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Category Archives: Illustrators

High Water Marks in Canonical Illustrations

If you are not an afficiando of Sherlock Holmes stop reading this blog entry right now! If you are and you have a shelf of books allegedly penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle you will already know of Sidney Paget. But did you know that his brother Walter illustrated one of the stories. You will know of the work of Frederic Dorr Steele who created his Sherlock as a William Gillette look-alive and all these originals — if they survived the sands of time — are highly prized by their owners, and sell for very high prices at auction. There is no point in illustrating them again here, the majority are well known to us all. A definitive study of the engraver’s signatures is yet to be done, and this is a project that Richard Lancelyn Green and I discussed back in 2001; perhaps his notes still reside in a file in the Portsmouth Library archives?

Another complete set of 64  illustrations (2 for each of the 4 novels) was created by George and Betty Wells. The originals were numbered and given out as quiz prizes at meetings. I used the set to illustrate the pages of The Universal Sherlock Holmes back in 1994, and have seen a couple, not many in collections in the interim. I have seen a couple of sale by dealers, and the originals are very collectiable as well. In fact, if the truth be told, Sherlockians collect everything as the 24, 807 entries in USH will tell you. ZHere’s a couple to wet your appetite.

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Escaping the black dog of February

This week has been hectic for me — a trip to the printer to pick up books for a book launch next month and delivering them to Toronto safely. I also visited John Robert Colombo to show him a new cover featuring an ourburos (linked serpent) for a volume Tearsof Our Lady and this serpent will be delicately tattooed on the left ankle of a certain International Woman of Mystery, a character created by Sax Rohmer 60 years ago named Sumuru. Now the first volume in the series used macrons over the first and third U in her name thus — Sūmurū. Now I can find this character in my wordprocessor, but I can’t find this special character here in this blog. I suspect I can find it in HTML code, and I will look before publishing this, but TMI (too much information, but I found it!). But in any case an editorial decision was made to remove the macrons altogether throughout. The next task was to discuss the proposed Dustjacket for The Sumuru Omnibus with the artist Laurie Fraser Manifold and  I did that earlier today. Will share the result when it is in hand.

I am also spending too much time at the keyboard — I suspect this is a common affliction of bloggers, and I then remembered that this was February — a month of melancholy for a number of people who live in the snowbelt, a month of cabin fever if there is too much inclement weather, and a month to contemplate driving south in March to Florida.

And so how to break the tedium of typing, the mind numbing scanning if you don’t have an automatic feeder and  the proof reading to expunge those “m” for “in” errors that always tend to creep into the finished document? Well I decided to design a bookplate for myself. I selected a photo of Eugenia Falls in winter. This is a landmark very close to my home, and also the site of a false Gold-Rush over 150 years ago. and I post the result here as well.

The two images send my black dog of winter running away across the snowswept, frozen lake, and the candles flicker in the hearth.

 

Leacock at the Bat

I just received my invitation in the mail to the annual Stephen Leacock Medal Awards Dinner. It is scheduled for June the 12th in Orillia at Geneva Park, and promises to be a worthwhile event. Over the past number of dinners I have prepared pamphlets with content which may be of interest to Leacock Fans, and distributed to each attendee at their place setting for dinner.

   There are presently four in the series: Two Elegies (2005); Random Rhymes (2006); The Shannon and the Chesapeake (2007); and A Scandal in Montreal (2008).

   I took 2009 off as I was simply too busy being retired to prepare one. I had planned to do one discussing the poem “Casey at the Bat.”  Now I’m glad I didn’t get around to it, because I now have new cover art by Charles Pachter.

   Carl Spadoni mentions in his Bibliography of Leacock, that he found an unattributed newspaper clipping from Montreal relating that Leacock had regailed the audience at a dinner speech with his own personalized version of “Casey at the Bat.” It was unclear from the article whether Leacock had recited E.L. Thayer’s version of the poem, or personalized it for Mariposa.

If you google “Casey at the Bat” you find and audio version with De Wolf Hopper reciting the poem, as he did 1,000’s of times in his acting career. I would speculate that Leacock undoubtedly heard Hopper recite the poem, and was inspired to do it himself.

Leacock was not known to play baseball, but he did pay Cricket, both in school and as a young adult.

Shortly after I retired I received a letter from Martin Gardner, of Annotated Alice fame, in which he congratulated me for the publication of The Complete Annotated Father Brown. I called him to discuss the project and compare notes, and he was also interested about republishing a number of his out of print books. One of these was a fourth edition of his The Annotated Casey at the Bat.

It seemed like a natural next step then for me to work on a Mariposa version of “Casey at the Bat” titled “Leacock at the Bat.”

Next, I was working with Charles Pachter, a Toronto pop culture artist, essentially Canada’s Andy Warhol to develop an image of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson, and this project is still very mcuh a work in progress. But in any case during the preliminary conversation, Charles mentioned that he had a cottage studio on Lake Simcoe located  a 20 minute drive from Orillia. I invited him to do an image of Leacock at the bat, but not baseball, but rather cricket, and I attach his creation for your consideration.

