February 16, 2016 | Blog ~ 1 comment

Buenaventura, Alvin

In  those heady days of the early aughts when I didn’t even have an inkling, let alone interest, of being in “the industry” I was content to admire from afar, Alvin’s efforts coincided well with my insatiable appetites. Not knowing better, I gladly subsisted on chicken-cutlet sandwiches for lunch and dinner every single day for a year so I could spend all my dough on the old and new culture which surrounded me. As my friend Warren Bernard would correct me, I had my priorities straight.

Ever since I got the news Friday afternoon I’ve been thinking about Alvin and those more-innocent days. I don’t know that I would have otherwise spent a fraction of the time I have trying to fully appreciate the, dare I say, impression that he left on me.

Back then you could snag a signed, letterpress print from the greatest cartoonists for something like $35. Alvin was releasing prints from many of the artists I admired in book form, as well as ones I wasn’t really familiar with. What were these beautiful objects he was creating with exotic names like “letterpress” or “silkscreen” on this gorgeous paper and these lush pools of inks? I knew nothing about any of it, and I still remember receiving Sammy Harkham’s print and being flabbergasted at the leather-like texture, the impressions on the paper. I even emailed Alvin asking him how he did it. But a good magician never reveals his secrets. Actually, he probably didn’t know what the hell I was talking about, and neither did I. I bought them because they were beautiful and, in my ignorance, magical… and they were created by a magician of sorts with an exotic name all his own… Alvin Buenaventura.
A decade or so later I found myself sitting across the table from Alvin at a Chinese restaurant in Washington D.C. after one of Warren Bernard’s drool-enducing Library of Congress tours. He was sitting next to Mark Newgarden and a few seats down were the Hernandez brothers. How the hell did I end up here? Much to my surprise Alvin actually knew who I was, and was aware of my own modest publishing efforts. He even remembered me as a customer: “Didn’t you buy, like, a lot of…” — “Yeah, almost all of them.”
At one of the panels at SPX that year I saw Alvin sitting in the back. I sat next to him and passed him a copy of a book I had just produced. He was wildly thankful and we talked a bit about it. I think I just wanted to impress him, and when he found out I printed and bound them, he acted the part. “I have to send this to Todd Hignite, he’s a huge Gluyas Williams fan.” He reached in his bag and gave me a copy of the new Charles Burns sketchbook he published. This exchange became a staple of our relationship over the years: I’d give him my newest book, hoping to impress him, and he’d give me his latest. A few years later, when he saw the Jonah Kinigstein book I did, “I have to show this to Dan, he’s going to love this.” I think that gets to the heart of who Alvin was. He loved sharing great art, whether it was passing things along to friends or through his publishing ventures. But the enterprise is one thing. He was, in a professional capacity, not so much a publisher as he was an artist who happened to publish things. Whether it was the prints or the books or the other creative doo-dads he produced over the years, there was a commitment to quality and creativity that was unparalleled. To appropriate Mr. Bernstein’s line from Citizen Kane, well, anyone (with money) can be a publisher if all they want to do is be a publisher. But what was evident in the quality and the creativity of his output was that his commitments were more creative than commercial, which is, after all, the way things aught to be. And who knows, (and I now shudder to think), maybe he was working on magnum opus of his own.

Over the years I would see Alvin at conventions and he always greeted me with a warm hug and we’d talk about or current or upcoming projects. When Alvin would introduce me to someone he knew he’d always do it in the most undeservedly flattering terms which I’d be too embarrassed to even repeat now. He was always encouraging and helpful in anyway way he could be. A few months ago, I called him in something of a panic. I had ordered a couple thousand plastic record sleeves and they were too small for the package they were supposed to house. Alvin had used this kind of record sleeve for the Burns/Killoffer book he released, and before he told me where he got them from and the model number, he offered to send me all of the extras that he had. I told him I had been thinking about diving into letterpress printing, so we talked about that: he told me about his press and its virtues, and which other models are good and why. He was very encouraging and told me that he’d look at any press I’d find and let me know if he thought it was worth the asking price. I thanked him and told him I’d send him one of the promotional booklets I needed the record sleeves for. He shyly told me I didn’t have to, and I’d do better to send it to Charles Burns who would get a kick out it.

