Friday, April 30, 2021

Jeanine's Copy of Vacances by Jean-Jacques Sempé

That same Jeanine whose book we saw in yesterday's post also owned a personalized copy of cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempé's Vacances [Vacation, 1990], judging from the fact that both Sempé books became available at the same time from the same French bookseller in Gradignan. With a few lines, Sempé creates a rolling seascape for a bikini-clad woman to indulge in. The price, 650 Euros, promises the next owner some grand beach reading.

Jean-Jacques Sempé
AbeBooks listing accessed April 29, 2021

Sempé returns to this theme often, always with delightful results. Here are four of his several New Yorker covers depicting bathers enjoying the water:

Jean-Jacques Sempé
The New Yorker, July 17, 2000

Jean-Jacques Sempé
The New Yorker, June 4, 2001

Jean-Jacques Sempé
The New Yorker, July 26, 2004

Jean-Jacques Sempé
The New Yorker, June 22, 2009

Note:  See all these and more New Yorker beach covers by Jean-Jacques Sempé here.


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Jeanine's Copy of Tout se complique by Jean-Jacques Sempé

Everything is complicated, or Tout se complique, as cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempé titled his 1962 book. One Jeanine's former copy of the 1972 softcover edition is currently available from bookseller Librairie du Cardinal in Gradignan. The book includes an original drawing of a man with a felicitously potted plant. The drawing is delightful and simple; the price is a complicated 250 Euros.
Jean-Jacques Sempé
Tout se complique, Denoël, 1962, 1972

Jean-Jacques Sempé
AbeBooks listing accessed April 29, 2021

Note:  The blog archive boasts a copy of Sempé's Rien n'est simple [Nothing is Simple] with a 1967 drawing of a very long-stemmed flower not unlike the one in this copy of Tout se complique. The two titles are companion volumes. See the related drawing here.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The CartoonStock Caption Contest #123

After last week's redo, it's time for the lowdown on CartoonStock Caption Contest #123. My three entries are shown below. The drawing is by Mick Stevens.

"These aren't reduced enough."
"I won't be needing the dressing room."
"Do you take Bitcoin?"

May 10, 2021 Update:  The Winner


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Charles Addams: A Letter to Mr. Gadby

Charles Addams's handwritten letter to one Mr. Gadby is written on New Yorker stationery and dated January 31, 1985, when the celebrated cartoonist was 83. He reflects, "I had always, or since I was a pubert, wanted to draw for the New Yorker." There's no need to run for the dictionary; pubert is Addams's own coinage. Interestingly, Pubert is the name that he wanted to give Pugsley, the Addams Family's decidedly prepubescent boy. The suggestion was nixed, apparently for fear of the network censors (but I happen to think it was the right call regardless). Addams continues, "I sold the first drawing when in art school—which I attended for one year & thus encouraged, became a free lancer." Oh. It sounds so easy when he puts it that way.

Charles Addams
RR Auction, September 2016

Note:  Words are funny things. Bloggery, like pubert, is not in the dictionary—yet—despite its abundant clarity of meaning, or perhaps because of it. I'm convinced that, once the OED comes on board, other dictionaries will follow suit.


Monday, April 26, 2021

Charles Addams: Best Wishes to the Browns of Arizona

Arizona became a territory of the United States on February 24, 1863, and entered the Union on February 12, 1912, as the 48th state. The state bird is the cactus wren and the state flower is the saguaro cactus flower. There's no need to memorize this as all of the information is conveyed on a sticker, circa 1961, celebrating the state's coming semi-centennial in 1962 and its territorial centennial in 1963. This sticker was provided to cartoonist Charles Addams, who also came into this world in 1912, by Mr. K. H. Brown and family of Mesa when requesting a souvenir from the popular New Yorker cartoonist. Addams made good use of the sticker in a note to the Brown family on which he drew the character who was soon to be known on television as Uncle Fester of the Addams Family.

Charles Addams
RR Auction, October 2018


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Charles Addams: Shrunken Missionary

In 2011, Pook & Pook sold a Charles Addams missionary cartoon, correctly identifying it as a New Yorker original, but not providing bidders with the caption. No matter. Despite its culturally insensitive tribal setting, the work, estimated at $2,000 to $3,000, sold for a healthy $8,295.

