Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Acquisitions: Henry Tuthill and the Art Guys

by Robert Boyd

I haven't done one of these in a while. But I got a couple of pieces of art worth celebrating recently. First was a Sunday page of the Bungle Family by Henry Tuthill. The Bungle Family was a strip that ran from 1918 through the 40s that is largely forgotten today. It's a shame that so few know about it--it's a devilishly funny strip, playing with the everyday hypocrisies of the Bungles and their friends in their lower middle class existence. If Gasoline Alley is a strip set in a similar milieu about a group of neighbors who, by and large, love each other, The Bungle Family is its opposite. That may be, I suppose, why people have a warm, nostalgic feeling about Gasoline Alley as opposed to The Bungle Family. That's a shame, because The Bungle Family is brilliant.

Henry Tuthill
Henry Tuthill, The Bungle Family, pen & ink and watercolor on bristol paper, February 27, 1927

The beautiful thing is that Tuthill hand-colored this strip. Now as it appeared in the newspapers, the color was done via mechanical separations overlaid on a photostat of the black-and-white art. (I realize that for you younger readers, I just use a bunch of utterly archaic art terms here.) So that means he sent this page--which is huge, 24" x 29"--to his syndicate, who made a stat then sent it back to Tuthill, at which point he painted the original. Presumably he did this purely for his own pleasure, and he did it a lot--every week for six years.

Henry Tuthill
Henry Tuthill, The Bungle Family detail, pen & ink and watercolor on bristol paper, February 27, 1927

His coloring is beautiful, too. I'm very pleased to be able to add this page to my small collection of Bungle family dailies.

On Saturday morning on October 8, there was a big yard sale/art sale at Skydive. It was a benefit for Sasha Dela to help with some serious doctor/insurance bills. One of the things for sale was this:

The Art Guys
The Art Guys, Smiling Eyes (for Sasha Dela), googly eyes on paper, 2011

I bought it--it was a bargain, frankly. And for a great cause. The Art Guys have been using googly eyes in their work since at least 1998. I bought a googly-eye item from them last year, in fact. I don't know where Smiling Eyes fits into their googly-eye canon, but it is cheerful! (Unlike the disturbing googly-eye Lane Hagood paintings, The Diseased Writer.)


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