Monday, July 21, 2014

Peter Arno: Got Milk?

This preposterous drawing by Peter Arno stands--or crawls--on its own. The caption is not only weak but rather superfluous.

Peter Arno, "Can Papa milk the cow?"
Illustration House, Lot 109, June 2, 2007
Note:  You'll find more of Peter Arno's Grade A work all over this blog.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tourists at Niagara Falls

Platt D. Babbitt made his living photographing tourists on the American side of Niagara Falls. This daguerrotype of visitors in their finery is about 160 years old. The image is quite appealing and it sold for $2,750 with the buyer's premium.

Platt D. Babbitt, Daguerrotype, c. 1854


Elaine Stritch Sings "I'm Still Here"

Here's another of the late Elaine Stritch's signature numbers, this one originally from "Follies" (1971).

Elaine Stritch sings "I'm Still Here" from "Follies" (1971)
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Goldman
Excerpt from "Elaine Stritch At Liberty" (2002)

Note:  The ink is barely dry on my recent post about Elaine Stritch. Somehow that metaphor doesn't work on the internet.

Did you know I'm just a Broadway blogger?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #434

Here is my latest entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #434 for July 7, 2014. The cartoon is by Drew Dernavich.

"Not that song again. Sing 'Peg o' My Heart.'"

The truth is, this cartoon gave me an inordinate amount of trouble. Perhaps you can tell. Here are some of the caption ideas which didn't make the cut.
"And can ye reimagine me for the Broadway stage?"
"You can have Toto back for, say, a white whale."
"Spear me your song and dance."
"What a motley crew!"
"Hast seen the Wicked Witch or the White Whale?"
"Literary classic trumps children's classic."
"You strain credulity."

July 21, 2014 Update:  The Finalists

Charles Harrison - "Peg o' My Heart" (1913)
By Alfred Bryan and Fred Fisher from "Ziegfeld Follies."
Jerry Murad's Harmonicats (1961)

Note:  Last week's New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest featured a preposterous Tom Cheney cartoon that was kind of upside-down. My caption was, I thought, brilliant, only it turns out it wasn't. See the tragic results of Contest #434.

Then there's Drew Dernavich. Why is it so hard for me to write a decent caption for any of his cartoons?


Friday, July 18, 2014

A Toast to Elaine Stritch (1925-2014)

Elaine Stritch, who passed away yesterday, was a Broadway actress who played many roles but is perhaps best known for playing Joanne in Stephen Sondheim's landmark musical "Company" (1970). Her performance of "The Ladies Who Lunch," is still legendary and must certainly be the most scathing toast in the history of Broadway.

Elaine Stritch
"The Ladies Who Lunch" (concert version)
"Company" (1970)
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by George Furth

Note:  Before today, this is the closest I've come to writing a post about Stephen Sondheim.

There are also a few posts about the Broadway stage if you like that sort of thing.


Bernard Wiseman's Calendar Watch

This original gag cartoon by Bernard Wiseman shows that political speeches weren't any more interesting half a century ago than they are today. This artwork was almost certainly published and, regardless of the eBay listing's title, almost certainly not published in the New Yorker.

Bernard Wiseman, Gag cartoon

Bernard Wiseman, Gag cartoon



Bernard Wiseman's signature

Bernard Wiseman's address stamp

The top left corner of the sheet


Note:  Well, that will do it for now. Here's the tally of original artwork by Bernard Wiseman on this blog: there are four examples of original artwork for the New Yorker, three drawings which could have been published anywhere, and one created for a men's magazine. There must be dozens, even hundreds, of original cartoons by him out there somewhere. This is the place for anyone who knows their whereabouts to share them.

Furthermore, if you know where this calendar watch drawing was published, or indeed where any of the mystery drawings were published, pipe up and say something please. We need answers.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bernard Wiseman: The Fine Print

Our survey of original cartoon art by Bernard Wiseman has arrived at a captionless cartoon, one of two we will see. There are publication markings, but no stamps that would indicate it was published in the New Yorker. Nevertheless, for good measure the seller has included "The New Yorker" in the title of the eBay listing. The selling price of $21.02 suggests the effort was for naught.

Bernard Wiseman, Gag cartoon

Bernard Wiseman, Gag cartoon




Note:  There's more original artwork by Bernard Wiseman here--and probably nowhere else.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bernard Wiseman: Not Noticing

Here's a question for my readers. Put on your thinking caps.

An eBay seller has seven original drawings to sell by New Yorker cartoonist Bernard Wiseman. He does not know the publication dates for any of these. Four of the cartoons have New Yorker stamps and other publication markings on the back. Three do not. How many drawings are listed as original New Yorker art?

The correct answer, of course, is seven. Here's the first of the drawings lacking any New Yorker stamps or markings. The title of the auction listing suggests it is from the New Yorker, although the item description does not state this explicitly. I am unable to locate it among the artist's work for the New Yorker.

