Monday, March 31, 2014

James Stevenson: Manager's Warm-Up

One year ago on eBay, this cartoon rough by James Stevenson was sold. It is in all likelihood an unpublished gag. We're all familiar with how baseball players warm up, but what of the managers?

James Stevenson, Managers' Warm-Up
Rough drawing

Note:  Read up on this blog's baseball posts here.

James Stevenson's work was included in an auction I attended of New Yorker cartoons here. His subterranean vision of New York appears in my New York is Book Country post here. One of these posts is a bummer though.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bernard Schoenbaum: The Baseball Stats

Cartoonist Bernard Schoenbaum sees to it that the baseball stats are dutifully recorded. This rough cartoon was probably submitted to the New Yorker. It is most likely unpublished anywhere.

Bernard Schoenbaum, Tuesday:  Dear Diary...No hits...No runs...No errors.

EBay listing ending August 4, 2013

EBay listing ending August 12, 2013.
Sold to a single bidder.

Note:  Play ball! Celebrate the new baseball season with Attempted Bloggery here.


Blog Post No. 1100: The Power of Google

January 7, 2012 was the very first date this blog received 1,000 page views. It turns out that day was the centennial of Charles Addams, the creator of the Addams Family and many great and ghoulish cartoons. Google, the popular search engine, honored the memory of Addams with a Google Doodle on its home page, and thus many internet users with perhaps only a casual interest in the artist were prompted to search for the master's macabre cartoons. This blog even back then was a minor player in the online world of Charles Addams, and the uptick in traffic was enough for Attempted Bloggery to reach just over 1,000 page views for the first time. The lesson was clear:  Google possessed the powerful ability to direct web traffic to a great many specific places, including this blog.

Charles Addams Google Doodle
January 7, 2012

A glance at the monthly page views received by this blog shows an all-time peak for the month of October 2013. Since that date, the monthly page views have fallen off considerably, although not quite to what they had been previously. What then was behind the increase in this blog's internet page views in October?

The graph shows Attempted Bloggery page views for each month since the blog's inception, with the most pronounced peak occurring in October of 2013. Uncharacteristically, Google has mislabeled the three years to the left on the x-axis; this blog was begun in June of 2011, not 2009.

A closer look at the peak month of October 2013 shows that the increased web traffic did not occur throughout the entire month, but only during about two weeks, between October 9 and October 21, and then again on the last day of the month.
Attempted Bloggery page views for October 2013

A weekly graph highlighting the increased page views received on the last day of October 2013.

Here's an earlier view of the brief run-up that began suddenly after October 9 and ended in under two weeks.
Attempted Bloggery's Page Views, September 23, 2013 to October 22, 2013

Intrigued? I was. One might imagine one particular page or search term was generating the unusual traffic, but that wasn't the case. The sources of incoming web traffic were unchanged as were the distribution of page views; there were simply more total page views in the same general pattern as always. And, as always, the prime referring site was Google. For whatever reason, no other search engine makes a significant contribution to web traffic here. My conclusion, then, was that the increased page views seen on this blog was solely because of increased search engine traffic from Google.

Search engine optimization is a goal of many websites, but realizing this kind of sudden upturn in traffic volume from one search engine is something largely out of one's control. The details of Google's ranking algorithm are proprietary, of course, but having external websites link to yours is probably one of the factors that increases a website's ranking in search results. Why such an effect should last for only two weeks and then largely disappear is a matter for conjecture. It could be the result of a minor tweaking of Google's algorithm or of something entirely different. Perhaps the increased traffic referred to this blog didn't stay on a page for more than a few seconds on average, and Google recognized that. Perhaps the bounce rate was high. Maybe Google's search engine results favor those sites that use AdSense, rather than an advertisement-free blog like this one. It's difficult to know what went on with any certainty.

Monthly page views here are currently on the order of 17,000. If page views were maintained at the higher rate seen briefly in October, it would come to some 45,000 page views per month, which sounds agreeable enough to me. While there would be little point to bringing readers here who are not interested in the subject matter, it is most essential that those readers who do wish to learn more about the topics covered on Attempted Bloggery are able to find their way over here.

