Thursday, September 19, 2019

Excuse Me: A Postcard from Liana Finck

New Yorker cartoonist Liana Finck's new collection Excuse Me: Cartoons, Complaints, and Notes to Self is set for publication next week on September 24. Back on August 17, an intriguing offer appeared on Ms. Finck's Instagram account: preorder her book that weekend and send her a copy of the receipt; she in turn would reward you with a hand-drawn postcard. Nearly 2,500 people liked her post, and she left a similar one on Twitter (only seven likes there, including mine, but it's the one I actually saw).

It's a good offer and of course I took advantage of it. One hopes many other fans did too. I gave the artist the chance to opt out of having the drawing appear on social media if she wished, but then who wouldn't want to have a drawing grace this blog? I wondered to myself if she suspected how the Postal Service might treat a postcard like this containing delicate original art. I knew it very likely wouldn't arrive in perfect condition and I figured that probably could be considered part of the fun. 

And here it is!

So the card is indeed a little scuffed in the center but, hey, the postal service was never perfect. I, for one, am delighted.

Do you know what else delights me? It's the correct placement of the serial comma in the subtitle of this book. Here is a rough, same as in the above Instagram post, without the comma:

And here is the finished version with the comma in all its glory:

Perhaps there's hope for the world yet.

Note:  Obviously, I am not the only fortunate recipient of such a postcard. Other splendid postcards from Liana Finck have been posted on social media here and here. For those who don't care to use social media themselves, Attempted Bloggery welcomes submissions of original drawings by the artist.

Ms. Finck's book tour dates for Excuse Me are listed here on her Instagram account. Follow her on Instagram or on Twitter for updates. Copies of Excuse Me also may be ordered from the usual places.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #41

Don't heckle my entries in the Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #41. The drawing is by Pat Byrnes.

"You need new materiel."
"That one was old when Robby told it."
"That's easy. One to draw the robot with the light bulb and five thousand to write the caption."

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Helen's Copy of Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault by Cathy Guisewite

Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years (2019) is written and illustrated by Cathy Guisewite, creator of the comic strip Cathy. This past weekend I came across a copy personalized to one Helen at a Manhattan second-hand book shop. It was signed and inscribed on April 2nd with a full-length drawing of Cathy.

Note:  Attempted Bloggery welcomes submissions of original drawings by Cathy Guisewite. Who wouldn't?

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Monday, September 16, 2019

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #677

Are you drawn to my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #677 for the issue of September 16, 2019? The drawing is by Farley Katz.

"Now I'm the one who needs a rescue."

Note:  Last week cartoonist Paul Karasik's caveman cooked a giant drumstick on the barbie, and he wasn't even Australian. Grab a paper plate and head over to Contest #676.

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

License Plate for a Fancier of Japanese Cartoon Cats?

This license plate was seen on the street while stopped at a red light:
New York State license plate

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Doreen Burke's Copy of Raul Taburin Keeps a Secret by Jean-Jacques Sempé:

The German title of Jean-Jacques Sempé's book is actually Das Geheimnis des Fahrradhändlers, a mouthful that literally means The Secret of the Bicycle Merchant, or Dealer, although the book in English translation is known as Raul Taburin Keeps a Secret, closer to Sempé's French original Raoul Taburin. The secret is that Raul Taburin, who can repair any bicycle with great mastery, is himself unable to ride a bicycle. The book was first published in France in 1996; the German translation wasn't published until 2009. The non-French-speaking world has been inexplicably slow in keeping up with Sempé. There's a new French movie just released this year, "Raoul Taburin," which must have something to do with the recent 2019 Paris signing evidenced by an inscription and drawing in Doreen Burke's copy seen in April on AbeBooks and subsequently sold.

Jean-Jacques Sempé
Abe Books Listing Retrieved April 19, 2019

Phaidon publishes the English-language edition:

Young Raul Taburin


"Raul Taburin" (2019) Trailer

Note:  Attempted Bloggery welcomes submissions of book pages containing souvenir drawings by Jean-Jacques Sempé including other copies and editions of Raoul Taburin.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Claude Smith: Behind the News

An example of original cartoon artwork by Claude Smith from 1957 is executed in black ink with a blue wash which indicates where the gray tone was to be printed. The cartoon shows a married couple at home consuming the competing media of newspapers and television. The six-panel cartoon with the title Behind the News was published somewhere in 1957, but wherever it appeared it was not in the pages of New Yorker.

Behind the News
Claude Smith
Original 1957 artwork

Panels 1 and 3

Panels 4 and 6
Panel 5
Scene from a marriage

Claude Smith's signature

eBay Listing Ended September 9, 2015

Claude Smith
eBay Item Description

Claude Smith
eBay Bid History
Two bidders, three bids. Bid highest and you can bid first and only once.

Note:  If you know where this cartoon was first published back in 1957, well, I'm very impressed with you. Drop a line and share your information with the blogosphere. I'm secretly hoping it's from Punch.

