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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Things Found in Books: HO-HUM Indeed!

I'm known for picking up books for the title alone. If the title is unique, then the contents might have something to say as well. This book is a good example, but any book with as many bookmarks as this one has must have had a unique experience.  "Newsbreaks" were and still may be a feature of New Yorker Magazine, in which little news items from other publications were collected for their poorly type-set, constructed, mis-worded, grammar-smashing way in which they presented whatever subject the were reporting. Not unlike "America's Funniest Home Videos" for the publishing industry: 

"Jury to try woman for murder not yet completed" -Headline in the Ithaca Journal News

Very funny, but maybe it was funnier to read this in the New Yorker, or in this book, which was published in 1931.  The golden ticket I hoped to find was handwritten on the pages of the inside cover. It looks like a significant entry:
Click for a more readable image, but it looks like a somewhat rowdy group of newspaper reporters, or related publishing field, were headed up to Syracuse for a convention (which I can't verify) of Newspaper reporters.  It could be some tongue and cheek entry written in a Martini induced moment, but the details belie some truth, I hope.  The Commodore Vanderbilt would have been the best and fastest, possibly most luxurious way to make the journey if this is a pre-war entry.  Passenger rail service between 1931 and 1950 hit its peak and what a picture I could paint if I could just figure out who these passengers were, and what year they were traveling.  They even went so far as to sign the book in some weird kind of "pact."
Ugh! Signatures of possible newspaper writers and I can't find them?  I must be looking in the wrong places. Here is where I need your help. There are no other clues, the bookmarks and pencil marks have no personal connection to the travelers. There has to be more on this group!  Your name in lights if you can help me solve this mystery.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ad Quiz #6: Many Hands...means a lot of groping

After the first 4 "Ad Quiz's" I found that I had run out of decent material. Not every ad from the 20's or 30's has such a campy opening line that it becomes an immediate "win" for posting.  Thanks to a last minute tip from my friend Jim, I was able to replenish my supply of ancient ads, as well as some intersting scraps of paper I will save for a future post. For now, Try to guess the product from this snappy ad copy:
Aha! So, it's a beverage...which one? Hmmm...what drink is full of life? Don't sip it from the Holy Grail!  Choose wisely.  Or just click read more for the full ad.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Found photographs: Are these your relatives?

Among the various items in a box of old paper, there are typically curled, creased, and faded photographs.  Depending on the era, the photo subjects are no surprise. 40's era papers brings people in military uniform, and images of the loved one or loved ones left behind. I don't look for these images, nor do I want to, as they bring that guilty reminder of the photos of my family that I should take better care of.  Though, with the collections of paper and photos I have, I wonder how anyone would figure out 100 years from now, who were relatives and and who weren't. I better start labeling.  Unfortunately, no one labeled the group of photos below. I posted them because they are some of the oldest "snap shots" I've seen. See if you can guess their age and location:
Well, a bird in the face is worth...

One little Indian boy, with an odd half-sleeve undershirt.
No lifeguard on duty. This is a great period piece because of the style of their swimsuits.
Looks like an adult had to strip down to pantaloons to make sure the kids didn't get washed away.
This one is my favorite because there's enough detail to try and play detective. You can click for a larger image, but I had to stack magnifying glasses in order to read some of the writing on the buildings.  Way in the background is a building sign "Rudolf Mosse" and a quick Wikipedia search describes a successful German businessman-philanthropist who built an advertising business before anyone thought to. This is possibly Berlin and by the clothing it is anywhere between 1890-1910, from my guess.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

News Flash: Serial Doodler At It Again!

I am again honored to have one of my cartoons selected for the latest issue of The Newtowner
As an unpaid endorsement I have to stress that this is a high quality publication that really has no equal in Connecticut. The creators are local folks who have turned their passion for writing and found a way to enhance local art and literature, which benefits everyone  - a noble achievement.  I could go on, but instead I will defer to the post I created in December after my first cartoon was published. Visit their site and submit, subscribe, or find out how to purchase an issue.

I will briefly show you how one of my cartoons is born. First; purely stream of conscious, I put Sharpie to drawing pad and draw a "Little Guy" (as my daughter calls them). I am always looking to practice body position and proper perspective (size to length), because I am often generous to a fault with arm length, or shoe size. Only an art therapist or psychiatrist might know why.  I don't. The little guy, now with arms outstretched and just floating in white space, I need to "land" him somewhere.

On a whim, noticing that I have given him this expressive look and open arms, I think "What if he's in the mouth of a whale?"  Drawing is an exercise in possibilities. If you practice enough, and can stand to make mistakes (preferably in pencil), then anything you can think up... you can draw up. At this point I am done. The creative steam is fading and I like what I've done, so I start to think, "Why don't I quit while I'm ahead?"

There it will sit on my desk, or tucked in the pages of a drawing pad until I think I am ready to tackle a background and some color. I scan the image and then import it into a paint program that allows me to digitally "ink" in the lines  and add  a background, some action, color, and finally the caption. All this is time consuming but a little less nerve-racking thanks to a simple command called "undo."  Because most artists are never satisfied with their work, the deadline of a magazine like The Newtowner leaves me no choice but to stop tweaking and let it go.

