Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sight Unseen: Jack Ziegler's You Had Me at Bow Wow "Signed by Author with Drawing"

Should you buy a unique book without ever laying eyes on it? "Sight Unseen" is a new feature here at Attempted Bloggery expanding on an experiment I initiated some time back. I'll use a book by the late Jack Ziegler as an example. Mr. Ziegler died on March 29 leaving the New Yorker cartooning community bereft. I had always hoped to meet him, but he very stubbornly lived in Kansas.

Anyway, the idea behind "Sight Unseen" is very straightforward. I find a book listing high in interest yet lacking a photograph, take a chance on buying it, and then report back here on whether my expectations were met or not met. I initiated this blog project, then unnamed, early in 2015 by reporting on the blinded purchase of a calendar reportedly signed by Edward Gorey and a humor collection reportedly signed by S. J. Perelman. Avid readers may recall that the Perelman turned out to be the proverbial pellet with the poison while the Gorey proved indeed to be the brew that is true, to misappropriate a favorite line or two from "The Court Jester."

Fast forward to later that year. I found a signed copy of Jack Ziegler's 2006 cartoon collection You Had Me at Bow Wow listed on AbeBooks for $20 plus shipping. The listing describes the book as "Signed by author with drawing on title page" but is illustrated with only a stock image of the book. A reasonable person would assume that any signed book by Jack Ziegler with an original drawing should be fine, right? Right?
Jack Ziegler
AbeBooks Listing August 1, 2015

The book was duly ordered and it arrived in good condition with a cover sticker stating that it was an autographed copy. So far, so good.
Jack Ziegler, You Had Me at Bow Wow, 2006
Autographed Copy
On the inside, the title page bore an original drawing of a dog unquestionably from the able hand of Jack Ziegler, but where is the promised signature? It is nowhere to be found. Should this properly be called an autographed copy? It should not, by any standard definition of the term. But the listing technically doesn't say it is autographed. Rather, it says it is "signed...with a drawing." In other words, the doodle of the dog is taken to be the author's signature mark. Sketchy...
With an original drawing of a dog by Jack Ziegler

So then, what is the verdict on this? Does the doggie in the doodle represent the pellet with the poison or the brew that is true? A film clip should clear up the origin of these technical terms for those unfamiliar with them:

Excerpt from "The Court Jester" (1955)
Danny Kaye as Hubert Hawkins and the replacement Giacomo the Jester
Glynis Johns as Maid Jean
Mildred Natwick as Griselda
Robert Middleton as Sir Griswold of MacElwain
Cecil Parker as King Roderick
Angela Lansbury as Gwendolyn
Basil Rathbone as Lord Ravenhurst

In my opinion, there is no doubt that the drawing, however hastily made, is the work of Jack Ziegler and I am, for the most part, satisfied with my purchase. I should point out though that a similar copy of this book on Chris Wheeler's website has both the drawing and the signature and is therefore a superior copy:


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