More "How Not to Get an Okay"

Here are some more of Stan Fine's "How Not to Get an Okay" panels. These ran in the newsletter put out by LOOK magazine Cartoon Editor Gurney Williams in the late 1950's (see my earlier posting in "Eli's Corner" -- "Memos from Gurney Williams"). How Not To 15.JPG In the above panel, I figure the initials "P.I." on the briefcase have GOT to stand for "Phil Interlandi" How Not To 9.JPGHow Not To 14.JPGHow Not To 10.JPG

Memos From Gurney Williams

More material from my old files:

As everyone knows by now, in the Golden Age of magazine gag cartooning, Wednesday was "Look Day", when local cartoonists made the rounds in Manhattan, showing their roughs in person to Cartoon Editors. One important stop was the office of Gurney Williams, the long-time Cartoon Editor of "Look" magazine, a major market. As such, Mr. Williams was venerated and had achieved a certain amount of fame in his own right. But unquestionably one of the nicest things he ever did was to "publish" a monthly broadsheet (size 7 inches by 20 inches, printed on heavy paper stock) for cartoonists to pick up when they dropped in to see him on Wednesdays. It was entitled "Memos from Gurney Williams", had a notation of "250 Not Paid Circulation" (the number was later reduced to 200 for some reason), and it was chock full of cartoon news, stories, gossip and photos. It even had a few running cartoon panels about the funny business of magazine gag cartooning. One panel was "How Not to Get an Okay" by Stan Fine, and another was "The Rat Race" by Jack Tippit.

I don't know for how many years Gurney Williams provided this invaluable newsletter, but I have 26 copies, dating from April 1957 to August 1959, which I picked up at his office.

In the future I will be posting a lot of material from this gold mine of "Look Day" memorabilia. For starters, here are a few of Stan Fine's "How Not to Get an Okay" -- they're still funny, and appropriate, after all these years. How Not To 6.JPGHow Not To 17.JPGHow Not To 31.JPGHow Not To 20.JPG

Wednesday Look Day

SEP photo.JPG I found this in my files. It's a photo that accompanied a "Keeping Posted" article from the Saturday Evening Post, showing an (obviously posed) bunch of big-name gag cartoonists waiting to see Cartoon Editor Marione Nickles on a typical Wednesday "Look Day". The tearsheet isn't dated, but I place it somewhere in the mid-to-late 1950's.

The caption reads: "Jovial, chattering cartoonists": from the left -- Harry Mace, Bill Yates, Gus Lundberg, Martha Blanchard, Herb Green, Jeff Monahan, Jerry Marcus, Post humor editor Marione Nickles, Jack Tyrell, John Norment, Dave Hirsch, Mrs. Fritz Wilkinson (wife of cartoonist Wilkinson), Peter Porges, Bob Schroeter, Mort Temes.

As crowded as it seems to be there at the Post, it still looks roomier than the storage closet/waiting room that The New Yorker provides right now for cartoonists on Tuesday's "Look Day". Most of the New Yorker cartoonists opt to stand and lounge around in the outside hallway rather than fight the stacks of corrugated boxes and other flotsam and jetsam piled up in the tiny waiting room.

One thing has certainly improved, though (in my opinion) -- the dress code. These days a cartoonist would stand out like a sore thumb if he showed up in a suit or jacket and tie. The preferred outfit (for men, anyway) is more like levis and a golf shirt, or similar casual attire.

Florida Bar News, April 1, 1996

flabarn040196.JPG Was there ever a time when Alex Trebek and "Jeopardy" (my wife's favorite TV show) weren't around? I worked for a long time on "Jeopardy" gags and finally came up with this one, which I thought was pretty good. I spent a lot of time wording the caption "just right", and even tried to make the character look reasonably like Mr. Trebek.

However, my opinion of the worthiness of the gag wasn't shared by the cartoon editors -- the cartoon was soundly rejected everywhere, until the Florida Bar News finally took it on. I'm still disappointed that it didn't get a bigger audience.

Brandweek, February 12, 2007

brand021207.JPG And now an explanation of why I signed many recent cartoons with just my initials "ES", instead of "STEIN" (not the cartoon above, but you'll find it on a few of the cartoons already posted in the "2000" decade, and you'll be seeing more, intermittently, in future postings).

A few years ago, I started going to the offices of The New Yorker on Tuesdays, to see cartoon editor Bob Mankoff in person. He often reminded me that my retro Saturday Evening Post cartooning style was not the image that The New Yorker was striving for. Nevertheless, each Tuesday he would hold two, three, four, sometimes even five of my submissions. I always felt that this was just a perfunctory gesture, and of course I never got the Thursday phone call to tell me that Mankoff and David Remnick had decided to purchase any of them.

Sure I tried to change my style, and I also tried to bring Mankoff more cartoons with nondescript drawings -- cartoons with no identifiable characters, that could have been drawn by anyone (like the shark cartoon above, which Mankoff held, but ultimately rejected). But that still left the problem of my signature. I knew from many years of studying New Yorker cartoons that the magazine prided itself in discovering "new" talent -- so why did I need that extra baggage of a name that's been around for, literally, fifty years? So somewhere along the way, I decided it would be a good idea to get rid of the name "STEIN" and adopted the new signage, "ES".

Was it a paranoiac thought? Probably. Anyway, it didn't make a damn bit of difference and I'm glad to say that I've come to my senses and have returned to my old signature (unless it's a cartoon that I would submit ONLY to The New Yorker -- but I'm drawing fewer and fewer of those these days).


