Friday, December 19, 2014

Grinch Storyboard Drawing: Singing Without Any Presents at All

Who can forget when the Grinch realizes he hasn't stolen Christmas after all? Chuck Jones's 1966 animated television special of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" remains the most successful screen adaptation of any book by Dr. Seuss. When all the Whos down in Whoville react to the Grinch's night of thievery by gathering together to sing, the Grinch finally experiences his big change of heart. This storyboard drawing is signed by Chuck Jones.

Storyboard drawing from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" (1966) signed by Chuck Jones. Private collection.
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" (1966)
Film Still 1:13
Excerpt from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" (1966)
Directed by Chuck Jones

Dr. Seuss, Singing Whos from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957)

Storyboard drawing from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" (1966) signed by Chuck Jones. Private collection.

Note:  Click on the link for a few other Grinchy posts about Chuck Jones.

Don't tell me there are still Christmas posts here you haven't read!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: The Pothunters and Other School Stories by P. G. Wodehouse

The Pothunters and Other School Stories
P.G. Wodehouse

P. G. Wodehouse famously wrote ninety-two books. This volume collects the first three of them. These early books are school stories. They were popular in their day and many readers became Wodehouse fans for life.

Wodehouse's first novel is The Pothunters, first published in 1902. The plot concerns some purloined silver trophies (the pots of the title) from the Cricket Pavilion at a boarding school called St. Austin's. Overall, it is weak and demonstrates numerous missed opportunities for humor. If people are reading this today, it's solely on the strength of young Wodehouse's authorship, and not because of any great intrinsic merit. Wodehouse is still on training wheels here.

A Prefect's Uncle, his second book from 1902, is a little better, although not all that much. There is a long and glorious tradition in Wodehouse's fiction of nettlesome aunts and uncles, and this novel is apparently the beginning of it all, although the uncle in question is unusually underage.

Finally, Tales of St. Austin's dates from 1903, the year Wodehouse turned 22. It is a collection of short stories and is a notable improvement on the earlier books. "The Manoeuvres of Charteris" is the centerpiece here, an amusing story in six chapters. Less happily, there are four first-person opinion pieces tacked on at the end which are not in keeping with the style of the rest of the book. I suppose it's understandable for a young author to wish to collect all his scattershot musings and preserve them in book form, but overall it doesn't really make for a unified book.

Note:  I have a couple of other blog posts related to P. G. Wodehouse.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Matthew Diffee's Life of the Party

An unpublished 2013 cartoon by Matthew Diffee carries a timely warning for Chanukah. The drawing was sold early this year in a charity auction for Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai and his wife Sharon. A total of fifty bids were placed on eBay. Unfortunately Sharon Sakai passed away just last month succumbing to a brain tumor.

Matthew Diffee, "Wade Greenberg, wearing his hemp blazer, inadvertently

becomes the life of the party when he stands too close to the menorah."
EBay Listing Ended January 15, 2014
EBay Item Description

Matthew Diffee, "Wade Greenberg, wearing his hemp blazer, inadvertently becomes the life of the party when he stands too close to the menorah."
"Highly smudgable!" --Diffee

Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo
Fifty bids!

Note:  Usually my blog posts about Matthew Diffee are less incendiary.


An Anniversary

Shortly after my parents' 57th wedding anniversary last year my mother passed away following a long illness. Today would have been Mom and Dad's 58th anniversary but instead it has become an uncomfortable emptiness in the calendar. Here is an instrumental version of my parents' song, the Gershwins' "I've Got a Crush on You." This recording by Thad Jones dates from 1956, the year of their marriage.

"I've Got a Crush on You" (1928)
Performed by Thad Jones (1956)
from "The Magnificent Thad Jones"
George Gershwin, Music
(Ira Gershwin, Lyrics)


Monday, December 15, 2014

A Ronald Searle Christmas Inscription

A fine copy of Ronald Searle dans Le Monde bears an original inscription from the Searles to Ronald Searle's American representative. This book is the original French edition collecting Searle's political work for Le Monde. The inscription is dated Christmas 1998.

