Monday, October 24, 2016

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #541

Look, I'm very wary of answering the door for anybody, but I'm happy to share my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #541 for October 17, 2016 with all comers. The drawing is by David Borchart.

"Well, I don't fear the sneakers either."

New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff has revealed his top fourteen captions. I somehow doubt he's a fan of Blue Öyster Cult.

The Finalists:

This should explain where my head was this week:
"(Don't Fear) the Reaper" (1976)
Blue Öyster Cult

Note:  Last week, cartoonist Will McPhail's doctor played it safe. My caption missed the diagnosis entirely. Break into Contest #540.

See what else David Borchart has reaped in the blog archives.

There's simply no way you're going to find any other posts on this blog about Death, so don't even ask.

What do you suppose are the odds that New Yorker cartoonist Joe Dator's classic rock podcast Songs You're Sick Of' had a recent episode about Blue Öyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) the Reaper" that included a shout-out at the end to yours truly? Actually, it's better than you might think.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Blog Post No. 2000: Charles Addams and the Birth of a Rare Book Collector

A collector may be thought of as someone who discovers something he never needed—perhaps never knew  even existed—and then realizes he cannot live without it. I have always treasured books, but I can point to the very first instance when I just had to have a particular copy of a book, one that today would be classified as a rare book. That book was Favorite Haunts, the 1976 cartoon collection by that master of the macabre Charles Addams. I was excited to learn that the artist was soon to appear at a book signing when an announcement appeared in the New Yorker of October 18, 1976.

999 Bookshop Advertisement
The New Yorker, October 18, 1976, page 187
I had never attended a book signing, but the logistics of getting to this one were somewhat daunting. In order for me to meet Mr. Addams and get my book signed, I would need to get my parents' permission to take a train into the city, then make my way to the bookstore on the Upper East Side, attend the signing, and head back home fairly late. It would take at least six hours of my time, and all on a school night. Fortunately the announcement offered me a simple alternative: having a signed copy of the book sent to me for $9.50 postpaid. After reviewing my options, I chose this course, putting my education before entertainment as I usually did. Thus I obtained my first autographed copy of a book. In retrospect, though, this was the only opportunity I ever was offered to meet the formidable Charles Addams and I didn't take advantage of it.

Charles Addams, Favorite Haunts, 1976
My copy

Signed by Charles Addams

Had I attended the signing and offered my shy hello to Mr. Addams, I imagine the book would have been personally inscribed to me. Some copies of this book have original drawings, but I don't know if any of these come from the signing at the 999 Bookshop.

When I first looked on eBay almost twenty years ago, autographed copies of Favorite Haunts just like mine were selling for $85. Today there are no signed copies on eBay, but one similar to mine is on AbeBooks currently offered at $195. The bookseller's photo shows the dust jacket in truer colors than my own photo, which is bathed in yellow incandescent light.
Charles Addams, Favorite Haunts, 1976
Bookseller Image

AbeBooks Listing as of October 23, 2016
Jeryl Metz, Books

There is also an example of a personalized copy on AbeBooks, and this could well have come from the same signing:
Charles Addams, Favorite Haunts, 1976
Bookseller Image

Charles Addams, Favorite Haunts, 1976, Back Cover
Bookseller Image

Inscribed "For Sophie Kahn/Chas Addams"

Letter from Sandy Frank to Sophie Kahn
AbeBooks Listing as of October 23, 2016
Atlantic Bookshop

Today, I go out of my way to collect rare books, by which I usually mean signed or personalized copies, and I avoid most other books until they are discounted. I am still on occasion plagued by book signings scheduled at hours inconvenient to the overworked and overcommitted. In fact, just recently I ordered a couple of signed books by mail because of this issue. Book discounting is more widespread than it used to be and today I generally don't pay full price for any new book unless it is signed.

Note:  In 1976 while I was doing my homework, I'm sure many others did attend the Addams book signing at 999 Bookshop, or perhaps at another venue, and I'd love to see any materially different examples of the book, perhaps with unusual inscriptions or original drawings. I would be so pleased if any reader would care to send me an image or two of a distinctly unique copy of Favorite Haunts and relate the story that goes with it.

