Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

The Basics:
About Emdashes | Email us

Before it moved to The New Yorker:
Ask the Librarians

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


A No-Soglow Zone? Unpacking a Pearl Harbor Puzzle

Filed under: Little Words   Tagged: , , ,

Benjamin Chambers writes:

Regular readers of Emdashes are no doubt aware of Emily’s abiding attachment to the artwork of Otto Soglow. His “tiny, unsigned” illustrations, according to his 1975 obituary in The New Yorker, graced the Notes and Comment section for 49 years; and the TNY Librarians say that the magazine has consistently reused his drawings since his death.

Austin Kleon, a Soglow fan, goes so far as to write that Soglow “drew every one of the small drawings that appeared at the beginning of each Talk of the Town article” (emphasis mine). But if you’re familiar with Soglow’s gentle drawings, it’s hard to believe that he was responsible for the drawing that appeared in 1941’s December 13 issue—the issue that came out right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

To give you some perspective, here’s a drawing from the December 6, 1941 issue, which strikes me as quintessential Soglow (click to enlarge):


Next, here’s the drawing that appeared at the bottom of Wolcott Gibbs’s Comment on December 13, 1941:


Looks nothing like Soglow’s work, does it? It also appears to be signed (in the middle, at the bottom). But the December 20 issue marks a return to the usual Soglow style, though the drawing is also signed, and uncharacteristically crammed with detail:


Good artists, of course, can work in multiple styles, which they draw upon to fit the occasion. But how remarkable the December 13 drawing is, if one places it beside so many decades of Soglow’s sweet, graceful art.

So here’s my question: are all three of these drawings Soglow’s? Am I naive to be so struck by the contrast?


I think neither of the last two is by him. It seems to me that these across-the-bottom drawings are not of the same ‘genre’ as the in-column drawings he perhaps did do every one of—in the same way that the vertical panel drawing on the first page of the Dec 27 1941 Talk is by someone else (in fact there are no Soglows in that Talk section).

Thanks for checking this out, Jonathan - I think you’re right. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such warlike art in the margins of TNY before - obviously, I haven’t been paying attention.

Thanks for the info — I always wondered about the ones in the current issues, whether they were recycled or completely new….

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, it may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Thanks for waiting.)

2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree