Saturday, October 31, 2020

A Charles Addams Scrapbook...with a Mystery Cartoon

Scrapbooks, by their nature, are one-off compilations informed by the sensibilities of one or more individuals. Contributor Joel Jacobus has gotten his hands on an old scrapbook of Charles Addams cartoons clipped almost entirely from the pages of The New Yorker. The cartoons date from 1944-1954. They do not appear sequentially and are by no means inclusive. The scrapbooker had a preference, it seems, for cartoons without captions, for cartoons with Addams Family characters (as we today call them), and for gags that over time have become classics.

At the back of the scrapbook are two Addams items unlike the others. There is a Remington Noiseless typewriter ad dating from 1952 which was also taken from The New Yorker. And right before that there is an intriguing mystery cartoon. But let's not get  too far ahead of ourselves...

A Charles Addams scrapbook

The first twenty-five pages of the scrapbook have New Yorker cartoons, generally one to a page with only one exception. I have captioned the photos of the scrapbook pages with the date each cartoon appeared in The New Yorker.














Then come seventeen blank pages. Near the back of the album there's a mystery cartoon. It is very small compared with his New Yorker gags. Clearly it is not a gag cartoon from The New Yorker, although conceivably it could be part of an ad (perhaps along the lines of: ...slow heating up? Try Acme hot plates!). It could very likely be from another publication altogether. There are no quotation marks around the caption, which is quite unusual, especially for a gag cartoon. So what is it, exactly, and where and when was it published?

...slow heating up?
Charles Addams

The scrapbook concludes with Addams art trimmed from a 1952 Remington typewriter ad that was published in The New Yorker.
February 16, 1952

Here's the full ad:

The same Addams artwork reappeared in The New Yorker in 1955 with a different page layout and altered copy:

March 1, 2021 Update:  On October 31, I asked on this page, "What of ...slow heating up? Is it a forgotten gag cartoon or a part of an obscure advertisement? From what specific publication did the unknown scrapbooker remove it? Readers who can help solve this mystery are urged to speak up." And now, someone has! Today, in the comments section below, Jeff Nelson identifies a 1957 ad from the Saturday Evening Post with art from four New Yorker cartoonists. It was clipped three years later than the last New Yorker cartoon in the scrapbook. As Jeff writes, "Evidently the scrapbooker was only interested in the Addams." Thank you, Jeff. Here it is:

Charles Addams        Claude Smith
William Steig           Richard Taylor

Somebody ought to tell them about full Housepower
The Saturday Evening Post,
March 16, 1957, page 82
Scan by Jeff Nelson

Note:  My thanks to Joel Jacobus for having the good sense to obtain an oddity like this scrapbook and then for sharing it here. This is Joel's tenth contribution to this blog. The things he comes up with are quite simply amazing.

This is the first complete scrapbook of this sort—or of any sort—to appear here on Attempted Bloggery. It's quite a thing to behold, isn't it? One can wonder why scrapbooks culled from the pages of the New Yorker aren't more common given how many issues have covers, cartoons, writing, and even advertising that are just so damn hard to part with. I would love to hear from others who might have in their possession such scrapbooks containing either pages of a single New Yorker cartoonist, such as Charles Addams, or of multiple artists, writers, or features. In general, do scrapbookers tend to save the work of the more popular contributors that already may be destined for collection in book form, or do they gravitate instead to the rarer material that happens to catch their fancy?


Friday, October 30, 2020

Charles Addams: A Pair of Frog Drawings

Two drawings of frogs by Charles Addams came up for sale at Christie's last year. The London branch of the auction house had surprisingly little to say about these American drawings, not even that the previous owners were, to all appearances, frog fanciers.

Charles Addams, 1969
"I may be running on this platform quite soon myself    CA"

Charles Addams
Christie's London June 4, 2019

That's it from Christie's. Now it's my turn. The first question to ask is whether the finished Addams cartoon was published and, if so, did it appear in The New Yorker. Yes on both counts, in 1959. Note how much more vivid Addams original is compared with the scan of the cartoon from the magazine's website.

Cartoons by Otto Soglow and Charles Addams

The second thing to note is the accompanying Addams drawing hastily colored with felt-tip pen. It is dated 1969 and depicts an unfortunate frog outside a restaurant with a sign boasting "Frog's Legs Our Specialty." It seems glaringly obvious that the concept of the unpublished Addams sketch bears a decided resemblance to that of Sam Gross's classic cartoon published in National Lampoon in 1970.
Charles Addams, 1969
"I may be running on this platform quite soon myself    CA"

Note:  Who doesn't love original Charles Addams art? You're invited to share what you've got right here on Attempted Bloggery. Send me an image of something good. I'm in the book.