Note:  All the Attempted Bloggery centennial posts may be reread here:

Blog Post No. 100

Blog Post No. 200:  A Shaggy Dog Story
Blog Post No. 300:  From the Libraries of Searle, Koren, Booth, and Saxon
Blog Post No. 400: The Attempted Bloggery Quiz
Blog Post No. 500:  The Second Attempted Bloggery Quiz
Blog Post No. 600:  What I Do When I'm Not Blogging
Blog Post No. 700:  The Many Hazards of Blogging
Blog Post No. 800:  Think Locally, Blog Globally
Blog Post No. 900:  The Blog I Was Meant to Write
Blog Post No. 1000: Happy New Year, Lurkers and All!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #420

If it please the Court, I present my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #420 for March 24, 2014. The dynamic cartoon is by Drew Dernavich. The sedentary caption is by me.

"I miss the old lawyerly back-and-forth."

Here are a few of my unused captions, ladies and gentlemen of the jury:
"For once I can't get Justice Thomas to pipe down."
"She's put a new spin on the argument."
"I'd like to see the other branches get this innovative."
"And this is why we don't allow cameras."
"She just made a controversial point."
"Advantage First Amendment."
"I missed the opening salvo."

March 31, 2014 Update:  The Finalists

April 14, 2014 Update:  Wining Caption

Note:  Last week's New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest was based on a drawing by P. C. Vey and set in a doctor's examination room. The doctor walks in with a giant hypodermic needle. What's funny about that? I sure don't know. You can see the clinical results of Contest #419 here.

While I may may not be able to write a decent New Yorker caption, Moment magazine isn't so picky. Four times running I have been selected as a finalist in the Moment Cartoon Caption Contest. Is that a record? I wouldn't have any idea. Ask the people over at Guinness. In the meantime, I have yet to write a winning caption and I doubt this month will be any different. I don't myself know whom to vote for. You can get the whole story here and vote for your favorite caption here.

My previous attempts to write captions for Drew Dernavich drawings have not been, shall we say, my best efforts. See my older posts concerning this artist here.

Soon I'll be posting my 1,100th blog post. Drumroll, please!


Friday, March 28, 2014

MoCCA Arts Fest 2014

The 2014 MoCCA Arts Fest is right around the corner, coming to New York City on April 5th and 6th. The 2012 Festival was the first comic art convention I ever attended, and I had a surprisingly good time even though, as it turns out, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art was in the late stages of a serious financial crisis. Then MoCCA merged with the fiscally sound Society of Illustrators and its financial house was put in order. I was disappointed that the 2013 MoCCA show wasn't nearly as exciting for me, and I made fewer purchases accordingly. Now perhaps the pendulum will swing the other way.

Fiona Staples, MoCCA Arts Fest 2014

I'm not sure yet whether I'm going this year, but it seems that whenever I do go I come away with material for at least a few blog posts. For example, some swag I came across at the 2013 Fest included a pin promoting Art Spiegelman's MetaMaus. The next time I need to wear a pin with a swastika on it, I am ready.

Art Spiegelman, Promotional pin for MetaMaus

Note:  So just what was I up to at MoCCA Fest? See my old blog posts here.

More posts on Art Spiegelman may be seen here.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Saul Steinberg: Wedding Document

From the Bliss Collection comes this very official-looking Wedding Document by Saul Steinberg. Steinberg dated this October 15, 1966. As with any Steinberg document, the writing, the signatures, and the stamps are all indecipherable nonsense, but the overall effect is fancifully plausible and inspired.

Saul Steinberg, Wedding DocumentOctober 15, 1966
Saul Steinberg, Wedding Document (detail)

Saul Steinberg's signature

Saul Steinberg, Wedding Document (large detail), October 15, 1966

March 30, 2014 Update:  This work was formerly with the Adam Baumgold Gallery.

Note:  See more by Saul Steinberg here.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Chon Day Brother Sebastian Sketch

Pity Brother Sebastian. His hood and tonsure are so essential to our recognizing him that cartoonist Chon Day frequently drew him from behind. Here's an original sketch of Brother Sebastian that was blasphemously underpriced on eBay last year.

Chon Day, Sketch of Brother Sebastian

Chon Day, Sketch of Brother Sebastian

Note:  Chon Day's artwork appears on this blog here.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Ruin of the Spirit

"Pure logic is the ruin of the spirit." That's what my fortune says. Tell it to Lewis Carroll. Tell it to Mr. Spock. Actually, the fortune cookie is quoting Antoine de Saint-Exupéry without attribution. Chinese fortune cookies will do that, you know. I suppose it's logical.

