Friday, March 31, 2017

The African Svelte Signed by Daniel Menaker and Roz Chast

A bibliophile friend of mine happily passes along the advice that one should always try to obtain the best copy of a book one can. I had an opportunity to put this advice to practice in January when I shopped for a signed copy of Daniel Menaker's The African Svelte:  Ingenious Misspellings that Make Surprising Sense (2016). The book is illustrated by cartoonist Roz Chast.

I had a choice between two copies of the book. The first was offered by Daedalus books. It was the less expensive copy and had a signed bookplate.
The African Svelte
Daedalus Books Listing as of January 10, 2017

The African Svelte
Daedalus Books Item Description

The other selection comes from Ryan Books in New York. It was the more expensive option but was signed by the author and illustrator at the Thalia Book Club at Symphony Space on November 14, 2016. I think my choice was clear, the money be damned.
The African Svelte
Ryan Books Listing as of January 10, 2017
The African Svelte
Ryan Books Item Description

My purchase:
Daniel Menaker, The African Svelte:  Ingenious Misspellings
That Make Surprising Sense, 2016

Drawings by Roz Chast
Foreword by Billy Collins

Signed by Daniel Menaker and Roz Chast

Daniel Menaker, Calvin Trillin, and Roz Chast

Note:  This is Daniel Menaker's first mention here on the old blog. I think he's earned it.

I have not been fortunate enough to obtain a signed copy of Calvin Trillin's No Fair! No Fair! and Other Jolly Poems of Childhood also illustrated by Roz Chast and also published in 2016. Would anyone present at the Thalia Book Club event care to send photos or scans of a signed copy?

The bookplate-signed copy of The African Svelte from Daedalus books is still available as of this posting.

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Roz Chast

Signed Books

Calvin Trillin

Thursday, March 30, 2017

National Doctors' Day 2017

Every year on March 30 we celebrate National Doctors' Day. In a 1942 New Yorker cartoon, Otto Soglow salutes physicians both for their courteous professionalism and for their uncanny clinical skills.

Otto Soglow, The New Yorker, April 11, 1942, page 20

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Paging Dr. Hopp.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Blood on Snow Signed by Jo Nesbø

Jo Nesbø's novel Blood on Snow (2015) is the first novel in the Olav Johansen series. I haven't read it, but I have read three books in his Harry Hole series and I enjoyed them.
Jo Nesbø, Blood on Snow, 2015

Signed by Jo Nesbø

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Born to Run Memoir Signed by Bruce Springsteen

A copy of the signed edition of Bruce Springsteen's autobiography Born to Run (2016) obtained last October at The New Yorker Festival was sold in January on eBay in just twenty-two minutes with the Buy It Now feature. You simply don't take chances when it comes to the Boss. The New Yorker's editor David Remnick got to interview Mr. Springsteen at the Festival and he knows how very popular it was. In fact, he now boasts publicly that the event sold out in just six seconds, but how on earth is this something the magazine should be proud of? It suggests that the tickets went to scalpers and their sophisticated bots rather than to long-time readers and fans. Has The New Yorker Festival, at least with its most popular event, stumbled into the same ticket distribution nightmare that the producers of "Hamilton" face?

The signed edition of Born to Run (2016) by Bruce Springsteen with a general admission ticket to The New Yorker Festival, October 7, 2016

Bruce Springsteen
eBay Listing Ended December 15, 2016

Bruce Springsteen
eBay Item Description

eBay Bid History
A five-day auction ends in fewer than twenty-two minutes with the Buy It Now Feature

The signed edition of Born to Run (2016) by Bruce Springsteen with a general admission ticket to The New Yorker Festival, October 7, 2016

Note:  Would you like to hear David Remnick's conversation with Bruce Springsteen last year at The New Yorker Festival? Tune in to "The New Yorker Radio Hour" Episode 58: Bruce Springsteen Talks with David Remnick. By the way, with whom would you rather have a beer?

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Will you walk with me out on the wire?


Monday, March 27, 2017

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #562

Nature-lovers everywhere should appreciate my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #562 for March 27, 2017. The drawing is by Jason Adam Katzenstein.

"Please tell me you're a flying fish!"

