Art Collection · Comics · Ebay Win · Look Here · Mell Lazarus

Look Here: Original “Miss Peach” art by Mell

In the past month or so, my wife and I have become the proud owners of two pieces of original art from the second year of the amazing 45-year run, 1957 to 2002, of the comic strip, Miss Peach, by Mell Lazarus. Although I feel that Lazarus did his best work in his Sunday strips, where he was able more fully to indulge his tremendous gift for comic dialogue, I was thrilled to be able to purchase two fine dailies, dated 09-09-58 and 09-24-58, in two separate auctions, for a mere US$55.50 each, shipping from the USA to Canada included. Here are the strips, which, btw, are not only huge — the paper is 18.5 inches wide by 6.06 inches high — but also in excellent condition, especially considering that they’re more than 50 years old:

Now, I am fully aware that many academically trained artists hate Mell Lazarus’s style of cartooning in Miss Peach, dismissing it as “childish” or worse, but as for me, well, I’ve always had a soft spot for the big-headed, big-nosed, sharp-tongued kids of the Kelly School. Modelled to a large extent on Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts, Lazarus’s Miss Peach combined economical but expressive and amusing drawings with witty and incisive social observation and punch lines that could make you laugh and squirm at the same time. The effectiveness of Lazarus’s visual shorthand is especially evident in his characters’ facial expressions, which in my experience always deliver more relevant and touching emotion than Lazarus’s (and Schulz’s) critics would have you believe possible.

In the first decade and a half of his career, Lazarus, who was never short on ambition, steadily worked his way up in the newspaper comics world, going from fledgling freelancer/comic-strip artist — his first, moderately successful strips were “Wee Women” and “Li’l One” — to an assistant position with Al Capp and Elliot A. Caplin’s Toby Press, to art director/comics editor at Toby Press, to nationally syndicated cartoonist. Following the success of Miss Peach, Lazarus, restless as ever, went on to create a short-lived humour-adventure strip, Pauline McPeril, with artist Jack Rickard, in 1966 — it was cancelled after three years — and then bounced back with a second comic-strip hit with Momma, in 1970. And for the next 30 years, Lazarus wrote and drew two syndicated strips, Miss Peach and Momma, until health issues caused him to reduce his work load by dropping Miss Peach in 2002. Momma, however, is still going strong!

But Mell Lazarus hasn’t only had success with readers; he’s also enjoyed the respect and approbation of his peers, winning the Best in Humour Strip Award from the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) in 1973 and 1979, the Reuben from the NCS for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 1982 for his work on Miss Peach, and the Silver T-Square from the NCS “for outstanding dedication or service to the NCS or the profession” in 2000. And as if that wasn’t enough, Lazarus’s fellow cartoonists also elected him President of the National Cartoonists Society for two terms, 1989 to 1991 and 1991 to 1993.

Finally, in addition to cartooning, Mell Lazarus has found time to write television scripts, plays, two novels — The Boss is Crazy, Too and The Neighborhood Watch — and, well, you get the picture. He’s always been a busy guy. But not too busy to answer his own front door:

Art Collection · Comics · Ebay Win · Look Here · Rod Ruth

Look Here: “The Toodles” (7-23-57), with art by Rod Ruth

rod-ruth_original-toodles-daily_7-23-57

Here’s a piece of original art, a daily dated 7-23-57, by Rod Ruth, from the comic strip The Toodle Family, a.k.a. The Toodles. The strip was written by Stanley and Betsy Baer and was drawn by Ruth from 1941 to 1958. It was then drawn by Pete Winter from 1958 to 1965. Apparently, besides The Toodles, Ruth was an illustrator for Amazing Stories and other Ziff-Davis pulps. Truth be told, I had never heard of either The Toodles or Rod Ruth before I noticed a series of ebay auctions for Ruth’s artwork, but I was happy to pay US$44.00 total (shipping included) US$38.00 total (shipping included; the next day, the seller gave me a partial refund on the shipping charge, presumably to bring it more into line with the actual cost) to add this lively and charming work from 53 years ago (!) to our collection.

I also recently won an ebay auction for a “Miss Peach” daily by Mell Lazarus, and let me tell you, that thing is HUGE! I love it, and I intend post a picture soon.

BONUS LINK:

News of Yore: Profile of the Baers

Art Collection · Comics · Ebay Win · Look Here · Samm Schwartz

Look Here: “Color Me True Love,” with art by Samm Schwartz

Here’s another selection from our stash of original comic art. It’s a complete short story from Jughead #321, with art by Samm Schwartz. My apologies in advance for the quality of the images; they were shot with an older digital camera under conditions that I ought to have controlled more carefully than I did.

(Click the images to enlarge them, as usual. I don’t own the cover artwork, but I’ve included a JPEG of the original comic, with cover by Stan Goldberg, for fun — and contrast!)

I bought the story on ebay a long time ago. It was in a lot with a complete Betty and Veronica story by Stan Goldberg. As I recall, the cost of the two stories together was less than US$100, shipping included. Maybe I’ll post the Goldberg another time… though I must admit, I’m not really a Goldberg fan…

When I was a youngster, my favourite “Archie” artists — even before I knew their names — were Samm Schwartz and Harry Lucey. In a corner of the comics world dominated by lacklustre DeCarlo clones, Schwartz and Lucey each took the seemingly inflexible “Archie” house style and made it his own. Schwartz’s work was cool, crisp, refined; Lucey’s, affable, energetic, theatrical. Jughead was never so self-assured, so unflappable, as when Schwartz brought him to life; Archie and the gang, never so determined, or so frazzled, as when Lucey fed them through the wringer. With Dan DeCarlo already in the Eisner Hall of Fame, and Bob Montana, the co-creator of Archie who drew the Riverdale gang for more than 30 years, named to the Hall of Fame for 2010, can Samm Schwartz and Harry Lucey be far behind? In my humble opinion, whether it happens sooner or later, it’s inevitable.

BONUS LINKS:

“It’s the Chicago South Side Choir Society! It’s their annual uplift cruise for Meditation Week!” — includes scans of “The Bad Old Days” and “In Search of Sanity,” both drawn by Samm Schwartz.

A Closer Look at Samm Schwartz — includes a scan of the story “Crowning Glory,” with art by you-know-who.

Samm Schwartz Addenda — further thoughts by Jaime J. Weinman, the author of “A Closer Look at Samm Schwartz.”

A Few Words about Samm Schwartz, My Father

Samm Schwartz Photo Album

A Loan and Blue — from 1963, with unusually hyper-kinetic art by Samm Schwartz; in later years, Schwartz’s Jughead never got out of control like this! It’s like watching Bugs Bunny melt down.

Little Archie by Samm Schwartz — wow!

Tippy Teen: “Sure Cure Go-Go” — with art by Samm Schwartz.

Art Collection · Ebay Win · Fine Art · Look Here

Look Here: Untitled watercolour by DeWitt Hardy

I mentioned a couple of messages ago that my wife and I own a piece of original art by American watercolourist DeWitt Hardy; however, since I doubt many people (especially here in Canada) know the name, I thought that today, for your (and my!) enjoyment, I would post an image of our purchase:

Sorry the image is a bit soft, but the painting was too big for our scanner. Also, our digital camera is not the best.

Art Collection · Drawing · Ebay Win · Look Here

“Jessica Resting on Couch” (2009) by Ed Hall

Yesterday evening, I won an ebay auction for a lovely original life drawing of a female model, Jessica, by an award-winning American editorial cartoonist named Ed Hall. The drawing, which is 14 inches wide and 11 inches high, is in graphite and ink on a medium weight paper and is signed and dated by the artist in the bottom right. Here is the scan from the drawing’s ebay auction page:

Now, truth be told, before I decided to bid on the above drawing, I not only had never, to the best of my recollection, seen any editorial cartoons by Ed Hall, I had never even heard of Ed Hall. This has happened to me before. Many times over the years, I have bid on or purchased outright a drawing or a small painting not because I was already a fan of the artist and wanted a representative sample of his or her work but because I am an admirer of fine draftsmanship (with a special emphasis on figure drawing) wherever I find it and a collector of the same on those infrequent days when the opportunity to buy a work that has caught my attention arises at the same time as my extremely modest budget for original art allows for a purchase.