"Pure logic is the ruin of the spirit."
France's 50 franc banknote, by the way, honored Saint-Exupéry as a cultural hero. In contrast, today's Euro banknotes feature architectural elements and do not commemorate individuals.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the Little Prince on a 1997 French 50 franc note

Note:  Fortune cookie wisdom has enlightened this blog in the past here. Some of that wisdom has been plagiarized.

Bob Mankoff's memoir How About Never--Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons is now officially published. You can read more about him on his website here, or on my blog here and even here.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Hal Foster's Prince Valiant: Preparations for Escape are Interrupted

This weekly comic page of Hal Foster's Prince Valiant presents the artist with the challenge of depicting great depth convincingly. He pulls it off well. Prince Valiant's comic pages are often gorgeous, but the slow pace of some of the weekly installments makes this strip well-suited to book anthologies.

Hal Foster, Original comic strip artwork for Prince Valiant, March 2, 1941

Hal Foster, Original comic strip artwork for Prince Valiant, March 2, 1941

Note:  More fine examples of original comic strip art on this blog may be seen here.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ivan Brunetti: When Things Were Better

Last year, Ivan Brunetti sold his original comic strip artwork for the New Yorker on eBay. The artwork was altered in Photoshop prior to publication. The proceeds from the sale were put toward the printing of volume 4 of the Linework Anthology, a comics and graphics publication which came out in 2013.

Ivan Brunetti, "Things Were Better When They Were Worse,"
Original artwork for the New Yorker, December 21, 2009, page 107

EBay auction ending April 23, 2013
Ivan Brunetti, "Sketchbook"
The New Yorker, December 21, 2009, page 107

Linework Volume 4


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Seth: A Funny Dream

Canadian artist Seth--why Seth? If I had an alliterative name like Gregory Gallant, I wouldn't call myself Seth. All right, sorry for the early digression. Let's try again:

Canadian artist Seth produced this original George Sprott artwork for the New York Times Magazine. It is entitled "A Funny Dream," but that header did not appear in the Sunday Times, perhaps because the word funny is used ironically, and the Times was already calling this feature "The Funny Pages" anyway. A different version was created by Seth for Drawn & Quarterly and ultimately the book George Sprott (1894-1975). Seth, as usual, manages to include great emotional complexity in his comic strip subject matter.

"A Funny Dream"
Seth (Gregory Gallant)
Original artwork for "The Funny Pages" in the New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2007.
Chapter 14 of George Sprott (1894-1975) as it appeared in the Times.

eBay Listing Ended May 2, 2013

["A Funny Dream"]
Seth (Gregory Gallant)
The New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2007

"A Funny Dream"
Seth (Gregory Gallant)
Original artwork for "The Funny Pages" in the New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2007.
Chapter 14 of George Sprott (1894-1975) as it appeared in the Times.
"A Funny Dream"
Seth (Gregory Gallant)
As it appeared in George Sprott (1894-1975): A Picture Novella.
Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2009.
Image added March 24, 2014

Note:  Additional posts about Seth may be seen here.

In the midst of March Madness, some of my readers may be wondering what I have to say about basketball. Well, this is it.


My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #419

Here is my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #419 for March 17, 2014. The medical cartoon is by P. C. Vey but the diagnosis is all mine.

"Good news!  Guess what your health insurance covers?"

Hmm. If only I could take another stab at it:
"You have a highly-resistant gonococcus."

March 24, 2014 Update:  The Finalists

April 7, 2014 Update:  Winning Caption

Note:  The last time we heard from P. C. Vey on this blog, he created a drawing for a New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest that was also set in a doctor's office. Scout's honor. See Contest #386 here.

Last week's New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest required me to come up with something clever to say about a voracious sofa. You can guess how well that went. See the unvarnished results to Contest # 418 here.

For a moment, let's forget about the New Yorker's caption contest in which the odds against mediocre captions becoming finalists are astronomical. Right now I myself am a finalist in the Moment Magazine Cartoon Caption Contest which is much friendlier to my brand of lame captions. In fact, this is the fourth time I was selected by Bob Mankoff as a finalist in this contest and you can read all the repetitive details here. You may even vote for your favorite caption entry here. Voting closes April 10.