During the same visit, I also spotted two other Pachter images in the studio, and obtained permssion to use them as well. The one is for Raymond Souster’s next collection of poetry entitled Big Smoke Blues. The image itself is entitled “Tour de Force.” and it is neat image of a Moose on a tightrope in the shadow of Toronto’s CN Tower. The other is entitled “Bon Echo.” and it is illustrated elsewhere in this blog as the cover for Walt Whitman’s Canada.

So that’s the background, and now, all is left to me to redraft Thayer’s poem change Casey to Leacock, change the other characters to the Mariposa Rogues’ Gallery, and of course change the sport from Baseball to Cricket.

I also plan to include the revised version of Thayer’s poem as well as Martin Gardner’s introduction and footnotes in the pamphlet as well.

As far as 2011 Dinner goes, that’s already allocated — “The Innocence of Stephen Leacock” in which Stephen Leacock meets Father Brown, a pastiche by John Peterson.

A mysterious phenomenon, toward which Professional critics are usually oblivious, recurs constantly in the literary history of the United States. A man or woman, with no special talent for poetry, will put together some apparently run-of-the-mill stanzas and manage to get them printed in a newspaper or magazine. The poem is read and talked about. It is reprinted here and there. People cut it out to carry in a billfold, or pin on a bulletin board, or put under the glass top of a desk, or frame and hang on a wall. Thousands memorize it. Eventually it becomes so well known that it is hard to find a literate person who hasn’t read it. (Martin Gardner in his intrroduction to The Annotated Casey at the Bat)

  Just to recall to your memory I include E.L. Thayer’s originally published version of the poem here:

Casey at the Bat

A Ballad of the Republic, Sung in the Year 1888

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows3 did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;4
They thought if only Casey5 could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn6 preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,7
And the former was a lulu8 and the latter was a cake;9
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;10
And when the dust had lifted, and the men11 saw what had occurred,
There was Johnnie12 safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher13 ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.14

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire15 said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.16
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted some one on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.17

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville18—mighty Casey has struck out.

 

Walt Whitman illustrated by Charles Pachter

I have never met Walt Whitman, and before John Robert Colombo introduced me to the writings of Richard Maurice Bucke, I had not read the poetry and writings of neither of them. I thought of Walt as being a pioneer of the American Poetry tradition, and did not know that he travelled through Canada with Bucke well over 100 …years ago now. This new volume was originally published as a QuasiBook by Colombo and Company and is a very interesting,labour-intensive compilation of writings and photographs. I worked on it, on and off, over the last couple of years, but couldn’t decide on a suitable cover, other than reproduce yet another picture of “Old Walt.” JRC showed me a picture of an inscribed rock in Bon Echo Provincial Park which was donated to the province by the Denison family. There was an interesting, long, narrow boat floating in front of the rock containing many people in period dress.

And then, last fall I had the pleasure of meeting with Charles Pachter in his studio in Toronto. (He has on Lake Simcoe too!) and we discussed using his art work for a cover of one of my proposed books, but that’s another story, and we concluded with a very interesting tour of the many floors of the studio, including the garage and the back shed. I noticed a un-titled picture on the wall in a back room and immediately asked “Where’s that?” Charlie replied “Bon Echo.” In an internet second, I had an epiphany, remembering the rock face inscribed “Old Walt” and with Charles’s permission we had an excellent front cover. Yes, there are pictures of the Rock & Walt on the back.

I visited Charles again to show him a layout of the cover, and he approved, but he was having a hectic time packing his art to travel safely to a showing in British Columbia in conjunction with the Winter Olympics in February.

You might ask where’s the moose? but the copyright notice states that the art was created in 1993, perhaps before the moose silhouette motif was created? However I do remember seeing a picture of a younger QEII on mooseback.

 

Toronto Railways Lands on Souster’s Book

I was first introduced to Raymond Souster in January 2006 by John Robert Colombo. Ray had written alot of unpublished poetry since his “fall from grace” from Oberon Press. John Robert Colombo first introduced Raymond to Oberon in 1969. Raymond was now blind and still living at home with his wife Rosalia. He wrote his poe…ms at the kitchen table with the assitance of a CNIB writing tablet — a thick black piece of cardboard and a spiral bound exercise book which were all carfully numbered and set aside for his Archives at McGill University.

His first series of 3 volumes was entitled “Catching Up,” his second series of 4 volumes “Up To Date,” and his third series of 4 volumes entitled “Getting Ahead.”

The latest single volume of poetry entitled “Millennium Madness” There are over 600 poems with an index.
Raymond style has evolved over the years, but he now predominately write a 20-second poem — a poem of from 2 to 8 short lines. The reader can read a couple and its like rain off a duck’s back, but then the next one is a zinger.
Raymond published and was paid for a poem that appeared in “The Toronto Star” in 1936. It is collected in Volume 1 of the Collected poems published by The Oberon Press. Now this means that Raymong has been published in 9 (that’s nine) decades! If you don’t believe me count them on your fingers — I just did to double check that the figure 9 was correct. Not many authors can make such a claim.

