Tuesday, August 31, 2021

James Stevenson: An Upstanding Animal

An original New Yorker drawing dating from 1982 was sold this past weekend in Indianapolis. In it, James Stevenson (1929-2017) uses perspective, light, and shade to create a wholly plausible setting for an implausible activity. Stevenson's lines are loose throughout and he betrays little apparent effort, but a solid technique is very much in play here.

"If Roscoe were a horse, he'd be a Lipizzaner."
James Stevenson
Original art
The New Yorker, December 12, 1982, page 40

The gag requires us to notice the dog Roscoe and his upright stance. Therefore the dog gets the darkest wash and the lightest background. The sight lines of the people on either end are aimed directly at Roscoe, while the man in the center turns to address the other man, perhaps a visitor, but gestures toward the dog with an outstretched arm. Various other furniture lines, limbs, and shoes point to the dog and help lead our eyes to him. The caption, written over a lighter area of the drawing, must have been added by Stevenson after publication. 

"If Roscoe were a horse, he'd be a Lipizzaner."
James Stevenson
Framed original art
The New Yorker,
 December 12, 1982, page 40

Hand-written caption

James Stevenson's signature

James Stevenson
Indiana, American & European Art
Jacksons Auction and Real Estate Company

Sold for $140

Cartoons by James Stevenson and Charles Barsotti


Monday, August 30, 2021

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #769

I couldn't quite sink my teeth into The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #769 from the issue of August 30, 2021. My bookish caption is shown below. The drawing is by Kaamran Hafeez.

"Folks had better think twice about shoplifting."

September 6, 2021 Update:  The Finalists

September 17, 2021 Update:
  I voted for the caption from Tucson.

September 20, 2021 Update:
  The Winner


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Rea Irvin: Striking a Match

A watercolor painting by New Yorker artist Rea Irvin (1881-1972) is currently listed on eBay for $1800. The tropical setting indicates it was created in the Virgin Islands, very likely during Irvin's retirement there but possibly earlier while he and his family were vacationing. Irvin's white-haired man strikes an anywhere match for his cigar, showing a disrespect toward the tribal art that is meant to be humorous while his wife captures the moment with a Polaroid. Most likely this piece was never published.

    "Mary Baker
To one of the nicest Familys [sic] in the world, especially
Mary and her warm heart, Here's an "official"
Gift of pure nonsense
With Great Affection
Barbara Irvin McConnell
April 24, 1979
Fredericksted St. Croix"

Rea Irvin's signature

Rea Irvin
eBay listing accessed August 28, 2021

Rea Irvin
eBay item description

February 27, 2023 Update:  The price has come down by more than $900.

Note:  If I'm incorrect—it does happen, after all—and this piece was indeed published, someone in the know please speak up. Also, if the tribal art depicted here is identifiable, do identify it. Of course, it might just be "pure nonsense."

Just a reminder: original art by Rea Irvin always has a place here on Attempted Bloggery. Photos and scans welcome.


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Eldon Dedini: A Big Head

A 1982 cartoon by Eldon Dedini currently on the market depicts a Middle Eastern guide showing a recently unearthed ancient sculpture of a human head to an American tourist couple. The seller calls it a New Yorker illustration, but let's call it a cartoon, and as a color cartoon it seems implausible it appeared in The New Yorker. More likely it was done for Playboy magazine, whose humor it better reflects.

"You are very lucky to view it now—it was just dug up and the art critics haven't had a crack at it yet."
Eldon Dedini
Playboy[?], 1982

That swipe at "art critics" seems to be the kind of jab at an easy target that would appeal to Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy who prided himself on his sophisticated if unschooled taste. Priced at $1375, the cartoon is discounted to $850 on 1stDibs, although it remains full-priced on Chairish.

Eldon Dedini
1stDibs listing accessed August 28, 2021

If money is no object, the same item is listed on Chairish without the discount:

Eldon Dedini
Chairish listing accessed August 28, 2021

Note:  I would like to hear from anyone who knows something of the publication history of this piece. Did it appear in An Orgy of Playboy's Eldon Dedini?


