Saturday, April 20, 2019

Blog Post No. 2900: My Copies of The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons

There's a new cartoon anthology just out and it's a fine one. The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons (Princeton Architectural Press, 2019) is edited by cartoonist Bob Eckstein and was released early this month. While I couldn't say how truly "ultimate" it is going to prove to be, whether or not it is the final word on the subject it is already hands down the best cartoon collection about books. Every selection is a winner. The closest contending anthology would have to be The New Yorker Book of Literary Cartoons (2002) edited by Bob Mankoff—it appears one has to be named Bob to put together such a collection. There's even some understandable overlap in the cartoons that were chosen for both books. Readers of this blog will want to have both volumes in their libraries, of course, but those who can manage to snag only one today should by all means get the latest. And, while you're at it, you might try to have it signed.

It's a beautiful book: nicely made and a pleasure to hold. There is no dust jacket, which I consider a plus. I regard a dust wrapper the way I regard the human body: it's nice enough at first blush, but it's an awful lot of work to maintain over the long haul. 

I make it a practice here not to underestimate New Yorker cartoonists, but nevertheless Bob Eckstein continues to astonish me. He is not only a first rate cartoonist, his painting skills are outstanding, as amply demonstrated in Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores (2016). I thought his History of the Snowman (2013) was doomed to remain ignobly out of print forever, yet last year he published an updated edition. He live-draws. He curated a gallery show. And now he edits his first cartoon collection. Have I mentioned that this is a really first-rate collection? Even the minutiae are handled refreshingly well. The book's index, for example, includes page numbers as well as brief capsule biographies of the artists. I don't think I've ever seen this done better anywhere.

It should be no surprise then that Bob Eckstein's even got the art of the book signing down, and I say that most assuredly without having attended one. On April 9 at Rizzoli Bookstore in New York he sat down with three other New Yorker cartoonist colleagues—Robert Leighton, Marisa Acocella, and Barbara Smallerfor a presentation followed by a signing.
Robert Leighton, Marisa Acocella, Bob Eckstein, Barbara Smaller
Rizzoli Bookstore
April 9, 2019

Photo by Tom Bloom
I was unable to attend, but I wanted to get a signed book from this event anyway. I contacted Rizzoli and was told there was no way to preorder a signed book. They advised me to call the morning after, however, and they would inform me what they had on hand from the signing. So that's exactly what I did.

I was delighted to learn that five cartoonists had signed the book. Five? I was expecting four. (It turns out that David Borchart and Nick Downes turned up at the event and signed the book too. They are scheduled to appear with Mr. Eckstein in Brooklyn on April 23 at WORD Bookstore.) That was good enough for me, even if the math didn't seem to come out quite right. So I ordered my copy sight unseen from Rizzoli:

Signed by Bob Eckstein (with snowman), Robert Leighton (with self-deprecation), Nick Downes, David Borchart, and Marisa Acocella (with a captivating pair of mascaraed eyes).

The only disappointments were that Barbara Smaller, who signed for guests at the event, did not remain to sign the bookstore's copies. Also, if the book can't be preordered, obviously it can't be personalized.

The following day, April 10, another signing was held by Bob Eckstein at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, New York, with three different New Yorker cartoonists in attendance:  Liza Donnelly, Michael Maslin, and Danny Shanahan. Once again I was tragically unable to attend. In the case of Oblong Books, though, I was able to preorder a book online and even to have it personalized in my name. This was a key factor in having the signing turn out as well as it did. It didn't hurt at all that each of these  cartoonists know who I am after nearly eight years of my perpetrating this blog. Here then is my signed copy of the book from the Rhinebeck event, this time with the awesome back cover leading:

Signed on the title page by editor Bob Eckstein

Signed a second time and inscribed by Bob Eckstein
Signed and inscribed with drawings by Liza Donnelly, Danny Shanahan, and Michael Maslin

Note:  My thanks to Tom Bloom for photographing the Rizzoli event.

I see no reason my readers should have to go through life without their own signed copies of The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons. Signings are scheduled all over from April 23 through August 10, 2019, with more events likely to be added. Catch the latest information at

Then if you happily find you are in possession of a signed copy of this book substantially different from the ones I have posted here, by all means send me an image and I'll very likely put it in a future blog post. I can do that, you know.

Today marks Nick Downes's first mention on this blog. I'll take the blame for waiting this long.

Well, if it were I who was a contributor in any way to a handsome new book, I wouldn't miss an opportunity to sign every copy I could. What could possibly keep me from signing at an event I was already attending? Well, a few things perhaps. I wouldn't want my signing to cause me to be late to a wedding, for example. Heck, I wouldn't even want to miss curtain time on Broadway if I had tickets. If I finally had my interview scheduled with Thomas Pynchon, I'd probably leave and go to that. And I certainly wouldn't want to be late for a new episode of "Whiskey Cavalier." Otherwise, though, I'd sign those books. Wild horses couldn't—well, you get the picture.

The Attempted Bloggery Centennial Posts

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Blog Post No. 200:  A Shaggy Dog Story

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