Known for his brilliant cartoons and award-winning children's books, William Steig (1907-2003) leaves a legacy that spans much of the twentieth century. This lavishly illustrated book features over 280 of Steig's drawings, many of them previously unpublished, and examines every aspect of his work, from the "Small Fry" cartoons-his earliest submissions to the New Yorker- and haunting symbolic drawings of the late 1930s and 1940s, to his later, bitingly funny cartoons and celebrated books for children.
In the seventy-three years that Steig worked for the New Yorker, the magazine published over 120 of his covers and more than 1,600 of his drawings in a wide range of styles, including classic cartoons, psychologically fraught pen-and-ink renderings, and Picasso-esque representations. He brought a new voice to the magazine by creating cartoons that drew on his experience as a son of immigrant Eastern European Jews. In his sixties, Steig embarked on a second career as a writer and illustrator of children's books, including Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and Shrek! These remarkable projects bring together numerous key elements of Steig's work: his evocative use of reverie, his interest in cranks and complainers, and his belief in the redeeming power of love, nature, and art.
The story of Steig's work is told by Claudia J. Nahson and the cartoonist's fellow artists and writers, and his family members. Together they create a portrait of a penetrating social observer with a restless imagination and a love for his craft.
Claudia J. Nahson is associate curator at The Jewish Museum, New York. Robert Cottingham is a photo-realist painter whose work is in major museum collections in the United States and abroad. Maurice Sendak is an acclaimed author and illustrator of children's books. Edward Sorel is an artist and author whose work has appeared frequently in the Atlantic, the New Yorker, and many other publications. Jeanne Steig, wife of William Steig from 1973 until his death, is an artist and the author of many books for children, most of them illustrated by William Steig. Maggie Steig is the daughter of William Steig.