I have one further question and the answer may not be knowable. What is the reason the seller has suggested this is a New Yorker cartoon? Is it an honest mistake made by someone who is not too knowledgable about the magazine's arcane markings? Or is something more sinister at work involving a possible attempt to deceive? Okay, that was actually three more questions.

Bernard Wiseman, "I didn't notice you last night..."

Bernard Wiseman, "I didn't notice you last night..."

Detail of panther

Detail of leopard


Bernard Wiseman's signature


Note:  This is my sixth blog entry on Bernard Wiseman. Two more to go.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bernard Wiseman's Plowing Incident

Ninety days after an eBay auction closes, the listing's photographs are removed permanently from the site in order to free up the servers for new items. For those of us who think at least some sales on the auction website are of enduring value, standing idly by while irreplaceable photos are routinely deleted is not a particularly agreeable pastime. If only one could preserve even a few expiring auction gems from this inexorable tide of obliteration, surely that would give anyone, even an uninspired blogger, a sense of accomplishment, albeit a rather limited one.

As a general rule, when I fail to record the details of an auction, I lose the entire thing forever. I lead a pretty busy life--or so I tell people--and this neglect of my blog's future needs occurs far more often than I care to admit. One particular eBay auction of a Bernard Wiseman cartoon is that very rare exception where I lost only part--well, actually most--of the auction. At the very instant I was downloading the unique photos from this auction listing for posterity, they were summarily being deleted. I ended up with only four full-size photos from the original listing, probably fewer than half the total, and I didn't even bother to collect the remaining thumbnails. Is this better than nothing? I hope so.

The week or so prior to August 8, 2013 was the one moment in history when this long-forgotten1960 cartoon was available for sale, coming directly out of the artist's estate after a half-century and shortly thereafter vanishing into a private collection for the slack price of $66 plus shipping. So that week or so, along with the three month lag time, was the sole opportunity for anyone other than the seller to copy the trove of information that was briefly made available. The original artwork is a minor piece of cultural ephemera, to be sure, but on such a trivial foundation is this blog constructed.

I should give the eBay seller some credit for his caption. I myself am no stranger to the unforgiving world of caption-writing, so I can appreciate the effort. It is perhaps odd that this seller with access to the cartoonist's own estate should be so completely in the dark as to the particulars of caption and publication date, but the available tools for remedying this must be unknown to him. On his own he came up with "Wait hold it, my car!" in the auction's title. The actual published caption was "Stop! That's my Fiat!" Lax punctuation aside, that's a darn good effort, and a good deal closer than any of my own Cartoon Caption Contest entries to hitting the mark.



Bernard Wiseman's signature

Bernard Wiseman, "Stop!  That's my Fiat!"
The New Yorker,
February 6, 1960, page 44

Bernard Wiseman, "Stop!  That's my Fiat!"
The New Yorker, 
February 6, 1960, page 44

Note:  I can't be the only one who preserves the occasional eBay auction before it vanishes off the face of the earth for all time. If you are of a similar compulsive bent and are sitting on a trove of glorious bygone auctions which you think might be right for Attempted Bloggery, please get in touch!

My blog entries on Bernard Wiseman, now five in number, are already some of the most informative on the web, and I don't even have anything to say1

How many blogs do you suppose feature original New Yorker cartoon art? The question is rhetorical. I have no idea.

Well, here we are in the All-Star break. To heighten your appreciation of the sport, don't miss Attempted Bloggery's unique archive of baseball posts.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Bernard Wiseman's Gentle Insult

Bernard Wiseman's original 1958 artwork for a New Yorker cartoon was sold last year on eBay. The seller was aware of the caption--it was nevertheless misspelled--and of the magazine, although not the date of publication . The auction price of $52.78 was a bit disappointing, but perhaps not surprising. Wiseman might be remembered today more for his children's books than for his gag cartoons, and some of his 1950's era cartoons haven't aged so well. Still, if you like the cartoon, it's a good deal.

Bernard Wiseman, "My father's gentler than thine!"
Original artwork,
The New Yorker, January 11, 1958, page 31


Bernard Wiseman's signature

The cover-up

Bernard Wiseman, "My father's gentler than thine!"
The New Yorker,
 January 11, 1958, page 31

Bernard Wiseman, "My father's gentler than thine!"
The New Yorker,
January 11, 1958, page 31

Note:  I'm halfway through a projected week or so of blog posts about Bernard Wiseman. Now who else can say that?

Would you like to see more original New Yorker cartoon art? Well, look no further.

Maybe you have extra time on your hands owing to the All-Star break. What better way is there to prepare for tonight's Home Run Derby than to review Attempted Bloggery's splendid archive of baseball posts? Many a slugger declares it's better than batting practice!