Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Notebook

Abner Dean’s papers include notebooks in which he commented on dozens of cartoons from his 1947 collection What Am I Doing Here? In this commentary he adopts different personas: in some he talks as if he were a character in the drawing; in others he sympathizes with or scolds characters or the reader in his own voice; in many he offers either straightforward or obscure observations on the cartoon; and in others he moves between these approaches. Dean’s comments are a strange and compelling form of criticism on his own work, the kind that we don’t often get to hear from an artist. I don't know why Dean wrote these kind of notebooks, when they were written, or if he ever shared them with anyone . . .

I use quotations from the notebooks in an essay on Dean in Comic Art #9, but on the blog today (and in the next few weeks) I will post cartoons and writing from Dean that did not appear in that essay. [Dean's text is in italics below, in part because it's in cursive in the notebooks -- click images to enlarge.]

You can give too much of yourself

Of course you recognize yourself -- you're the man inside the lunch counter! Or are you someone else in this group? Look again -- inside yourself.


Chris Lanier said...

Thanks for posting this material, Ken. Where are Dean's papers kept? Is it Dartmouth?

Digging a little to find out where his papers are, I found this intriguing description of a "LIFE" magazine cover by Dean, for their Sept. 1932 issue:


Ken Parille said...

Yes -- and I can't get that link to work. I think that is the cover for Life that has the mask Dean made -- I have only seen it in a black and white copy --

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