A few months ago, I picked up a couple of “bales” of National Lampoon Magazine — thirty-two issues, in all — from a local bookseller for cheap. It was only when I got home with my bales and cut the strings that I found out that all but one of the issues were from the 1980s and 1990s, which was okay because, at the very least, it gave me quite a few terrific comic strips by M. K. Brown, R. Crumb, Shary Flenniken, Rick Geary, Buddy Hickerson, Mark Marek, Rodrigues, Gahan Wilson, et al., to read. The lone exception, however, was an issue from November 1975, which — o lucky me! — includes the second-last Idyl strip by Jeffrey Jones that ever appeared in the magazine.
Now, if all you’ve seen are reprints of Idyl, you might be interested to know that the strip first appeared in a newsprint section of the Lampoon called “Funny Pages” and that, in the November 1975 issue, all of the strips in the “Funny Pages,” including Idyl, were overprinted in light blue with only the word balloons left uncoloured. To give you an idea of the sombre, twilight mood that the blue colour lends to Jones’s strip — which begins with the words, “It’ll be dark soon” — I present to you the following scan:
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The effect is so appropriate to the theme of the strip that one can’t help but wonder if the art director didn’t choose the colour specifically to complement Jones’s work…
“Idyl was intended as satire and whimsy. One art director and one editor, who met me each month with puzzled faces, continued to remind me that National Lampoon was a humor magazine, ‘As long as YOU laugh,’ they finally said. So each month I would go in laughing. I also must admit that I love to draw nude women.” — Jeffrey Jones, interview, 2001
I’ve copied out the very diverse and impressive list of participating artists below and added links to various official and unofficial websites so you can check out their work; my apologies in advance if I’ve copied a name incorrectly or linked to the wrong website:
And last but definitely not least, the art book will feature reproductions of several pieces of art by JEFFREY JONES himself, including a watercolour sketch donated by collector Robert Weiner, president of Donald M. Grant Publisher, Inc., that will be featured on the cover.
Here’s the official description of the book, cut and pasted from the Better Things Indiegogo home page:
An amazing collection of artwork from artists in the comics, publishing, role-playing, and entertainment field. This book is dedicated to help fund BETTER THINGS and was only made possible by their generosity and willingness to help get Jones’ story and art to the world. It contains 48 pgs of color and black and white work.
Estimated delivery: July 2013
Help Better Things meet its fundraising goal by donating at the $75.00 or $100.00 levels (or higher!), and receive the art book as thanks from your favourite artists. Go to the Better Things home page at Indiegogo and reserve a copy now!
UPDATE (10 February 2013):
If you are reluctant to contribute to the Better Things Indiegogo fundraiser because you think that the campaign is unlikely to reach its fundraising goal of $30,000 dollars — if you think, well, I see a perk that I really like, but it’s never going to happen for Better Things, so why should I bother — here’s something you should know:
The choice of a flexible funding campaign for BETTER THINGS means you will get your perks no matter how much is raised! http://t.co/NglBF30Q
Yes, indeed, the Better Things Indiegogo fundraiser is a “flexible funding campaign,” and as such, the campaign owner receives any money raised but in return has agreed to fulfill the perks even if the stated goal is not met. For more information, see “Following Up and Sending Perks.”
Therese Nielsen (http://tnielsen.com/) and Patrick Hill has been added to the list of artists contributing to the Jones Artbook. It is now a 64-page art extravaganza [upgraded from 48 pages], a tribute to Jones and a wonderful example of the artistic community’s generosity.
UPDATE (13 February 2013):
Earlier today, Maria Cabardo posted a new pledge video:
One of the highest of the many high points of Jeffrey Jones’s career as a cover illustrator was the magnificent series of large-scale oil paintings the artist produced for the Zebra Books reprints of the works of Robert E. Howard. I’ve posted eleven of Jones’s wraparound covers so far, and today I’m back with three new ones — A Gent from Bear Creek, Pigeons from Hell, and The Undying Wizard — which I recently acquired:
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If Jones produced covers for more than fourteen Zebra/Kensington collections of the works of Robert E. Howard, I would be interested to hear the news, because as far as I am aware, fourteen titles is the complete set.
The other eleven Zebra/Kensington REH paperbacks with cover art by Jones that I’ve scanned and posted here at RCN can be viewed via the following links:
As luck would have it, I have two excellent copies of The Vultures of Whapeton in my collection of mouldering pulp fiction. I scanned one of the copies back on 12 February 2012 and posted the result here, and I like the scan well enough, but since I’m in a scanning mood at the moment, I think I’d like to try again. So here, just for fun, is a scan of my other copy:
Keywords: Breckinridge Elkins, A Gent from Bear Creek, Pigeons from Hell and Other Weird and Fantastic Adventures, Cormac Mac Art, The Undying Wizard, The Vultures of Whapeton.
Just finished scanning these, so the next step is to post them, like so:
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The “Jeffrey ‘Jeff’ Catherine Jones” category here at RCN — which currently clocks in at 122 posts, with more on the way — is a treasure trove of covers, comics, spot illustrations, sketches, and more. Check it out.
Keywords:The Swords of Lankhmar, Swords against Wizardry, Swords in the Mist.
In my paperback collection, I have at the moment at least half a dozen of the novels in Fritz Leiber’s “Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser” series with cover art by Jeffrey Jones; here are two of them, freshly scanned and processed for your viewing enjoyment:
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Keywords:Swords against Death, Swords and Deviltry.
I have complained several times here at RCN about the lack of basic publication and other information about the covers, spot illustrations, and other materials featured in the books that have been published to date about the work of Jeffrey Jones.
Today, however, I am delighted to highlight a book that promises to fill in some of the blanks in our knowledge of Jones’s career and perhaps bring to light a few forgotten gems in Jones’s vast back-catalogue of published work:
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Here’s the publisher’s description:
Vanguard follows Frazetta: The Definitive Reference with Jeffrey Jones: The Definitive Reference. Frazetta called Hugo and World Fantasy Award winner, Jones, the greatest living painter. This book catalogues all published Jones work: book covers, National Lampoon, Idyl, comics, The Studio (with Wrightson, Winsdor-Smith and Kaluta), prints, portfolios, and more.
The regular hardcover edition runs 176 pages, the deluxe slip-cased edition is 192 pages and features a 16 page bonus folio section not part of the regular hardcover edition.
With a career as poorly documented as Jones’s has been, the task of compiling a catalogue of all of the artist’s published work must have involved countless hours of scholarly detective work. That being said, however, one doesn’t have to be Nostradamus to predict that an online errata sheet will be posted by someone or other shortly after the book is published. Because the fact is, generally speaking, very few scholarly reference works make it to press without some errors and/or omissions, and even fewer do so when the area of research is an obscure corner of popular culture. But don’t pass up the first edition of Jeffrey Jones: The Definitive Reference in hope that an updated/corrected/perfect edition will appear at some future date. If the first edition is not successful in the first place, an updated/corrected edition won’t even be a possibility.