May 30th, 2013
by Brian Walker, Greg Walker and Chance Browne
I have always admired the work of Norman Rockwell and have visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts many times.
One of his most well known Saturday Evening Post covers is “The Gossips” from 1948.
At the time he painted this, Rockwell was living in Arlington, Vermont. He heard that one of his neighbors was spreading a nasty rumor about him. This got him thinking about how gossip is passed from one person to another.
He started by using a few friends as models and by the time he was finished, many of the residents of his small town were included. He worried that some of the neighbors might be offended so he added his wife and himself to the composition. Mary Rockwell is the second and third face in the third row, talking on the phone. Norman is the gentleman wearing the gray felt hat in the bottom row.
At the end, the same lady who started the rumor is getting an earful from Rockwell. The gossip that inspired this piece supposedly never talked to Rockwell again.
This Hi and Lois Sunday page from 2003 was loosely based on “The Gossips.”
I thought back on my own high school experiences when I came up with this idea. It was often less risky to ask a girl out if you knew how she felt about you. The best way to get this information was to check with her friends, resulting in a chain of conversations similar to the one Rockwell depicted on his famous cover. In the end, what came back was not always that helpful.
People frequently ask cartoonists where they get their ideas. The answer is, wherever you can find them.
– Brian Walker
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