lookingland: (fellas)
( Sep. 28th, 2009 10:13 am)
had trouble sitting still this weekend. painted couple of pages (really need to do more, though), scanned some stuff, rearranged a few of my books (they may start cannibalizing each other at any moment due to overcrowding), and came up with at least twenty ideas for cool things to do or make that aren't exactly on my schedule, like adapt the über-ridiculous overblown, gratuitous, slightly nauseating poem The Praesidicide for the stage.

Hylton's 6,000+ line epic poem (in the first-person voice of J.W. Booth himself) may have the dubious distinction of being the first piece of Lincoln Assassination fan fiction published (within the year of the deed ~ beating out Townsend's Katy of Catoctin by decades). if anyone knows of any literary effort on the subject published in that period, feel free to bring it to my attention ~ the more, the merrier, right?

in other Pursuance news (it's been a while since i've blogged about this temporarily dormant project), over the course of the summer i acquired yet more books on the subject for my ever-growing collection, including the prize find of a copy of George Porter's prison diary (The Surgeon in Charge). it's incredibly rare and i got it for an absolute steal ~ $15 on amazon. someone wasn't minding the store, i guess). i've only ever seen one other copy for sale and it sold for $75.

i also bought Geary's Murder of Abraham Lincoln at ComicCon. I would have got Geary to sign it (he signed my Jack the Ripper), but alas he was nowhere to be found this year.

finally, i found a cheap copy of Jampoleer's Last Lincoln Conspirator, which i still think is pretty dang solid book for being an overwritten subject.

i continue to keep my eyes peeled for a cheap copies of the various histories of the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry (alas no luck and they seem to be getting rarer, fetching about $40-$60 a piece), as well as Arno Press's published transcript (which i've only ever seen one volume for sale ~ for $100, though someone bought it). the copy of John Wilkes Booth, Himself that i have been eying for some time also jumped in price this past year, up $85 to a whopping $375 (geh! i'm crazy, but i'm not that crazy!), and no cheap copies of Kimmel's Mad Booths of Maryland nor Bates' Lincoln in the Telegraph Office have presented themselves (the going price on each is about $60 for a decent copy). if i weren't so dang picky about the editions, i might have already bought copies of some of these things, but, well, there you have it. all too rich for anyone's blood, frankly. i paid $70 for my first copy of Doster's Lincoln and Episodes of the Civil War (and much less for the second copy), but only because it's my favorite non-fiction book ever and i still intend to be buried with it.

and yes, occasionally i buy groceries, though i confess i haven't really bought many new clothes except the occasional pair of jeans and a shirt in years. i flinch at paying more than $10 for a blouse, but waft a $20 book of my desire under my nose and it's a bargain!

and i need another bookcase so bad, but if i spend money on a bookcase, how can i buy more books???

it's all a conundrum.

"In Memory of Abraham Lincoln:
The Reward of the Just"
D. T. Weist, 1865
from Lincoln at 200

Last night I read Eddie Campbell's Black Diamond Detective Agency, which is fairly new from First Second Books (which produces some really amazing works!). I was too overwhelmed at Comic Con this year to visit Campbell (I think my brother said he was there, but I never crossed paths with his table). So alas, I did not get a signed copy, but I'm glad to have bought a copy at all. Campbell was the first "comic" artist who inspired me to think that I could actually draw (probably From Hell was one of the first graphic novels I ever saw aside from Spiegelman that had a distinctive art style that wasn't traditional superheroes. I immediately fell in love with his inks and washes and later developed a similar affinity for his watercolors. Black Diamond Detective Agency is one of only a few full-color books of his, and I love the gritty palette he's chosen for the end of the 19th century ~ it goes well with the industrial aspects of the storyline and keeps the tone somber and noirish) like a detective book should be, right?

There's problems with the script, I think. I mean, the story is good: exploding train, missing wife, framed mystery man, even a good old-fashioned chase in a gas-saturated mine. But given another twenty pages or so, some of the more crashing scene changes and bafflingly curt dialog might have flowed more smoothly. There's also some lengthy explanations at the end: wherein the villain explains all ~ very Victorian in construction so I'll give it props for the formula, but as Campbell was working from a script by C. Gaby Mitchell and perhaps either as a difficulty of editing or a limitation of space, certain information and character development feels a wee crammed up. Or it could just be that I wanted to savor the book longer (or ghoulishly wanted more 'splosions, which is always a possibility).

Nevertheless, this is a beautiful little book and I hope we'll see more like it. I tried (perhaps in a desultory fashion given my awareness of my own personal artistic limitations), to emulate this style in at least one incarnation of Reconstruction. It didn't work out. But I'm glad to be able to admire the work here ~ even if it's something I can't reproduce, it continues to inspire.

lookingland: (angel)
( Apr. 19th, 2009 10:02 am)

Let's see ~ a list of things that might make a book delightful: under 150 pages long (check), illustrations (check), George Washington (check), snow! (check), Christmas (check), Valley Forge (check!).

With a list like this, S. Weir Mitchell's A Venture in 1777 can't help but be satisfying!

Okay, so the story isn't all that much. Young Tom Markham and his twin brothers (but mostly Tom) conspire to steal an important military secret from Colonel Grimstone and relay it to Valley Forge just after Christmas. Their house is occupied by the British and they'd like very much to get rid of their unwanted guests ~ and get their father back (he is currently a prisoner of war).

Mitchell apparently enjoyed writing "historical" fiction and has a number of books set during the American Revolution and Washington's term as President. This particular little tome, he wrote for charity with the proceeds going to the Philadelphia Church Home for Children. The book isn't terribly fancy, but it does have some nice vignettes and illustrations (spot colored in cyan). The artist, unfortunately is uncredited, but you can see what nice work was done in the image below.

I have to say it was especially nice to read this simple, uplifting little story after what's been passing lately as bedtime fare. A little Mitchell is a good tonic for the ills of research. Though there is mention of the privations at Valley Forge in this book, the story is clearly written for a young audience and so the hardship and violence is kept to a minimum. That does not mean it isn't full of adventure, however, and the capture of Grimstone, especially, is a good time. I especially like Tom's sense of "fairness" in handling these matters (oh chivalry, thou art dead). Tom as a principal character is nicely restrained and his interview with Washington is the best part of the book (totally expected, of course, but also totally satisfying).

Near as I can tell, the story is entirely fictional outside of the circumstances of the war. General Washington would appear to be the only "real-life" character. I've haven't yet read any of Mitchell's Revolutionary War novels, so I don't know whether he's predisposed to adhere to much fact. His Civil War novels are certainly grounded in fact, but the historical people who appear in them generally pop in and out of scenes rather quick (much like Washington in this one).

By the way: Two amusing things about the illustration above: Tom is fifteen (nearly sixteen). In the picture he looks more like twelve! Also, do you really think Washington wore stockings at Valley Forge? Much as I like the picture, the shoes, I had to laugh at.
I spent most of Sunday gnashing my teeth. the reasons why are pointless to explain (same o'crud). then I did the stupid thing of reading myself a bedtime story so depressing that it carried my mood overnight and now I am officially in the glums.

The book, Dennis Brandt's Pathway to Hell isn't spectacularly written ~ it's rather short (barely over 200 pages), and isn't exhaustive about much ~ but that made it perfect for me: no long explanations of campaigns I already know too well, no endless nattering about hardtack. instead it's a true chronicle largely in Angelo Crapsey's own words from his letters and diary, documenting in the most painful way imaginable, his slow decline into self-destructive dementia.

Crapsey's story is unique as far as books of the war go, though there's unfortunately nothing unique about what happened to him. It tells the story that Paulson's Soldier's Heart tries to tell, but doesn't.

When I think back on the origins of Reconstruction, I think i wrote it in part because this book hadn't been written. Crapsey's story is more heartbreaking than any novel anyone could ever write: a disaster that could have been avoided a hundred different ways. The circumstances of his bizarre upbringing at the hand of a religious whack-job father, his fervor for the Union, his abolitionist sentiments that sour after emancipation drags the war into a seemingly endless slaughter, the shame of his surrender and imprisonment ~ all of it horrible, horrible ~ and then to come home to the father-figure and friend he looked up to the most only to find himself rebuffed, feared, and ostracized. And finally the everyday event that led to Crapsey's end is so banal, almost ~ so utterly human in its simple cruelty. It isn't any wonder he blew his brains out. Twenty two years old.

Of course I imagined a different end once upon a time for Reconstruction which is in many ways this same story: an endless cycle of addictions, an abusive marriage, desolation, death. Even I was never so brave to actually make any of that stick, though. I had to find some hope in there somewhere. So I did.

But there was none for a lot of young boys like Crapsey. Even Howard Bahr didn't shrink from drawing us a picture in The Judas Field (which is maybe why I didn't like that book as much as I wanted to ~ it hit a nerve with me).

So yeah. I don't know why I am writing this except to wonder at the meaning of it all. I really seem to be out of touch with the world in so many ways. I don't see that improving, either, and it concerns me from time to time.

from LookingLand.com

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oh the immensity ~ !

[crawls into a corner and dies]

Recently I posted about a project I brought home involving the experimental restoration of 14 volumes of Harper's Monthly Magazine. As I have been working on the books, I've been perusing some of the contents. In June of 1881 an article appeared about Edwin Booth. This opening is the sort of film-worthy anecdote that makes the Booths so irresistible, so I thought I would share it.

article portion is under a cut for bigness )

p.s. the article respectfully makes no mention of that other brother.

x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] jwb1865.

It's nearly April and I haven't gotten back to In Pursuance of Said Conspiracy, which is just a crying shame. If I can't "launch" it mid-April, I will definitely at least try to be knee deep working on it then. I just ordered Steers's two new books: The Lincoln Assassination Conspirators: Their Confinement and Execution, As Recorded in the Letterbook of John Frederick Hartranft ~ (grumble grumble grind and grumble), and The Lincoln Assassination: The Evidence (less grumbling).

I'm sure they will kick me off in the right direction ~ if only out of sheer fury on the first count.

But then, this is what happens when you come up with an idea and then sit on it for two years. I will never learn.

: o p
it's taking all my willpower not to bid on this.

because owning two copies already just isn't enough.

i am so sick.

: o p

meanwhile, i have increased my weir mitchell collection by three (soon to be four) this past week, and am likewise resisting this.

edit: oh holy crap! to say nothing of this!

(and this is why i have no business on eBay. period.)
I have been very busy racing around today and flinging myself at projects (that have an uncanny knack of dodging when I'm trying to catch them unawares).

Nevertheless, I've done a little work on the Harper's Monthlies that have been hogging my desk. I think the fixative will stay the rot on the leather. They already look 100 times better than when I pulled them out of their box (you'll have to imagine how bad they were before!). I've fixed the five in the picture below and have 9 more to work on. Some of those other nine are in seriously crummy shape, though and needing major repair (detached covers, missing spines, etc.). I'll do what I can with them, but I'm putting them off until next week since I already spent enough time with the books for one weekend. No telling how well they'll keep with the fixative, but if it saves them from evisceration for another few years, it'll have been worth it. And now I have been fussing with their sad state so much I haven't even really had a chance to look at what's in them! When the fumes clear, I'll probably put them by my bed so I can flip through them at night.

In other news, I have been working on Reconstruction's website all week and it's mostly in order, but I have so much content to post and haven't even begun! My morning and much of last night was eaten up in messing with the archive section. I'm still not satisfied with it, but it'll do for the time being. Still hoping to "launch" the website tomorrow, but it's going to be a tight squeeze.

Of course I'll never get it done if I'm here goofing on LJ.

P.S. Took that picture with my new camera. It's a Canon PowerShot A2000 IS. Not sure how I like it yet. I still need to figure out how to use all the buttons, etc.

P.P.S. I seriously need some new avatars.

Happy Sattidy all!

: D

i don't want february to get away from me without posting the obligatory picture of my desk. as you can see, my camera is on its last legs. it suddenly went screwy on me in january and i haven't been able to resuscitate it. i might buy a new one this weekend, which means i won't be getting that new tv i'd been hoping for. ah well ~ i've lived without tv for years now and i'll continue to do so. i think i need a new camera infinitely more. and the good thing is: camera prices are way down!

so the blurry desk should give you some sense of why i am not getting much done: that pile there is 5 volumes of a 14 volume salvage project i picked up sort of randomly. it's Harper's Monthly from the 1870s and 80s. as bound books it's probably unsalvageable, but i'm going to do a little experimenting this weekend to see if i can't get it to hold together (most of the covers and spines are off, though the interior blocks are generally good).

if it's a lost cause (and it very well could be; the leather is seriously rotted and i'm going to do some experiments to see if it can't be "stayed" with some fixative), i'll probably just salvage the interior illustrations (and maybe some pertinent articles) and recycle what's lost. i hate throwing out books, but i feel like i am giving these at least a second chance. wish me luck!

it's a messy task, but somebody's gotta do it. and i need something like this to break up the writing/drawing routine. i'll post anything interesting that i find ~ and maybe even report on the results of my weekend experiments. i know you can't wait ~ !

: D
lookingland: (fellas)
( Feb. 11th, 2009 07:34 am)

Tomorrow being the 200th anniversary of the man in the funny hat's birthday, I sat myself down and read something that wasn't about him getting shot (yes, it's possible to find such a book in my house, believe it or not!). This is a little book written by Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews after the turn of the century called The Perfect Tribute. I believe it was originally published in 1906, but my own personal edition, a well-tanned ugly duckling, is from 1908 (and has an owner's stamp of "J. Lewis Riggles" which amuses me).

The story is not badly written, but is bad in general. It's a fictional account of Lincoln's day at Gettysburg and how insecure he feels about his pithy little speech and how no one applauds and therefore it was a complete failure. Scholars have interesting things to say about why no one applauded, but I love to read the reactions from people who actually heard the speech (which is why I really love Gettysburg Remembers President Lincoln). But this isn't a review of that book, it's a review of Andrews' fictional account, so I will leave it at her interpretation for now.

The story goes from there back to Washington where Lincoln runs headlong into a young boy in a dither over his dying brother: a Confederate prisoner who needs a will so that he can leave his property to his sweetheart and she will therefore be forced to accept it (otherwise she's too prideful). Lincoln, being a lawyer, volunteers his services and they go to the prison where he draws up the business for the bravely suffering young man. In the course of their conversation, the soldier brings up the Gettysburg speech, which is in all the papers, and he talks about how astonishing it is, blah blah blah. And of course he says that not clapping was the perfect tribute because the words were so perfect and so solemn. He talks about how he'd like to shake the President's hand, he's so dern grateful. Then the fella kicks the bucket holding Lincoln's hand, never knowing it's him.

The story works, even if it is melodrama. Its apotheosic (is that a word? I doubt it) bent is only mildly disturbing and the depiction of the two southern boys as righteous, indignant, but well-meaning is a rather dull stereotype. But in 1906 I can certainly see the appeal and I enjoyed the story despite my own prejudices.

So happy birthday, Mr. Lincoln. Enjoy your celebration year!

from LookingLand.com

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I am back from the Christmas holiday vacation and trying to wrap some things up around the house before I have to return to work, but I wanted to check in and see how everybody is doing ~ haven't a prayer of catching up on the Flist, but I'll try to catch up as best I can. Christmas was lovely this year and I received some very nice gifts. I feel very blessed.

Among the many books I received for Christmas this year (and wow, I did receive many!), I wanted to share with you this beautiful picture book illustrated by P.J. Lynch. It's a telling of the classic Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski. I love the simplicity of this Christmas story: the gloomy woodcarver, the lovely young widow, the nativity figurines. And it has the elements of a really good sappy Christmas romance: lonely people who find each other; brought together by Christmas. I also love that the miracle in this one is so very ordinary, almost. No intervening angels or magic at work here ~ just the quiet interior change of an icy heart thawing out. In so many ways it's a greater miracle, I think. I don't have preferences when it comes to this sort of thing with Christmas stories, but I think I like this story all the more for being so understated.

This particular edition is exquisite. The pictures are warm and luminous and the expressions on the people's faces very real and very nuanced. I only wished that the picture of Jonathan Toomey carving Mary and the baby Jesus showed a little more glimmer in the eyes. He's described as crying in the moment that immediately proceeds this, so he just looked to me to be too dry-eyed. But that's getting really picky considering how pretty the rest of it is. This is definitely a joy to read. Nothing especially spectacular in the format to point out; just straight up fabulous in its overall content and design.

More from me later! I have all manner of other irons in the fire to share with you.

: D
from LookingLand.com

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Every Christmas I can't resist buying myself at least one book that's "special" in some way: something I have maybe wanted for a while, something that seemed too exorbitant to throw money at, or something just fun or interesting.

This year's Christmas purchase is goofy, but it was cheap and I won't regret owning it. It's a copy of Otto Eisenschiml's In the Shadow of Lincoln's Death.