Eldon Dedini's Bedtime Story

It seems fairy tales are always being rewritten to meet the needs of the day. Here's cartoonist Eldon Dedini in the August 1952 Esquire with a new version of the happy ending.

"And then she got a settlement of a million dollars from the
prince and lived happily ever after[.]"
Eldon Dedini
Esquire, August 1952

From Esquire Classic:



Friday, August 27, 2021

Lászlo Roth: Making the Diagnosis

Jeff Nelson has uncovered one final late Esquire cartoon by Lászlo Roth, one that seems to avoid mixed media and, to a large degree, color. Jeff writes, "By this point in 1958, Esquire had cut way, way back on the full-color, full-page cartoons. This one is a mere quarter-page. Still, it provides a nice little coda to his works in that magazine." Indeed it does.

Lászlo Roth
Esquire, November 1958, page 60

Image courtesy of Jeff Nelson

  Once again Jeff Nelson has gone above and beyond in his research of the Esquire cartoons of 
Lászlo Roth. This is his sixth contribution here, at least.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Oz: The Hundredth Anniversary Celebration Deluxe Edition

The deluxe limited edition of Oz: The Hundredth Anniversary Celebration is signed by an impressive array of thirty leading children's book authors and illustrators including cover artist Maurice Sendak. Originally selling for about $100, this handsome, slipcased edition is priced considerably higher today—that is, if you can find a copy at all.

Cover art by Maurice Sendak

Oz:  The Hundredth Anniversary Celebration
Classic Editions listing accessed August 25, 2021

Note:  Thanks to illustrator and children's book fancier Stephen Kroninger for bringing me up to speed on this deluxe edition and steering me clear of the flying monkeys.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Maurice Sendak's Oz: The Hundredth Anniversary Celebration

In 2000, Maurice Sendak channeled the style of Oz illustrator W. W. Denslow to help celebrate the centennial of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. Sendak's finished art was appeared on the cover of Oz: The Hundredth Anniversary Celebration. His preliminary pencil art was sold at Bonhams in 2017.

Maurice Sendak
Bonhams New York
[End of Bonhams auction]


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Maurice Sendak: Studies for R. O. Blechman's Beer Man

Maurice Sendak's sheet of concept sketches depict a German beer man creating and enjoying his product. These drawings of the estimable brewer were done in 1997 for a proposed commercial R. O. Blechman was to animate for a Japanese advertising agency. The beer man concept was rejected by the agency, and twenty years later the artwork failed to find a buyer at auction. Cheers anyway!

Maurice Sendak
Bonhams New York


Monday, August 23, 2021

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #768

I tried to put a little spin on The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #768 corresponding to the issue of August 23, 2021. My caption is shown below. The cartoon is by Will McPhail.

"Just tell him you're all tied up."

These captions didn't catch fire:

"What kind of newfangled paddle is that?"
"I promise I'll go easy on him."
"Why can't he just wait and play the winner?"

August 30, 2021 Update:  The Finalists

September 6, 2021 Update:  I voted for the caption from Cambridge.

September 17, 2021 Update:
  The Winner


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Lászlo Roth: Still More Esquire Cartoons

The third and final installment of Lászlo Roth's 1950s color cartoons from Esquire once again shows the artist mixing his media and playing with collage. Roth's approach is fairly uncommon and may have been an attempt to define a distinctive visual style for himself. Once again, Jeff Nelson has provided the images.

"Darling, may I drag you home?"
Lászlo Roth

 September 1955, page 89
Image courtesy of Jeff Nelson

"Pop, can I have the camel tonight?"
Lászlo Roth
 June 1956, page 122
Image courtesy of Jeff Nelson

Camel Crossing
Lászlo Roth
 August 1956, page 60
Image courtesy of Jeff Nelson

Pepito's Steakhouse
Freshly Killed Beef Daily
Lászlo Roth
 June 1957, page 117
Image courtesy of Jeff Nelson

Pages from Esquire Classic:

  I offer my thanks once again to Jeff Nelson for furnishing us with the images of
Lászlo Roth's cartoons from Esquire. This is the fifth blog post to benefit from his efforts.