Most of the books I’ve described so far (specifically, the Codex Seraphinianus, Hollywood, and Voyage au bout de la nuit) are in my top 10 or so favorite books, with the Codex occupying the top spot. As such, look for a future installment of this soon-to-be-regular blog series dedicated solely to Serafini and my art-crush on him. For now, however, I want to dwell a little bit on my love for a pair of books I refer to as my “yearbooks.” They are both anthologies that I carry around with me to readings and gallery events in hopes of getting them signed by various contributors, just like a nerdy kid trying to get some of the cool kids in school to sign his yearbook (I’m so creative I could just melt, just like that).
The first is the art anthology Copro/Nason: A Catalog Raisonné . Copro/Nason is a famous gallery in LA that has been at the forefront of the lowbrow (not really my taste)/pop surrealism (much more my taste) movement pretty much from the beginning. I found out about the gallery through my interest in Joe Vaux, one of the artists they’ve published. In fact, it was at a Joe Vaux opening that I got the idea for the yearbook in the first place. I had planned to pick up the book while I was there, and the person behind the desk gave me the option of the shrinkwrapped book or the opened, signed-by-the-editor copy. Naturally, I chose the latter, and when I turned around, one of the artists in the book, whose show was opening in a different part of the gallery, offered to sign a page for me (his name is Dan Quintana- his stuff isn’t my favorite, but it’s damn good). Feeling emboldened, and now with two signatures to enrich my life, I approached Joe Vaux and humbly asked him for his signature as well. Vaux’s signature is cool in that it’s not a scrawl like most- rather, it’s a spiral with the letters V-A-U-X dispersed among the coils. AND, to top it off, he drew a small sketch of a Vaux-like character right next to the plate featuring his artwork. Since then, I’ve managed to have Luke Chueh and Greg Simkins sign it as well, although I missed opportunities to get Robert Williams and Amy Sol to add their names. The Simkins signature looks very graffiti-ish, like a tag, while Chueh’s is just his name in block letters (distinctively written nonetheless). Plus, he went to the trouble to draw over a photograph of himself in the book so that he looks like one of the teddy bears featured in his paintings.
Yearbook #2 is issue #13 of McSweeney’s. I bought it last summer on eBay for $30 with Dave Eggers’s signature in it (a good deal, in my opinion), which is ironic, given that Eggers has even less to do with this issue than most other ones. #13 is a fantastic collection of comics, edited by Chris Ware (whose signature I’m dying for), and it really rekindled my interest in non-superhero variety graphic novels and comics. This book has Joe Matt’s signature (I got it on “Joe Matt Day” – for a long, long, tediously long account of Joe Matt Day, click the link for my MySpace blog and scroll down a few entries), as well as a cool little drawing, and anything with Matt’s signature is pretty high up on my list of favorites. Also, I picked up Adrian Tomine’s signature at a reading he did to promote his new book Shortcomings (yes, I also got that one signed. I have no qualms about presenting an author 5 or 6 books at a signing. My only rule is that stuff I get for free doesn’t get sold at a profit. I don’t mind reselling something like a book or a print, where everyone involved was fairly paid for it at some point. But profiting off of a signature I got because an author is a nice guy just doesn’t seem right).
Because of the whole multiple-signature aspect, as well as the fact that these books are works in progress, they are really special to me. They aren’t in perfect condition, due to being lugged around in my backpack a bunch, but they’re still pretty nice, and they’re really unique. These aren’t books I could just buy on Abebooks or something, and I imagine I could probably get a pretty high price for both if I were willing to break the ethical standard I just enumerated a moment ago. It’s probably a rule I will break once or twice if a real rarity shows up on eBay that I just HAVE to have (and I’m positive that that will happen at some point), but for the most part, I don’t want to feel like a jerk when I ask authors for signatures. Plus, a lot of the books I’ve had signed in person are signed to me- this is on purpose. I know that flat-signed books are way more valuable (unless I become famous, which is, you know, pretty likely), but something about a stack books signed to me just adds sentimental value to my collection, and since I don’t plan to sell them anyway, that’s more important than dollar value.