James Stevenson, 87, yet another New Yorker cartoonist (2000 +)
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That Derek
2017-02-24 04:57:14 UTC
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James Stevenson, New Yorker cartoonist, Cos Cob resident, dies

By Robert Marchant

Updated 9:41 am, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

GREENWICH — James Stevenson, a cartoonist who skewered the self-important and deflated the grandiose with a deft touch in almost 2,000 cartoons for the New Yorker magazine, died Friday at his home in Cos Cob from complications of pneumonia. He was 87.

Aside from being one of the most prolific cartoonists in the field, Stevenson worked in a variety of formats, contributing written pieces to the magazine, along with covers and illustrations, in the tradition of James Thurber and Peter Arno.

“A master of all trades,” said a fellow cartoonist, Michael Maslin. “An abundance of wonderful, wonderful work. As a younger person, when I started at the New Yorker, he was one of the gods.”

Stevenson’s work was often topical, playing off recent events, but the images had enduring appeal.

“It would make you laugh, as the best cartoons do, about something that’s kind of absurd, about our language, or politics or culture.... So many of them could be published now. And it was almost effortless — though I know he worked hard. It seemed like it came right out of him,” said Maslin, who produces Inkspill, a website that covers the field of cartooning.

“The look of his work, it’s so inviting. It brings you right in. Then he gives you the payoff,” he said. “And his covers are so distinct, quite beautiful. Wonderful moments, so alive.”

Stevenson was born in New York City on July 11, 1929, to Harvey and Winifred Worcester Stevenson. Harvey Stevenson, an architect, was the principal designer of the F.D.R. Drive in Manhattan. He graduated from The Hackley School in Tarrytown, N.Y., and Yale University.

Stevenson served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1951 to 1953, attaining the rank of second lieutenant. He was a reporter for Life Magazine from 1954 to 1956, and he later joined the New Yorker, where he produced nearly 2,000 images.

In the early 1990s, Stevenson cast a loving eye on the streets and history of New York City. For the New York Times and its editorial page, he created “Lost and Found New York,” animated essays on the city and its surroundings. It was later published as a book of the same name.

“Everything in the city seemed to matter once Stevenson took the trouble to observe it and make you see it, too. He once wrote about and sketched the cast-iron mini-manholes in a sidewalk — each one as humble, as absurdly individualistic as folded napkins,” wrote a New Yorker colleague, Kennedy Fraser, in the foreword.

A longtime resident of Cos Cob, Stevenson raised a large family, and his children provided fodder and inspiration for his endeavors as a children’s book author.

“I was always looking for something to make into a book, and with children around it’s a very congenial activity,” Stevenson once recalled.

Stevenson also worked on a musical. In 1995, with Richard Roberts doing the music, he wrote the book and lyrics to “Rolling in Dough.”

He is survived by his wife, Josie Merck, of Cos Cob, whom he married on Sept. 21, 1993.

“Passionate artist, never stopped,” she recalled Monday.

Stevenson also kept a summer home on Block Island, R.I., and wrote an illustrated work about the island and its marine life, real and imaginary.

In addition, he is survived by nine children: Chuck Stevenson of New York City; Suçie Stevenson of Brewster, Mass.; Jim W. Stevenson of Los Angeles, Calif.; Walker Stevenson of New York City; Harvey Stevenson of Paris, France; Peter Stevenson of Guilford, Conn.; Jane Stevenson of Santa Fe, N.M.; Edwina Stevenson of Branford, Conn.; and Emily Stevenson of Branford. He also has a stepdaughter from his second marriage, Oona Coy of Northampton, Mass.; and a stepson, Morgan Coy of Rhinebeck, N.Y. He also leaves behind six grandchildren and four step-grandchildren

He was previously married to Jane Walker. A brother, Eric Stevenson, predeceased him.

A private service is being planned for the spring.

A showing of Stevenson’s work is running through March 16 at the Century Club, 7 West 43rd St., in Manhattan.
2017-02-24 20:06:59 UTC
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One book he illustrated was Dr. Seuss' "I Am Not Going to Get Up Today!"



...But Mr. Stevenson was best known for cartoons that mocked the pompous and the hypocritical with “an effortless competence employed to structure a drawing for maximum comic effect,” Robert Mankoff, the magazine’s cartoon editor, said in an interview. Mr. Stevenson, he added, executed his cartoons with “a perfect combination of line and wash” (diluted ink).

In 1983, decades before Donald J. Trump became president, Mr. Stevenson depicted the yawning gap between wealth and poverty at the construction site of the luxurious Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. As people walk beneath scaffolding that displays the building’s name in capital letters, an unshaven, scruffy man sits with a sign at his feet that says, “Trump Bum.”

Mr. Stevenson’s tone reflected his heyday at the magazine, from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s, when William Shawn was its editor.

“It was humor where voting for different people didn’t disqualify you from dating someone,” Mr. Mankoff said. “It was congenial and more benign.”...

(birthday post from 2009)


(booklist and bio)

"With nearly one hundred picture books to his credit, James Stevenson
has become well known for his antic touch and light humor. He has
created a cast of characters, both human and animal, that make repeat
performances throughout many of his books, including the irascible
Worst—a grandfather who is anything but lovable; the witch-apprentice
Emma; and the more endearing Grandpa who tells tall tales and whoppers
to grandchildren Mary Ann and Louie. There are also the animals of Mud
Flats to make young children call for re-readings, as well as several
books of nostalgic and detail-filled reminiscences of what the world
was like when Stevenson was growing up. Award winning and a favorite
at story hour, Stevenson has also tried his hand at novels for younger
readers with the suspense-filled The Bones in the Cliff and its
sequel, The Unprotected Witness.

"In his picture books, Stevenson is noted for creating gently
humorous, animated stories that depict the world of childhood with
understanding and wit. He chooses sibling rivalry, nighttime fears,
boredom, and other concerns of family life as subjects and approaches
them from a child's point of view. Incorporating a subtle moral
message into his books, Stevenson carries an up-beat view of life
throughout his stories and illustrations, always ending on an
optimistic note. His sketchy, high-spirited drawings have also
illustrated the stories of such notable children's authors as Dr.
Seuss, Else Holmelund Minarik, Charlotte Zolotow, Franz Brandenberg,
Helen V. Griffith, and Jack Prelutsky....."