And, alas, a couple of caption throwaways:
"We'd better run a background check."
"Then we're agreed: I gotta love one man till I die."

April 3, 2017 Update:  The Finalists

April 10, 2017 Update:  I voted for the first caption.

April 17, 2017 Update:  Winning Caption

Note:  Last week, Will McPhail's caption drawing went to the dogs. My caption wasn't even paper-trained. Get into Contest #561.

The blog archives have a lot more on the topics of Jason Adam Katzenstein, fish, and birds. Take your pick.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Peter Arno: Two Together?

Peter Arno's original artwork for a 1946 New Yorker gag has yellowed with age, but the gag itself remains an ageless example of postwar humor. The setting is the dining car on a train passing through a rural setting. The cheerful maître d' appears quite animated and he leans forward as he expectantly greets two newcomers. So why are their faces so inexpressive? Why are their postures so stiff?

Well, there are a couple of very good reasons. First off, the blank expression particularly on the central figure works perfectly once we realize what the circumstances are. But beyond that, Arno doesn't want our eyes lingering on their faces or for that matter their gestures because the gag only works when we notice what's going on at their wrists.

Arno is well-equipped with the tools to help us out. Note how the men's adjacent arms are heavily shaded, creating a series of bold zebra stripes directed vertically right at the... handcuffs. Likewise, two upward folds of the tablecloth on the right point to the handcuffs like an arrow, while the lines of the forearm of the nondescript (for Arno) woman direct the eye back in that direction as well. Arno is a master of light and shade, and he's used his skills to make the hands stand out at least as much as the faces.

Meanwhile, the magazine's editors, not to be outdone, made use of whatever time there was between the artwork's execution and its publication to hone the two-word caption down to its one-word essence. Talk about efficiency!

"Two together?"
Peter Arno, original art, The New Yorker, June 6, 1946, page 25
Published as "Together?"


Saco River Auction Co. March 15, 2017 sale, Lot 50D

"Two together?"
Peter Arno, original art, The New Yorker, June 6, 1946, page 25
Published as "Together?"

Peter Arno, The New Yorker, June 6, 1946, page 25

Note:  I don't want to shackle you with any undue burden, but do you happen to have any original art by Peter Arno hanging about? Send photos or scans this way and I'll see what I can do.

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Now, table for how many?


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Dorothy McKay in College Humor, October 1937

One surefire way to get the young collegiate or even college-bound reader on your side is to mock the duplicity of the older generation. In the October 1937 College Humor, cartoonist Dorothy McKay makes fun of both the football coach who gambles on his own team's success and the executive who gambles against his own secretary's morals.

"Let's see some of that school spirit, you guys—remember, I got a hundred bucks on this game!"
Dorothy McKay, College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 2, October 1937, page 38

"Nobody's perfect, Miss Smith—so I'll expect you to make a few mistakes."
Dorothy McKay, College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 2, October 1937, page 44

Note:  The October 1937 number of College Humor resides in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection at Columbia University in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Boss at the Butler Library and to thank him personally for the 5,600 humor titles he so generously donated. My thanks also go out to Karen Green, the Curator for Comics and Cartoons at Columbia, surely the happiest alliterative job title anywhere.

Except for her work published in the New Yorker, much of Dorothy McKay's output is obscure. If you have examples of her published work or original art you'd like to share here, please let me know.

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Dorothy McKay
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Office Humor

Friday, March 24, 2017

Dorothy McKay in College Humor, September 1937

Much sophomoric humor—the sort that was published in, appropriately, College Humor—allows the reader to feel intellectually superior to the characters in the gags. Thus Dorothy McKay gives us two cartoons in the September 1937 number with characters who aren't exactly the brightest bulbs in the box. The first—and more disturbing—has fun at the expense of the country bumpkin who apparently knows how to swim but, when his wife is drowning, can't seem to move anything but his lips. And his son is no better.

"Reckon we shoulda learned maw t'swim last summer, Ed!"
Dorothy McKay, College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937, page 41

The second cartoon presents a scenario which might be more familiar to the college student of 1937. It depicts a young woman introducing her mother to the Princeton man voted most likely to succeed. Presumably she is the only one on the porch who doesn't quite grasp the full implication of that honor. Or does she...?

