Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Best Attempted Bloggery Posts of 2014

I'm going to let you in on a little secret:  When I start to write a blog post, I don't know where it will take me. I almost never use an outline, but instead rely on the particular features of whatever I'm presenting to suggest some tentative direction. With such an open approach, there are bound to be some successes and some failures, but I'm generally satisfied with the outcomes, more than I should be if they were truly haphazard. Those posts which I consider the best do not necessarily come from the best artwork or the best artists, but rather from that serendipitous process where some observation is arrived at that was not previously apparent.

On average I have published slightly more than one blog post a day this year, and from these I've selected those that I consider the best. These then are the posts I'm proudest of from 2014. If you'd like to see the full posts, simply click on the aqua links.

Liza Donnelly: Women on Men
Back in January, who could have guessed that Liza Donnelly's Women on Men would become a Thurber Prize finalist?

Numerals 1980: Paul Degen Proposed New Yorker Cover Art
For once, I think I can surmise why a proposed New Yorker cover was rejected.

The Quotable George Price
Some of the literary quotations in George Price's captions bring me great joy, even if Price didn't write them himself. And you can quote me on that.

"Cover Story: The New Yorker in Westport"
The Westport Historical Society hosts a major exhibition about the many local artists who created covers for the New Yorker and your humble blogger attends the opening.

George Price Rolls His Own
This is probably the best job I've done all year in explicating a cartoon. Who knew cartoons needed explication?

Vermont Cartoonist Laureate: The Bookish Ed Koren
Time and again Edward Koren generously makes drawings in books for his legions of fans. This post contains a particularly worthwhile crop.

Drew Friedman's Old Jewish Comedians
I show up for the opening of Drew Friedman's "Old Jewish Comedians" at the Society of Illustrators and no one mistakes me for a celebrity.

My Entries in the Moment Cartoon Caption Contest for January/February 2014
This is the only cartoon caption contest I ever won and it's difficult to see how.

Groucho's French Order of Arts and Letters
I just can't believe the finds which show up regularly on eBay, but when one of Groucho Marx's most treasured possessions is sold off, I have mixed feelings.

Charlie Brown at MoCCA Fest
This year I didn't get to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but I did see the Charlie Brown balloon indoors at MoCCA Fest.

Mixed Reactions: Constantin Alajálov, New Yorker Cover Art
I explain how this original 1936 New Yorker cover art is the perfect metaphor for how we differ in our responses to art.

My Moment with Bob Mankoff
Here's why I don't think New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff is a good listener.

Shore Leave: Constantin Alajálov New Yorker Cover Art
It's not at all unusual for me to write about original New Yorker cover art, but for some reason I really liked the way all the elements came together on this one.

Constantin Alajálov: George Gershwin's Song-Book
Making a collaboration between an artist and a musician work isn't always so easy. I was pleased with how this blog post reflected on the two major talents involved.

Nude with The New Yorker
She got my attention by taking off her clothes and posing with a copy of the New Yorker. This amateur photo dates from the 1950's. What would William Shawn have thought?

William Steig's Crying Chickens
On the subject of William Steig's crying chickens, I have the last word. Or is it the only word?

Victory Garden: Garth Williams Proposed New Yorker Cover Art
A rejected New Yorker cover by Garth Williams gives us a chance to review the magazine's wartime covers on the subject of Victory gardens. If not this aerial view, then just what were the editors looking for?

Al Capp: The Dreams of Li'l Abner
A rare example of unfinished "Li'l Abner" original comic strip art by Al Capp. My own dreams are less vivid.

Wally Skinner's Copy of The Art of the New Yorker 1925-1995
What do you suppose happens when you ask a gathering of New Yorker cartoonists to draw a frog in your book?

"Engraved" by John Held, Jr.
Four masterly "engravings" by John Held, Jr. that were not published in the New Yorker.

2014 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation
I just adore when they inflate the balloons the night before the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Saul Steinberg's Santa for Hallmark
A forgotten Hallmark Christmas card by Saul Steinberg is forgotten no longer.

Roger Duvoisin: A New Yorker Spot Drawing of the 1939 New York World's Fair
During the 1939 New York World's Fair, did the New Yorker publish a spot drawing as a quid pro quo to one of its advertisers? You decide.

Sexcapades: With a Handshake from Al Ross
I don't believe I've ever before come across a book with an original drawing by Al Ross.

The New Yorker Book of Political Cartoons Signed by Four New Yorker Cartoonists
Four New Yorker cartoonists made original drawings in this book of political cartoons and one of them is even about politics.

Frank Sullivan and George Price: A Moose in the Hoose
This copy of a Christmas book illustrated by George Price turns out to contain two key autographs. If you wanted to track down something like this you never could, but there it is just sitting on eBay for the taking.

Ronald Searle: Santa at the Shrine
If you've never seen an unfinished drawing by Ronald Searle, this is your big chance.

Caroling Out in the Snow: Charles Saxon Preliminary New Yorker Cover Art
Preliminary New Yorker cover art is always interesting because you can compare it with the published version and try to surmise what the editors were thinking. When the art is by Charles Saxon, it's really a cause for celebration.

The year after this Christmas cover saw print, R. O. Blechman created a New Yorker cover reinterpreting Rodin's Thinker as a robot. Here he takes on the sculpture of Laocoön and his Sons. Come to think of it, Charles Addams had his cartoon take on this as well. This post is a good example of a sort of cartoon stream-of-consciousness that can happen when you simply allow the connections to make themselves.

Note:  End-of-the-year highlights are a new thing for me. Yesterday, for example, I showed off my best captions of 2014 from the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.


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