Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Summing Up 2013

Attempted Bloggery has been around for two and a half years now, so I no longer feel like the new kid on the block. This year, the blog published 433 individual posts, which is more than eight a week on average, and considerably more than last year's total of 375, thank you very much. Still, the daily format has been trying at times, because when I write about something I like to include everything but the kitchen sink, and then I occasionally add the kitchen sink anyway for good measure, and all this can be quite time-consuming, particularly when it's my turn to do the dishes.

The blog's format has changed a bit this year in ways I didn't foresee. Probably the most obvious change is that I'm entering the weekly New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, something I never dreamed I'd be capable of , and I'm documenting the results here no matter how disheartening. For those of you keeping score at home, my success in this contest to date can be counted on no hands. My new pastime all got started with Danny Shanahan's Caption Contest, the very first contest I entered, although only one full round of that contest has been completed thus far. Most encouragingly, in the midst of my second round of the Moment magazine Cartoon Caption Contest, I've been made a finalist twice, and a new winning caption should be declared soon, so I still have a shot at the big time here. This latter contest represents the sum total--two--of my captioning successes to date, and I find it highly motivating, particularly after dealing with the New Yorker contest and its 5,000-odd weekly entries..

Without warning in March, this blog started receiving page views from China and of course I, student of global trends that I am, took note of it immediately. After more than a year and a half of publication, this humble weblog was being visited by someone in the world's most populous nation. Something remarkable has happened, as I believe the Chinese government still goes to great lengths to prevent its people from freely surfing the internet. I in turn certainly have never had anything remotely civil to say about the evil government there. For December, China placed seventh among nations here in page views, and they now have moved up to ninth in all-time page views, just edging out Australia. It's never been clear to me just what anyone from the People's Republic is hoping to find here, but I applaud them for taking an interest. One thing seems clear to me: when the malevolent Chinese government sees fit to shut down our internet, Attempted Bloggery will not be spared. Read it while you can.

All-Time Page Views by Country, December 30, 2013

You may have noticed that this blog has become, like this blogger, more bottom-heavy. By that I mean simply that a lot of content is now located in the note at the bottom of the blog posts, including links to older posts. I started out my blogging career doing this often, then deliberately avoided the practice for a while thinking it was getting out of hand, but as the blog has aged I've now found it useful to put in more and more references to relevant older content and to a variety of outstanding internet sites.

One very minor tweak is that I no longer attempt to write posts about the Disney short "The Band Concert" on summer Fridays, but for auld time's sake I will return to it right now on this winter Tuesday. Here's Horace Horsecollar and I say he's about to welcome in the New Year! Who's going to argue? Have a Happy New Year, everybody!

Horace Horsecollar cel set-up with nonproduction background
from Walt Disney's "The Band Concert" (1935)
Film Still 8:46
Walt Disney's "The Band Concert" (1935)

Note:  I'm not sure where I found this image, which appears to be an animation cel set-up, perhaps with a Courvoisier background. If you know, please drop me a line.

My archive of New Year's Eve posts can be accessed here. Bring your own champagne.

Older posts about Walt Disney's "The Band Concert" may be seen here.


Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Dread from Edward Koren

Five years ago cartoonist Edward Koren helped Christopher Buckley and the New York Times welcome in the New Year 2009. A look back at "What New Yorkers Should Dread in the New Year," the old New Year, that is:
Edward Koren, "What New Yorkers Should Dread in the New Year"
The New York Times, December 26, 2008

Edward Koren, "What New Yorkers Should Dread in the New Year"
The New York Times, December 26, 2008
Edward Koren, "Starbucks may be forced to reduce
the number of its New York locations to 12,000."
The New York Times, December 26, 2008


Note:  More art by Edward Koren may be seen here.

Attempted Bloggery's archive of classic posts to welcome in the New Year is located here.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

My New Cell Phone Case

On November 3rd, I publicly reviewed my selection process for a new cell phone case, but I had not yet announced a final choice. Now the final decision has been made and my new iPhone 5s is protected from damage and from being boring.

My new iPhone 5s case features artwork by George Booth
as first published in The New Yorker, July 26, 1976, p. 45

George Booth, The New Yorker, July 26, 1976, p. 45

George Booth, The New Yorker, July 26, 1976, p. 45

Note:  More blog posts devoted to the art of George Booth may be found here.

More posts about cell phones including the one elaborating my selection process for a new cell phone case may be dialed up here.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

J. C. Leyendecker: Study for the 1938 New Year's Baby

J. C. Leyendecker's study for the January 1, 1938 cover of the Saturday Evening Post is an important preliminary work by a major illustrator. It depicts the New Year's baby of 1938. The original artwork seems to have undergone a significant decline in sale price since 1991, perhaps owing to nothing more than the vagaries of today's art auction market.

