The image on the cover of this week’s issue was submitted by Edward Gorey more than twenty-five years ago. In 1992, when Tina Brown, as a new editor, sought to rejuvenate the magazine, she reached out to the artist. Gorey’s humor and style were a natural fit for The New Yorker, but it hadn’t yet published him. Gorey sent over two drawings, one of which was published as the cover of the December 21, 1992 issue.
I found the other image in the vault when I became the magazine’s art editor, in the spring of 1993, and it languished at the bottom of a drawer until just a few weeks ago, when Joan Acocella handed in her appreciation of Gorey’s work. When the piece was scheduled for this week’s issue, David Remnick asked if we had any unpublished work by Gorey, who died in 2000. Voilà!
Acocella, who writes apropos of a new biography of Gorey, notes many of the aesthetic tics that mark his work, even when the image is simply one of cats on a bed. Here she is on Gorey’s love of furniture and hatching:
Somehow, in between the moviegoing, the ballet attendance, and work on
the Anchor covers, Gorey managed to go on creating art books of a
singular quality. Most of them were set in the Victorian or Edwardian
period, like “The Doubtful Guest.” How he loved the furniture and
clothes of that era, their fanciness, their fussiness: the watch fobs,
the quilted dressing gowns! He said that he ﬁlched most of this
material from Dover books on nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century
design. He gave his overdecorated world a suitable graphic context.
Gorey was famous for his hatching and cross-hatching, endowing his
ﬁgures with depth and tone by building them up out of thin parallel
lines. See the drawing of breakfast time at the Doubtful Guest’s
adopted home: the carefully varied arrangement of thin lines in the
wallpaper and the paintings. That is hatching. Cross-hatching is the
placing of one set of hatching, at an angle, over another, as in the
tablecloth and the father’s suit.
“It joined them at breakfast and presently ate / All the syrup and toast, and a part of a plate.”
Edward Gorey, The Doubtful Guest, Doubleday, 1957
See below for a few more covers that feature cats:
“May 11, 1968,” by William Steig.
“Luxurious, Quiet, and Cozy,” by J. J. Sempé.
“Sleeping with Your Cat,” by Gahan Wilson.
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