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George Booth (1926–)

George Booth (1926–) Cartoonist, by Gustav Michalon

George Booth

George Booth was Born June 28, 1926, in Cainsville, MO.

Career

Cartoonist. Leatherneck magazine, U.S. Marine Corps, staff cartoonist, 1946-52; Bill Communications, New York, NY, art director, 1958-64; freelance cartoonist and illustrator, 1964—; New Yorker, New York, NY, cartoonist, 1969—. Has also worked on advertising campaigns and designed greeting cards. Exhibitions: Work included in “Lines of the Times: Fifty Years of Great American Cartoons,” Art Institute of Boston, 1993. Military service: Served in U.S. Marine Corps.

Awards, Honors

New York Film Festival Animation award, 1994; Reuben magazine cartoon award, National Cartoonists Society, 1994; named an honorary member of Class of 1939, Colgate University, 2003; honorary doctorate of fine arts degree, Stony Brook State University.

George Booth

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Think Good Thoughts about a Pussycat, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1975.

Rehearsal’s Off!, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1976.

(And editor, with Gahan Wilson and Ron Wolin) Animals, Animals, Animals: A Collection of Great Animal Cartoons, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1979.

Pussycats Need Love, Too, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1980.

Kenneth R. Hine, editor, Omnibooth: The Best of George Booth, Congdon & Weed (New York, NY), 1984.

Booth Again!: More of George Booth, Andrews, McMeel (Kansas City, MO), 1989.

Lee Lorenz, editor, The Essential George Booth, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.

George Booth

ILLUSTRATOR

Theo. Lessig, Wacky Wednesday, Beginner Books (New York, NY), 1974.

Henry Morgan, Dogs, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1976.

John Peers and Gordon Bennett, editors, 1,001 Logical Laws, Accurate Axioms, Profound Principles, Trusty Truisms, Homey Homilies, Colorful Corollaries, Quotable Quotes, and Rambunctious Ruminations for All Walks of Life, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.

Henry Morgan, The Uncensored Letters of Loretta Pernie, Congdon & Weed (New York, NY), 1982.

Nancy Van Laan, Possum Come a-Knockin’, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990.

April Halprin, It’s Not My Turn to Look for Grandma!, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.

Chad Stuart, The Ballymara Flood, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1996.

Bill Cosby, Cosbyology: Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

Candace Fleming, Who Invited You?, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2001.

Nancy Van Laan, Nit-Pickin’, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2001.

Jean Conder Soule, Never Tease a Weasel, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

Harry Allard, Starlight Goes to Town, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor of illustrations to books, including New Yorker Album of Drawings, 1925-1975, Viking (New York, NY), 1975; New Yorker Book of Cat Cartoons, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990; New Yorker Book of Business Cartoons, Bloomberg Press (New York, NY), 1998; New Yorker Book of Kids Cartoons: And the People Who Live with Them, edited by Robert Mankoff and Roz Chast, Bloomberg Press (New York, NY), 2001; and The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker, edited by Robert Mankoff, Black Dog & Leventhal (New York, NY), 2004. Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and Look.

George Booth
 

Sidelights

George Booth, a celebrated cartoonist whose whimsical and irreverent works have appeared in the New Yorker since 1969, has illustrated several critical acclaimed picture books for young readers, including Candace Fleming’s Who Invited You? and Jean Conder Soule’s Never Tease a Weasel. George Booth’s “signature images, delineated with extraordinary graphic flair, are recognized around the globe,” noted Carol Strickland in the New York Times.

Born in Cainsville, Missouri, in 1928, George Booth began cartooning for the Leatherneck while serving with the U.S. Marines. After working as an art director in New York, he sold his first cartoon to the New Yorker at the age of forty-three, and he has been a regular contributor ever since. “George Booth has a great eye for the bizarre but telling detail,” art editor Lee Lorenz told Strickland. “I guess I just enjoy insanity,” the cartoonist remarked.

