May 31, 2023
Do you have any recollections from your collaboration with James Marshall on Roger’s Umbrella?
Dear Mr. Pinkwater,
In 2017 I was the University of Connecticut’s James Marshall Fellow and was given the opportunity to browse their collection of original materials to study his works (my area of focus, figuring out who Harry Allard was, exactly). While there, I found two drafts of Roger’s Umbrella. Both were final, one appeared to be a second attempt after (maybe) an editor’s request to try again.
There was something in the art that felt labored to me. There was little difference between the two versions, except that the second one seemed to have an even greater air of impatience about it (this is the one that would make it into print).
I wondered if Marshall found the project frustrating, and if he did, why? I can easily imagine the managing editor selling the project as a collaboration between the two “zaniest” creators of their times and I know from research that Marshall would have had every last one of his hackles up at that description. Whether or not that affected his perception of the work, I’ll never know.
I’m wondering if you had any particular feelings about the project? Or any recollections in general. For what its worth, I think Roger’s Umbrella is perfectly charming but I must admit the cartoon tiger protagonist feels very out of place compared to your other books and their main characters.
Thank you very much in advance for your reply.
I regret I never met, spoke with, or corresponded with James Marshall. It was all filtered through our mutual editor. I never knew if he chose not to communicate with me. I had no reason to wish not to communicate with him. Maybe it was the editor's way of holding power. Very few of the people I met in publishing behaved well.