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In Remembrance of George Booth


Jeff Stahler tribute

 

The Marine Corps Times (and The Navy Times and The Army Times and The Air Force Times)
ran the Associated Press obituary:

“George Booth was a remarkable artist who sold his first drawing to The New Yorker in 1969 and filled the magazine with a kind of wild delight for decades thereafter,” New Yorker editor David Remnick said in a statement. “Through his countless drawings and covers, he created an astonishing world, one that was wholly his own: chaotic, strange, beyond hilarious.”

He was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and eventually became a cartoonist for the Marine magazine Leatherneck. Before starting at The New Yorker, he sold his work to Collier’s and Look and for eight years served as art director for Bill Communications Inc.

 
Leatherneck, December 1947 via Attempted Bloggery

 

“Life is hard and damned unfair!” the cartoonist George Booth liked to recite, in a booming voice, and then—guffaw!—crack up. It was a line he’d first heard from his former boss at the consortium of trade publications—Rubber World, Modern Tire Dealer, Fast Food—where Booth served as art director before setting up camp in the pages of The New Yorker, in 1969. Editors would come skulking into the boss’s office, begging for deadline extensions, only to be bawled out. Booth, meanwhile, was in there because he liked to take naps on the boss’s couch, and to enjoy the show.

 
New Yorker cartoonist George Booth at his home in Brooklyn on April 4, 2018.
Photograph by Chris Sorensen / Redux

Emma Allen, The New Yorker cartoon editor, remembers George.

I met Booth about five years ago, when I became The New Yorker’s cartoon editor, the fourth that Booth had worked with at the magazine. He entered my office on his first day of submitting cartoons to his new, deeply intimidated boss and brandished his cane, looming (inevitable, at six feet three) over my desk. I quaked. “You are a ray of sunshine!” he hollered, and then let out that characteristic guffaw! I’ve always imagined that the lines of Booth’s drawings ended up so wobbly because of the uncontainable self-amusement of their maker.

 

The greatest cartoonists ever to grace the pages of the New Yorker haven’t merely rendered gags. They drew a universe. And no world has been more immersive than what Emma Allen, the magazine’s humor editor, calls “Boothville.”

All those twitchy English bull terriers and quirky cats. The blunt couples who, with gaping dark maws for mouths, let you sense their volume. There are ramshackle front porches and naked light fixtures and no-frills curtains. And then there is Booth’s characteristic menagerie of low-rent household items that feel not only alive but also beautiful through his eyes.

 
photo by Sarah Booth

Michael Cavna, at The Washington Post, talks to cartoonists about George.

Booth made his home in the New Yorker pantheondecades ago. “He was right up there with Peter Arno, George Price, Charles Addams, Helen Hokinson, William Steig, Mary Petty, Ed Koren and Saul Steinberg,” says Michael Maslin, the New Yorker cartoonist and unofficial historian. “We callNew Yorker cartoons that will last ‘evergreens.’ Booth’s entire body of work is evergreen.”

In the magazine’s first half-centurysince its founding in 1925, some cartoonists favored scenes of wry, upscale sophistication or surreal whimsy. Entering the second half, Booth’s natural voice instantly came from a different place. “What made him so special,” Maslin says, “was that what he identified as funny was so unlike what anyone else would identify.”


George Booth/The New Yorker

 

Today we lost one of the all-time greats of cartooning: George Booth.

George was a ‘born cartoonist’. He drew his first cartoon in his native Missouri at the age of 3½ and got a laugh. That trend continued for the following 92½ years.

Jason Chatfield in praise of George.

He was always smiling. Always giggling to himself about something, in his thick southern drawl. He was a joy to be around. I would watch him pore through his large pile of papers, sifting through the order to see which ones he was going to show to the cartoon editor that day.

 

Sandra Boynton: “I am inexpressibly sad that the unbelievably great George Booth is gone. My absolute cartooning hero since forever—his drawing is wildly perfect, and his writing deft and quirky and glorious. He was also the most benevolent person I have ever known.”

Gary Brookins: “George Booth died yesterday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 96. And there has never been a greater cartoonist.”

Dave Coverly: “George Booth wasn’t just a cartoonist hero to me – he was the reason I pursued cartooning as a career at all. My journalism teacher in HS, Kenny Zelnis, would bring in The New Yorker so I could study the cartoons, and Mr. Booth’s work made me fall in love with everything this art form has to offer...”

So many tributes to George on FacebookAnd on Twitter.

 
"Maw Maw' and The Family" was created by George Booth in 1982

 

 

Community Comments

#1 Miguel Guevara
November/8/2022
@ 10:31 pm

Mr. Booth liked drawing dogs but he never had one in his life, just cats. Rest in peace Master. I hope now he is cartooning angels.

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