Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blog Post No. 300: From the Libraries of Searle, Koren, Booth, and Saxon

Today's post concludes my weeklong celebration of National Library Week. Coincidentally, this is my 300th blog post, which I discuss below.  To begin with, eBay currently lists a set of four book publishing industry prints commissioned by the Tri-Nip Press and released in 1979. The artists are Ronald Searle, Edward Koren, George Booth, and Charles Saxon, all of whom were associated with The New Yorker magazine, but particularly the latter three.

Ronald Searle is the only one to use color, and he has used it to create a large and vivid, even garish, scene. The topic would seem to be censorship, making this an overtly political statement. I see some humor too in the rendering of the marksman and the falling leaflets with their quills. The writer here is left-handed, as is Mr. Searle. For once, the hand is carefully rendered. Note too that Searle is left-handed.

In 1992, thirteen years after this print was published, the artwork appeared in color in Searle's Carnet de croquis: le plaisir du trait, an extremely scarce book. Later, some three decades after it's initial publication, Searle reproduced the print in black and white in his 2010 book What! Already? Searle at 90. The 1979 print is signed by Searle seemingly with a more upright and therefore typically earlier-appearing signature than is actually in the plate. I find this odd. Not everything makes sense to me in this world. 

Ronald Searle

Edward Koren's contribution is delightful. The helpful waiter serves books restaurant-style to his patrons. It's really quite charming. What else would one expect from this artist?
Edward Koren

Oh, dear! George Booth has gone all surrealistic on us, placing a book deposit slot in a reader's head. Booth's usual english bull terrier is present, drooling, and there's a frenetic rendition of the man's hands that I just don't care for. Even the caption that is meant to sound kooky and offbeat strikes me more as out-of-place and unnecessary. The inclusion of the supposedly innocuous copyright symbol is a pet peeve of mine and I loathe it whenever I see it marring a drawing or print. All in all, this is far from a treasured Booth image for me, and it's my least favorite of the four prints here. Nicely drawn shoes, though.
George Booth, "Books is the zip code to culture"

Nuance is everything. Charles Saxon's cartoon is absolutely note-perfect, easily the funniest drawing here.  Bravo!
Charles Saxon, "Has someone around here been reading?"

July 16, 2012 Update:  These four prints were sold on June 9 after the seller reduced the Buy It Now price to $400:

Blog Post No. 300

With this, my 300th blog post, I must report that I'm still learning how best to do this. As a result of my previous efforts, the blog is closer now to what I envision for it, although I'm not quite there yet. I don't pretend to know in advance which posts will be popular, but more and more of them are pleasing to me, and that's what I go by. Mostly.

In the future, I may have to shy away from some of the more encyclopedic post topics. I enjoyed working on the comprehensive "Krazy Kat Specialty Pieces" and "Butternut Bread Peanuts Promotions" immensely, but I find I have to keep going back to them to add new finds. Each of these posts started as a simple auction report and developed into something gargantuan. The two Roy Lichtenstein posts thus far surprised me by their popularity. I had to keep going back to them too as I got more and more information on Lichtenstein's sources and I'm very pleased with the end-results. I've learned an awful lot about these divers topics, which is great, and these posts have commanded a lot of page views, which is also great, but the time required can be daunting, especially as I'm trying to post something fresh more or less daily.

I'm also trying to keep these blog posts uniquely informative. Even if an auction or other image is readily viewable on the internet, I like to be able to make observations or comparisons that just aren't available elsewhere. Eventually, this might make the blog more essential. Or it might not. A case in point is this very post. One-hundred twenty-five copies of each print were published in 1979 along with perhaps a few artist's proofs. But where can you find these images on the internet? I've never seen them together. Has anyone else commented on them? When this auction disappears from eBay, will there be any trace of this trove anywhere else? Well, I guess it will all stay right here, at least for a while.

Since my 200th blog post, readership has grown to about 10,000 page views a month, up from 7500, hence the rate of growth has slowed. This is not really surprising considering the sudden bump in readership I got in January when Ronald Searle passed away and Google prominently noted the 100th birthday of Charles Addams. I tell myself I'd be happy if readership stayed at 10,000 page views a month. Essentially, to remain at this level, the increase in viewers for the newer posts would have to balance out the decline in readership for the older posts. It sounds doable. More likely, I hope, is that the number of monthly page views will advance at least for a while, perhaps to a plateau of about 12,000 monthly visitors. Of course, this is all idle conjecture done without the benefit of statistics, and I do realize that the potential readership for this sort of artsy blog is not unlimited.

Nevertheless, this blog is very well positioned to benefit from Google image searches. On Bing, though, it's as if I never wrote a post. I wonder if they deliberately exclude Google blogs from their searches. It seems to me that would make their searches far less useful to the populace.

If you don't believe me, here's a little demonstration you can do right now with your computer. It just so happens that this very blog you are reading is so far the world's only online source of information about Ludwig von Drake cufflinks. That's right, I'm the sole individual keeping the world from total ignorance on the subject. So, if you will, humor me and run a Google image search for Ludwig von Drake cufflinks and see how just many images you get from this blog. Nice, huh? Now try the same with a Bing image search. Do you see what I mean? It's a desert island, right? If Bill Gates wants to see my Ludwig von Drake cufflinks, he's simply not going to find them, even though I'm the Harvard of Ludwig von Drake cufflink studies.

So, if Google remains the world's primary search engine, the blog should continue to get a steady flow of eager new visitors every day. If Bing takes over the world's searches and keeps its current algorithmic bias, Attempted Bloggery will become the Western ghost town of blogs, although I'll still be here in the saloon. Where the blog remains weakest, admittedly, is in its ability to entice followers. There are currently only 14 folks who elect to follow the blog publicly, and I have pretty consistently been adding only one follower for every twenty new posts, on average. For a blog now receiving some 345 page views a day, I consider that exceedingly feeble, although perhaps it is understandable given my refusal to restrict myself to any given subject matter. I mean, people want to know what the blog they're following is all about, don't they?

October 13, 2012 Update:  Bing's image search algorithm evidently has improved greatly, and it is no longer a problem to get outstanding search results including relevant images from this blog.



  1. I was offered the original Searle drawing a few years back but didn't go for it because I thought it was too expensive at the time. Today I know it wasn't but some other lucky collector owns it now. Dammit !
    300 posts already? Time flies. Looking forward to the next 300.

    1. Thanks, UM. Three-hundred more posts, you say? I'll get right to work on that.

      The Searle piece is a real tour de force. I'm sorry you didn't get it.