I was totaly saddened to hear about the passing of New Yorker cartoonist Henry Martin. He died on June 30th, 94 years young.
I always looked forward to seeing Mr. Martin’s cartoons in The New Yorker and other publications, and they usually brought smiles to my face. I consider him to be a giant in the field of gag cartooning.
Although I never met Mr. Martin, on one occasion in 1988 I sent him a short note. The reason for the note was a cartoon of his that appeared in the July 18, 1988 issue of The New Yorker. It happened to be amazingly similar to a cartoon of mine that appeared a few months before in the National Business Employment Weekly, on October 18, 1987. These are the two cartoons:
Henry Martin, The New Yorker, July 18, 1988
Eli Stein, National Business Employment Weekly, October 18, 1987
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the National Business Employment Weekly, it is a long-defunct publication of Dow Jones & Co. (the same organization that publishes The Wall Street Journal). The weekly publication printed only one cartoon per issue, and I was fortunate enough to have had over a hundred cartoons in their pages over the years of its existence. Other cartoonists who appeared regularly were Henry Martin and another New Yorker cartoonist, Tom Cheney. Many of our cartoons were even included in a booklet published in 1992 by Dow Jones, “The Best Cartoons from the National Business Employment Weekly”.
I sent my note to Mr. Martin simply to let him know about the coincidence, and I didn’t expect an answer from him. But he did answer, with this hand-written note:
“Dear Eli, Thanks for your note and for the two cartoons. I guess the idea was a natural and these things happen. Be assured it was not intentional. I gather you are the cartoonist Stein. Good to meet you. Best. Henry”
As I said, I never did meet Henry Martin in person. By the time I started going to the offices of The New Yorker on Tuesdays (to show my cartoon roughs to then-editor Bob Mankoff and to hobnob and eat lunch with the other cartoonists), Henry Martin had already “retired” from active cartooning. My loss.
Rest in peace, Henry Martin. Your cartoons brought great joy to the world.