Here it is again, this time complete with caption and first publication date.
"Parker! You're letting him get the upper hand!"
Charles Addams
The New Yorker, November 22, 1947, page 42

Cartoon by Charles Addams and spot drawing by Tom Funk

Note:  Images of original Charles Addams art are sought after here at Attempted Bloggery. Please send mysterious and spooky scans or photos.

Tom Funk


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Wednesday and Her Dog in Charles Addams's Favourite Haunts

Charles Addams's cartoon collection Favorite Haunts was published in the US by Simon and Schuster in 1976. The first British edition, spelled Favourite Haunts, came out the following year. The dust jacket will probably be unfamiliar to most American fans of Addams; it was certainly unknown to me. Ordinarily I am no fan of that superfluous unsounded u in the British spelling of words like favour and colour, but I think it works in this title quite well. Not only does the ou in Favourite complement the au in Haunts, it lends the title a gothic English mustiness that looks great on Addams.

But what is most remarkable about the book pictured here, which was sold on eBay in January, is the original title page drawing of Wednesday and her dog. It is signed by Addams and dated 1980. There is no inscription.

The title of the eBay listing misspelled the artist's name, which almost never helps a seller's cause. The book was offered for a Buy-It-Now price of $850. The buyer made an offer of $650 and the seller responded with a counteroffer of $750, which the buyer accepted.
Charles Addams
eBay listing ended January 24, 2021

Charles Addams
eBay item description


Friday, April 23, 2021

Charles Addams: Chasing the Addams Family Tree

On April 9, Heritage Auctions opened online bidding for its April 30 illustration art auction. The sale features an original published Addams Family cartoon by Charles Addams that purportedly has a New Yorker stamp on the verso and was published in Addams and Evil (1947) as well as in The World of Charles Addams (1991). The drawing shows the "witch lady" we now know as Morticia Addams trimming her Christmas tree with ghoulish decorations while her children—today familiar as Wednesday and Pugsley—look on. Addams began to introduce his family of macabre characters in The New Yorker in 1938, but they were not given names until "The Addams Family" television show appeared in 1964.

Heritage imaged the drawing in the frame, apparently, so there is no photograph to verify that it is indeed "inscribed with The New Yorker stamp on the reverse." Even the description here is unhelpful.

This original artwork was given a presale estimate of $8,000-12,000 which seemed to me a little on the low side for an Addams Family original from The New Yorker. I thought such a piece could conceivably go for much more: the sky is the proverbial limit. In standard live auctions, the lot goes to the highest bidder, usually the last bidder. There was no way I was going to chase this drawing up into the stratosphere, but it occurred to me I could still be an early high bidder and briefly experience the thrill. Well, why not?

Bidding opened at $4,000 and one bid was already placed before I arrived on the scene. I decided to leave an absentee bid of $5,000 ($6250 with the buyer's premium) which I fully understood would be unsuccessful. If I somehow beat the odds and won the bidding, I would be delighted to have it for this price. If I were outbid, as I expected to be, I would still have the memory of being the temporary high bidder.
Charles Addams
Heritage Auctions
April 9, 2021

After holding the high bid for nearly three hours and twenty minutes, I was outbid—with twenty days, 16 hours, and 32 minutes still  remaining before the live auction.

Charles Addams
Heritage Auctions
April 9, 2021

Since April 9, the high bid has risen to $8,250 ($10,312.50 with the premium). In other words, the low estimate already has been met with more than a week to go before the auction goes live. The sky is still the limit.

Charles Addams
Heritage Auction listing accessed April 22, 2021

Whatever New Yorker stamp may or may not be on the back of the art, this drawing did not actually appear in The New Yorker. I researched this only after my brief reign as high bidder came to an untimely end. Perhaps the artwork was held in the New Yorker's bank and killed or simply released when Addams wished to use it in Addams and Evil.

May 1, 2021 Update:  Sold yesterday for $87,500! That's a winning bid of $70,000 plus the $17,500 buyer's premium.