George Booth
Photo of George Booth

In 1974 George Booth provided the artwork for his first children’s book, Wacky Wednesday by Theo. Lessig (better known as Dr. Seuss). He later collaborated with Nancy Van Laan on a pair of works, Possum Come a-Knockin’ and Nit-Pickin’. In the former, a wily, top-hatted possum plays a series of pranks on the unwitting members of an eccentric household. “The characters that populate Booth’s cartoon-like illustrations have a goofy charm,” a contributor remarked in Publishers Weekly. Nit-Pickin’, a work told in verse, concerns an infestation of head lice.

George Booth teamed with April Halprin on It’s Not My Turn to Look for Grandma!, which centers on a scrappy hillbilly family. When her four children fail to convince Grandma that there is important work to be done around the house, she coaxes her relatives out of seclusion with a special banjo tune. In the words of Virginia E. Jeschelnig, writing in School Library Journal, the narrative’s “mountain twang is well paired with wild cartoon illustrations that highlight its sassy tone.”

In The Ballymara Flood, a picture book by Chad Stuart, a young boy overflows his bathtub and proceeds to flood his small Irish town, creating a panic that forces the mayor to call on the navy for assistance. Stuart and Booth “fill the town with wacky and inept bureaucrats who enact one slapstick scene after another,” noted a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. “Booth’s pen-and-ink and watercolor cartoons, reminiscent of some of James Stevenson’s work, are the perfect foil for this humorous tale,” remarked Marianne Saccardi in School Library Journal.

Set in a bayou swamp, Fleming’s Who Invited You? a counting book focuses on a young girl and her boatful of annoying and unwelcome animals, which includes a muskrat, heron, and frog. Booth’s illustrations feature “a cast of critters with the inimitable wide-eyed, seemingly electrocuted look that fans of his New Yorker cartoons will immediately recognize,” noted a Publishers Weekly contributor, and Linda Ludke, writing in School Library Journal, stated that his “animated ink-and-watercolor illustrations match the frenzied rhymes of the text.”

First published in 1964, Never Tease a Weaselwas reissued in 2007 with new artwork by Booth. Soule’s rhyming text presents a variety of ways to live in harmony with mules, skunks, and other creatures. Booth’s pictures “combine the sophistication of line with a real zaniness of spirit,” observed Carolyn Phelan in Booklist, and School Library Journal reviewer Marilyn Taniguchi remarked that his “drawings with bright daubs of color perfectly capture the lighthearted goings-on.”

George Booth

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Lorenz, Lee, editor, The Essential George Booth, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 1996, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Ballymara Flood, p. 1375; February 15, 1999, Gordon Flagg, review of The Essential George Booth, p. 1023; October 15, 2001, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Who Invited You?, p. 400; January 1, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Never Tease a Weasel, p. 116.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of Who Invited You?, p. 1357; January 15, 2007, review of Never Tease a Weasel, p. 81.

New Yorker, December 7, 1998, David Owen, “Booth Country,” p. 130.

New York Times, February 7, 1993, Carol Strickland, “Flights of Lunacy on the Drawing Board.”

Print, March-April, 1992, Lee Lorenz, “Inside the New Yorker: Portraits and Self-Portraits,” p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, March 30, 1990, Diane Roback, review of Possum Come a-Knockin’, p. 61; June 26, 1995, review of It’s Not My Turn to Look for Grandma!, p. 106; March 10, 1996, review of The Ballymara Flood, p. 65; October 1, 2001, review of Who Invited You? p. 61.

School Library Journal, August 1995, Virginia E. Jeschelnig, review of It’s Not My Turn to Look for Grandma!, p. 131; June 1996, Marianne Saccardi, review of The Ballymara Flood, p. 111; October 2001, Linda Ludke, review of Who Invited You?, p. 114; March 2007, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Never Tease a Weasel, p. 186.

Yale Daily News, March 4, 2005, Emily Coates, “The New Kids at the New Yorker: How The New Generation of Cartoonists Is Remaking the Magazine.”

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Written by Gustav Michalon

Gustav Michalon is a contributing writer of Toons Mag. He writes about cartoons and cartoonists.

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