Sunday, February 28, 2016

Kenneth Koch and Larry Rivers, When The Sun Tries To Go On (Black Sparrow Press, 1969, signed and numbered edition)

This is a piece that has been on my want list for ages: Kenneth Koch's 1969 When The Sun Tries To Go On, illustrated by Larry Rivers, in a remarkable edition of 200 copies with a kind artwork multiple for its cover. 

The cover is composed of two different layers of printed boards, and the whole thing feels like a mixed-media combine. Take a look:

Koch's lengthy poem is interspersed with illustrations by Rivers -- a handful in black & white and some particularly gorgeous full-color pieces:

If you take a look at the below colophon, you'll see that there weren't any lettered copies of the book, but instead only 5 copies that came with a portfolio with an original collage by Larry Rivers. Amazing to imagine those!

We're going to get a perspex slipcase made for this sometime soon -- it's certainly a book to display face out.

Currently reading:
The Seven Madmen by Roberto Arlt

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tom Gauld, The Gigantic Robot (signed with drawing) (Buenaventura Press, 2009)

Following last week's post about Pigeon Press and Alvin Buenaventura, I thought it'd be nice to feature an old Buenaventura Press book this week that I picked up from Alvin during a book fair in 2009.

This is Tom Gauld's The Gigantic Robot: it's a very short picture book that reads like a children's fable, printed on thick paper with these great rounded edges like an old composition notebook. It's sparse but absolutely wonderful (and with a resonant, cautionary message, too!).

At the time, I had known a little about Tom Gauld, most of which came from the Buenaventura shop's page (there a staple-bound strip called Hunter & Painter that's also particularly lovely). When I bought The Gigantic Robot, Gauld was sitting at the booth with Alvin and graciously drawing doodles for people. Check it out:

Since then, Tom Gauld's gone on to draw weekly cartoons for The Guardian, and he even drew the cover of the copy of Dumas' The Three Musketeers that I read on my honeymoon. His work continues to charm me, and his literary leanings and precise linework make for some very fine strips. Seriously, how good is this:

Currently reading:
Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Charles Burns, Incubation (Pigeon Press, 2016, R.I.P. Alvin Buenaventura)

I learned on Twitter this afternoon that Alvin Buenaventura has died. Absolutely dreadful news. I've featured his books on this website a handful of times and think that his vision for comics and publishing was one of the most passionate out there. My relationship with him exists solely on a consumer/comics-fan level -- if he recognized my name it was from nothing more than a mail order -- so I can't say much of anything on a personal level but I really think he did something special for the industry. He clearly had long-lasting relationships with a number of cartoonists, and I love how he'd get behind some incredible sketchbook projects, little editioned artist's books, and prints. The vibe I consistently got from him was one of support and steadfast belief in his artists' projects. I feel like he ran his business while holding on to the feeling of what it's like to be a fan, to love these artists' works, and that's something I wish more publishers would do.

Here's a stunning staple-bound book by Charles Burns called Incubation that Buenaventura put out on his Pigeon Press imprint. This retails for a modest $9.95 and is absolutely essential for any Charles Burns fan. It's amazing to see Burns' process, from thick, ink-pen drawings to scribbly, sketchy figures.

It's so sad to hear of Alvin's passing, and I hate to think no one's going to make these kinds of special books anymore.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Paul Bowles, Let it Come Down (Signed and numbered, Black Sparrow Press, 1980)

Published in 1980 by Black Sparrow Press, this is a signed and numbered reissue of Let It Come Down, Paul Bowles' second novel which was originally published in 1952. As readers of this blog know, I am a huge Black Sparrow fan and try to take advantage of any opportunity I see to get one of their rare editions.

Their design is top notch and I think their limitation tiers are particularly exciting: every book came out simultaneously in signed/numbered, lettered, and trade editions, with the lettered copies including something of particular importance like a holograph poem or original artwork.

This is one of 350 copies that have been numbered and signed by the author -- this is #117/350.

The signature is on a tipped-in page at the front of the book:

My copy has a slight stain to the top edge of the book. Good, clean copies should sell for around $100, still (a great buy, I think) -- the somewhat questionable condition of my copy brought the price down to $45 when I bought it for my library ten or so years ago.

I also actually just picked up a second copy for remarkably cheap on eBay (only $30!) and will be putting this into an inventory of sorts that my wife and I have plans to someday sell under the guise of an online boutique. We're excited at this prospect, and will be picking up various rare books and design items over the next year or so with the intention of building some stock before our shop goes live. I'll keep you all posted.

Currently reading:
Samantha Hunt, Mr. Splitfoot

Currently listening to:
Greg Dulli, "Modern Love"