbnail number two wa the best set up.
Paul Sullivan