Thursday, July 31, 2014

Edward Gorey's "Dracula" Theater Posters

This lot from Swann Galleries consists of a book and several posters related to Edward Gorey's "Dracula" (1977). I was lucky enough to see Frank Langella in this atmospheric production which ran on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre in the late 1970's. Note how in the theater posters the sky's dark negative space forms the silhouette of a vampire bat with the macabre full moon serving as the deathly face.

Edward Gorey, A Toy Theatre:  "Dracula," 1979

Edward Gorey, "Dracula" poster, Shaftesbury Theatre, 1979

Edward Gorey, "Dracula" poster, Martin Beck Theatre, 1977

Edward Gorey, "Dracula" poster, Curran Theatre, 1978

"I Love New York" TV commercial excerpt
Frank Langella

"I Love New York" TV  Commercial
Broadway (2 of 5)

Note:  Don't miss my other blog posts about Mr. Gorey's artwork.

There is also quite a bit here about Broadway.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Entries in the Moment Cartoon Caption Contest for May/June 2014

The Moment Cartoon Caption Contest has provided me with virtually all the success I've achieved to date from my yearlong cartoon caption contest endeavor. That's a polite way of saying that my submitted captions have had no effect whatsoever on the judges of the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, which is the big game in town. Nevertheless, with Moment, I've been named a finalist four times and my caption somehow won the January/February contest, even though I think it was one of my weaker entries. Disappointingly, the March/April contest marked the first time I failed to reach finalist status--apparently I amused only myself--so I redoubled my efforts and tried to be especially creative for Moment's May/June contest.

My entries, all fourteen of them, are presented below. You can see I actually rewrote a couple of them and thereby submitted very close variants. I really didn't want to do this, but in both cases I was simply trying to make a flawed caption better. Unfortunately, when I rewrite a caption, it looks as if I'm asking the judge to select between two very similar captions when it's really the rewrite I prefer. While it's refreshing to be able to submit multiple captions, it can be frustrating that there's no way to delete or edit an inferior caption when it's obvious it should be set aside. Moment, by the way, is a magazine of Jewish politics, culture, and religion, so a bit of Jewish humor is clearly permissible here. As always, the cartoon was created by the New Yorker's cartoon editor Bob Mankoff.

"In the Mossad, we call this date night."
"I did so tell her about us."
"We'll be a little late to the peace rally."
"Can I call you back in five rounds?"
“Let me get back to you in a couple of rounds.”
"In retrospect, we should never have given up coffee cold turkey."

"Good evening.  Earp residence."
"Quick--was today Amy's birthday?"
"Hello, FTD?"
"I'm putting you on speaker.  Please ask your daughter
to hear me out."
"Did I ever happen to mention where I hid the ammo?"
"How dare you call me on Shabbat?"
"How dare you call us on Shabbat?"

"Remember your suggestion that we spice things up with some role-playing?"

At long last, the May/June 2014 finalists have been revealed. I am pleased to report that I have once again been chosen as a finalist after my unfortunate lapse in the March/April contest. It's good to be in the game again, and anyway somebody's got to put Princeton on the map. As it turns out, I needn't have been so compulsive about submitting fourteen entries. I could have stopped at one. The finalists, then:
Moment Cartoon Caption Contest May/June 2014 Finalists

September 29, 2014 Update:  Winning Caption
Moment Cartoon Caption Contest May/June 2014 Winning Caption

March 25, 2015 Update:  Bob Mankoff's Original Caption
Bob Mankoff, "As a matter of fact, you did catch us at a bad time."
The New Yorker,
January 30, 1995, page 46

Note:  If you wish to vote for your favorite caption in the May/June contest, you have until August 10. While you're there, you may also enter the July/August contest.

You won't believe what Bob Mankoff inscribed in my copy of his memoir. I certainly don't.

My entire history of entering all variety of Cartoon Caption Contests has been preserved for posterity in the hopes of preventing others from repeating my costly mistakes, although it hasn't stopped me from repeating them.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More of Edward Gorey's Cape Cod Theater Posters

Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius:  By th' mass and 'tis, like a camel indeed.
Hamlet:  Methinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius:  It is back'd like a weasel.
Hamlet:  Or like a whale.
Polonius:  Very like a whale.
                                                                                      --Hamlet III.ii

When you consider Edward Gorey's prodigious output of books, it's remarkable how much effort he put, particularly in his later years, into the theater. He designed productions and sets, and even wrote entire "entertainments." The posters for these productions are distinctive in themselves. His poster for Shakespeare's "Hamlet" shows an awareness certainly of M. C. Escher, but the style is unmistakably Mr. Gorey's.

Edward Gorey, Shakespeare's "Hamlet" poster, Cotuit Center for the Arts, signed and numbered edition no. 82/100, 1997

Gorey's poster for his "Stumbling Christmas" includes three of his Figbash characters, or a close variant.
Edward Gorey, "Stumbling Christmas" poster, Theater on the Bay, signed and numbered edition no. 37/100, 1995

Swann Galleries

Note:  Edward Gorey's art never loses its power to surprise and delight. See a few examples of it on this very blog.

