Famous models

Cartoon by Harry Bliss:

A little joke on the Famous Artists School, in the tradition of parodies of famous artworks (several posted about on this blog: The Scream, Nighthawks, Starry Night, various Magritte works, The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, for example).

Bliss is a cartoonist (on the New Yorker staff) and illustrator (especially of children’s books); website here. In a combination of these two activities, he’s been a contributor to the Little Lit series (for children) connected to the New Yorker:

Little Lit is a comic book anthology series published by New Yorker art editor, Françoise Mouly, and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Art Spiegelman. The couple had collaborated previously on RAW in the 1980s. Little Lit featured work by some of RAW‘s most famous contributors as well as established children’s book artists such as Maurice Sendak and Ian Falconer. Three volumes and one selected compilation have been published; the last volume was published in 2003, but now stand-alone books are being published in Toon Books, “from the Little Lit Library”.

Each volume of Little Lit is a collection of original comics created expressly for children, authored by major cartoonists and literary figures. Contributors include writers such as Paul Auster, Neil Gaiman, and David Sedaris; cartoonists such as Daniel Clowes, Tony Millionaire, and Chris Ware; and children’s writers such as William Joyce, Barbara McClintock and Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler). Volume one includes a vintage cartoon by Walt Kelly. (link)

Volume one also has Bliss’s modernized adaptation of the traditional English folktale “The Baker’s Daughter”  — the source of Ophelia’s lines in Hamlet:

They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.

(There were twin daughters, one good, one bad. The bad one got turned into an owl.)

Now, the Famous Artists School:

Famous Artists School has offered correspondence courses in art since it was founded in 1948 in Westport, Connecticut, U.S.A. The idea was conceived by Albert Dorne as a result of a conversation with Norman Rockwell. For the founding faculty, Dorne recruited John Atherton, Austin Briggs, Stevan Dohanos, Robert Fawcett, Peter Helck, Fred Ludekens, Al Parker, Norman Rockwell, Ben Stahl, Harold von Schmidt and Jon Whitcomb. All were making more than US$ 50,000 a year at the time, roughly equivalent to US $425,000 in 2006. Later faculty included cartoonists Al Capp, Milt Caniff and Rube Goldberg. Advisory faculty for the school later included Stuart Davis, Ben Shahn, Fletcher Martin, Ernest Fiene, Arnold Blanch and Doris Lee. (link)

A Famous Writers School set up shop in 1961 but closed down in a later scandal.

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