Ronald Searle dans Le Monde, 1998
Ronald Searle dans Le Monde, 1998
Inscribed "Eileen--/with all love/from/Mo & Ronald/Christmas/1998"
Scan courtesy of David from Manhattan

Note:  More of Ronald Searle's art can be enjoyed in the blog archives.

Perpetua, the Ronald Searle tribute blog discusses Searle's work for Le Monde.

Signed books are a favorite topic here. Do feel free to share here from your own library.

And let's not forget all the Christmas posts. 'Tis the season!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ronald Searle: Santa at the Shrine

What does Santa Clause do in the off season? Here he ventures to warmer climes and finds his way to a Santa shrine with the help of a guidebook and a perplexed reindeer. Ronald Searle pencilled in the whole sheet but inked only the intrepid travelers. Why did he abandon this? Could there be a problem with this audacious composition? If so, what? Searle went on to use the other side of the sheet and left this little gem in its unfinished state with his stamp (dated 1998) and an inscription.

Note:  Ronald Searle could hardly touch pen to paper without creating something sensational. Check out all the blog posts in the archives.

Perpetua, the Ronald Searle tribute blog has an extensive collection of Searle Santas.

This blog also boasts its own jolly collection of Santas. Ho ho ho!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Frank Sullivan and George Price: A Moose in the Hoose

Humorist Frank Sullivan wrote for the New Yorker and was a member of the Algonquin Round Table. In 1959 he published A Moose in the Hoose, a Christmas story illustrated by cartoonist George Price, who also worked for the magazine. The illustrations are colored in suitable reds and greens as well as blue and gray. The story relates how the Creevy family deals with a moose in the--ahem!--hoose. Price's drawings depict some antic goings on. The book bears a Christmas inscription and the signature of Sullivan.

The Creevy family is apparently based on the family of Russell Crouse, a playwright who was part of the team Lindsay and Crouse. Their most famous collaboration was the book for "The Sound of Music." The eBay seller, who seems to have access to some Crouse family lore, notes that Crouse and Sullivan may have worked together once in radio. This seems plausible enough.

Russell Crouse is the inspiration for the character Wendel Creevy. Crouse's wife Anna is Anna Creevy. The children Timothy and Lindsay Ann also have the same first names in the story. The name Lindsay Ann, the actress Lindsay Crouse, is a play on the name of the writing team Lindsay and Crouse. The seller notes, "It also has the inscription of 'Russel Crouse alias Wendel Creevy.'" It would be more accurate to call that a signature. Compare the writing to a 1951 signed photograph of Russell Crouse. Note the similarity in the shape of the letters and how the central portion of the name is underlined. This must have been Crouse's copy of the book and his children, to whom the book is dedicated, are selling it. It's an interesting copy of the book, perhaps the most interesting to be found anywhere, and it has been languishing on eBay for at least a year. The price has been reduced for the time being from $50 to $45 with free shipping.

Signed and inscribed "Merry Christmas/Frank Sullivan"
Is it possible that the children to whom this book is in part dedicated may have drawn in it?

Other animals have entered the hoose as well.

Well, there's something you don't see every day.

Dedication page signed "Russell Crouse/alias/Wendel Creevy"

EBay Listing

EBay Item Description
[End of eBay listing]

A Moose in the Hoose signature

Known signature of Russel Crouse, 1951

Note:  George Price has been written about extensively in these pages, but could there ever truly be enough?

Why not grab some eggnog and peruse this blog's festive assortment of Christmas posts?


My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #454

After two weeks of failing to submit my caption, I've finally gotten my act back together. Here then is my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #454 for December 8, 2014. The heavenly drawing is by P. C. Vey.

"Now if only we could keep out the hackers."

December 15, 2014 Update:  The Finalists

Note:  Last week Ethan Kanin's cartoon took us into the bullring. I didn't submit my caption and got gored. See the inhumane results of Contest #453.

