Friday, November 11, 2005
Make Room on Your Bookshelf
Two recent book released definitely deserve a place on your 'to read' pile. First is The World On Sunday (ISBN 0-8212-6193-2) by Nicholson Baker and Margaret Brentano. Baker is the author of Double Fold, a scathing indictment of library practices, mostly as they relate to the disgraceful dumping of newspaper bound volumes. While Baker was putting together his book, he discovered that perhaps the last remaining set of bound volumes of the New York World was to be disposed by the British Library. Somehow he scraped together enough money to purchase the set (along with many other newspaper bound volumes) and had them shipped to the U.S. He initially planned to keep them in storage himself, and actually did so for a few years, but finally had to make a deal with the devil, and handed them over to Duke University. We can only hope that he made Duke sign a contract in blood not to dump these priceless volumes the next time they feel the need for a bit of storage space.
This coffee-table book is the result of Baker taking high quality photos of some of the more spectacular pages of the New York World before he gave them up. And oh my they are spectacular. The World's Sunday editions of the 1890s and 1900s are filled with the most wonderful color artwork, some of it really does take your breath away.
I've been lucky enough to see some of these spectacular comic and magazine sections, mostly in the incredible collection of the late Gordon Campbell (what happened to his collection after he died?). I know how wonderful this material is, so buying this book was a no-brainer for me. But all I can tell you is that I absolutely promise that you will not be disappointed. Get this book!
The other book is Cartoon Success Secrets - a Tribute to 35 Years of Cartoonist Profiles (ISBN 0-7407-3809-7) by Jud Hurd. Jud, the editor and publisher of Cartoonist Profiles magazine since its inception in 1969, here brings together some of the most interesting cartoonist interviews and articlees from the 36 year run of the magazine, plus much additional material never before seen. If you've ever read Cartoonist Profiles I don't need to say another word to sell you on this volume; if you haven't, well, take my word for it - it is comic strip fan nirvana.
Jud Hurd died earlier this year at the ripe old age of 93 and that brings a probable end to dear old CP magazine. It will be much missed, as will Jud.
Problem is that it often isn't the librarians, many of whom have a proper respect for the material, who make decisions to microfilm and dump their holdings; it's the beancounters.
And we are to blame, too. Libraries need our financial support, even those associated with government and colleges. Their budgets are often the first line item to get cut when one of those periodic belt-tightenings comes a-callin'.
I highly recommend that you read Baker's "Double Fold". It is a real eye-opener.
I agree that for two clipping vets like us the experience isn't all that exciting, but we are among the very few who have been lucky enough to enjoy bound volumes of great newspapers firsthand. I think the book will really blow away the average person.