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Humorist, cartoonist, writer, playwright. James Thurber was to the twentieth century what Mark Twain was to the nineteenth. At one point, his books were the most read of any American in the world. His work could be found anywhere—from the pages of the New Yorker to the pages of children’s books, from illustrated advertisements to tea towels and dresses. Now, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Thurber’s birth, A Mile and a Half of Lines: The Art of James Thurber is a long overdue introduction and reintroduction to James Thurber and the artwork that fundamentally changed American cartoons.
Including some 260 drawings, this collection is the first comprehensive focus on his work as an artist, a cartoonist, and an illustrator. With commentary from a host of preeminent cartoonists and writers, including Ian Frazier, Seymour Chwast, and Michael Maslin, A Mile and a Half of Lines celebrates the significance of Thurber’s spontaneous, unstudied, and novel drawing style that not only altered the nature of American cartooning but also expanded the very possibilities of an illustrated line. Coinciding with the first major retrospective of Thurber’s art presented by the Columbus Museum of Art in 2019, A Mile and a Half of Lines showcases both classic Thurber as well as visual material never before seen in print.
About the Author
Michael J. Rosen is a writer, an illustrator, and an editor who has collaborated with the Thurber Estate and written about the works of James Thurber for almost forty years. He was the founding literary director of the Thurber House and has edited six volumes of Thurber’s work.
James Thurber (1894–1961), the twentieth century’s most popular American humorist, authored nearly three dozen collections of cartoons, essays, stories, fables, and biographical works—much of which he published as one of the original voices of the New Yorker magazine—in addition to creating a shelf of classic children’s books, the gem-like autobiography My Life and Hard Times, and two Broadway productions.
“Thurber’s wit sustains life. He towers over all.” —Maira Kalman
“Thurber’s drawings dropped into the pages of the New Yorker like graphic boulders in a placid pond.”—Michael Maslin, New Yorker cartoonist
“The most wonderful thing about Thurber’s drawings is how they prove the point of a cartoon is not to show off a mastery of perspective or anatomy, or that the cartoonist can render a horse—or a sea—better than anyone else on the planet. Not that I can tell you what the point is, other than it has a lot more to do with being funny than anatomy.”—Roz Chast, author of Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?