Once upon a time there was a drawing of a man and his dog. It was by William Steig. It was what the distinguished artist produced when we asked him to draw something that we at the Neighborhood could use as a, a, a…. (it’s to the right)… something. A Logo is the word I am hoping to avoid. For the first months when Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood was getting going in the spring of 2000 it sat at the upper left corner of the front page. Eventually we started working with Elisha Cooper, author of several excellent illustrated books.
Cooper had spent some time working at The New Yorker, and when we asked him to adapt this visual theme into something of his own he responded with a certain amount of horror.
Apparently, Cooper’s idol at the New Yorker was Saul Steinberg (a contemporary of Steig’s). Steinberg’s most famous creation was probably the New Yorker cover depicting the New Yorker’s world view: Eighth Avenue, Ninth Avenue, and Tenth Avenue in the foreground, New Jersey a sliver, California a line, China a speck on the horizon, etc. This idea had been much copied and it made Steinberg unhappy. Cooper was worried about being a copier. But we convinced him he was a liberator. We had paid our money but only acquired electronic rights to Steig’s image. If he made it his own, he would make it our own. We could put it on a piece of paper, or maybe a T-Shirt.
Cooper did a variation on Steig’s theme. Then he did another. Then another, and another, and now there is a series of people walking their dogs in different neighborhoods.
More Elisha Cooper drawings at elishacooper.com