Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Vip Digs Searle: A Cartoon Blurb

Who says blurbs in books have to be written? It would seem the most natural thing in the world for one cartoonist, say, to draw rather than write a blurb for another cartoonist's book, as Virgil Partch, or Vip as he calls himself, does for Ronald Searle in the American edition of The Female Approach (1954). At the same time, Max Beerbohm and Li'l Abner cartoonist Al Capp write blurbs for Searle the conventional way, with words.

There simply have got to be more, perhaps many more, examples of blurbs for books that are drawn rather than written. So why can't I come up with any? Bob Eckstein did one, albeit somewhat meta, for a collection he himself edited. I refer, of course, to The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons (2019) which we have seen here before. Personally, I think it's brilliant, but it isn't really a cartoon blurb like Vip's but rather a cartoon about blurbs.

If I could think of any more examples I would note them here. Since I've drawn a blank, I might as well just continue with the remainder of the eBay listing from which the Vip scan comes:

Ronald Searle
eBay listing accessed September 7, 2020

Ronald Searle
eBay item description

Note:  At the time of this posting, the Searle book remains available for purchase on eBay. It's one heck of a nice copy.

The published book cover for the American edition of The Female Approach is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, quite naturally if unexpectedly. See it here.

I would love to hear from anyone with access to that Vip original. Or any of the Searles. I'm not particular.

The year 2020 is the centenary of Ronald Searle. Any reader happening upon the vicinity of Hannover, Germany, should be sure to check out his show at the Wilhelm Busch Museum and then please drop a note here with your impressions. Through November 22.


I'd also like to hear word of additional drawn cartoon blurbs created by one cartoonist for another's book. They must be out there somewhere. Please send me examples.

The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons edited by Bob Eckstein should be in the library of everyone who reads this blog and of everyone who reads books. I have three copies.

It's funny how these posts come about. I've been writing about Searle and about Partch quite a bit recently. I only got around to thinking about blurbs for books last week when Michael Maslin's Ink Spill featured discussion of a very brief blurb written by James Thurber here.

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