I saw Alvin at CAB a month or so later. The same warm hug; the same talks about upcoming projects. He showed me proofs (or maybe even originals) for the yet-to-be-released Sir Alfred No. 3 and talked to me about the various elements of the still-to-be-produced package. Alvin was always at least one step ahead and I only now realize just how inspirational he was to me in this way. I gave him a copy of the promotional booklet, complete with plastic record sleeve which fit like a glove. He gushed with thanks and surveyed his table to find something to give me, picking up the just-released Charles Burns’ booklet Incubation, forgetting that he had already given me a copy of it earlier that morning. “I didn’t charge you for it, did I?” he asked, embarrassed.
I’ve only come to realize in the past few days just how much what Alvin did became instinctive for me, etched into my way of thinking, maybe because his impact came at such a nascent and unconscious stage for me.
Whether it was the unique and creative formats or the different design elements, his work was always inspiring and pushed me to try to be as creative as he was. And I found myself even utilizing certain things he “taught” me, even as minor as pasting printing scraps onto a package.
There was so much more I had to learn from him, and so much more inspiration to glean. I would have more books to try to impress him with, and we had talked about working on something together in the future. Over the coming years, as I pass by my bookshelves and see his books, or his prints hanging on my wall, there will be a pang of sadness in my heart. The memories will fade, as will the sadness too, I suppose, and the impressions will become less defined. But I will remember what is, to me, the most important thing: that Alvin was a genuinely good, kind, and generous man, and he will be sorely missed.
- Jonathan Barli
November 17, 2013 | News

NOW IN STOCK! The Wide Open Spaces – Panorama Cartoons by Gluyas Williams

Following a terrific show in Brooklyn last Saturday, we’re pleased to offer our newest book to the masses! THE WIDE OPEN SPACES – PANORAMA CARTOONS BY GLUYAS WILLIAMS. This proved to be a hot item at the show; an oversized publication showcasing the intricate panoramas of one of the great cartoonists of his – or any – generation, most of which have not seen the light of day since their original publications. Restored to glorious beauty and five years in the making! Get your copies HERE!

August 26, 2013 | News

The Quiet Before the Storm

Things have been a tad quiet of late… at least on the surface of things. We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes on new and exciting projects. One of them is the upcoming book on the great Virgil Partch, which will be published in October. Meanwhile, we’ve been peppering away at some of our upcoming books and portfolios, some of which will debut at the newly minted Comic Arts Brooklyn in November! Make sure to stop by! And stay tuned for upcoming announcements, and a new wave of prints! In the meantime, enjoy this gem from Ralph Barton!

December 4, 2012 | News

FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER!!!

The headline says it all. Enjoy free shipping throughout December within the states and reduced international shipping! These boobs just heard the news, to varying expressions of bewilderment. Share in their excitement!

November 8, 2012 | News

BCGF – One Year Ago and This Saturday

This is coming in a bit late… about a year late. But to cut to the chase, last year was a terrific time at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival.

The festival was the culmination of a whirlwind few days which started in Washington, DC at the Library of Congress where Rick gave a (televised) talk on his then-new book, “BULLY! The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt” We then moved on (and up) to Illustration House in Manhattan for another talk on TR.

And then we settled in at the Brooklyn Fest for an invigorating end to the tour. Here, you’ll see Our Man Marschall manning the post at the start of the show.

Later on in the day, we were visited by a minor celebrity, a certain Matt Groening who created a small television show you may have heard of (The Simpsons, that is). Here he is with Rick and his recent purchase.

Humorously (I know, hard to believe), Matt told Rick that he was one of his heroes. He then coughed and apologized, explaining that he always coughs when he’s lying.

And now, one year later, we find ourselves back from whence we came. And this year, we’ll be debuting a slew of new and exciting books:

And So To Bed

Rosebud Archives is proud to present Gluyas Williams’ timeless tale And So To Bed to a new generation and in a spectacular format. Reproduced from the original artwork and presented as a board-book for all ages, this edition showcases in large scale the elegant penwork of one of the America’s cartoon masters. Children and former children alike will identify with one of humankind’s titanic struggles: going to bed – lights out – when told. This wordless picture story, evoking memories and chuckles, showcases the genius of Gluyas Williams and his ability to capture such universal feelings and portray them engagingly. It is what has made And So To Bed one of the most beloved cartoons in American history.

LIFE – The Complete Covers of John Held, Jr.

The original LIFE magazine was a funny, lively, clever weekly; a vivid reflection of its times and the journal on which The New Yorker modeled itself. It also boasted covers by the greatest cartoonists of the day. One of those artists was John Held, Jr., whose flappers and sheiks of the Roaring Twenties show us what the Jazz Age acted like and dressed like, how it danced, how it drank and partied and flirted, and broke hearts. Rosebud Archives is proud to showcase and collect for the very first time these classics of American culture for a new generation in its PadFolio format: an oversized portfolio of detachable prints.

The LIFE Covers of Maxfield Parrish

Straight from the Golden Age of Illustration to your home, Rosebud Archives collects for the very first time the complete LIFE magazine covers of Maxfield Parrish. Created over a 25 year period, these timeless works of graphic mastery from a peerless artist who would even have a color named after him are showcased in the PadFolio format: an oversized portfolio of detachable prints.

The Apocalypse

Presenting the signature achievement of one of history’s great graphic expositors, Rosebud Archives resurrects Albrecht DĂĽrer’s visionary woodcuts illustrating the mighty messages of the Book of Revelation in its most spectacular format to date. This Rosebud Archives PadFolio (an oversized portfolio of detachable prints) restores and reproduces DĂĽrer’s woodcuts from a rare edition originally published over a century ago by the legendary Will Bradley and Robert Howard Russell, and includes accompanying passages from the Authorized Version’s Book of Revelation. Special care has been taken to present the text and art with the quality they deserve; and to publish an edition for permanent appreciation.

The Seven Deadly Sins

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s most famous series is collected by Rosebud Archives and reproduced both in its original format and as black and white line-drawings; complemented by several additional, often Biblical, scenes. Presented as engravings by Pieter van der Heyden after drawings by Bruegel, these vivid and surreal genre scenes by the Flemish master tackle the vices that can seduce humanity. Significant artwork by a master, and an important branch in the family tree of comics and narrative art.

Kids at Play – The Birds-Eye Views of Harrison Cady, 2nd edition

Now including an additional print and a reproduction of a newly-found copy of a previously-subpar printing, this astonishing collection of Cady’s elaborate and playful birds-eye views is a treasure and feast for the eyes. Before cell-phones and computers, before television and video games, kids still found a way have fun, horse around, and cause trouble. A story and character in every inch of every image, this PadFolio collects Harrison Cady’s busy scenes, lovingly restored and collected for new and future generations to enjoy.

Famous Villains of the Theater

This short booklet features John Held Jr.’s illustrations of theater’s most nefarious cads, done in an uncharacteristic style. Seeing light for the first time in several decades, Held’s depictions of theater’s famous villains is now available to a new audience.

So make sure to stop on by! We hope to see you there.

August 8, 2011 | News

BULLY!

In conjunction with the release of “BULLY!” Rosebud Archives is proud to announce that it will be offering prints and posters of the color and black-and-white political cartoons featured in the book. The cartoons span the spectrum of the old guard of newspapers and magazines: from The New York World, Puck, Judge, and Life, to Leslie’s, L’Assiette Au Beurre, The Daily Graphic, Harper’s Weekly, and even uncommon and forgotten titles like Chic and The Bee. Stay tuned for more info!

