Scenes from Lovecraft’s New York City in the 1930s by Wortman — a news-stand, a cheap cafe, and a burgled studio. Wortman was a syndicated single-panel cartoonist with whose work Lovecraft was familiar by the early 1930s.

The Walforf being an exclusive upmarket hotel.

In one such Wortman cartoon, Lovecraft wrote in early 1933…

… our old friend George Willard Kirk & his Chelsea Book Shop are very plainly delineated. G K is shewn leaning against the wall in a very characteristick posture, & even his face is distinctly suggested despite certain departures from line-for-line realism.

A 280-page book on Wortman appeared in 2010, Denys Wortman’s New York: Portrait of the City in the 30s and 40s, during the writing of which the author found 5,000 drawings that were in a hazardous state of preservation. There was also an exhibition, “Denys Wortman Rediscovered: Drawings for the World-Telegram and Sun, 1930-1953″.

I can’t immediately find out where the Wortman archives are held now, though The Center for Cartoon Studies will know. Somewhere in among the 5,000 drawings, from circa 1930 – early 1933 is likely to be the good pencil portrait of Kalem member Kirk as mentioned by Lovecraft in his letter. Possibly someone with access to a U.S. newspapers archive for that period might pick up a good scan of the syndicated printed version. The title was the New York World from 1930 to 1931, then became the New York World-Telegram thereafter, but ‘syndicated’ means that other newspapers also reprinted the same cartoons.

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