This Day in Arf History: Etta Kett

The Etta Kett strip ended on this day in 1947 after running almost 50 years. Paul Robinson started the strip for the King Features Syndicate to teach good manners, grooming and fashion. Etta Kett=etiquette, get it? Har! Har! This etiquette angle was soon dropped and the strip became a typical teen-girl strip. “Teen-girl strip”, my, the blog is gonna get lots of hits today from trollers of the search engines! I just hope the pervs mind their manners!

This Day in Arf History: Etta Kett

THE LOW NOTE IN THE HARMONY

In my youth, I was easily impressed by drawings with fine linework.



It feels undeniably cool to make such lines. Artists like Norman Lindsay (above), Virgil Finlay, Frank Frazetta and Berni Wrightson enjoyed it so much, they sometimes got carried away drawing delicate little lines.

As I matured, I noticed how some artists added a lower note to the harmony, combining light and elegant lines with heavier lines for emphasis. Below, the great Alex Raymond draws an entire figure using a…

THE LOW NOTE IN THE HARMONY

On actual Halloween night I didn’t even dress up, me and a group of friends just went to Keagan’s where my sister bartends. … Earlier that night I forgot to buy candy so all these little kids were coming to the door looking for candy. All I had handy were airplane bottles of Captain Morgan and some birth control pills — but hey, at least it’s something. I don’t see you giving back to the community.

Bonus: Kelly Link recommends Lynda Barry’s Cruddy for the holiday, a book I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read, even though my wife recommended it to me years ago when we first started dating. I might give it a try tonight. Why am I more willing to take advice from a stranger on the Internet than from someone whose tastes I know and trust? That is a recurring thing with me, and it is seriously messed up.

3 from Seven Hundred Penguins

For book design geeks like us, it doesn’t get any better than the recently published Seven Hundred Penguins.

I won’t turn this into the Seven Hundred Penguins blog, but I will occasionally take some photos and post them here (yes, scans would be nicer, but this book is not getting smushed onto my scanner). I needed a good laugh today, and all of these brought a smile to my face.

Photograph by Tony Palladino (1968)


Photograph by Brian Worth
Design by Brian E. Rockett (1967)


Design by Erwin Fabian (1960)


3 from Seven Hundred Penguins

Academy of the Sword

Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat, to scratch a man to death!
a braggart, a rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of arithmetic!
[Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet - III, i]


girard thibault academie de l'espee 1628


girard thibault academie de l'espee 1628


girard thibault academie de l'espee 1628


girard thibault academie de l'espee 1628


girard thibault academie de l'espee 1628


girard thibault academie de l'espee 1628


girard thibault academie de l'espee 1628


girard thibault academie de l'espee 1628 circulus detail


girard thibault  academie de l'espee 1628 detail


girard thibault  academie de l'espee 1628 detail


girard thibault  academie de l'espee 1628 detail


girard thibault  academie de l'espee 1628 detail


girard thibault  academie de l'espee 1628 detail

Between the 16th and 18th centuries swordplay experienced an evolution in technology and technique. The heavier broadswords which were often just used as bludgeoning weapons began to give way to lighter and narrower breeds, particularly the rapier, whose sharp point was better able to pierce a combatant and whose extra length allowed for both a greater reach and better defensive positioning.

These new weapons also became fashionable sidearms for use in civilian combat, duels and for purely sporting purposes. The cumbersome tactics employed with the older weapons, which relied on brute strength brought to bear on the cutting edge of the blades, were superseded by more dexterous skills and speed, where the tip of the sword and the lunge were emphasised. Fencing techniques came to be regarded as more of a science during the 16th century and were naturally influenced by the advancements that occurred during the Renaissance.

The Spanish school of swordsmanship - ‘La Destreza’ (‘high level skill’) - emerged as the leading theoretical system in Europe in the 1550s with a book published by Geronimo Carranza in which geometry became a primary source for insight into combat techniques. His pupil, Luis Pacheco de Navarez, expanded the theory in his own work published at the end of the century.

Navarez was to train a Flemish swordsman (and doctor, poet, artist, architect and occultist), Girard Thibault (Thibault d’Anvers), who became a Master in the Spanish fencing methods in the first decade of the 17th century. His accumulated knowledge, together with the advancements to the mathematical theories he made himself, were collected and published in 1630 (although the book bears a 1628 date) in the most elaborate and lavishly illustrated fencing treatise ever produced. Thibault first acquired royal patents for his work in about 1620 so it essentially took him ten years to finally get his volume released, and it included more than forty sumptuous double-page folio engravings by some sixteen of the best artists of the day (eg. Crispin de Passe, Pieter Serwouters, Schelte and Boetius Bolswert, Saloman Savery, Jakob Goltzius, Peter Isselburg, Pieter de Jode &c).

A central tenet of the Thibault thesis on Spanish swordsmanship is the idea of a magic or mysterious (as it was to contemporary observers) or Thibault circle - essentially the diameter of an imaginary ring on the ground in which the stance, attack and defensive positioning all take place. The size of this circle corresponds to the height of the swordsman to the tip of his outstrectched finger (seen in a couple of the above images). All of the tactical movements are described by circular and linear concepts and a knowledge of geometry is fundamental to exploiting the strongest positions.

“The dogmatic Thibault d’Anvers, who only admits perfectly defined calculations in his theories, speaks, however, of the feeling of the sword, the feeling of iron, referring to the very current proprioceptive and kinaesthetic qualities, rather than to improvisation and adaptability. His theories are based on mechanical reflexes and stereotypes with a strictness, completely geometric, inscribed in a mysterious circle which, according to him, is the basis of the science of fencing.”
Thibault’s text was “founded squarely on the on traditions of spiritual philosophy and practice and formed one of several practical expressions of Renaissance Hermetic occultism”. Mystical pythagorean geometry is said to have found its place during the Renaissance in the esoteric arts of occultism. In that light, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Thibault quotes at length from ‘De Occulta Philosophia Libri Tres’ by German magician HC Agrippa. All this is just to say that, rather than being a secret discipline based on the wearing of puffy trousers, Destreza may well be the only esoteric western martial art.

The full title in english of ‘Academie de l’Espee’ is:
‘Academy of the Sword. Wherein is demonstrated by mathematical rules on the foundation of a mysterious circle, the theory and practice of the true and heretofore unknown secrets of handling arms on foot and horseback’. But the horseback section was never completed - Thibault died prior to release of the book.

Academy of the Sword

This Day in Arf History: Bad Code.

Today in 1954 The Comics Code Authority was born. Boo! Hiss!


(click for a closer look)

I found the above vintage ad for the Code for my introductory chapter for “Clean Cartoonists’ Dirty Drawings”. The seal, which we’re urged to protect so that it can continue to protect us, was designed by the brilliant Ira Schnapp who was also responsible for designing the classic Superman logo to the Supermouse logo and tons of other great logos and lettering for comic books.


This Day in Arf History: Bad Code.