Thursday, July 18, 2019

Charles Saxon: Bomber Pilot, New Yorker Cartoonist

Charles David Saxon (1920-1988), born Charles David Isaacson in Brooklyn, was a 1940 graduate of Columbia University (he entered in his mid-teens) who later for many years was a major cartoon contributor to The New Yorker magazine.

During World War 2 he piloted B-24 bombers on raids over Germany and northwestern Europe. He can be seen in the photo above standing just to the right of the English boy.

Saxon's Wikipedia entry is here, and information regarding his military service is here.

His family background appears to have been upper-middle class, and those people and upper-class folks were his usual cartoon subjects.

Below are samples of his sketchy, slightly spare, but effective and appropriate (for his subject matter) style. Unfortunately for Saxon and us, a change in New Yorker editorship essentially ended his career there. However, he also derived income illustrating advertising material.

There is a common element in each of the cartoons below. Do you notice it?


What appears in each cartoon is at least one painting. In some cases, paintings are the subject. In others, they are part of the setting. I think Saxon deliberately chose the type of setting painting as one of his environmental means to define the people acting out the cartoon's punchline.


Administrator said...

Thank you for a great post, Donald. Saxon is one of my great heroes.

Lately, I've been looking at his art very carefully. More specifically, I've put some of his pictures into Corel Painter and turned on the Perspective Grid. It's fun to locate the exact positions of his horizon lines and vanishing points.

This guy was a Master Blaster of perspective, and yet his lines were always so fluid and graceful.


Steve Kobb

justher said...

I appreciate your articulate and accurate comments about Saxon's style and virtues as an artist (he's my father).

However, please remember his first name is Charles!

Amanda Saxon

justher said...

Ahhh. I know my vision is faltering, and it caught me up here.

I just caught your punctuation after "Donald". You were addressing the author of this site.


I am glad, though, to be able to add the following comment which I thought after I pressed send.

Dad would have very much appreciated your astute comments about his sense of perspective, especially as he was entirely self-taught.

He would also have liked that I was reading this compliment long after he's gone. He always felt his children didn't appreciate his achievements, and he's probably right.

We had a fraught relationship. I often wish I could have some missing conversations with him and correct some of the omissions.


PS Where in the world did "justher" come from? I have no recollection of choosing that Google ID - or is that a default name?

Donald Pittenger said...

Amanda -- Thank you for finding my Saxon article. Much appreciate your comments and the background info. I wonder how much being flak bait in a B-24 might have affected his personality.