P. C. Vey's clever cartoons are a staple of the Caption Contest. See my past entries in the archives.

Why not grab some eggnog and peruse this blog's festive assortment of Christmas posts?


Friday, December 12, 2014

The New Yorker Book of Political Cartoons Signed by Four New Yorker Cartoonists

An extraordinary copy of The New Yorker Book of Political Cartoons (2000) was sold last month on eBay and is worth looking into. The book is signed and inscribed by no fewer than four New Yorker cartoonists, each of whom contributed a drawing. The cartoonists are Roz Chast, Edward Koren, Arnie Levin, and Danny Shanahan. Danny Shanahan's drawing is appropriately political while the other three cartoonists do pretty much their own thing.

The eBay seller's item description notes one drawing, not four, misspells Koren and signed, and omits cartoonist Roz Chast altogether. It lists the condition as new where there is obviously some wear to the lower edge of the dust jacket. Otherwise, it's pretty darned accurate. The book had been listed for the better part of a year with a Buy It Now price of $500. It sold with the Make Offer option for $250. The seller is evidently the original recipient or a relation.

The New Yorker Book of Political Cartoons (2000)

The New Yorker Book of Political Cartoons signed, inscribed, and illustrated by four New Yorker cartoonists. Clockwise from top right, a politician irritates both Democrats and Republicans inscribed "For Richard--/All the best./Danny Shanahan," a fish eyes a set of golf clubs inscribed "For Richard Pepitone/with best regards/Edward Koren/9-27-00," a family of three inscribed "To/Richard/Pepitone/Cheers!/Roz Chast," and a cat and a dog inscribed "Best--/Richard/Arnie Levin."

The EBay Listing as it Appeared in March or April 2014

EBay Item Description
EBay Listing Ended November 26, 2014
The Accepted Best Offer:  $250

Note:  This is the best copy I've ever seen of The New Yorker Book of Political Cartoons or indeed of any of the themed collections put out by the Cartoon Bank. It's hard to imagine there aren't other copies somewhere out there with original drawings of equal interest. Attempted Bloggery is always eager to show off great keepsakes like this tucked away in private libraries. Share one here and you can even choose to remain anonymous, unless your name happens to be written all over the place like Richard Pepitone's.

While your scanner is warming up, be sure not to miss Attempted Bloggery's virtual collection of signed books with original drawings,

As long as you're browsing the archives, you might also want to check out my blog posts about the quartet of cartoonists who illuminated this particular small volume:
Roz Chast
Edward Koren
Arnie Levin
Danny Shanahan

And don't forget: 'Tis the season for Christmas posts too.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sexcapades: With a Handshake from Al Ross

It must have been a cordial visit. In 1976, more than two decades after the 1953 publication of Sexcapades, cartoonist Al Ross met with one Ben. Ross signed and inscribed to him a copy of Sexcapades and drew a loose sketch of a handshake. That would make this one of the most desirable copies of the book available although the book is, for all practical purposes, forgotten. While Al Ross is certainly not forgotten, the value of such a book, according to a recent eBay sale, is about $20.

Al Ross, Sexcapades: The Love Life of the Modern Homo Sapiens, 1953

Al Ross, Sexcapades: The Love Life of the Modern Homo Sapiens, 1953
Signed and inscribed with a drawing of a handshake, "To Ben/on the visit/5/13/76/Ross"

EBay Listing Ended September 20, 2014

EBay Item Description
A single early bid went unchallenged.

Al Ross, Sexcapades: The Love Life of the Modern Homo Sapiens, 1953
Signed and inscribed with a drawing of a handshake, "To Ben/on the visit/5/13/76/Ross"

Note:  As usual, you may click on the link to see more posts about the not forgotten Al Ross.

This blog has accumulated a pretty sweet virtual library of signed books with original drawings, if I do say so myself. Be sure to have a look. Then let me know if you'd like to add a book of your own.

Also, it's the most wonderful time of the year to read my Christmas posts.