the years, the Gazette has had the pleasure of
working with some wonderful artists and photographers, and in the
coming issues we will be highlighting the work of several. But for
our first Centennial issue, Arnold Roth seemed a natural choice.
He has illustrated
no less than 11 covers for usincluding the one for this issueas
well as countless pieces for the inside of the magazine. Well, maybe
not countless, but none of us can count very well, and Roth
doesnt have any idea either, so well just say lots and
leave it at that.
consider ourselves very, very lucky. His work, as the selection
here confirms, always seems to capture the essence of a story in
a way that is irreverent, insightful, and often hilarious.
Roth enjoys tweaking
history, and he knows a thing or two about anniversary issues. His
first cover for the Gazette, in March 1975, featured an anonymous
Founding Father laughing so hard at something hes just added to
the Constitution that hes falling over backwards, sending his double-barreled
inkstand flying off the table. When the University celebrated its
250th anniversary in 1990, Roth illustrated the Gazettes
entire 128-page anniversary issue. (The cover featured Ben Franklin
holding a 250th-anniversary T-shirt, hot off an 18th-century printing
Roth doesnt remember
when his first illustration for the Gazette was, or who the
editor was at the time, though he thinks he might have been doing
work for the Gazette in the late 50s even. But hes not
I remember a few covers,
he says. Of course I remember the 250th one, with Ben Franklin
and the printer. I did that entire issue. And of course I remember
the baseball one. That was the cover of our July/August issue in
1999, which featured a puckish depiction of the Philadelphia Phillies
for our cover story on the teams president, David Montgomery W68
WG70. It was a subject close to his heart, he admits: Ive cheered
for the Phillies my entire life, which is more than they
That loyalty is characteristic.
Although the 71-year-old Roth has lived in Manhattan for the last
two decades, he still loves the city where he spent his first half-century,
and he clearly delights in working on Philadelphia-related subjects.
He has a similar fondness for Penn, even though he didnt go there.
I owe a great debt
to Penn, he says, because Im from North Philly originally, and
when I was a little kid I used to wander the campus and go to the
University Museum and Houston Hallthey had movies and all, and
as long as you behaved yourself you could come back. I even occasionally
got to Penn Saturday-afternoon [football] games. One time, it rained
through the whole game, and I think it ended up Penn-Princeton in
a 6-6 tie. That was during the warI think it was 42, 43and if
you brought a bucket of scrap metal theyd let you in. I sat behind
the goalposts in the pouring rainbut I wasnt gonna leave.
Over the years, his
work has graced practically every important magazine in the country,
ranging from Esquire and The New Yorker to Playboy
and Rolling Stone. For 20 years he produced an illustrated
Report from America for Punch (taking over from the prose
of P.G. Wodehouse), and he penned a syndicated comic strip titled
Poor Arnolds Almanac. Last fall, Fantagraphics Books published
a 50-year-retrospective collection of his worktitled, in a stroke
of candor, Free Lancethat accompanied a traveling exhibition
of his cartooning.
So were very glad
that he still finds it in his heart to do work for the Gazette.
Its always been a very pleasurable relationship, working with
all these bright, professional people, he says. Ive always enjoyed
it and I think theyve always put out a very good, quality publication.
pay him to say that. But then, he knew hed never get rich working
for the Gazette.