April 26, 2023 Update:  The drawing was also reprinted in Addams's My Crowd (1970) on page 134.

Note:  Thanks to Michael Maslin for verifying that this cartoon was not published in The New Yorker. You can't be too careful, you know.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Charles Cartwright: Starving Artist?

Dick Buchanan, the curatorial whiz behind the eponymous Cartoon Clip Files, is a man for all seasons—and that includes tax season. Here he provides us with a scan of a 1941 Collier's cartoon by Charles Cartwright, a cartoonist who has not previously appeared on this blog. The gag is set in an artist's garret where the artist's wife has learned of a new reason to possibly distrust him.
"Income tax? Paul! Have you been up to something?"
Charles Cartwright
Collier's, March 22, 1941

Scan by Dick Buchanan

Note:  My thanks go once again to Dick Buchanan for maintaining the celebrated Dick Buchanan Cartoon Clip Files and for sharing thereof. Dick has made a brand new contribution to Mike Lynch Cartoons, a post entitled "From the Dick Buchanan Files: Entertaining Company 1940 - 1966." This is Dick's 62nd contribution to Attempted Bloggery, a new record.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Leonard Dove: Hyperbole at the Internal Revenue Service

To commemorate tax season, Dick Buchanan writes with another superb scan from his cartoon clip files. Who among us hasn't been tempted to resort to a little hyperbole when dealing with the Internal Revenue Service? To anyone who may have been audited or otherwise pestered by the IRS, Leonard Dove's beleaguered taxpayer from a 1961 Look magazine cartoon surely evokes empathy. The man's language is understandably hyperbolic, but whether he is aware of his own exaggerated rhetoric is not clear from the drawing, which depicts him as simply earnest and overwhelmed.
"Which stake do I get burned at?"
Leonard Dove
Look, April 11, 1961, page 122
Scan by Dick Buchanan

Dove, of course, was a New Yorker regular, which means this cartoon may very well have been rejected by the venerable magazine before it was shopped around and picked up by Look. Four years later, though, The New Yorker too would have its chance to play around with hyberbole in the setting of an IRS office. Amazingly, cartoonist James Stevenson manages to pull it off with a simple, wordless gag. The wry smile shown by Stevenson's taxpayer, in contrast to Dove's, indicates this man is very well aware of his own clowning around. Stevenson's cartoon appeared almost four years after Dove's and is memorable, a New Yorker classic. 

James Stevenson
The New Yorker, December 19, 1964, page 66

Is there room for another great cartoon on this topic? (Would I ask if there weren't?) You might think James Stevenson gets the last word, wordlessly, on the subject of exaggerated reactions to the tax collector, but his character's mimicking of a holdup victim does not quite end our story. In a cartoon dating from the 1972 tax season, cartoonist George Booth takes the taxpayer's overreaction up a notch into the realm of pure slapstick. As with Stevenson, the hyperbole is physical, not verbal; it is the flustered taxman who is left to refute the taxpayer's antics with some commonsense talk.
"Other folks have to pay taxes, too, Mr. Herndon, so would you please spare us the dramatics!"
George Booth
The New Yorker, March 18, 1972, page 45

Cartoon by James Stevenson. Ad by Chanel.

Spot drawing by P and cartoon by George Booth

Note:  My thanks to Dick Buchanan for his  beautiful scan of the Leonard Dove gag from his matchless cartoon clip files. Dick, you may recall, contributes regularly to Mike Lynch Cartoons, most recently a post entitled "From the Dick Buchanan Files: Certified Vintage Gag Cartoons 1940 - 1961." Dick is the only one I trust to certify gag cartoons as vintage. He also represents me at audits. This is Dick's 61st contribution to Attempted Bloggery, a record unlikely to be broken ever, or at least until tomorrow.

I'll jump at any excuse to highlight the work of Leonard Dove, James Stevenson, George Booth, and the like. Feel free to send such excuses in my direction.

Surely there must be other cartoon examples out there of hyperbolic reactions to a tax audit. I mean, is there really any other kind of reaction? Please let me know if you are aware of similar taxing cartoons that fit the bill.

By the way, who might be P, the spot artist from 1972? Anybody?