I was paroozing some crossword-related discussion boards, specifically wondering if the fact that I only ever do Richard Maltby's puzzles in Harper's means I'm really just a fan of Maltby's rather than cryptics in general.
I have definitely been completely frustrated trying to solve English cryptics (which require quite a bit of general knowledge), and also found the clues in Frank Lewis's Nation offerings to follow the cryptic "rules" much less strictly than I was used to, though maybe they were just going over my head.
In any case, someone mentioned that Maltby started setting puzzles for Harper's in January 1976, and he prefaced the first one with a nice little introduction to cryptics (subscribers-only link, images posted below) that even includes his "mental repunctiation" refrain. So I'm going to try that one and see whether he had that style from the beginning.
Also! it appears that Stephen Sondheim wrote puzzles for New York! Weird! They did a blog post with his first three. Apparently he is credited with developing the "US style" of cryptic. I am going to try those out as well.