Wednesday, November 28, 2007

By Popular Demand!

The mailbags at GLENMULLALY.COM World Headquarters have been overflowing for months now with one question asked more than any other - "How can I remove unsightly red wine stains from my off-white shag carpet?" Unfortunately we don't have the answer for that, so instead we've posted some swell pictures of the studio at GLENMULLALY.COM HQ for your viewing pleasure over on Flickr .

An extra-special grand prize to the first caller who can identify ( in alphabetical order - Phoenician alphebetical order that is! ) all of the CDs pictured in the photo above.

Employees of GLENMULLALY.COM, their families, pets and anyone who has ever said "Hi" or "May I see your license?" to them are not eligible. Entry deadline Jan. 1st, 1856. All entries become property of GLENMULLALY.COM World Enterprises Ltd, and may be used for any purpose, most probably for making fun of or for looking up old girlfriends or people who owe us money.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Part 3: Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?

When last we left our intrepid heroes we were weeks into an increasingly frustrating battle with UPS over a claim for the substantial damage done by them to two of three vintage children's reader illustrations that I had purchased from the original artist and had shipped, fully insured, across the country. You would think that paying for insurance on the full value of the shipped items ( see last post for pictures ) would cover such things as, oh... let's say..... UPS breaking in half a very strongly packaged, securely wrapped, valuable ( to me at least ) parcel. Or at least it means that if they did damage the work ( disappointing for sure, but accidents do happen I realize ) that they'd fess up, take responsibility and promptly settle the claim.

Apparently not.

While Gerry Lazare, the artist of these wonderful pieces dealt with his UPS outlet in Toronto and I with a number of different representatives on the phone and online, and as I couldn't touch the damaged art or the packaging it came in ( UPS was adamant that it be retained, untouched, for inspection ) I decided to go ahead and clean and restore ( some minor holes and discolouration in the illustration board ) the one undamaged illustration. Here's how it looked when it arrived....

...and here ( in a much too reflection-y photo! ) is the finished, framed art on my studio wall. The frame looks black in this shot but it's a nice deep green that matches the greens and brown in the kite and trees. I think it turned out just swell.

So, back to the battle - Originally, after filling out at least three online claim forms ( two by me and one by the ever-patience Mr. Lazare in T.O. ) we had been told that the claim could take up to five weeks to process, at which point we'd know if they would honour it, part of it, or none. After six weeks of wrangling ( see last post ) and having heard nothing for a week or two, I once again contacted UPS inquiring about the status of the claim ( although I may have put it into stronger words than that! ) and was told that I'd have to deal "my" UPS outlet in Toronto ( 4700 km away! ). I was not happy.

After passing on my concerns to this new contact and another week or so of further e-mailing I was told that UPS was JUST NOW, eight weeks into this ordeal, starting to process my claim! If this were a vlog at this point I'd have attached a Tex Avery style clip of me with steam pouring out of my ears.

Apparently, though, all the harassment Gerry and I were giving them had lit a fire under someone at UPS. After one more round of damaged art photos were sent off and whether it was because we deserved to be treated professionally or, more likely, we were becoming a pain in the horse's patoot, things seemed to be finally happening.

At ten weeks a misdirected phone call to Gerry from UPS ( the representative had meant to call the Toronto UPS outlet store instead ) finally brought things to a head and showed how the last ten weeks of frustration had been completely and utterly unnecessary. The claim handler from UPS ( a new one we had not dealt with before ) had absolutely no understanding of the damage to the art, the nature of the repairs needed ( despite many previous e-mails detailing the work in detail ), who would do it ( me ), or the value of the repair work. Luckily for us Gerry patiently explained it all, ONCE AGAIN, and the representative approved the claim on the spot! Hmmm... one phone call and it was all over.

Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

A week later, via Gerry, I had the cheque in my hands and that nagging headache that'd been bothering me for eleven weeks ( shaped like a big brown truck ) started to fade away.

Moral of the story? Be nice to woodland creatures.

