Monday, October 3, 2011

Blog Post No. 100

The above photo is of the framed original oil-on-canvas art of the Disneyic New Year's card for 1935, currently being offered on ebay (for an astronomical price). The unsigned art is likely to be the work of Tom Wood. The seller notes that the piece has come from the collection of collector Don Veron who died two years ago.    

This beautiful item is reposted in full from the Disneyville blog where it first appeared back in April. Seriously, you didn't think I'd use the word "Disneyic," did you? Or call a price "astronomical" and not state exactly how high it was? Or write about an eBay auction and not include a link to the sale? When you see how someone else handles a familiar subject, you realize you actually have your own unique style and approach. After 99 posts, I hope most readers find this approach fairly reliable and even inspiring.

I do really like this classic Disney artwork, but for my milestone hundredth post I'm taking the day off from my usual blogging about fabulous images. Hey, I've earned it. I've let the Disneyville blog do the job for me today, even though it isn't done precisely the way I would. But before we part company, let's review for a moment my blogging experience here to date.  Drumroll, please!

Blog Post No. 100

For years I told myself that I was not going to take on the thankless task of blogging. It was too time-consuming and, frankly, I already had plenty of obligations between work and family.

It was not that I had nothing to say. I can get pretty excited about a number of topics of very little interest to most people. For years, in fact, I sent friends and family members unsolicited emails in which I would muse on favorite pieces of art that came up at auction. I still do this, but only rarely now. Illustration art has been a particular passion of mine since I was a teenager, and this has not abated at all with the passage of time. I have affinities for both low and high art, although, to be sure, that's not a distinction I have much use for. Because my tastes have changed little in decades, I expect the blog's perspective to remain consistent over time. I know what I like and what I don't, and quite often I even know the reason for it.

For example, I have always liked the broad appeal of cartooning. Years ago I learned firsthand that almost everyone  reading, say, a college newspaper will check out the comic strip, if there is one. You see, back in the day I drew a weekly comic strip for my college paper and I like to think it wasn't too bad, although probably it was. In high school and college, I thought I could pass for a decent cartoonist since, then as now, I took inspiration from the best illustrators on the planet. Today, I remain a more or less compulsive doodler and something of a theoretical cartoonist, which is a lot like being a theoretical physicist only you don't need to use Planck's constant. Yes, I still like cartoons, but after gazing upon cartoons these days, I frequently also like to write about them. These are the credentials I bring to this blog, not that any are required. I should probably include them on my business card. Nah!

So then, the temptation that blogging held for me is actually pretty straightforward. I always enjoyed sharing beautiful images and discussing them. It became clear that those in my immediate social circle had absolutely no use for my services. A weblog of my own, though, would allow me to discuss whatever images I found fascinating and to share my observations with the world at large. Presumably, only those who were interested would take the trouble to look. I could keep an online record for myself of my current passions and those thousands who shared my particular interests soon would discover me and join in the spirited discussion. It sounded reasonable enough, although it hasn't worked out quite that way, at least not yet and maybe not ever.

I started this blog on June 23. My first post had some beautiful original poster art by Maurice Sendak, setting a very high standard I couldn't possible have kept up. I sat back and waited for my eager audience to arrive.

Things were disconcertingly quiet those first days. A scattering of friends from Facebook visited the blog, but the vast majority, of course, didn't. I rewrote my first post several times, trying to get it just right before too many people read it. I learned to deal with some unexpected technical problems of blogging.

I tried to figure out how to promote my blog, how to reach that potential audience of like-minded individuals I knew was out there somewhere. I was dismayed to find that, when I ran a search on my specific blog topic, my own cherished blog post didn't even show up. How was that possible? A specific Google search for content on a Google blog failed to yield the result I knew was there. I came to realize that Google prioritized what its search engines could locate, and I evidently was not very high up on the ladder. Eventually, of course, my posts did become searchable and today that's the source of most of my hits, but there was little to show for quite a few of those early days. I wrote my second blog post, a genial but unambitious piece about a Disney animation drawing, and from then on I posted something every day, sometimes brief and sometimes comprehensive, sure that my sophisticated audience--that's you--was out there cheering me on, albeit silently. Many, but by no means all, of my posts were based on listings from the art auction market, and I came to realize that this focus was unusual and would help to define my individual approach to blogging.

To my consternation, most of my visitors were interested just in individual posts and did not concern themselves, as I did, with the blog as a living portfolio of work. A great many people now come here searching for "Peanuts," "Krazy Kat," or, unexpectedly, "A Mad Tea Party." They're very welcome, of course, but I wish a few would wish to return each week just to see what's new. Part of it's my own fault, I guess. There's seldom any thematic connection between one post and the next. That's a deliberate decision I made early on. I'd write about whatever I wished here, rather than create separate blogs for, say, art auctions, book reviews, cartooning, movies, and Disney. The problem is, those who come looking for Harry Potter are not going to stay for Francis Bacon. So be it.