Most of the artists who through no fault of their own occasionally appear here don't enjoy entire blogs wholly dedicated to their work, although I think most of them deserve at least one. Edward Gorey is one of those happy exceptions. Irwin Terry's Goreyana blog is not only a lot of fun, it's an outstanding resource.

Speaking of Cape Cod, if you haven't visited the Edward Gorey House, what are you waiting for?


Monday, July 28, 2014

Edward Gorey's Cape Cod Theater Posters

Edward Gorey, who maintained a house in Yarmouth Port on the Cape, created this poster for the Atlantic Theatre Company's second season in Barnstable. Note the triangular arrangement of the three figures.

Edward Gorey
Atlantic Theatre Company poster
Signed and numbered edition no. 38/250, 1981
Other posters for the Atlantic Theatre Company from the same sale at Swann Galleries most likely are from the same 1981 summer season.
Edward Gorey
"Late Night Cabaret" poster
The Atlantic Theatre Company, signed, 1981

Edward Gorey
Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" poster
The Atlantic Theatre Company, signed, c. 1981
Edward Gorey
Alexander Ostrowsky's "Diary of a Scoundrel" poster
The Atlantic Theatre Company, signed, c. 1981

For the 60th anniversary of the Cape Playhouse, Mr. Gorey created this elegant poster.

Edward Gorey
Cape Playhouse 60th Anniversary Season poster
Signed and numbered edition no. 305/500, 1987
 Image added August 1, 2014
  Image added August 1, 2014

The following posters were also included in lot 273 at Swann Galleries but were made for the Provincetown Theatre Company, also on Cape Cod. They promote "entertainments" written by Mr. Gorey and date from the early 1990's:
Edward Gorey
"Useful Urns" poster, P.A.P.A./Provincetown Theatre Company, signed, 1990

Edward Gorey
"Flapping Ankles" poster, P.A.P.A./Provincetown Theatre Company, 1991

Edward Gorey
"Crazed Teacups" poster, P.A.P.A./Provincetown Theatre Company, 1992

The following poster, found on AbeBooks in 2018, is for "Chinese Gossip" staged in Bourne in 1994:
Edward Gorey
Poster for "Chinese Gossip," edition of 100
Theater on the Bay, Bourne, 1994

Image added November 18, 2018

Edward Gorey
Detail of signed poster for "Chinese Gossip" aside from the edition of 100

Image added November 18, 2018

Edward Gorey
AbeBooks Listing Retrieved November 18, 2018

Note:  I'm sure you won't want to miss this blog's other posts about Edward Gorey.

Rare pinback buttons from the Provincetown theatrical productions and others can be seen on the invaluable Goreyana blog.

There are a few other posters here on this blog, although not nearly enough.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Edward Gorey's Mikado Poster

In true 19th century aristocratic fashion, the Mikado enters riding--a penny-farthing! Edward Gorey's 1983 poster for Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado" (1885) reveals the Mikado in his true light as a product of Victorian England, Japanese in name only.

Edward Gorey, "The Mikado" poster, signed and numbered edition, no. 89/100, 1983

Note:  If you like this image, why not check out my other blog posts about Edward Gorey?

There are a few Gilbert & Sullivan posts lying about as well. has numerous images from Edward Gorey's production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado."


Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #435

Here is my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #435 for July 21, 2014. The drawing is by Michael Crawford.
"So much for the free valet parking."

Here are a few other captions I did not submit:
"Under the circumstances, you've done a remarkable job parking."
"Whoops! Time to feed the meter."
"Say, there's a nail in your tire."
"The neighborhood just isn't what it used to be."

July 28, 2014 Update: The Finalists

August 18, 2014: Winning Caption

Note: Last week's caption contest juxtaposed characters from Moby-Dick and The Wizard of Oz. I had neither sails nor broomstick with which to navigate. Now that's a horse of a different color! See the unwizardly results of Contest #434 and call me Ishmael.

Michael Crawford was in attendance at the Best of the Rejection Collection Event. The cartoonist did not sing the lead role in Phantom of the Opera.


Friday, July 25, 2014

The Unintriguing Fortune Cookie

I will admit only that I'm not intrigued.

Note:  This blog has a goodly collection of Chinese fortunes, each more intriguing than this one.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Self-Serving Fortune Cookie

Always be wary of the possible unstated motives of writers. For example, is this fortune really my destiny? Well, it is, but that's besides the point.

In a related example, you love this blog.

Note:  You wouldn't think all those little paper fortunes would necessarily be good subjects for a blog, but I believe in leaving no stone unturned.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why Even Fortune Cookies Need Proofreaders

Everything written should be proofread, even in fortune cookies. Can you spot the error?

"There are 356 days in a year, may all 365 of your dreams come true."

