Thursday, February 13, 2014

Listening to Jerry and thinking about art

Sitting here listening to Dead Set and thinking about a new art acquisition.

I had not heard Dead Set in many moons. I remember once in the 1980s listening to Dead Set at dinner and my Dad came home a bit sauced.he explained that he had had his best day ever on the links and celebrated a bit. During dinner the record (yes, it was an lp record played on my father's Marantz stereo) eventually proceeded to Drums and Space. During Space my fairly lubricated Father proclaimed "I like this...what is it?" During Space.

I became a Deadhead (Dadhead?) around that time and eventually relegated Dead Set to the bottom of the pile, certainly below For The Faithful/Reckoning - which was the acoustic sets from the same shows the eelctric set Dead Det  was culled from. (Listening to Friend of the Devil now and this slow version has a lot going for it.It was the way they did the song when I became a fan and tour follower in the 80s and 90s. shuffled to Little Red Rooster now. Bobby at some of his best.) But not too long ago I had the electric version of Brokedown Palace in my head and wanted to hear it again. So I hopped on Itunes and have been listening to Dead Set every few days for a good month now. It is a nice snapshot of the band at the time and I enjoy the work they do on the album.

The new art acquisition is an Al Capp daily from 1940s. I was looking over the Sunday Heritage auction last week; among their offerings lately have been a steady stream of Capp dailies. I wouldn't mind a Frazetta era strip and would certainly love a sweet daily with Abner and Daisy Mae but those weren't my main criteria. I read an Al Capp biography not too long ago by Michael Schumacher and Dennis Kitchen and that has increased my respect for Capp as an artist. From all accounts Frank Frazetta was very impressed with Al Capp's artistic abilities and that is enough of an endorsement for me. Capp employed assistants from the earliest days of the strip and by the end wasn't doing much at all. He apparently ALWAYS did the hands and faces in the strip. I have some reservations about how true that is for the later strips but don't know why I believe that.

So Heritage has been auctioning 3-5 Abner strips or specialty pieces each auction, Sunday auctions and bigger ones as well. Other auction houses as well I guess but I have noticed Heritage with more I think. But there are no shortage of pieces available. I look them over and try to focus on how much I think Capp drew. the earliest pieces maybe have more Capp, but really who knows. Strips with more hands and faces have more Capp. Strips with L'il Abner or Daisy Mae almost certainly have more Capp. (Garcia playing beautifully on Candyman now.)

This last week's strips were fairly typical of those auctioned lately. A bunch of early ones from 1940 and then some from 1974 or so, near the end (which was 1977 I think.). I immediately dismiss any of the ones from the 60s or 70s. The 50s may have Frazetta, almost certainly are Frazetta from the middle of that decade's dailies, and are therefore more expensive than the others. But is it possible that Al Capp was a better cartoonist than Frank Frazetta? Frazetta was certainly the better artist and among the most versatile artists of the last century. Look, I am not going to get out my Glamourpuss for reference to get the correct term, but Capp is somewhere between Milton Caniff and Hal Foster and Walt Kelly. So until Alex Raymond, with Stan Drake and Al Williamson among others, come along these are the guys slinging the ink like no ones business. And with every week having strips by Capp (and Foster as well, but at multiples of the price for Capp pieces) I knew my time would come. Then on the third or fourth strip this last week I saw one and exclaimed out loud "I love it!". That startled me, but I recognized that I should go with that feeling and throw in a modest bid. Low three figures I figured would do it. Then I forgot about it, honestly.

Well,  I woke up Monday morning and was actually confused when I saw the email with my invoice. But this will have to be the end for now, as my eldest was promised the computer and the youngest was promised my presence for some Olympic viewing. But I will get back to you tomorrow or this weekend at the latest and show off the piece. I should probably pay for it now too.

1 comment:

Benno said...

Dead set was partly taken from the shows at Radio City Music Hall (and some from the CA part of the tour) I saw three of those shows including the Halloween show that was simulcast on TV. Good stuff-though I would probably agree that the acoustic sets were really the highlight-amazing to get to see the play acoustic as they only did that in the early 70's and on this tour. Cool Capp too!