A little background on Eisenschiml: he was a chemist who decided to be a historian, who almost single-handedly created the "conspiracy theory" hysteria surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. His research is flawed, his narratives full of speculation and confabulation, and his theories are utterly priceless. What's more, people believed them for years! Though nowadays Eisenschiml has been relegated to a position of near-infamy in Lincoln and Booth scholarship, he's impossible to ignore in the grand scheme of contextualizing America's fascination with the assassination.

My edition is from 1940 and signed in neat blue ink: "Presented for my little friend Danny Coleman with my very best wishes, Otto Eisenschiml ~ April, 1953." It has a dust jacket, albeit a little torn (nevertheless always hard to come by with a book so old). The seller also sent me a February 1960 section of Reader's Digest which features Theodore Roscoe's The Web of Conspiracy, which is just too funny.

This book is neither rare, nor particularly valuable, but I had been wanting cheap copies of Eisenschiml's works for a long while and now I have this one and Why was Lincoln Murdered (his first book, which I found this past summer). The fact that this latest addition is signed just makes it all the more delightful.

And yes, it also reminds me that I maybe want to get In Pursuance of Said Conspiracy back on my desk in some fashion for the New Year.

from LookingLand.com

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Today's amazing children's book is a marvelous retelling of the harrowing story of the Bounty by Patrick O'Brien: gorgeously painted in this recent edition.

This book makes the most of both the story and the history without watering down its grimmer aspects (no, Fletcher Christian does not sail off into the sunset into a happy freedom). O'Brien, who is a biologist by early education and a naval draftsman by experience includes wonderful details from the age of sails and renders the Bounty inside and out. His attention to detail, in fact, make this fun to revisit again and again since you can overlook nice little nuances in some of his larger panoramas. There are enough dramatic sweeping scenes of the Bounty on the ocean in full sail as well as plenty of action as Christian overtakes the ship and the casts Captain Bligh adrift. I think there is the influence of The Bounty in the artwork here, but you get no objections from me on that note.

I mostly bought this book on a whim because I thought O'Brien's placement of images was really interesting and worth further investigation. He has many a "splash" page, but breaks up numerous other pages with various blocks of sequiential-like art. The narrative remains intact, but dialog is sometimes assigned to an image which helps heighten the dramatic effect (you can see a sample below). I'm considering this as a model for the Eleison series as a nice compromise between the narrative and the sequential.

I don't know, yet, whether it has any implications for Reconstruction yet. I'm still rather attached to my word balloons at the moment. As a random side note, someone once asked me whether naming my protagonist "Fletcher" was influenced by the story of the mutiny on the Bounty. Resoundingly yes.

This little book is just six verses of Lydia Maria Child's Thanksgiving Poem famously known by its opening line: "Over the river and through the woods". Forget for a moment that this books combines a number of my favorite things: snow, horses, holidays, and a 19th century sensibility ~ it's just a gorgeous treatment of a classic favorite. From the faux endpapers and throughout its 26 pages, the woodblock art is vivid, brightly colored, and full of wonderful little details on the journey to Grandfather's house. All along the way are wonderful vignettes of ice fishing, logging, a farrier at work, ice sailing, and more. The borders are very simple, but vary every page, which keeps it from having a static boundary and the parchment-like background lends to its overall old-tyme feel.

I had seen this book at Barnes and Noble some time back and wanted it, but couldn't justify the cost. Last weekend, however, I found it at a bargain book closeout for a couple of dollars. Having it now, I know it's worth more than I paid for it, but I'm always glad for a bargain. This book is still is print and available from Amazon.

I've been reading a lot of children's books lately, dissatisfied (as always) with my own style of work. I'll be sharing a number of the ones I have enjoyed best in the last month or thereabouts, so you can expect to see more of these while I try to slog forward toward something like inspiration. Part of my problem at the moment is that I am feeling impatient. I want things to move a lot faster in my world (not time, accomplishment). And at the moment I've been drawing the same story for over a month ~ a story which is just a tiny drop in the whole bucket. That worries me. I'm not drawing fast enough, I'm starting to get meticulous and critical about the process, which is one of the symptoms of dying enthusiasm (or causes ~ it's hard to tell). Anyway, I stared at the computer screen all day yesterday (intermittently staring at my desk between feelings of hopelessness). Today I'm going to try to do better. Just don't know exactly how yet.

from LookingLand.com

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[livejournal.com profile] nextian sent me a meme and i am passing it along. the gig is: i answer thirty questions with one (or none or several, apparently) name(s) each, and you only find out the questions if you comment and promise to do it yourself.

meme! )

~ * ~

meanwhile, it's been an up/down weekend and lj is making the option of skipping over the permanent account sale very easy. they even moved the selling window to december ~ guess they're trying to fix the hideous profile page before sale (too late: they've lost my money).

it's 26 degrees right now, which is about just right for an indoor temp in the ballpark of 58-60. i'm wearing fleecy jammies, muffy socks, and a light nightgown (and hell no, i didn't get dressed all weekend, which was my plan ~ weeeeee!)

okay, but on to business.

the challenges of the challenge: spent the earlier part of saturday morning painting the first three strips. i'm not unhappy with how they came out, though there are things about them i could criticize (aren't there always?). the real problem is that between the drawing, inking, painting, and lettering, i have to do four passes with each strip and by the third pass, i'm feeling kvetchy about the whole project. this is me being overly fussy and lazy and undisciplined, but it's a serious problem because right now i wish i'd never drawn a single panel and i'm ruminating on the simplicity of just writing pert little bon-bon novellas and not bothering with all this falutin' "art" nonsense.

you have no idea.

: o p

i think i keep going in this circle because i don't want to be defeated, because i have in mind this concept and the concept includes pictures, but i can never quite get a handle on what it looks like in a physical form.

right now, sam ita's Moby Dick (is that ironic or what?) and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea come closest in spirit, but without the pop-ups. i keep looking at book designs and illustrations and there are dozens out there that i would love to emulate and dozens i've thought were "right" for this untenable creature but which proved too stiff (the victorian periodical was in the win for a long long time, but there was something inorganic about it that bothered me: the lack of color and the density of the text, mostly). and i have poured over william morris, whose designs were as close to a modern-day illuminated manuscript in the 19th century, but morris was a genius and ultimately i want something softer than the print block. i want something somewhat luscious, but also gritty ~ like pie. pie is vibrant, crisp, warm, melty.

anyone on my flist know of a book that mimics the experience of pie?

well, all sunday i toiled and moiled and despite several highly experiment stabs, came up with something pretty traditional and that's where it stands (still). i don't hate it (you can see it here). i used a lot of layers to get the color just right (hope everyone likes yellow, because that's what it is!). i guess i can only see how it goes from here.

nice frost on the ground this morning ~ still wish it would snow.

: o p

from sam ita's Moby Dick: not a very
good picture, but it might give you an impression
of the complexity of the book
the temperatures soared, but a wee bit of rain cooled things off again. lovely weather just now.

today, this is my favorite book ever:

i picked it up at half price books. yes, it's a children's book for ages 9-12. yes, it was written by the robert kennedy. yes it's less than fifty pages long. but it has wonderful artwork, replete with battle scenes and (oh my gosh!) blood! and it uses the phrase "petty despotisms", which i think all nine year-olds should be well acquainted with, so it's my favorite book ever.

that and Joshua Chamberlain is just the coolest. right after George Washington, of course.

okay, enough of that pitiful fangirl dwibbling. i finally completed Eleison no. 5 today (and without a moment to spare!). the manolo says it is the superfantastic issue and you will all want to read it! official announcement to be posted later today or tomorrow, so stay tuned!

: D

for relaxation, then, last night i went to bed with my light box, a pencil, and some scratch paper so that i could work on dolls. and i did. and they're going to be cool. i am not posting the doll yet because she's just a scribble too at the moment and really not much to look at.

all paper dolls start life as scribbles on scratch paper. and i tend to save the scribbles because they make good templates for others things.

click if you want to see the scribble with color )

happy sunday all!
i have decided to quit all of my creative pursuits and just write a blog about the ever-evolving state of my desk. er, as opposed to what i seem to be currently engaged in.

i had to reconfigure the desk. the books were walling me in. they're very clingy, needy things sometimes. they make it hard to concentrate. so i turned my tv into a dictionary stand (you've probably not seen my 1893 Funk & Wagnall's dictionary ~ it's kind of immense), and moved all the books over to the table it used to occupy. this had made the dictionary crabby, but i will find it a place of honor elsewhere (just not right now).

