Case in point No. 6 in this ongoing feature is Pop Artist Tom Wesselmann. I’ve written about my old friend Tom previously in Eli’s Corner. Tom passed away in 2004 without achieving his not-too-secret ambition of cartooning full-time for The New Yorker. It’s interesting to think about how different Tom’s life might have been if he received that elusive OK on any of his countless New Yorker cartoon submissions. By the way, reproductions of his Pop Art paintings were featured in The New Yorker in later years, on more than one occasion. I remember one that was full-page.
A Wesselmann painting was recently purchased for over six million dollars at auction.
But I digress — back to Tom Wesselmann’s gag cartoons. I have dozens of examples of Tom’s early printed cartoons, some going back to his college days. His cartoons appeared sporadically in many of the regular cartoon-using magazines in the late 1950’s and the 1960’s, but of course never in The New Yorker. So here is just a sampling of a cartooning career that was nipped in the bud.
And remember, “we all have to start somewhere”, even world-famous Pop Artists. Note that Tom dropped the last “N” in his signature in his earlier cartoons.
I’ve also included a photo of Tom as featured on the cover of Art News magazine in January 1982.
From Profile, a University of Cincinnati student magazine, Christmas 1954 issue: From Profile, Spring 1955 issue: From Profile, Summer 1955 issue: Caption: “This will teach you that the free peoples of the world are not to be plundered by you pawns of totalitarianism!” From 1000 Jokes, March-May 1956: From For Laughing Out Loud, May-July 1956: From For Laughing Out Loud, July-September 1959: From The Wall Street Journal, March 12, 1959: From The Wall Street Journal, late 1950’s: