“Bloom County (09/02/1983)”

“Bloom County (09/02/1983)”
by Berkeley Breathed (1957-)
6 x 18 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

There is some Bloom County art out there (I have one other example), so it is not quite as rare as Calvin & Hobbes, but it is not that easy to get.

Breathed recently offered a “Collector’s Set Limited Release” of a new 1980-1989 collected printing of the Bloom County strips. The package included the books, along with a personalized drawing of Opus, an original art strip feature Opus selected by Breathed, and a page from Breathed’s sketch book.

The front cover with a personalized sketch, and the interior page with the reproduction of my strip.

“Bernadotte and Napoleon” (1931)

“Bernadotte and Napoleon” (1931)
by Chevalier Fortunino Matania (1881 – 1963)
7 x 9 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

A masterful illustrator, Matania was an Italian artist known far and wide for his incredible historical illustrations, particularly his realistic portrayal of World War I .

Matania’s most important work could be found in the pages of Brittania & Eve, the British women’s magazine that Matania began working for in 1929, soon after they began publication. Surrounding himself with objects from history, Matania gained acclaim for his technical virtuosity, and the great detail he would put into each illustration. He also gained acclaim for the voluptuous nudes that he would sometimes put into his images. “The public demanded it,” says Matania. “If there was no nude, then the editor or I would get a shower of letters from readers asking politely why not.” Matania was a mainstay in the pages of Brittania & Eve for 19 years.

This particular pen & ink illustration appeared in the December 1931 issue of Brittania & Eve. It features Napoleon Bonaparte, Desiree Clary, and Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte. Clary was engaged to marry Bonaparte, but he called off the engagement after he became involved with Josephine. Clary later married Bernadotte, who was a leading general in the French Napoleonic army. In 1818, Bernadotte became the King of Sweden, and his wife, who had stayed behind in Paris, later became Queen in 1829.

The detail and pen work in this illustration is simply exquisite, and cannot be captured properly in a scan. The layers of tones, all done in hatched and cross-hatched lines, are beautifully rich. A master at work.

“Fantastic Four #124 p. 4”

Fantastic Four 124 p 4 (July 1972)
John Buscema (1927-2002) and Joe Sinnott (1926-)
12.5 x 18.5 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

45 years ago!

With Jack Kirby’s departure from Marvel in 1970, John Buscema, with an already iconic run on The Avengers, succeeded him on both of Kirby’s titles: Fantastic Four (penciling issues #107-141) and Thor.

While returning home in the Fantasti-Car following their battle with Galactus, the Fantastic Four are shocked when Reed suddenly faints and topples out of the vehicle. Johnny flames on and comes to Reed’s aid, saving him from a fatal fall, while Sue and Ben narrowly avoid a serious crash when the vehicles controls jam. Landing on the ground, the Fantastic Four are surrounded by a throng of onlookers. Needing to get Reed medical attention immediately, Sue uses her powers to render the group invisible so they can slip away unseen.


“Golden Series: Bosc Pear, Concord Grapes, Idiazabal Etxegarai (Spanish Cheese), Knife, and Italian Plums”

“Golden Series: Bosc Pear, Concord Grapes, Idiazabal Etxegarai (Spanish Cheese), Knife, and Italian Plums” (2017)
by Abbey Ryan (1979-)
5 x 6 in, Oil on Linen on Panel
Coppola Collection

And remember… this is about the size of a postcard!

The grapes lounge, relaxed and unworried, safely protected by the pear standing as a guard, at stiff attention. Meanwhile, the plums gossip and conspire behind the back of the cheese, assiduously avoiding revealing their purple secrets to the blueberries that are skittering about. The block of cheese sits solidly and appears indifferent, yet its nonchalance is a ruse as it keeps the knife under its firm control.

Anatomy of a Commission (II) – continued

Previously, the big bronze fire rooster, with its highlights in copper and with ebony and ivory inlays, was completed. Here it is again:

“1957 Fire Rooster 2017” (2017)
by Daniel Macchiarini (1954-)
3.5 x 3.5 in. base with a 4.5 in. rooster,
in bronze with ebony and ivory inlays and copper highlights
Coppola Collection

It’s a Chinese-style name stamp with my adopted Chinese name (高伯乐), imagined after my request and fabricated by Daniel Macchiarini, because you only turn 60 once, and the sign of the fire rooster just came around again for the first time since 1957.

The companion piece, cast in gold and adorned with diamonds and rubies, is almost done. He’s cast, and the big diamond is in his rebellious, outstretched claw. The inset adornments in the name block are remaining to be done. And you can see that it really, really works!

“1957 Fire Rooster 2017 – Gold Edition” (2017)
by Daniel Macchiarini (1954-)
1 x 1 in. base with a 2 in. rooster,
in gold with inlays of diamond and ruby
Coppola Collection

In fact, they both do.