The cover is a wrap around with French flaps featuring “The Toronto Railway Lands” by Geoffrey James. The tall towers are reflected in a mud puddle, and the condo towers are under construction with cranes with a view of the Rogers Centre before it was so named, formerly The Sky Dome I think.

 

A Reflection on Edwin Drood

Some years ago now I received a letter from Richard F. Stewart wondering if I would like to publish he book. Richard was in Scotland and he had written a book entitled End Game: A Survey of Selected Writings about The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. I asked to see the manuscript and he sent it along as an e-mail attachment as Richard lived in Scotland, and we agreed that I would publish it.

end-game

About the Author: Richard F. Stewart was born in Dundee in 1936 and educated there and at St. Andrews University. He laboured to pass on some of this education to the British soldier during ten years in the Royal Army Educational Corps, but eventually threw down his chalk and joined the administrative staff of Manchester University in 1968. He survived this for 25 years before rescue by early retirement. The author of one other book, And Always A Detective … (a sort of history of detective fiction), he now dabbles in books, bowls and baby-sitting.

About the Book: Charles Dickens’ last, unfinished book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, is probably the most written-about novel ever. Few works of fiction have full-length assessments devoted to them, yet Edwin Drood has at least a dozen such, not to mention the array of attempts to complete the novel itself and the almost countless articles purporting to solve the mystery of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. This distinction has of course come about because the book is unfinished – and is a mystery. An unfinished Pickwick might tease but would scarcely tantalise in the way Edwin Drood has done. As G.K. Chesterton remarks, ‘The only one of Dickens’s novels which he did not finish was the only one that really needed finishing’.

When Dickens died on the 9th June 1870 at the age of 58, he had completed half the story. No notes were found to show how he intended the tale to finish and the reader is left pondering a series of riddles – has young Edwin Drood been murdered? if so, where is the body? what part is played by John Jasper, Edwin’s opium-addicted uncle? who is the mysterious stranger, Datchery, who comes asking questions in the quiet cathedral city of Cloisterham? Yet Dickens has bequeathed us a wealth of hints and clues in the part we have, but despite – or perhaps because of – these, no two commentators seem able to agree on the outcome of the story. And growing by what it feeds on, a unique cottage industry geared to finding the answers has developed over the last 130 years, with amateur detectives fabricating those hundreds of books and articles, each claiming to have found the key to Dickens’ plot. They range from the sombre to the hilarious, invoking mesmerism, paranoia, schizophrenia, telepathy, cyphers, Thuggee and Sherlock Holmes (to name but a few) in the search for a solution.

In this book the author lists and assesses all the main solutions, completions and commentaries and several minor ones as well. Readers will not only be able to trace the development of an amazing literary phenomenon – they should emerge well-equipped to produce their own solution.

After the text was set, I invited Jean-Pierre Cagnat to do the cover with a caricature of the author, and he did so with his usual character insight and humour. It is a fine tribute to a man who spent many years compiling this reference work.

caricature-of-the-author-by-cagnat2

Jean Pierre never met Dick and he did this from a couple of photographs I sent him, and I’ll drop one of them in here.

dick-stewart-photo-11

After this first book we went on to do two more and I enclose thumbnails of them here: … And Always A Detective (originally published in 1980) and The Great Detective Case of 1877: A Study in Victorian Police Corruption.


 

Re: Henry St. Clair Whitehead

It was Bob Weinberg’s idea in the first place. I discussed the project with April Derleth since her father had published two volumes of Whitehead’s fiction in the 1940’s — Jumbee and West India Lights. April agreed and I borrowed the Arkham archival copies of the two books in dustjacket. plan to the art work from the two Arkham editions and add a third volume containing other uncollected stories from the pulps. One story “The People of Pan” that was already collected merited a Weird Tales cover, and that story will be published in the third volume.

Right in the middle of this project I learned that Christopher and Barbara Roden of Ash Tree Press were also publishing the same project in three volumes, and the first volume had already been released. The stories were already in the public domain when Derleth published them, so there was no question of infringing any copyrights.

I telephoned Christopher to advise him that I was proceeding with the same project, and continued to collect the stories. The majority were from Weird Tales and many had been published in various anthologies over the past twenty years. I did not want to abandon this project especially since Arkham House had published the two volumes already, and both had been out of print for years

Before I can project I still have to find three of the stories, and one correspondent has advised there may be some more htat don’t have bibliographic data available which makes them even more difficult to locate. I append the list below, if anyone can assist I would be most grateful.

Want List for Whitehead

1. The Gladstone Bag, (ss) Black Mask Sep 1925

2. Gahd Laff!, (ss) Black Mask Jun 1926

3. The Return of Milt Drennan, (ss) Mystery Stories Jan 1929

4. The Great Circle, (ss) Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror Jun 1932; Bizarre Fantasy Tales Fll 1970

5. Ruby the Kid, (ss) Nickel Western Apr 1933

6 Litrachoor, (pm) The Writer; Omniumgathum, ed. Jonathan Bacon & Steve Troyanovich, Stygian Isle Press 1976;
The Writer Etchings & Odysseys #6 1985