In other news, we regret to announce that we have canceled our publication of Skippy vs. the Mob due to a variety of issues.

And finally, check back soon for an announcement of our new releases! We’ve got an eight-legged collection of a pen-and-ink master,  a portfolio of one of the great illustrators, and a four-letter word translated from the German. More soon…

May 11, 2011 | Blog ~ No comments

SKIPPY vs. the Mob – preview pages

Here are some preview pages from our new book, “SKIPPY vs. the Mob.” Click on each image for enlargements. Enjoy!

March 30, 2011 | News

SKIPPY vs the Mob now available!

208-page full-color 12” x 6.25” soft cover – $24.95

This important new book collects, for the first time, the only continuity Percy Crosby ever drew in his widely-syndicated Skippy comics, and features a comprehensive essay by the artist’s courageous daughter, chronicling an astonishing history of fraud, persecution, and betrayal. Here, for the first time, is a story ripped from the headlines – a spiraling saga that grew far too large for one man to handle.

At the height of fame, fortune, and creativity, Percy Crosby was emboldened to wage war on injustice. His idealistic vision of America, nurtured since childhood, took on an enemy all too real: Al Capone, mobster. His war on racketeering, organized crime, and corruption in high places were worth the fight, in Crosby’s eyes.

But his crusade to redeem the Land of the Free in fact proved to be the beginning of the end for this talented artist and outspoken critic of social ills. Percy Crosby eventually was to learn how deep the rot went: corporate ties to organized crime; political protection; corruption… and those who profited from a rigged system could easily have him silenced.

Illustrated throughout with Crosby’s artwork, political cartoons, Skippy comic strips, and photographs, the book also presents his continuity in both the way it appeared in newspapers nationwide as well as the original art.

Previews coming soon!

February 23, 2011 | Blog ~ No comments

Ground Control to Major Tom

Things have been rather silent of late… or rather, they just appear to have been. Things have been brewing, and much attention has been focused on the upcoming Skippy book (slightly delayed after a recent development), and other exciting projects, as well as at least one new “avenue.” Skippy vs The Mob will be available in a few weeks, and then I’ll have some more time to post some visual treats.

December 7, 2010 | News

ROSEBUD ARCHIVES Announces SKIPPY vs. THE MOB as the first installment in a major effort to revive the life and art of Percy Crosby

Dumont, New Jersey; December 4, 2010 – Rosebud Archives, whose stated goal is to breathe new life into the rich history of comics and graphic arts, is proud to announce a major new book: Skippy vs. The Mob: The Fight for Vesey Street and the American Soul.

This eyebrow-raising book, authorized by the Percy Crosby Estate and Skippy, Inc., will uncover a decades-long sore in the American Dream: Percy Crosby, at the height of his fame and creative abilities, and emboldened to take up the lance against injustice with the idealistic vision of America that his childhood never let him forget, took on an enemy all too real: Al Capone. Yet, where he saw his crusade in the Land of the Free – where justice triumphed – his attack on gangsterism and organized crime proved to be the beginning of the end for a talented artist and outspoken critic of the societal ills he witnessed.

Unknown to him at the time was how deep the rot went; Corporate ties to organized crime, political protection and corruption… Percy Crosby was soon to learn that those who sought to gain from a rigged system could easily have him silenced… or put away. Confined in an asylum against his will, and the protestations of the few who ever visited him, Percy Crosby remained there for the rest of his life, continuing to draw and write despite his diminishing hope for freedom.

Skippy vs. The Mob will reprint for the first time the entire sequence of comics, both as they appeared in the newspapers of the day as well as the original art. Preceding the sequence will be a comprehensive essay by Joan Crosby Tibbetts, daughter of Percy Crosby and appointed administrator of the Percy Crosby Estate, detailing the sordid history of Percy Crosby’s troubles, and the troubles she inherited and has been fighting to remedy for the past forty years. Percy Crosby’s political cartoons and writings, personal letters and documents will illustrate the spiraling saga that grew far too large for one man to handle.