Shaenon K. Garrity (shaenon) wrote,
Shaenon K. Garrity

Gluyas Williams

Back when I did my awesome posts about Vassar cartoonists Anne Cleveland and Jean Anderson, I mentioned my fondness for 1930s-1950s magazine cartooning in general, and cited cartoonist Gluyas Williams as one of my special favorites. Now I want to show you how extremely great he is. Williams (1888-1982) drew for Life, Collier's, and The New Yorker, the Holy Trinity of magazine cartooning back in the day, but I first encountered his work through his illustrations for humorist Robert Benchley's essays. I was a big Robert Benchley fan in high school (pretty much any single one of my high-school interests could explain, all by itself, why I had no friends), and Williams' illustrations are inextricable from Benchley's work. They're like Lewis Carroll and John Tenniel, Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake, peanut butter and chocolate.

Holy crap, did I ever want to be Robert Benchley. He wrote witty little essays, starred in witty little short films, had one of the greatest cartoonists of the age draw witty little pictures of him, toured the Walt Disney Studio in The Reluctant Dragon, dressed nattily, and hung out in the Algonquin Round Table. I might have wanted to be Robert Benchley even more than I wanted to be Dorothy Parker. There'd be a lot less wrist-slitting, for one thing.

Anyway, eventually I checked out some of Williams' other work, and it was really something. These scans are from The Gluyas Williams Gallery, a sampling of his illustrations, with the accompanyting text, published in 1957.

Before you click through the cut, however, I have a warning. If you are a cartoonist, prepare to be schooled. You think you have a clean line? You think you have an organic sense of form? Your line is hell of wobbly and your form is organic like a Twizzler, and also your spot blacks need work. Gluyas Williams is about to show you how a real pimp rolls.

These are from The Inner Man, a series of cartoons first published in the New Yorker in 1941.

These are from The Visiting Public, published in the New Yorker in 1947 and 1948.

These are from America's Playgrounds, published in the New Yorker in 1958.

And the piece de resistance: feast your eyes on Williams' rendition of Coney Island, circa nineteen-fifty-awesome:


I'm naming my firstborn Gluyas.

Tags: comics, guys named gluyas
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