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Rea Irvin's Birthday Today

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Pollux writes:

On this day, a hundred and twenty-eight years ago, Rea Irvin was born in a Californian town named San Francisco. A hundred and three years ago, Irvin traveled to the East Coast to assist in a birth that occurred eighty-four years ago—the founding of The New Yorker.

Thomas Edison invented the Kinetoscope as well as the lightbulb, and Rea Irvin did more than simply create the Eustace Tilley cover portrait.

Irvin lent his good taste and good sense towards the creation of The New Yorker’s page design, headings, spot illustrations, as well as the archetype of the typical New Yorker single-panel cartoon.

As Emily writes in her important and much-needed article on him, “it was Irvin’s own intimacy with classic form and craft, and his genial willingness to share that expertise, that allowed him to create a complete device: a design, a typeface, a style, and a mood that would be instantly recognizable, and eminently effective, almost a century later.”

Emily and I have worked to pull Rea Irvin out of the shadows that seem to enshroud his life and his work. I wrote the initial Wikipedia article on him, and, in the true spirit of Wikipedia, others have contributed to it, the latest contribution being a series of Irvin drawings.

Rea Irvin is one of our heroes, and one of the patron saints of this publication that we love so much.

In his honor, we declare August 26 to be Rea Irvin Day. Celebrate accordingly.


Long live the Rea Irvin Institute for Research!

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