Sure, I'll accept original Sam Gross art too.

By the way, don't skip the Xmas charity appeal cartoon by Otto Soglow on the New Yorker page opposite Addams's frog drawing. How long will it be until we aging cartoon bloggers need to explain to the next generation of readers what a telephone booth is?


Thursday, October 29, 2020

W. Heath Robinson: And That's the Last I Saw of Her

W. Heath Robinson's illustration to the story of "The Woodcutter and His Three Sons" appeared in Liliane M. C. Clompet's Once Upon a Time. An airborne witch departs from the woodcutter's wife who is left standing by a well. The strong diagonal composition is defined by a sight line between the two faces which runs parallel to the line of the broomstick. The double uprights alongside the well point directly upward to the witch, while the pail directs the eye gently back toward the standing woman. This final book of Robinson's career was published in 1944, the year of his death.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #98

I did not have to wait in line in order to cast my three entries in the Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #98. The drawing of a "scary voting scene" is by Bob Eckstein.

"I say it's voter intimidation."
"Look what became of old Hanging Chad."
"This election didn't need any more frights."

November 4, 2020 Update:  The Winner

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Bob Eckstein

Election Day

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Joe Petro III's Copy of Saul Steinberg

Joe Petro III, who recently shared with us four books dedicated by Saul Steinberg to his art dealer Betty Parsons, now shows us his own copy of Saul Steinberg (1978) personalized by the artist. Note that the artwork with collage elements depicted on the cover is dated 1953 and 1968.

Saul Steinberg (1978)
Photo by Joe Petro III


Photo by Joe Petro III

Note:  My thanks to Joe Petro III for sharing with us some of the treasures from his private library. Joe's Wikipedia entry is right here. This is his fifth contribution to the blog and so far each has been a wonderful Saul Steinberg book. I would love to post other Steinberg treasures from other libraries on Attempted Bloggery so please send your scans or photos. No Wikipedia page required.


Monday, October 26, 2020

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #730

I'm back from the lab and ready to publish the preliminary findings of my entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #730 for October 26, 2020. The drawing is by Navied Mahdavian.

"I could use a few pointers for the maze."

This caption wasn't part of the protocol:
"Nothing to report in the control group."

November 2, 2020 Update:  The Finalists

November 9, 2020 Update:
  It isn't often that I vote for the longest caption, but I like the way the contestant from Evanston started where I did, more or less, and then ran with it.

November 16, 2020 Update:
  The Winner


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Betty Parsons's Copy of All in Line by Saul Steinberg

The year 1945 saw the release of Saul Steinberg's collection All in Line. The book is extraordinary. So is his art dealer Betty Parsons's copy.

Photo by Joe Petro III

Photo by Joe Petro III

Photo by Joe Petro III
Photo by Joe Petro III

Photo by Joe Petro III

  This is the fourth and final book dedicated by Saul Steinberg to Betty Parsons that Joe Petro III somehow chanced upon and added to his library. My thanks to Joe for sharing it here.

Wow. I am eager to show more. If you too have access to personalized Steinberg books, or access to someone with access to them, please send scans or photos to me for use on Attempted Bloggery.


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Betty Parsons's Copy of Fourteen Americans Signed by Saul Steinberg

Fourteen Americans was published by the Museum of Modern Art in 1946 concurrently with an exhibition. The catalogue is long out of print, but MoMa keeps a PDF of their file copy online. Saul Steinberg was included in the show. It is helpful to see the catalogue's cover as published before seeing how Steinberg embellished a copy for his gallerist Betty Parsons.

Steinberg personalized Parsons's copy using a blue-colored pencil. The book's cover has some evidence of exposure to dampness over the years. Still it is quite remarkable what Steinberg has done:
Photo by Joe Petro III

Let's go back to MoMA's file copy. The list of the fourteen artists offers proof, if any were needed, that Steinberg was the penultimate American:

The title page:

There are two pages devoted to Saul Steinberg's work:

  My thanks again go to Joe Petro III for photographing the cover of Betty Parsons's book. Joe somehow found four of these books dedicated by Steinberg to Parsons and that, my friends, leaves one more for tomorrow.

Saul Steinberg personalized many books to many people. I would be only too pleased to show more of these on Attempted Bloggery.