anyway, this has alleviated the crush and made the source material easier to get a hold of (that teetering pile was just ridiculous after a week). i also put Hartranft's Letterbook into a binder (dunno what took me so long!). of course this meant punching it full of holes (that's okay, it's a lousy copy), but worse, i wound up whiling away an hour trying to read Hancock's letters. i'm getting better at it. it only takes me a few minutes to remember how to follow the stroke of the pen. bad as his handwriting is, it's consistently the same kind of bad throughout, so once you know how he writes "to the" as a one-word one blobby mess with no crossed t's, you can pretty much identify it across the board.

so yeah, that's been my morning. and just to share, i have this photo, which sold on eBay last year and which i never even bothered bidding for (as i knew it would sell for way more than i could ever hope to afford). from looking at his pictures (pretty much all of them), it's easy to see why people were scared of this guy. if all accounts didn't say what a marshmallowy underside he had, i prolly wouldn't believe it.

Hartranft in uniform seems a pretty
rare commodity. this one and another from the
same photographer of him sitting,
sold for $550 each.

all right, i'm going back to work as soon as read my flist. hope everyone is having a happy weekend!

: D

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lookingland: (hood)
( Mar. 7th, 2008 09:31 pm)
i was made much jealous by the exciting project notebook of friend moo (which has since been upgraded to a binder!), and despairing over the state of my desk, i did, as promised, undertake to clean it off and get something like organized.

my efforts proved slightly successful. at least the piles are vertical and straight at the moment. the dali cup in the middle (i forgot to point out on the picture annotation), is actually the water cup for the paints. scandalously, i might add, the total worth of the library books on my desktop exceeds $1,000. i have never really assessed my own collection, though i am sure it is equally obnoxious. i really could blow my tax refund on books (and, in fact, am eyeing something delicious on eBay even now ~ i know, i know! i need an intervention).

aren't you impressed?
do you think it will last like this
at least through the weekend?

currently, Reconstruction doesn't require much space, so it's dwarfed by In Pursuance of Said Conspiracy (i have better committed to memory the 1,001 details of Reconstruction than the intricacies of the other, which always seems to me a terrible tiger tail every time i try to get it in some kind of order).

so yeah, i am daunted, but not yet defeated. it doesn't help, however, that my own notebook (binder, actually), contains an outline that seems to have been all out of control from the start. i seem to like the idea of organization a lot more than actually being organized.

i don't know what's worse about this:
the fact that i've scribbled so many arrows all over this
thing i hardly know what order anything goes in anymore
or the fact that it's mostly encoded with acronyms and
page numbers, which i now have to decipher all over again.

i've saved the first page of each of the drafts i began of this work (and there have been many!). i've thrown the rest of it away entirely.

my goal for the weekend is to finish a handful of pages for Reconstruction, and to try to get reacquainted with this other mess. i've already re-read the last chapter of Lincoln and Episodes of the Civil War just to put myself in the mood. it's interesting, but every time i read it, i find Poppet's slant against the King Drunk more peculiar and suspicious. he makes no accusations outright, but at least twice in close quarters makes an overt note as to the King Drunk's actions seeming to scream a little too loudly: i had nothing to do with it!

but then, that's how conspiracy theories get started. the imagination is a powerful thing.

: D
the last couple of weeks, my lincoln assassination collection has attained new heights in obscenity (and my friend [livejournal.com profile] utter_scoundrel just sent me the commemorative issue of Civil War Times Illustrated from 1965 covering the assassination ~ oooo fun!). i admit my collection had already grown obscene when i purchased my second copy of Doster's Lincoln and Episodes of the Civil War (because apparently one copy wasn't enough, and, by the way, they are finally reprinting it after i had been looking for a copy the whole of my life, it seems).

now, i had thought until recently that i was showing a great deal of restraint by not purchasing the Petersen Brothers trial transcript ($500), the Gutman book ($290), or any number of assorted temptations on eBay. but then i suddenly got a wild hair about returning some library books that i have had out for over a year now, and so have just been ordering my own copies of a whole lotta other stuff (this, in preparation for finishing that book i said i would write).

this is what i have acquired in the last week or so in hardback:

Come Retribution ~ i avoided the Tidwell book for years because i thought it might ruin my perfect little Eisenschimlian world. but eventually we all have to face facts. i still think Eisenschiml was on to something, but i'm willing to call off my own personal dogs until further notice.