That's right, the comma should be a semicolon. In an ideal world, I'd have secretaries, research assistants, and fact-checkers helping me with the day's blogging chores, not to mention a few proofreaders. As things stand, no one has ever pointed out to me even a single spelling error, a grammatical faux pas, or a missing Oxford comma, leaving the entire proofreading burden on me. I did once have a reader question my slightly errant use of the word bucolic, but his criticism was aimed more at the non-Wodehousian tenor of my Wodehouse book review than at my failure to consult the thesaurus.

Note:   Anyway, should you note a dangling participle here or some similar crime against the English language, by all means let me know. For that matter, I'm interested in any correction that will make the blog better. Or more bucolic.

Then, once you've corrected my grammar, please take a look at other fortune cookies that have come my way and ask yourself, is there anything this blogger won't write a post about? Alas, there I go ending a sentence with a preposition.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jim Dine for the Cape and Islands Chamber Music Festival

Artist Jim Dine lends his formidable watercolor technique to a promotional poster for the Cape and Islands Chamber Music Festival's second season in the summer of 1981. This copy of the poster, inscribed by the artist a few months earlier, seems undervalued at $62.

Jim Dine, Cape and Island Chamber Music Festival, Second Season, August 1981
Lithographic poster inscribed "for Matt[hew Wysocki] from Jim Apr. 1981"

Note:  Jim Dine is no stranger to this blog's readers. See other examples of this pop artist's work.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Peter Arno: Got Milk?

This preposterous drawing by Peter Arno stands--or crawls--on its own. The caption is not only weak but rather superfluous.

Peter Arno, "Can Papa milk the cow?"
Illustration House, Lot 109, June 2, 2007
Note:  You'll find more of Peter Arno's Grade A work all over this blog.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tourists at Niagara Falls

Platt D. Babbitt made his living photographing tourists on the American side of Niagara Falls. This daguerrotype of visitors in their finery is about 160 years old. The image is quite appealing and it sold for $2,750 with the buyer's premium.

Platt D. Babbitt, Daguerrotype, c. 1854


Elaine Stritch Sings "I'm Still Here"

Here's another of the late Elaine Stritch's signature numbers, this one originally from "Follies" (1971).

Elaine Stritch sings "I'm Still Here" from "Follies" (1971)
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Goldman
Excerpt from "Elaine Stritch At Liberty" (2002)

Note:  The ink is barely dry on my recent post about Elaine Stritch. Somehow that metaphor doesn't work on the internet.

Did you know I'm just a Broadway blogger?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #434

Here is my latest entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #434 for July 7, 2014. The cartoon is by Drew Dernavich.

"Not that song again. Sing 'Peg o' My Heart.'"

The truth is, this cartoon gave me an inordinate amount of trouble. Perhaps you can tell. Here are some of the caption ideas which didn't make the cut.
"And can ye reimagine me for the Broadway stage?"
"You can have Toto back for, say, a white whale."
"Spear me your song and dance."
"What a motley crew!"
"Hast seen the Wicked Witch or the White Whale?"
"Literary classic trumps children's classic."
"You strain credulity."

Charles Harrison - "Peg o' My Heart" (1913)
By Alfred Bryan and Fred Fisher from "Ziegfeld Follies."
Jerry Murad's Harmonicats (1961)

July 21, 2014 Update: The Finalists

August 4, 2014 Update:  Winning Caption

Today you might say the physiatrist, right, Mr. Murphy?

Note:  Last week's New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest featured a preposterous Tom Cheney cartoon that was kind of upside-down. My caption was, I thought, brilliant, only it turns out it wasn't. See the tragic results of Contest #434.

Then there's Drew Dernavich. Why is it so hard for me to write a decent caption for any of his cartoons?


Friday, July 18, 2014

A Toast to Elaine Stritch (1925-2014)

Elaine Stritch, who passed away yesterday, was a Broadway actress who played many roles but is perhaps best known for playing Joanne in Stephen Sondheim's landmark musical "Company" (1970). Her performance of "The Ladies Who Lunch," is still legendary and must certainly be the most scathing toast in the history of Broadway.

Elaine Stritch
"The Ladies Who Lunch" (concert version)
"Company" (1970)
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by George Furth

Note:  Before today, this is the closest I've come to writing a post about Stephen Sondheim.

There are also a few posts about the Broadway stage if you like that sort of thing.


Bernard Wiseman's Calendar Watch

This original gag cartoon by Bernard Wiseman shows that political speeches weren't any more interesting half a century ago than they are today. This artwork was almost certainly published and, regardless of the eBay listing's title, almost certainly not published in the New Yorker.

Bernard Wiseman, Gag cartoon

Bernard Wiseman, Gag cartoon



Bernard Wiseman's signature

Bernard Wiseman's address stamp

The top left corner of the sheet


Note:  Well, that will do it for now. Here's the tally of original artwork by Bernard Wiseman on this blog: there are four examples of original artwork for the New Yorker, three drawings which could have been published anywhere, and one created for a men's magazine. There must be dozens, even hundreds, of original cartoons by him out there somewhere. This is the place for anyone who knows their whereabouts to share them.

Furthermore, if you know where this calendar watch drawing was published, or indeed where any of the mystery drawings were published, pipe up and say something please. We need answers.