And yesterday, well… yesterday was just one of those days…

I might post a few specific observations about the drawing itself after it arrives and I have had a chance to peruse it in person, but I am happy to report here and now that my winning bid for Jessica Resting on Couch was US$21.97 (approximately CDN$23.05) and I paid US$10.00 for the drawing to be shipped from Florida, U.S.A., to Saskatchewan, Canada, via USPS First Class Mail International, for a grand total of US$31.97.

Who says one has to be wealthy to have nice things!

Fact is, most of the works in our collection of original art were purchased for less than CDN$100 a piece, and we have some terrific pieces — spot illustrations, comics pages, sketches, etc. — by artists such as John Buscema, Dave Cooper, Jordan Crane, DeWitt Hardy, Rudy Nebres (the all-Nebres “Rook” page I bought from a dealer for a very reasonable US$125.00 plus shipping is the exception that gently mocks the rule), Dave Sim (I bought an all-Sim Cerebus “High Society” page for CDN$50.00 directly from the artist in my first or second year of university), George Woodbridge, Chinese watercolourist Youqiang Zhang, and others.

So, if you would like to own a drawing of similar quality to the one I just bought, and you have a few bucks to spend on original art, you might want to bookmark the ebay auction page of seller halltoons2qr3 or keep an eye on the Halltoons Weblog, where the artist promotes his work and gives advance warning of upcoming ebay auctions. See, for instance, Ed’s blog post about his drawing of Jessica, My Sunday Best, or browse through today’s Sunday sketch results, at least one of which, I am told, will be up for auction this coming weekend.

But should you decide to bid, please be forewarned: if the drawing is first rate, and the price is right, you might have a little competition from me!

BONUS LINK:

Editorial Cartoon by Ed Hall, Artizans Syndicate

Art Collection · Comics · Drawing · Ebay Win · George Woodbridge · Look Here

Look Here: Original Art by George Woodbridge

Yesterday evening, I succumbed to temptation and bought another piece of Mad Magazine art by George Woodbridge (1930-2004). So now here, for your delectation, is a scan of the artwork, along with a scan of the feature of which it was originally a part:

What I especially like about this piece, other than the fact that it is expertly drawn, is that the bracingly cynical satirical message shines through even though it doesn’t include any of the typeset text written by Tom Koch.

Miscellaneous info: The “Ain’t It Great!!” feature appeared in Mad #251 (Dec 1984). The image area of the artwork is 7.5 x 6 inches. And the cost, shipping included, was US$45.95.

So now we have a grand total of three pieces of original art by the talented Mr. Woodbridge in our collection.

Click here to see the last piece we purchased (which is still my favourite).

Art Collection · Drawing · Ebay Win · George Woodbridge · Look Here

Ebay Win: “Mt. Arrarat Flood Victims” by George Woodbridge

As of 12 July 2008, my wife and I are the proud owners of the following artwork by cartoonist George Woodbridge:

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The image area of the drawing, which first appeared in print in Mad Magazine as part of a piece entitled “Appeals from Charities through History,” is 9 x 6 inches.

The total cost, shipping included, was US$55.95.

So now we have two — count ’em, TWO — pieces by George Woodbridge in our modest but growing collection of original comic-book (and other) art.

George Woodbridge (1930-2004) joined Mad Magazine’s “usual gang of idiots” in 1957 and had work in nearly every issue thereafter. He also worked at Marvel during the 1950s on titles such as Astonishing, Battle Action, and Kid Colt.


RELATED LINKS:

Ebay Win · Literary Criticism · Samuel R. Delany

Ebay Win: THE AMERICAN SHORE

Today on ebay, I purchased the following book from a “Buy It Now” auction: “THE AMERICAN SHORE (Dragon Press, 1978, first trade edition). Author: SAMUEL R. DELANY. Fine copy with reinforced binding and without dust jacket, as issued. SIGNED. According to Lloyd Currey, there were 949 trade copies and 100 numbered copies signed by Delany.”

The book was US$15.00, and the shipping $9.95, for a grand total of US$24.95.

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Truth be told, I already own an unsigned hardcover copy of The American Shore; however, as a long-time collector of the works of Samuel R. Delany, I had to have a signed one — especially since the price was so right!