For that matter, any original artwork by Charles Addams is welcome on this blog. Come on, don't let it fester.

Attempted Bloggery's quick links:

Attempted Bloggery's Haunting Index

The Attempted Bloggery Centennial Posts
Blog Post No. 100
Blog Post No. 200:  A Shaggy Dog Story


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ralph Steadman's Author Etchings

Ralph Steadman is no mean printmaker. Some of his prints, of course, are simply reproductions of his well-known and exceedingly popular black-and-white illustrations in signed limited editions in the hundreds marketed to his legions of fans. Those are well and good, but even more impressive are those small editions of lithographs and etchings especially created for their respective mediums. Steadman has etched a number of spectacular images—there must be several dozen—depicting great writers. His penchant for detail and bold graphics make him especially well-suited to the medium. The edition size is usually 20, although William Shakespeare naturally merits 30. Four such etchings from this series are currently offered on eBay, and many others may be seen and purchased on the artist's website.

T. S. Eliot 1

William Shakespeare

Ernest Hemingway

Samuel Beckett 3

eBay Listing as of October 18, 2016

eBay Item Description

eBay Listing as of October 18, 2016

eBay Item Description
Note:  Browse Ralph Steadman's etchings.

There's a Ralph Steadman retrospective in town—popularly known as "A Retrospective:  Ralph Steadman"—and it's coming to a close on October 22. Catch it if you can at the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan.

I don't ask for much. For those in possession of a particular book, let's say, with an original sketch by Ralph Steadman, or perhaps some original published art or something equally rare or unique, I do request an image or two suitable for blogging. Let the artist's fans all over the world see what's in your collection.

Attempted Bloggery's quick links:

Attempted Bloggery's Writerly Index


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Sigmund Freud Postcard Signed by Ralph Steadman

A promotional postcard for Ralph Steadman's Sigmund Freud (1979) boldly inscribed and signed with a black marker by the artist a month after publication now has made its way to eBay. Offered at 70 GBP, the seller notes, "I have priced the items to sell, however if you wish to make an offer please keep it 'real.'" This raises the question of just what the "real" value of a a fairly scarce item like this is. It's a nice enough postcard with two lovely illustrations from Steadman's book. While Steadman obviously lavished time and effort on these superb illustrations, the inscription itself is somewhat perfunctory. One way to determine the "real" value would be to let the market decide it. Start the bidding on eBay at, say, one pound sterling and see where the bidding goes over the course of a week. One could infer, though, that this method may be a trifle too "real" for the eBay seller.

Promotional postcard for Sigmund Freud, 1979, inscribed "For Paul/From Ralph Steadman/6-11-79."

Ralph Steadman, Sigmund Freud cover illustration, 1979

eBay Listing as of October 18, 2016
eBay Item Description

Note:  Ralph Steadman's retrospective—let's call it "A Retrospective:  Ralph Steadman"—is in its final days at the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan. Go see it and take your analyst along.

Got anything awesome to share on this blog? Original artwork, scribblings, correspondence, inscriptions, or musings by Ralph Steadman of enduring value—defined here as at least seventy GBP—are welcome here.

Attempted Bloggery's quick links:

Attempted Bloggery's Postage-Due Index


Monday, October 17, 2016

The Complete Alice Signed by Ralph Steadman

A copy of The Complete Alice & The Hunting of the Snark (1986) is inscribed, signed, and dated by illustrator Ralph Steadman. His signature and arguably the date as well are incorporated into a drawing of a somewhat cross-appearing face. The eBay sale of this unique book has only about five days remaining.

Inscribed "For Peter from Ralph Steadman/4 June 91" with a drawing of a cross face

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
1. Down the Rabbit-Hole

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

The Hunting of the Snark

The Hunting of the Snark

eBay Listing as of October 16, 2016

eBay Item Description

Bidding started low.

Note:  Attention if you please! "A Retrospective:  Ralph Steadman" is in its final week at the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan. See it while it's here or you'll be mad as a hatter.

Retrospective or not, original Ralph Steadman art is always welcome here. Share your gems with me on the blog anytime.

Attempted Bloggery's quick links:

Attempted Bloggery's Snarky Index