J. C. Leyendecker, Study for the Saturday Evening Post, January 1, 1938

J. C. Leyendecker, Study for the Saturday Evening Post, January 1, 1938, framed

J. C. Leyendecker, Study for the Saturday Evening Post, January 1, 1938, detail

J. C. Leyendecker, Study for the Saturday Evening Post, January 1, 1938, detail

J. C. Leyendecker, The Saturday Evening Post, January 1, 1938



Note:  See my previous post about Saturday Evening Post cover art by J. C. Leyendecker here.

More posts welcoming in the New Year may be seen here.


The Fortune of the Night

I'm beginning to suspect my Chinese fortune was plagiarized.
"Open up your mind. Let your fantasies unwind."

The relevant lyrics are at about 2:21 in this video recording of "The Music of the Night:"
"The Music of the Night"
from "The Phantom of the Opera" (1986)
Michael Crawford as the Phantom
Sarah Brightman as Christine Daaé
Andrew Lloyd Webber, music
Charles Hart, lyrics (with Richard Stilgoe?)

Speaking of allegations of plagiarism, the estate of Giacomo Puccini once accused Lloyd Webber of lifting a musical passage from the opera "La Fanciulla del West" ("The Girl of the Golden West"). The suit was settled out of court. Listen from 0:40 and see what you think.
"Quello che tacete"
from "La Fanciulla del West" (1910)
Daniele Barioni, tenor, as Dick Johnson
Giacomo Puccini, music
Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini, libretto

Note:  It seems much of the world's accumulated wisdom can be gleaned from fortune cookies. See my collected musings after Chinese banquets here.

More posts about the Broadway stage may be seen here.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Broadway Theater Aisle: New Yorker "Probable Cover" Art

Two well-dressed, older couples make their way slowly down a Broadway theater aisle after everyone else is already seated. The men, without benefit of an usher, look somewhat lost as they extend their necks at extreme angulations; the overdressed women look rather imperious and don't condescend to open their eyes.

When Heritage Auctions originally listed this drawing, the artist was improbably identified as William Steig. This unsigned art, though, is a bit crude and looks nothing like anything Steig ever drew, but at some point somebody did write the artist's name on the back. The auction house now identifies the creator as merely American Artist, which is almost certainly correct if not very helpful. They describe the art with the words "probable cover," but probably not is more like it. There are no absolute rules for what a New Yorker cover should look like, but it generally should have a clear focus, good design, and it should make a strong artistic or humorous point. This piece is likely a rough cover proposal never purchased by the magazine. At auction, it was not sold--again.


Note:  The artist at present is unidentified, but perhaps you can help. Other blog posts of mine with artwork by unknown or anonymous artists can be seen here.

A few other examples of proposed New Yorker cover art not published in the magazine may be found here.

If you'd like to see the Broadway side of this blog, click here.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Children Playing: Leonard Weisgard Proposed New Yorker Cover Art

This original illustration by Leonard Weisgard is reportedly a proposed New Yorker cover from the 1950's although it lacks the typical strap along the left side of the image. Weisgard's skill with the medium of gouache seems apparent. Based on this painting, it should come as no surprise that he made his livelihood as a children's book illustrator. It would be interesting to learn the precise date of this illustration, as racial diversity is here prominently on display, and it wasn't always that way.

Leonard Weisbain, Children Playing, proposed New Yorker cover art.


Note:  Other examples of proposed New Yorker covers by Leonard Weisgard and George Booth may be seen here.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Day at the Races: Leonard Weisgard Proposed New Yorker Cover Art

This beautiful illustration of a harness race is by Leonard Weisgard. It is a proposed cover for the New Yorker magazine and reportedly dates from the 1940's. Weisgard sold two covers to the magazine in the late 1930's, but none of his submissions were published after that time.

Leonard Weisgard, [Harness racing,] proposed New Yorker cover art

Note:  Can anyone identify this racetrack? This blog needs your information.

Other examples of proposed New Yorker cover art may be seen here.

This blog's archive of Christmas posts are on view here.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Salvation Army Santa: Leonard Weisgard Proposed New Yorker Cover Art

Leonard Weisgard illustrated over 200 children's books but he illustrated only two covers for the New Yorker, both in the late 1930's. This proposed New Yorker cover, Salvation Army Santa, reportedly dating from the 1940's, didn't make the cut.

Leonard Weisgard, Salvation Army Santa, proposed New Yorker cover


Note:  Numerous examples of actual published New Yorker cover art may be seen here.

