Saturday, June 29, 2019

Peter Arno Uncovered

I bought my copy of Peter Arno's Circus (1931) for $12.50 in late 1988. The cartoon collection was pushing sixty then, so it was not surprising if it was a bit beaten up with no dust cover in sight. That was really not a concern of mine at the time. I was happy enough to add it to my library in its imperfect state and to bring my Arno collection closer to completion. Besides, I wouldn't have known how to find a copy with a proper dust jacket if I'd wanted to. Before the internet, pretty much it either came your way or it didn't.

Now the book is pushing ninety and that missing original dust jacket is something of a collector's item. It's a real curiosity today too, a relic of the long-defunct circus sideshow. The cover depicts a circus "fat lady" named Fatima, the exotic name taken, apparently, from a song in the 1921 stage musical "Love Birds" by Sigmund Romberg which punned on the name's first syllable. Arno's stock Timid Man character, walking with his rail-thin wife, turns to contemplate the bountiful mysteries of Fatima, who regards him in turn with an alluring smile. That ability of Arno's to let us read his characters' unspoken desires is truly uncanny!

A copy of the book is currently offered for $250 on AbeBooks by Between the Covers. It includes the dust jacket and three additional Arno prints which do not appear in the book and which may have been provided by the publisher. The price is twenty times what I paid for my copy in 1988.
Peter Arno
AbeBooks Listing Retrieved June 28, 2019

"Fat, Fat Fatima" from "Love Birds" (1921)
Music by Sigmund Romberg
Lyrics by Ballard MacDonald
José Ferrer as Sigmund Romberg
From "Deep in My Heart" (MGM, 1954)
Directed by Stanley Donen

Arno knew his audience connected the name Fatima to the sideshow "fat lady." A 1928 Arno cartoon depicts a magic act at a circus sideshow. Signage across the background advertises "Fattest Woman—La Belle Fatima."
"Fake, ain't it?"
Peter Arno
The New Yorker, May 8, 1928, page 13

Reader and long-time contributor David from Manhattan has sent along three images of the flap copy:
Photo by David from Manhattan
Photo by David from Manhattan
Photo by David from Manhattan

Note:  I wish to extend an apology to every woman in the world named Fatima.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Friday, June 28, 2019

Ilonka Karasz: The Amorist and Other Verse

Long-time New Yorker cover artist Ilonka Karasz designed The Amorist and Other Verse, a twenty-two page volume of poetry by Penfield Royce. The eleven illuminated leaves may indeed be a private commission, as suggested by bookseller Between the Covers, or it could be a mock-up for an unpublished book. The bound volume is offered at $7,500.

Ilonka Karasz
AbeBooks Listing Retrieved June 28, 2019

Between the Covers Catalogue 16

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Donald Trump's 2014 Sketch for Wisconsin Honors

Last week reader jmodonoghue left a comment on the blog directing me to an auction of an original drawing by Donald Trump. I had chronicled a few of these drawings done for charity back in 2017 around the time of his Presidential Inauguration but I was unaware of this resale, which occurred in December of 2017. Back before his run for the Presidency, Donald Trump was in demand to provide original drawings to be offered at charity auctions and he often complied with the requests. From the sporadic examples I've seen, the artwork he contributed frequently became top sellers at these auctions. I would estimate his drawings generated well over $100,000 for various charities, perhaps quite more.

The drawing that was sold by Nate D. Sanders Auctions in December 2017 was created for Wisconsin Honors in 2014. The auction listing dutifully notes that it is a sketch of the New York skyline in winter. No doubt the absence of foliage suggested winter to whoever described this drawing. Sanders also notes the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. Long-time New Yorkers may wish to identify this bridge instead as the Queensboro Bridge (or the 59th Street Bridge) which connects Trump's native Queens to Manhattan.