There you have it. Am I happy with the result? At the time I was, but the great thing about any hobby is, the more you do it the better you get. So, I can look at this and think "Hmmm, maybe in my next project I'll try to make him look a little less raccoon-like."  Speaking of nocturnal creatures, it's time to crawl off to bed. Thanks for taking the tour.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ad Quiz #5 A woman's place is...on vacation

This one may be easy to figure out, or not. It is wrong on more than one level. Setting aside that I am completely foiling the context by laughing at something from more than 85 years ago (Hey, my blog. my rules.) I am also finding that the opening line is difficult to unravel. Here comes the clue:
Name the product if you can...but along the way, figure out the grammar and the message.  So, the line above is in response to the presumption that "Wives should not be allowed to take vacations?"  I get it. It's the 20's and the prevailing stereotypical assertion may be that her place is in the home. Now, explain why Vacation is in quotations.  Because it is not a vacation, but something else? Furlough? Coffee Break? Maybe it's just a break from all the beatings:
Well, there I've given it away. If you want to see the whole ad you will have to click READ MORE and take a "vacation" from this post.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A little song, A little dance....A little seltzer down your pants - Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Do yourself a favor this weekend. Take a trip this Saturday night to Newtown, CT and see a great show that is 99% home grown.  The Flagpole Radio Cafe is a rousing good way to spend an evening out. This next show features a double dose of  Music & Comedy with not only the regular cast of performers but also Christine Lavin. If you are unfamiliar with her work take a quick look here.
Well that was the "Song" and "Seltzer down your pants" protion of this post; now, here is the dance. I have been splitting valuable blogging time with my Cartooning. I decided to begin a new blog just to find a place to display my creations. Take a look at "Toonage" (Though the address reads something else because "toonage" was taken!) I will be adding more of my Doodles, Sketches, and accidental Rorschach disasters, along with some guest artists. My bloglist at the right will always display new updates by bringing them to the top.
Have a Happy St. Pat's! 
Gettin' Irish Jiggy with it!
Yes, I drew it last year.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ad Quiz #4: Guess this product or I will kill this family!

Ahhh, nothing sells like fear.  Well, I would like to blather on about the evils of over the top Mad-vertising agency shenanigans, but, you get the idea. So, can you guess the product?  (Click on "Read More" to see the answer.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Got a Cold?...Kill an Octopus!... It's just that simple!

Maybe I am milking this poor edition of Pictorial Review, but I just can't help it. Just when I think I've picked out the funniest ad...another page-turn reveals an even better ad.
Look at that poor helpless cephlopod...Quick! Bash its brains in before you get the sniffles!  I love the lead pipe approach to quack medicine. I supposed that any page turner back in 1935 would see this monster and immediately need to read the text below it. For brand identification, however, this is it. The rest of the ad is all text with no brand, product, or tag line, just lots of enticing text. The product is:
Then why don't they say: Grove's Cold & Flu Bromo Quinine tablets? Huh? These days flushing out your sinuses seems to do the trick, but in 70 years they may well be laughing at my text.  This next passage is the first of four things this product will do for you:
What witch doctor would ever admit that this is an advisable step?  Unless the old adage goes "Run to the bathroom for a cold and dehydrate a fever." I would rather suffer through the cold.
Augh! Can you not use pudding and Laxative in the same sentence, Please!  The visual is enough to never make me want pudding again.  Maybe this product was around for 40 years, and maybe it did some good when it started out in the 19th century, but I am guessing that this was its final year. The Octopi and I are breathing a sigh of relief.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ad Quiz #3 What breakfast product will save Billy from bad parenting?

I was almost tempted to add a cartoon balloon to this image, because little Billy definitely has the "Oh Sh**!" look on his face. The part of the image I like best is that someone let him play with a hammer and nails and now he may have nailed his hand to the box. Actually, it looks as though the nails are pointing up!.  So, can you guess what will save Billy from being confiscated by DCF and his idiot parents from being thrown in jail for child abuse?  (CLICK ON "READ MORE" TO SEE THE SOLUTION AND STOP ME FROM YELLING!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tax Time is coming : Did you save all your receipts? ...from 1867?

I regret that I don't always know where I found some of my treasures. Yes, it sounds like symptoms of a hoarder, but I collect so little that even real hoarders have looked at my stash and said, "Meh!"  The regret comes from not knowing who the names on the papers belong to, what business they were conducting, or where. It doesn't diminish the item, just leaves you with a lot of curiosities. Case in point (Click on any of the image for a more readable size):
This is possibly a receipt of sale between Samuel Bridgham and Hiram Miller April 4th, 1867.  Some of the stand out items on here are the "One Quarter Pig for $1.83" and the "one pair of shoes for $1.50." But wait! There's more!
This side appears to a pay voucher for a day of working in the fields. And below a month long tally of days worked.
I don't know why I have this, but I sure would like to know who had it first.