Legendary New Yorker cartoonist Dana Fradon to appear at WestConn
Newtown resident to speak Sept. 27 about his cartoon art spanning six decades
DANBURY, CONN. — New Yorker cartoonist Dana Fradon, whose signature drawings lampooning monarchs, businessmen, bureaucrats and family life have been a staple feature of the magazine for nearly six decades, will discuss his works and his humor in a talk on Thursday, Sept. 27, at Western Connecticut State University.
Fradon, who has been under contract with The New Yorker magazine continuously since 1950, will speak about “Smiles, Laughs and ‘I Don’t Get It’s’” at 7:30 p.m. in Science Building Room 125 on WestConn’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The talk, sponsored by the university’s School of Arts and Sciences as part of the school’s celebration of its 30th anniversary, will be free and the public is invited.
“Dana Fradon’s work in The New Yorker is one of the reasons so many of us immediately flip through our magazine when it arrives,” said Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Linda Vaden-Goad. “His cartoons are fresh, irreverent, thoughtful and provoking.”
A native of Chicago, Fradon studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before beginning three years’ service in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. He resumed his artistic studies at the Art Students League of New York, and broke into the ranks of professional cartooning when he signed on to join the extraordinary group of cartoonists assembled by New Yorker founding editor Harold Ross. He currently resides in Newtown, Conn.
“Through the years, The New Yorker has published some 1,400 of my cartoons,” Fradon noted. “My published cartoons, distributed through The New Yorker Cartoon Bank, are reprinted around the globe – roughly 40 times a month – in books, magazines, newspapers and, yes, even on T-shirts.”
Among Fradon’s most readily recognized cartoons is the uncaptioned scoreboard of a mythical “Realists vs. Idealists” baseball game that shows the Idealists taking a drubbing from the Realists in the run counts for nearly every inning – yet the game total inexplicably shows the Idealists have prevailed by a 1-0 score. In another drawing of a crowned king addressing his royal cabinet, the monarch declares, “Gentlemen, the fact that all my horses and all my men couldn’t put Humpty together again simply proves to me that I must have more horses and more men.”
Many of Fradon’s most memorable works have depicted scenes in the business and political worlds, often finding humor in self-important bosses and politicians who appear ethically challenged. One of his most widely circulated New Yorker cartoons shows a business executive leaning into his intercom during a meeting in his office to ask, “Miss Dugan, will you send someone in here who can distinguish right from wrong?”
The late author and social commentator Alistair Cooke, who referred to Fradon in 1999 as “one of the last of the stable of fine cartoonists at The New Yorker,” described his favorite Fradon drawing of “a pathetic, drooping emperor sitting on his throne” as he listens to a toga-wearing senator referring to a scroll in his hand. “He looks up and says, ‘It’s true, Caesar, that Rome is declining, but I expect it to pick up in the next quarter,’” Cooke recalled.
Fradon also has earned critical acclaim as the author and artist of a prize-winning trilogy of children’s books that combine humor with historical information about characters and themes in medieval history. The three books, published by Dutton Children’s Books, include “Sir Dana: A Knight,” “Harold the Herald: A Book on Heraldry” and “The King’s Fool.” He has taught art at several higher education institutions including Parsons School of Design, a division of The New School in New York.
Vaden-Goad said Fradon’s lecture offers a special opportunity for members of the university and area communities to learn more about his remarkable body of work.
“He has a great deal to share about the successful career he built, and it is a great opportunity for anyone in art, illustration, writing, politics, journalism, communication, interpersonal relations and psychology to spend an evening with a master,” she said. “All are welcome!”
For more information, call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.