John Wilkes Booth: A Sister's Memoir ~ oddly, i had never read this until recently. in my own biases, i assumed it could have little merit. but some of her anecdotes are priceless. the one about John and Joe beating the crap outta each other as teenagers over an argument of the placement of a door, and then claiming they had stumbled on a wasp's nest to explain their swollen, bloody faces is worth the cost alone.

Blood on the Moon ~ Steers is pretty much required reading, like Kauffman.

Beware the People Weeping & When the Bells Tolled for Lincoln ~ two analyses of post assassination sentiment. Beware is better than the Bells Tolled book, and includes more detail about public attitudes regarding the conspiracy trial, but both have very interesting things to say.

Katy of Catoctin ~ can any collection be complete without the first piece of lincoln assassination fiction, written by someone who actually stood at the foot of the scaffold in the end?
a couple of pieces that i still want but haven't found reasonably priced copies just yet:

Lincoln in the Telegraph Office ~ there are cheap reprints of this one, but i want an original from 1907. i just don't want to pay $50 for it. go figure.

I Rode with Stonewall the War Experiences of the Youngest Member of Jackson's Staff ~ this is one of those peripheral texts. H. K. Douglas includes a chapter about being dragged to the trial to testify, after which his testimony was stricken from the record as being immaterial (because it didn't corroborate what the commissioners were hoping to corroborate). he also tells one of my favorite incidents from the trial, regarding Anna Surratt fainting in the hallway and Hartranft having her carried into his office.

Why was Lincoln Murdered? ~ Eisenschiml's work is seriously dated and riddled with factual problems after further research, but i still think he has one or two valid questions that have never been answered to my satisfaction (particularly with regards to Eckert and Stanton ~ i don't really understand the current scholarship so cavalier about saying it was no big deal for Stanton to thwart Eckert from going to the theatre for no good reason whatsoever. likewise, am i the only one in the universe who thinks Stanton putting Eckert in charge of Powell was especially suspicious, particularly given that Eckert produced no documentation whatsoever out of the hours they talked together over the next few months?) so yeah, i'd like a copy of this just for keepsies.

The Mad Booths of Maryland ~ i've always wanted a copy of this one. eventually i'll get it.
i also wouldn't mind owning a copy of Thomas Mealey Harris's dreadful account of the business (a wretched book, but goes far to show the commission's attitude and justification for their decisions). This book is also being reprinted (as of January!). Bravo to Kessinger Publishing for making these books available again (and go buy copies since I am too much of a book snob to purchase paperbacks ~ but they totally deserve your support!).

so: anything cherished on your bookshelves? anything you are chomping at the bit to own? i now have more than 20 books, a handful of magazines, and one lonely reel of microfilm (Hartranft's) on the subject, but somehow that doesn't feel like a lot.

this is x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] jwb1865, so i apologize for the repetition.

: o p
so a while back, [livejournal.com profile] gwyn_hwyfar posted a book meme, which is pretty cool. so i took a few pictures of a couple of shelves to share. these are pretty random: the top two shelves of my barrister bookcase. the stuff i keep in that bookcase is usually old/special or has just lived in there for so long i don't knew where else i would ever keep it.

i tried to point out some of the fun stuff. among other books on the top shelf there that i didn't point out and which may not be legible are Joanna Higgin's A Soldier's Book, a copy of Alice in Wonderland (natch), Ferdinand, and some really old travel books on London and Paris (both from the 1880s).

the second shelf is mostly photos (three of my nicer albums, which are mostly full), and a pile of random daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. i squirreled away my Doster books here because i didn't have anyplace else to put them, which is why they are laying on the top of the other books (bad book-keeper me). i am thinking of selling my "reading copy" to help finance a purchase of the Peterson Brother's trial transcript (which costs more money than any human being in their right might ought to ever pay for a book), so i haven't decided yet.

and a close up from another angle so you can see some other junk:

and yes, i do own a Southern Cross of Honor, which i came by weirdly a long while ago. i have never known quite what to do with it. i actually object to the selling of such things (the cross of Coronado belongs in a museum and all, you know). but i acquired it in a youthful fit long ago when i was rich and careless. i will eventually donate it to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, i think, since they will see to it that it goes to a good and honorable home.

i just haven't quite been able to part with it thus far.

: o p

next time i will take pictures of some of my more "regular" reading shelves.