Oh... and besides shipping original art in titanium cases, don't use Brown. I'm sure that some of you out there have never had problems with the aforementioned company, and others have had issues with different carriers, but after my travails I've heard back from many that UPS Canada would be their last choice as a courier for anything of import or value. Too many horror stories I'm afraid. So shippers beware.

So now we end our tale on an up note with a couple of shots of the restored ( by me ) , framed illustrations on my studio walls. I'm very happy I was able to get in touch with Gerry Lazare, a very nice man and a wonderfully talented artist who's had a hand in an amazing array of different aspects of Canadian art over the last 60 plus years.

I'm equally as happy to be lucky enough to own a few pieces of swell art that I grew up with as a child, and love as an adult. They mean a lot to me and were well worth the unnecessary frustration.

I'm not sure how enthusiastic Gerry is about shipping original art these days, but please visit his site, enjoy some of his contemporary work, drop him a line and tell him I sent you. I'm sure he won't mind.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Part 2: Unveiling Parcel Surprise Sadly Upsetting, Courier Kneaded Sketches!

( Okay, they're not sketches, and they were folded, not kneaded - but I wanted the acronym to work! )

Part One of this story found HERE

As we pick up from our last episode I was looking forward to receiving the three original, early 1960s children's reader illustrations being shipped from what I imagined was Gerry Lazare's fabulous penthouse studio in Toronto to my home base on the west coast of Canada. The art was VERY securely prepared by Mr. L, with many layers of illustration and matte board inside of four heavy-duty layers of corrugated shipping cardboard and tightly sealed in brown paper and packing tape all-round. In fact compliments from Gerry's local UPS outlet on the swell packaging were handed out. Full ( costly ) insurance and priority shipping was purchased and the treasured illustrations were passed into the capable hands of the United Parcel Service.

Or so we thought.....

A day and a half later and the package arrived into my hot little hands. All seemed well, a signature was scrawled and I hurriedly headed inside with my new purchases. As I started to open the parcel carefully from one end I noticed a fold in the brown paper on the back of the package. I cautiously turned the parcel on it's side to reveal what appeared to be a fold through the entire length of the well-packaged package...

At this point a small wood troll decided to take up residence in my stomach, booking the room for the next few hours and inviting all his buddies over for a swingin' bacchanalian shindig.

I carefully opened the parcel from one end and slowly removed all three pieces, two of which ( matted together by Gerry for an art show in the 1960s or 70s ) had been folded / bent / mangled nearly in half. The illustration board and matte board had been almost snapped in two, and the paint had cracked, chipped and lifted in a line though the left hand side of one illustration and nearly down the middle of another. I was devastated. After surviving against the odds for 45 years these wonderful illustrations had been nearly destroyed by 36 hours in the loving care of UPS. I think it was a safe bet from that point on that said carrier would not be getting a Christmas card or top Better Business Bureau rating from little ol' me.

Immediately I set about tracking down and filling out a lengthy online claims report for the cost to repair ( as best as possible ) the damage to the two pieces. Since this would likely exceed the cost of the pieces themselves I claimed their full value. An automated response told me to expect contact from an actual representative within a day. I wrote Gerry and broke the sad news to him. He was understandably shocked and angry. I started documenting the damage with photos and over the next ELEVEN WEEKS Gerry and I dealt with one UPS representative after another, most of whom seemed not to have had any information passed along from the previous one. I sent and resent dozens of photos and had one exasperating phone call after another with clueless claims representatives. They went a lot like this......

UPS: "So was it the frame or the glass that was damaged?"

GM: "No, as I said in the two claim forms I sent you and on the phone to the other two people I talked to at UPS, the artwork wasn't framed - but matted. Both the matte and the original art were folded in nearly in half."

UPS: Oh, so the frame wasn't damaged?"

GM: "No, there was no frame, just a matte board."

UPS: "Oh, okay. So can you get another copy of the art?"

GM: "As I explained the two pieces are original illustrations from a 1962 children's reader and are one of kind."

UPS: "Yes, but can we find another print?"