Trump, who is not an artist, produced drawings for charity auctions that often outsold work contributed by more skilled draftsmen. It is obvious that he did not delegate these to anyone else. One reason for their success, no doubt was his celebrity, long-established in New York but made national by "The Apprentice." The other reason, I think, is that Trump's drawings are an excellent example of his uncanny skill at branding. By focusing on New York's skyline, he creates images that reinforce his reputation as a major real estate developer.

Donald Trump
Nate D. Sanders Auction Listing
December 14, 2017

Note:  Thanks to jmodonoghue for informing me of this sale.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #29

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #29 features Mr. Potato Head in couples therapy. The drawing is by Bob Eckstein.

"Why can't the two of you see eye to eye?"
"How is Mrs. Potato Head guilty of patent infringement?"
"This relationship was a problem right out of the box."
"Take off that innocent face."

July 15, 2019 Update:  The Winner

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Bob Eckstein

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Hugh Hefner's Copy of Fornicon by Tomi Ungerer

Tomi Ungerer's Fornicon (1969) has not become less disturbing in the fifty years since its unlikely publication. It's precisely-imagined depictions of mechanized genital stimulation may even have gained some new resonance in our own deeply-troubled age saturated in impersonal internet pornography. This is not a book I've ever desired to own, not even in my sexually-curious youth, but if I were going to conceal a copy in my personal library I don't think I could find a more apt one than that belonging to Playboy magazine's founder and publisher Hugh Hefner. It's actually from the limited edition of 500—five-hundred!—signed and numbered, but not personalized. Still, with the link between illustrator and publisher it's quite an association copy. Frankly, it's hard to see from Fornicon how Hefner made use of Ungerer's esthetic in his magazine depicting "the girl next door," but Ungerer was certainly capable of producing a wide variety of images, a great many of which could be safely mass-marketed.

The first eBay photograph is one I could never have imagined: Hugh Hefner's copy of Fornicon displayed atop Senator John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage!

For the record, I could never have imagined the remainder of the eBay photographs either.

Tomi Ungerer
eBay Listing Retrieved June 24, 2019

Tomi Ungerer
eBay Item Description

N-gram:  Hugh Hefner and Tomi Ungerer

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Monday, June 24, 2019

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #667

See if you can find your way to my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #667 for June 24, 2019. The drawing is by Felipe Galindo but you can call him Feggo. Perhaps the maze is by Ikea.
"What if all this is just a test?"

These captions just couldn't find their way:
"Maybe we're not that smart after all."
"Why can't these geniuses learn English?"
"I'm already lost."

July 1, 2019 Update:  The Finalists

July 16, 2019 Update:  I voted with Ithaca.

July 22, 2019 Update:  The Winner

Note:  Last time around cartoonist Carolita Johnson took us to a psychiatrist's office furnished with what can only be called a modernist love seat. Find more appropriate seating yourself before analyzing Contest #666.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Felipe Galindo


The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest

The Moment Magazine Cartoon Caption Contest

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest

All the Above Cartoon Caption Contests and Then Some

Attempted Bloggery's Amazing Index


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Attempted Bloggery's 8th Anniversary Index

What better way to celebrate eight years of committed blogging than to publish Attempted Bloggery's latest index? Sure, blogs do not absolutely require indices, but why not provide a map to the great variety of subject matter? This index is intended to provide just a hint of the kind of special content that is present here. 

The Attempted Bloggery Index
"Never index your own book."
--Kurt Vonnegut
Cat's Cradle, 1963

"And what, may I inquire, were
you doing in my house?"
Peter Arno
Preliminary New Yorker cartoon art, c. 1949

New Yorker Artists
Pat Achilles
Marisa Acocella
Harry Haenigsen
Kaamran Hafeez
William Hamilton

Eyvind Earle
Concept painting from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959
Other Cartoonists, Comic Strip Artists, Comic Book Artists, and Animators

Dr. Seuss

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Baigneuse, 1888

George Abbott
Sander, August 
Konditor [Pastry Chef]
Emile Waldteufel

Mike Mitchell
The Beatles, February 11, 1964