“Shanghai Vanity in Brown”

“Shanghai Vanity in Brown” (2007)
by FAILE a/k/a
Patrick McNeil (1975-)
Patrick Miller (1976-)
(video interview)

Varied-edition print of 12.
Acrylic & Silkscreen on paper.
Lenox 100 Paper.
Dimensions: 25 x 38 Inches.
Signed, Stamped & Numbered
By Faile. 2007

FAILE is the Brooklyn-based artistic collaboration between Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller. Their name is an anagram of their first project, “A life.” Since its inception in 1999, FAILE has been known for a wide ranging multimedia practice recognizable for its explorations of duality through a fragmented style of appropriation and collage. While painting and printmaking remain central to their approach, over the past decade FAILE has adapted its signature mass culture-driven iconography to vast array of materials and techniques, from wooden boxes and window pallets to more traditional canvas, prints, sculptures, stencils, installation, and prayer wheels. FAILE’s work is constructed from found visual imagery, and blurs the line between “high” and “low” culture, but recent exhibitions demonstrate an emphasis on audience participation, a critique of consumerism, and the incorporation of religious media, architecture, and site-specific/archival research into their work.

“Kojorokitsune Tebiki-no-Adauchi” (1822)

“Kojorokitsune Tebiki-no-Adauchi” (1822)
by Katsukawa Shunko I (artist, 1743-1812)
and Gekkotei Shoju (author)
18 x 12.5 cm, 30 pp in each of 2 volumes, woodprint on paper
Coppola Collection

There are a few artists with this name, but the signature lines up most with Shunko I. I was drawn to this single illustration (above) because it was so lively and creepy and clearly symbolic of something in the pose.

The story has a giant rat in it, and giant rat’s play a role in old Japanese myths, such as the Iron Rat.

In Japanese folklore, if you make a promise you had better keep it—even if you are the Emperor of Japan. Otherwise, the person you betrayed might hold it against you and transform into a giant rat with iron claws and teeth and kill your first-born son. That is the story of the Emperor Shirakawa, his son Prince Taruhito, and the Abbot of Miidera temple Raigo—better known as Tesso, the Iron Rat; or more simply as Raigo the Rat.


“Peanuts” (07/31/1983)

Peanuts” (July 31, 1983)
by Charles M Schulz (1922-2000)
24 x 17 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Edge of Seventeen

It’s seventeen years after Schulz’ death, and the strip is from seventeen years before his death.

As of this morning (October 11, 2017), some fast-moving and devastating fires are hitting Santa Rosa, CA, long-time home of the Schulz estate and the Peanuts Museum. Today, the fire was within 2 miles of the museum and its property.

With the current market prices for the few original art pieces out there, I hope that the vaults with the likely-to-be thousands of Peanuts original artworks are buried underground and wrapped with asbestos.

I may only have one Sunday strip in my possession, but it sure is a good one.

“Gale Winds”

“Gale Winds” (1961)
by A. B. Chapin (1875-1962)
13 x 13 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Archibald B. Chapin was a renowned editorial cartoonist in the Midwest. He spent his early career in Kansas City, St Louis and Philadelphia. In 1942, he moved to Schenectady, New York, and drew a weekly cartoon for the National Weekly Newspaper Service. He died October 19, 1962, which means he was certainly staying active as an editorial cartoonist into his late 80s.

This is a striking composition, the subject of which is a strong reminder that the US was hip deep in SE Asia long before the Vietnam conflict.

The Laotian Civil War (1953–75) is called the Secret War among the CIA Special Activities Division and among veterans of the conflict. Early on, North Vietnam established the Ho Chi Minh Trail as a paved highway in the southeast of Laos and paralleling the Vietnamese border. The Trail was designed to allow North Vietnamese troops and supplies to infiltrate the Republic of Vietnam, as well as to aid the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong).

On August 9, 1960, the Laotian Neutralists seized control of the administrative capital of Vientiane in peaceful coup. The US CIA helped support a counter-coup, supplying artillery, artillerymen, and advisers to the rebel forces.

The Soviet Union began a program of military air support for the Neutralist/Communist coalition in early December, 1960; it was characterized as the largest Soviet airlift since World War II.

The US-backed counter-coup was successful, but the end result was the strong alliance of the Neutralists with the Communist Pathet Lao. As 1960 ended, the nation of Laos had become a theater for the world’s superpowers. The Russian Soviet air supply continued into the new year, and the North Vietnamese presence was escalating.

The incoming Kennedy administration found itself pitched immediately into the Laotian crisis. An inter-agency task force founded in early February began a two-month study of possible American responses to the Laotian war. The most drastic alternative they envisioned was a 60,000-troop commitment of American ground troops in southern Laos, with a possible use of nuclear weapons.

Throughout the year, tensions mounted as skirmishes continued.

A large strike involving B-26s had been scheduled, but the it was stayed by an event on the far side of the world. The Bay of Pigs Invasion failed, and that failure gave pause to US actions in Laos. A ceasefire was sought.

The truce supposedly went into effect the first week of May, but was repeatedly breached by the communists.