By now this blog has quite a few merry Christmas posts, all of which may be seen here.


Monday, December 23, 2013

W. Heath Robinson: Stocking Stuffers

Here's a fine watercolor illustration by W. Heath Robinson. It shows the correct way to stuff a stocking.

W. Heath Robinson

Note:  I'm not sure where I found this image; perhaps it was from a Chris Beetles exhibition.

A previous blog post on how the inventive W. Heath Robinson envisioned the search for Halley's Comet at Greenwich Observatory may be seen here. That one was definitely from Chris Beetles. Like most dealers, he does not maintain an online archive of past sales. The internet gets more exciting all the time, but wonderful things disappear from it forever every day as well.

All of my Christmas posts may be rediscovered here.

Today marks two and a half years of blogging for me. There is no need to send a congratulatory telegram.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Holly and the Hergé

Tintin and Snowy send their Christmas greetings in this original greeting card art by Hergé. The drawing in india ink of Tintin and his dog is very appealing, although perhaps to American sensibilities at least the estimate from Sotheby's Paris back in 2012 seems very high.

Hergé, Tintin and Snowy holding a holly branch, original greeting card artwork

Note:  Tintin appeared once before on this blog here.

Christmas posts have been seen here as well, and considerably more than once.

The winter solstice has come! Enjoy blog posts of the season here.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Richard Scarry: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Richard Scarry's cover illustration for the Little Golden Book reissue of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer looks very familiar. Either I owned the book or else a close friend did. I'm quite sure I didn't read it though. Robert L. May's story was adapted by Barbara Shook Hazen circa 1965 when the 1958 Little Golden Book illustrated by Scarry was reissued.

Richard Scarry, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 
Original book cover art. New York: Simon & Schuster, c. 1965


The presale estimate was $6,000 to $9,000.

Richard Scarry, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 
A Little Golden Book, Simon & Schuster, c. 1965

Note:  Illustrator Richard Scarry contributed to When I was a Child which is discussed on the blog here.

Attempted Bloggery's growing archive of Christmas posts may be seen here.

It's officially winter today! Wintry blog posts may be seen here.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Morticia

Fifty-one years ago in the New Yorker the Addams Family struggled to cope with the Christmas season. Then in 1964 "The Addams Family" television series began its run and these characters created by Charles Addams were no longer permitted in the magazine.
Charles Addams, "Suddenly, I have a dreadful urge to be merry."
The New Yorker, December 15, 1962, p. 38

Note:  More on the art of Charles Addams including his Addams family may be seen here.

The website of the Tee & Charles Addams Foundation is here.

News about Charles Addams is covered on Ink Spill here.

His artwork has been featured on The Pictorial Arts blog here.

Other delightful Christmas posts from the archives of Attempted Bloggery may be seen here.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Maurice Sendak: Some Swell Tree!

Illustrator Maurice Sendak created a painting of a Wild Thing decorated as a Christmas tree for the cover of the December 30, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone. Four years later, The Art of Maurice Sendak was published and the Rolling Stone design was reworked into a poster promoting the book with new text in the word balloons. "Some swell tree!" became "Some swell book!" A signed and inscribed copy of the beautiful poster was sold in October on eBay for a best offer somewhere under $350.

Maurice Sendak, Rolling Stone, December 30, 1976

Maurice Sendak, The Art of Maurice Sendak poster, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1980
Inscribed "To Freddie--/Maurice Sendak/1980"

Maurice Sendak, The Art of Maurice Sendak poster detail, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1980
Inscribed "To Freddie--/Maurice Sendak/1980"


Maurice Sendak, The Art of Maurice Sendak poster, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1980
Inscribed "To Freddie--/Maurice Sendak/1980"

Maurice Sendak, Rolling Stone, December 30, 1976

Maurice Sendak, [The Wild Rumpus,] "Maurice Sendak, King of All Wild Things," article by Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone, December 30, 1976
"Maurice Sendak, King of All Wild Things," article by Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone, December 30, 1976

"Maurice Sendak, King of All Wild Things," article by Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone, December 30, 1976

Maurice Sendak, Fantasy Sketch, "Maurice Sendak, King of All Wild Things," article by Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone, December 30, 1976

"Maurice Sendak, King of All Wild Things," article by Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone, December 30, 1976

"Maurice Sendak, King of All Wild Things," article by Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone, December 30, 1976

"Maurice Sendak, King of All Wild Things," article by Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone, December 30, 1976

Note:  More blog posts featuring the art of Maurice Sendak including some Wild Things are here.

The Rosenbach Museum and Library houses the extraordinary Maurice Sendak Collection.

'Tis the season for more Christmas posts from the archives of Attempted Bloggery. See them here.