Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Ronald Searle: Birth of a Nation

The postwar decolonization of Africa began in the mid to late 1950s and continued until 1975 or so. Ronald Searle provided a serious political illustration for Punch in 1959 called, apparently, Birth of a Nation. Here the continent is depicted holding the adult but unborn African citizen in utero. The drawing, slipping out of its frame, was offered at auction last July in Los Angeles with a presale estimate of $200 to $300. It sold for $1,200.

Ronald Searle
Abell Auction listing ended July 7, 2022

Ronald Searle
Punch 1959


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Keith Haring: Men and Robots

Oh, come on. Who doesn't like robots? Still, there may be something apocalyptic about Keith Haring's untitled drawing of men and robots. Both entities, so to speak, are warming themselves by a primitive fire while what possibly may be radioactive fallout rains down on them.

Keith Haring
Palm Beach Modern Auctions, December 3, 2022


Monday, January 30, 2023

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #836

This week, someone has made first contact in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #836 from the issue of January 30, 2022. My caption is shown below. The drawing is by E. S. Glenn.

"Got blue milk?"

These captions wouldn't fly:
"Take me to your leather."
"I was looking for more cowbell."


Sunday, January 29, 2023

Ronald Searle: Pardong M'sieur

Pardong M'sieur is Ronald Searle's 1965 French language cartoon collection. Most of the drawings are wordless anyway, but the single heading Paris by night was retained in the author's native tongue, perhaps in error. The book was intended, one assumes, to extend Searle's popularity into the French market, bringing that country's readers up to date with a carefully curated selection of his work since 1953, much of it set in and around Paris. It was published by Éditions Denoël, the French house who also published the work of Jean-Jacques SempéRené Goscinny, Jean-Maurice Bosc, Jules Feiffer, and Tomi Ungerer. I always thought the book was hard to find, but perhaps I was looking on the wrong continent. When a copy turned up on eBay for $35, it suddenly became attainable. My best offer of $25 was rejected by the seller. The seller's counteroffer of $30 was then accepted by me. Essentially, I saved the cost of shipping.

That's the Boucherie Chevaline on the cover, Parisian purveyor of horse meat. 

Ronald Searle
eBay listing accessed December 17, 2022

Ronald Searle
"This book is in very condition..."
eBay item description


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Sight Unseen: James Stevenson's The Life, Loves & Laughs of Frank Modell, SIgned

Online booksellers have every opportunity to show potential buyers their wares with informative photographs. No one should ever again need to consider the purchase of a book possessing some unique feature sight unseen. And yet, I keep returning to the theme of books offered in my area of interest with tantalizing written descriptions but no images to provide corroboration. Perhaps it's a question of expense to the book dealer, or of time, or of both. An occasional seller might be trying to conceal an unfortunate detail or even to deceive outright, but for the most part my experiments in buying books blindly—that is, sight unseen—have turned out pretty well.

Sometimes it's a no brainer. When the chance to buy a copy of James Stevenson's The Life, Loves & Laughs of Frank Modell (2013) turned up, I thought it would be a great opportunity to add this privately published book to my library. Frank Modell (1917–2016), of course, was the prolific New Yorker cartoonist with more than 1400 cartoons to his credit in the magazine. He and Stevenson were great friends. Furthermore, the book was said to be signed and inscribed by the author, so I figured it was my lucky day. And with a price of only $14.96 postpaid, it didn't really concern me that the seller couldn't be troubled to post any photos.

James Stevenson
AbeBooks listing accessed December 24, 2022

That's okay—I know how to take photos. Here then is the book, everything one could hope to buy with $14.96 in these inflationary times:

It's a good-looking book, by the way.


Friday, January 27, 2023

Sight Unseen: Number One is Walking by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss

My purchase of a doubly-signed copy of Number One is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions was not informed by an image of the signatures of author Steve Martin and artist Harry Bliss, so it qualifies here as a Sight Unseen post. Nevertheless, those signed copies I had seen generally looked the same, so there wasn't a lot of suspense. The comedian and the cartoonist have been collaborating for a few years now on single panel cartoons which get submitted to The New Yorker. The rejected ones get published in the newspaper panel strip Bliss. The book includes a generous selection of their cartoons. 

Steve Martin and Harry Bliss
AbeBooks listing accessed December 12, 2022

This copy has what I believe to be a specially printed signature page signed by both Martin and Bliss prior to its being bound into the book. The number of such signed pages is not known to me, but I suspect it is significant.


Thursday, January 26, 2023

My Copy of I Love(ish) New York City by Ali Solomon

I did not attend the book launch and signing with Ali Solomon on October 27, 2022 at the Corner Bookstore in Manhattan. Instead, I arranged for a copy of I Love(ish) New York City: Tales of City Life to be signed to me in my absence, and the shop even had it delivered. I'm sure it's better to be there in person at the reception, but we all have to make compromises sometime.


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Sight Unseen: A Child's Guide to Freud Inscribed by Whitney Darrow, Jr.

Even sight unseen, it didn't take more than a minute to decide to purchase this one. The book is a first edition of A Child's Guide to Freud (1963) by Louise Armstrong. This copy, selling for $45, is inscribed with an original color sketch by the illustrator, Whitney Darrow, Jr. Yes, please.

A Child's Guide to Freud
AbeBooks listing accessed January 10, 2023

Now let's see what we got:

What do you know? The book's original recipient, Ken McCormick, was the editor in chief of Doubleday and Co. from 1942 to 1971.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Isabel's Copy of "You're Sitting On My Eyelashes" by Whitney Darrow, Jr.

In 1943, Whitney Darrow, Jr., collected his New Yorker work of the prior decade in a collection called "You're Sitting On My Eyelashes." Isabel's copy, whatever her identity, has an original full-page sketch by the cartoonist. It is dated in November of the year of publication. His wife Middy gets in on the fun as well, inscribing the book underneath Darrow's printed drawing of a woman with "Love/ Middy Darrow, Jr." The book was just sold on eBay in November, a full eighty years after the drawing was made.

Additionally inscribed "Love/Middy Darrow, Jr."

"Mr. Jackson has contributed
most generously to Bundles for Britain."
* * *
". . . and, forsaking all others, keep thee only unto him, so long as
ye both shall live? . . . True or false?"

"As you know, Collins, this national-defense situation has left us a bit shorthanded. Can you ride a bicycle?"

"It's some radio survey, Ma'am. They                "Don't look now, but I think we're 
 want to know if you're happy."                            all set for the evening." 

Whitney Darrow, Jr.
eBay listing ended November 18, 2022

Whitney Darrow, Jr.
eBay item description

Whitney Darrow, Jr.
eBay bid history
Just one bid with five seconds to spare

Note:  At this point, I've shown enough of these Whitney Darrow books to make it clear to anybody that I'd like to keep doing this. Help a blogger out by sending your scans and photos of original book sketches by Darrow.