It just occured to me that, since this is an "archive", there should be some explanation as to why I went from "ELI STEIN" to just "STEIN" in the early 1980's. Simple enough. When I started out, there was a very famous gag cartoonist named Ralph Stein. And besides being an active cartoonist, Ralph was also for a long time the cartoon editor of This Week, a weekly newspaper supplement. So the use of my first name was a no-brainer. When Ralph was no longer in the picture, I dropped the first name.

Right now, as far as I know, there are no other gag cartoonists named Stein. There's an Ed Stein, who is a political/editorial cartoonist, but we hardly ever get mixed up. I did once receive a letter intended for him -- I returned it to the sender and set him straight.

Dartnell, October 11, 1994

dartn101194.JPG Dartnell Corp. publishes newsletters for business and industry on subjects like Salesmanship, Teamwork, Office Management, Supervision and Customer Service. For many years, a cartoon was regularly included in about a dozen of the titles. In 1999, Dartnell was bought up by another company and the parent company discontinued the cartoon use. I recently checked on the internet and found that Dartnell is still active in newsletter publishing, and still cartoonless.

From 1986 to 1999 I sold about 125 cartoons to Dartnell -- the subjects were right up my alley and I had many rejected cartoons from other publications to offer them. Unfortunately, the Dartnell editors were loathe to send tearsheets or clips of my published cartoons to me, no matter how often I asked for them. So I only have a small percentage of my Dartnell cartoons -- the few that I managed to scrounge from them or from various other sources.

As I've said before, I love to see my cartoons in print, and the sad fact is that, overall, I've never seen about 20% of my published cartoons. These are the ones that appeared in publications not readily available to the general public, or that could not be found on magazine racks. Most editors routinely send complimentary copies, or tearsheets, to their contributors, but there are always the few others who can't or won't be bothered. Very inconsiderate, in my opinion.

The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 1970

wsj042770.JPG This is another WSJ cartoon in which a lot of drawing detail was mysteriously lost in the reproduction. As I mentioned previously in a reply to a comment on another WSJ cartoon, there was a period of time when, for some strange reason, the "Pepper . . . and Salt" cartoons were appearing so faintly that they almost disappeared. I remember a few Joe Mirachi cartoons that looked like a bunch of chicken scratchings, and you could barely tell what the drawings were supposed to represent. My guess is that the WSJ was experimenting with different scanning or copying techniques, and somewhere between the original drawing and the printed cartoon, almost all of the detail was being lost. I know I hadn't changed my drawing style or tools, so it certainly wasn't anything that we cartoonists were doing differently. I also recall that the problem prompted at least one sarcastic Letter to the Editor complaining about the "disappearing" cartoons.

I'm glad to say that the glitch, whatever it was, was finally resolved and the cartoon reproduction returned to normal.

Selling Power, May 1993

selpow0593.JPG Another of my personal favorite gags -- good ol' Archie Andrews, the perennial high school student.

I was surprised that this cartoon didn't sell higher up in the publication chain (okay, maybe it's not New Yorker caliber, but both The Wall Street Journal and National Business Employment Weekly had a crack at it, and one of them really should have claimed it).

This drawing appears in a continuous cycle as "Cartoon of the Day" on Selling Power's website But, unfortunately, somebody completely changed the caption on the site, thereby ruining a perfectly good laugh. The caption on the website has some silly reference to Jughead. I alerted Selling Power's webmaster about this, but to my knowledge the caption has never been corrected.

Why James Bowman should be the Cartoon Editor of The New Yorker

On May 12, 2000 The Wall Street Journal printed an article about the sad state of book publishing at that particular time. It was written by James Bowman, who WSJ identified as the "American editor of the (London) Times Literary Supplement". The opening sentence of Mr. Bowman's treatise was "A recent New Yorker cartoon portrayed a man asking a bookstore clerk: 'Do you have anything that's not for dummies?' "

I never noticed the article, but apparently someone at The New Yorker did. Probably one of those famous fact-checkers we always hear about. I can imagine the conversations that ensued: "Oh, yeah, in what issue was that cartoon again? . . . Hey, wait a minute! . . . Was there ever such a cartoon in The New Yorker?" And before you could say "Oops", the following correction appeared in The Wall Street Journal: wsjcorr051600.JPG

I felt very flattered that Mr. Bowman thought that my cartoon was NewYorkerish.

I've posted the original cartoon under The Wall Street Journal, dated March 31, 2000. You can also find it under the topic of "Books" and in the 2000 decade.

Stock Market, March 1981

stkmkt0381.JPG Am I the only person who saw any humor in the name of the securities firm "Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane"? And then, many years ago, they abruptly changed the name to "Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith", which really raised my gag antennae. The firm is now called simply "Merrill Lynch" -- a ho-hum name if I ever heard one.

Anyhow, I came up with this "OUT TO LYNCH" gag and Stock Market magazine was good enough to print it. Please don't go looking for any deep-South racial undertones in the cartoon -- this was simply a take-off on the countless "Out to Lunch" door sign cartoons that every cartoonist liked to draw, probably because they were so easy. Eventually it became such a hackneyed subject that no cartoonist would touch it anymore (also, for some reason, business people no longer seemed inclined to hang "Out to Lunch" signs on their doorknobs).

So these three partners, with their darkened offices, were simply out to visit with good ol' Merrill Lynch, whose office is still lit up.

One more historical note, for the sake of honesty in cartooning: there is no such person as Merrill Lynch, and there never has been. The firm was started as a partnership of Charles Merrill and Edmund Lynch, and the comma between the names was dropped in 1938 when Mr. Lynch passed away. Now you sticklers for the truth won't have to Google it.

The real question is, why in the world did I think this simple cartoon needed such a long explanation?


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