Unboxing Barnaby vol. 4!

In which you get all the excitement of receiving a package… without the package itself! Yes, I have made an unboxing video. It’s my first. See what you think!

I can tell you what I think: I should have shown more of the interior of the book! Crockett Johnson’s cartoons!

Barnaby from May 26-27 1948
above: a couple of strips from this volume.

If I were more energetic, I would have (in the video) annotated some of what you see in my home office. For example,..

  • on the desk are two postcard reproductions from Piotr Szyhalski’s Labor Camp Report (2020) – specifically, of the posters he made on May 20 and May 17. He created a poster a day from the beginning of the pandemic (in March) until Election Day. Follow him on Instagram at laborcamp.
  • over my right shoulder (on the left, in other words) is Crockett Johnson’s painting Heptagon from Its Seven Sides (1973). In 1973, when Crockett Johnson was visiting Syracuse, Greece, he sat in an outdoor cafe, rearranging toothpicks at his table. Turning his menu and wine list so that they formed the two equal sides of an isosceles triangle, he placed the toothpicks in a criss-cross pattern across the space in between these two sides. Johnson then hypothesized that the angle where the menu and wine list intersected would be 180/7 degrees. As Professor J. B. Stroud has shown, this discovery permitted Johnson to “construct a regular seven-sided figure using a compass and straightedge with only one mark on it.” Stroud, “As far as I know, nobody thought of trying this until Crockett Johnson. […] The details of how he did it are high school mathematics, but it’s not trivial. It’s darn clever” (“Stroud studies…” 7). When Johnson returned to his studio in Westport, Connecticut, he turned his discovery into art, painting Heptagon from Its Seven Sides (1973), and into a theorem, “A construction for a regular heptagon,” published in the Mathematical Gazette in March 1975.
  • over my left shoulder, visible in the doorway, is a 2014 portrait of me by my friend Eric Reynolds, artist and co-editor of the Barnaby series. Follow him on Instagram at ericreynoldsart.

The book (published by Fantagraphics) includes original essays by Trina Robbins, Jared Gardner, and me! It also includes notes by me, a 1959 essay by Stephen Becker, photographs, as well as draft material and original artwork by Johnson.

The final version of the work above will appear in the next and final book in the series, Barnaby, volume 5: 1950-1952. So, do check out our fourth volume (available now!), and stay tuned for volume 5!

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