"Oh, mother! This is Mr. Merton of Princeton. He's the student most likely to succeed!"
Dorothy McKay, College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937, page 44

Note:  The May 1937 issue of College Humor is located in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection at Columbia University. It's in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library so don't bother with the stacks. My thanks to Karen Green, Curator for Comics and Cartoons—I love saying that—for her assistance.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dorothy McKay in College Humor, May 1937

The first of Dorothy McKay's cartoons in the May 1937 issue of College Humor is set at a burlesque show featuring a striptease. Such shows were still extremely familiar, presumably, even during the Great Depression. In any event, the audience as depicted by Ms. McKay consists strictly of older male patrons, not college-age students, and the joke is made at their expense. Clearly, these middle-aged men don't even remember what they're supposed to be looking at.

"Look, Marcus! Isn't that one of our dresses?"
Dorothy McKay, College Humor, May 1937, page 44

Not bad! This predates by more than two years a classic Peter Arno New Yorker cartoon with a similar, but perhaps not identical, take:
Peter Arno, The New Yorker, December 10, 1938

Some nefarious criminal plot is being hatched in this next one, but just exactly what? One thing is certain: Helen, whoever she is, had better watch out! (Could this be perhaps a bad Helen Keller joke?)

Dorothy McKay, College Humor, May 1937, page 50

March 29, 2017 Update:  Rob At The Beach gives a very plausible reading of this gag on Twitter:

In another well-considered opinion, Columbia comics librarian Karen Green notes that the unsavory group consists of two men and a woman, So Helen is being asked to even out the party at two and two.

I think the caption allows for too much ambiguity. Wouldn't it have been clearer to say either "Hello, Helen? Don't wait up for me" or "Hello, Helen? Are you free tonight?"

Note:  The May 1937 number of College Humor can be found in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection at Columbia University tucked away in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, naturally. My thanks to Karen Green, the—ahem!—Curator for Comics and Cartoons, for her able assistance in guiding me to it.

If anyone can shed some light on the "Hello—Helen?" gag, please go ahead and shed.

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Dorothy McKay
College Humor
Peter Arno

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dorothy McKay in College Humor, July 1936

Cartoonist Dorothy McKay typically published two full-page cartoons in those issues of College Humor which included her work. In the July 1936 number, she depicts two encounters between young adults and the older generation. In each, she offers a laugh to her readers who, despite their relative youth and inexperience, can feel confident they are more sexually sophisticated than the speakers in the cartoons. The first is set at a wedding and reinforces a young person's stereotypical view of how the older generation just doesn't get it, particularly regarding the facts of life. Note the obvious innocence of the question being asked.

"And what are you planning to do on your honeymoon, my dear children?"
Dorothy McCay, College Humor, Vol. 2, No. 2, July 1936, page 29

Another cartoon brings another over-the-top question. In this second cartoon, though, it's the young, attractive woman who proves sexually naive:

"Sure, Sally Jones gets all the fellows—She's rich—What have I got to offer them?"
Dorothy McCay, College Humor, Vol. 2, No. 2, July 1936, page 35

Note:  The July 1936 issue of College Humor is one of 5,600 pieces in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection at Columbia University located in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Thanks to Karen Green, Curator for Comics and Cartoons, for her assistance. Yes, that's her new title. Could anything be more awesome?

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Dorothy McKay
College Humor

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Doris Matthews: They're Playing Our Song

Cartoonist Doris Matthews gives it the old college try:

"They're playing our song."
Doris Matthews, original cartoon art

Huh? April 12? August 12?

The Shadow knows

Doris Matthews's signature and caption


Doris Matthews
eBay Listing as of March 16, 2017

eBay Item Description

Note:  Original cartoon art by Doris Matthews and other New Yorker cartoonists is a highly sought-after commodity here on the blog. Just saying...

Like it or not, this blog post is likely to remain an authoritative source for information on this obscure cartoon for some time to come. So if you have any inkling as to when or where it was published, please tell me what you know.

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Doris Matthews
Original Cartoon Art
Other cartoons and illustrations from the blog with uncertain publication history