Last month on average this blog had about 70 daily page views, and on good days the page views exceeded 100. To me, then, it is just a tiny bit frustrating that with this light but consistent traffic only five people on earth deem this blog to be worth following. Three of these followers, the first three, I already knew pretty well from our online interests through Facebook, email, and their own blogs, although I have never met any of them in the real world. Indeed, no one I know personally is following this blog yet, even though I occasionally accost an unarmed family member with a preview or two.

Only recently, I've seen a phenomenon new to me, which I'll call spam traffic for want of a better term. These are presumably robotic hits from questionable traffic sources whose only purpose seems to be to trick me into clicking on the traffic source link on my Blogger stats page. So now not every page view is even real.

But, no matter. The truth is, Attempted Bloggery, despite its mock-humble name, is already pretty much what I want it to be, and it has been right from the start. As far as I can gather, it's a fairly unique blog which many people interested in the visual arts, literature, cartooning, or even the fine art auction market might enjoy. My potential audience will either find my little corner of the web, or it won't. If it does, I hope there will be more lively discussion here in the future. Perhaps the occasional reader will wish to share a relevant image or two.

We'll have to see. Stay tuned.

December 25, 2011 Update:  Mark Sonntag has just published the original printed Disney holiday card on his blog Tagtoonz:
Image added to post December 25, 2011
Also by Tom Wood is this vintage Disney winter scene reproduced on the cover of the 1981 Neiman-Marcus catalogue:

December 26, 2011 Update:  In the comments section, David Lesjak, who writes the excellent Vintage Disney Collectibles blog, points out that the original artwork showcased in this blog post could not have been the original 1934 Disney holiday card artwork because the medium, oil on canvas, is incorrect.  Rather, it is a copy apparently commissioned by collector Don Vernon many years after the death of artist Tom Wood.

This points out rather starkly the hazards out there for collectors today, particularly on eBay, and, let me add, for bloggers. Very few things in this world are as straightforward as they at first seem. For my part, I'm glad I was scrupulous in stating my source, as my source was, in part, wrong! But what I am not happy about is that I never wrote of my own puzzlement as to why this greeting card art should be a work on canvas. After all, when I attended an exhibition featuring Tom Wood's original artwork for Good Housekeeping magazine at Alexander Gallery, each and every one of the superb illustrations were on paper. I think I might have known a little better.

Still, I didn't really blog about the art myself. Instead, I copied someone else's blog post with attribution and then went off in my own direction. It's only when I added the original holiday card yesterday and mentioned it in the Tagtoonz blog comment section that this information was brought to light thanks to David. It's refreshing to me that this should happen in the very blog post in which I state my hope for "more lively discussion here in the future." 

Note: My previous post on Disney (from yesterday) is here. And I keep saying this isn't a Disney blog!

I've had to update my blog post on Donn Tatum's Ludwig von Drake cufflinks twice because of a major development here.



  1. "I hope most readers find this approach fairly reliable and even inspiring."

    I do. This is a really wonderful blog site. I am very impressed by the integrity within and excited to have found it. Krazy Kat led the way. This is a real educational rest stop. Thank you.

  2. You're welcome, and thank you for the kind words, Leocadia. I myself have learned a lot from writing the blog.

    On Monday, October 31, the world's population will hit seven billion, and out of all of them you are my seventh follower. I think it's fair to say you're one in a billion! Now, did you really mean to call my blog a rest stop?

  3. What an honor. I always knew I was special, but wow, one in a billion, that gives me a whole new lease on life. A rest stop for the mind, a little R&R away from the daily grind. I love organization and you are wonderfully organized here. I put 100 in your search feature and it brought me right here like an elevator or a taxi cab. I love sites (like this) that make me feel I am in a museum or some other well designed piece of architecture; free to explore all the many treasures of its rooms, floors, stairwells and passageways. Links are like flying carpets, time machines. And thank you for responding to my comments.

  4. You're welcome, Leo! A rest stop it is, then!

  5. Hi Docnad. The art for the 1935 Christmas card is apparently a reproduction. Collector Don Vernon apparently liked to have illustrations he liked recreated. None of the Christmas card art that we know of that created in the 1930s was created on canvas. I also have an email exchange between a friend and the artist who created the art for sale on eBay in which he admits to creating the art for Don. So, while the art in question is a gorgeous, it is not the original art. Cheers, David

  6. Thank you, David, for this new information. I appended an update today to the blog post to set the record straight.

    I never saw the original eBay listing, so I'd like to pose a few questions to you since you are very knowledgable about the subject. Did the item sell on eBay and, if so, for what price? If not, what "astronomical" price was it offered at? Was the seller made aware of the nature of this item and was the listing updated to reflect this? Did the artist who was commissioned to paint this copy sign his name, even on the back of the canvas? Is there, or should there be, an ethical code for artists who paint reproductions not as forgeries, but as tributes?