Attempted Bloggery welcomes submissions of original artwork by Claude Smith among other things.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Peter Kingston: Putting Peter Arno in a Box

In 1992, Australian artist Peter Kingston (b. 1943) created a box construction based on a 1946 New Yorker cartoon by Peter Arno.
"This is Major Belknap, dear. He hasn't seen a white woman in three years." (1992)
Peter Kingston

Peter Kingston
Leonard Joel sale
November 21, 2010
Sydney, Australia

What could have prompted Kingston to take on this unusual project? Why did he choose this particular Arno cartoon? Although published in America early in the postwar period, it has something of a colonial British Empire feel to it with its antiquated racist and sexist assumptions. If one can get past all that, it is also very funny.

Cartoon by Peter Arno, spot by James Thurber

Kingston's box retains flat cutouts of the Arno characters with some muted color added. Arno has the characters closer together with the husband's hand in front of Major Belknap's back. In Kingston's construction, the characters stand farther apart; only the husband's finger is in front of the Major's back.

So which appears more three-dimensional, the two dimensional Arno or the three-dimensional box construction by Kingston?

"This is Major Belknap, dear. He hasn't seen a white woman in three years."
Peter Arno
The New Yorker, March 9, 1946, page 22

"This is Major Belknap, dear. He hasn't seen a white woman in three years." (1992)
Peter Kingston

Clearly it's the Arno. Arno has the front door audaciously opening into the room and the stairs ascending to the right in a three-quarter view. There is a hint of two-point perspective, but can those two foyer walls really be at right angles to each other? Does that right hand wall really run parallel to the wall in the hallway? Perhaps not. Possibly the stairs go up a curved wall. Whatever the case, Arno is engaged in some sort of convincing sleight-of-hand here. Kingston doesn't even try to open the front door into the room and he gives only a side view of the stairs. The walls still don't intersect at a plausible right angle. Perhaps it was Arno's placement of three characters standing in a single plane in a cramped but complex space that drew Kingston to this cartoon. Or perhaps he just thought it was funny.

Over the decades, Kingston has continued to create occasional constructions and these have gained greatly in technical sophistication. It would be interesting to see how the artist would handle a similar challenge to the Arno drawing today. But perhaps he has learned that Arno does not easily give up his secrets.
The Night Ferry (2014)
Peter Kingston

Note:  Michael Maslin, in his biography Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of the New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist (2016), points out that it was this cartoon with which Peter Arno's "strike" against the New Yorker came to an end. See page 155 here.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #40

Try not to stare at my entries in the Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #40. The drawing is by P. C. Vey.
"Relax. I'm low on batteries."
"My name is Rachel but people call me Ray."
"No worries. This thing hasn't worked all week."
"I lost two husbands to a software glitch."
"Why are men so intimidated by a powerful woman?"
"Go ahead, say I'm shrill."
"A penny for your thoughts, or should I just extract them?"
"I find it's a great conversation ender."

I could have entered these captions but didn't were they up to speed?
"I like you. Is there anyone here you'd like annihilated?"
"Actually, it dispenses mustard."
"Go ahead, make my ray."
"Watch out, buddy, the warranty is up."
"With great power comes a great electric bill."

September 18, 2019 Update:  The Winner

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Centerfold Missing: Playboy Signed by Ray Bradbury and Gahan Wilson

Someone took the trouble to take a copy of the January 1967 issue of Playboy and to have it signed by contributors Ray Bradbury and Gahan Wilson (in 1996, at least for Bradbury). Today that interesting copy comes to market on AbeBooks, but alas with the centerfold missing. The darn thing must have fallen out.

Playboy, January 1967
"No CF." Caveat emptor.

"When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer."
Back cover advertisement

"The Lost City of Mars" signed by Ray Bradbury on December 1, 1996

Tantalizing detail of published cartoon signed by Gahan Wilson

Ray Bradbury and Gahan Wilson
AbeBooks Listing Retrieved September 10, 2019

Well, that won't do. It's frustrating to glimpse just a fragment of a cartoon. Fortunately, we can get a better look at Gahan Wilson's full original artwork:
"You rang, sir?"
Gahan Wilson
Original art
Playboy, January 1967

Gahan Wilson
Swann Galleries
June 5, 2018, Sale 2480, Illustration Art, Lot 221

There, that's so much more satisfying. But what of the missing centerfold? Is there any way of us getting to see that? Well, of course there is. Playboy centerfolds are easily searchable on the internet. (The cartoons, not so much. Go figure.) On inspection the centerfold photograph from January 1967 looks highly doctored—see the curtain edge, for example—not to mention anatomically improbable, does it not? No wonder it was removed from this copy of the magazine!
Surrey Marshe
Photo by Alexas Urba
Playboy, January 1967

Surrey Marshe, Miss January, was born Solveig Mellomborgen in Norway. She is the author of The Girl in the Centerfold, published to no particular acclaim in 1969. She is now 71 and is no longer contributing to the literary scene.

You can still buy the book on Amazon, though, where it is cleverly cross-marketed with a banner ad for "Essential school supplies!"

Finally, for the benefit of those too young to remember the cultural importance of the Playboy centerfold in its heyday, this music video just may be of help:
J. Geils Band

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Ray Bradbury

Gahan Wilson


Signed magazines

September 11

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