GM: "No, these are the ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS. The ACTUAL ART used to make the book. Not copies or prints. They can't be replaced."

UPS: "Hmmm... so it'd be hard to find replacements copies?"


UPS: "Okay then, so the glass WASN'T broken?..."

GM: ( Sounds of hair being torn out, gnashing teeth, head pounding against wall, etc. )

Will our heroes prevail in their righteous fight against the UPS Empire? Will the illustrations be repaired? Will Caitlin leave the unconscious Hunter for Diego, the man who pushed him off the mansion's roof, even though baby Krystal is actually Juanita's half-stepsister twice removed which young Doctor Brad discovers whilst trapped in a Steamytown General Hospital broom closet with nurse Susan, who only he knows is actually his identical twin brother Brent?...

Tune in next time for the thrilling conclusion!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy, Not-So-Happy, then once again Happy Highways!

For the next few postings I thought I'd share a long-delayed cautionary tale concerning the joys of acquiring original art and the disappointments of long distance shipping.

Part 1:

Attending elementary school in Canada in the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s meant that there was a good chance that you might have been exposed to a series of readers published by Toronto, Ontario based J.M. Dent and Sons. I did grow up during the aforementioned period and was exposed to these three early 1960s books during my formative years. "Happy Highways 4", "Under Canadian Skies 5" and "Broad Horizons 6" were each three hundred-plus page hardcovers, lavishly illustrated by Jerry Lazare and Lewis Parker in full colour and black & white. Wonderfully evocative illustrations graced nearly every spread, accompanying the varied stories of Canada's past, present and future. Even after I had long moved beyond these educational volumes I fondly remembered the enjoyment they brought me.

In the late 1990s I was lucky enough to find copies of all three books at a used bookstore during a visit back home. In the intervening years I had become an illustrator, and I now appreciated these works not only for the pleasant memories they brought back but also for the style and skill of the illustrator's work that was so clearly abundant. They quickly took a prominent place in my bookshelf.

Earlier this year I decided to share my love of these books by posting a number of the illustrations from them to the image sharing site Flickr. Response was positive and a couple of months later I added a few more scans. In doing research ( well... mainly Googling actually ) for this second post I once again plugged in the name Jerry Lazare ( my earlier search had returned little information ), this time with some success. I found reference to a "Gerald" Lazare who had recently been inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards committee for his pioneering World World Two era work on Canadian comic books. His age seemed about right, his location ( Toronto ) fit and best of all he was still active and had a website! I contacted Mr. Lazare and inquired whether he might be the same "Jerry" Lazare who, along with studio mate Lewis Parker, had been responsible for the wonderful work in these three readers. It turns out he was, and over the next few weeks of our correspondence I was able to pass along my appreciation of his work and learned a little of his long and varied career as a teen-age comic book artist ( along with fellow Canuck Mel Crawford ) for Bell Features during the War, his illustration work from the mid 50s to the mid 70's, and of his painting and teaching years - it turns out one of his students was illustrator / comic book artist / author / publisher Ken Steacy, who was instrumental in helping my career.

In talking to Gerry I was very excited to hear that he was able to retain a number of his illustrations from the J.M. Dent readers, a rarity made possible due to the fact he was also art director on the books, and that it might be possible for me to acquire them. To say that I was pleased would be an understatement.

Arrangements were made to purchase three illustrations ( coincidentally all from the same 1962 book, Happy Highways 4 ) from the stories "The Little Kite", "Ferry Boats", and "Mr. Boopy's Sensitive Bones", and I anxiously awaited their arrival via United Parcel Service.

Here, of course, is where this happy tale takes a dark turn... ( cue ominous organ music! )

Next time in Part 2: "But the parcel looked fine from the front!!!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Take us to your Flickr!"

Once again the wonders of Flickr abound with roboty goodness!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shake A Leg!!

Better do what the man says and steam over to Flickr for a small tribute to one of my favourite illustrators ever - Al Wiseman.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Take a Peek! the crazy cartoons of the mysterious Earl Willis over at my Flickr.
Don't forget to bring your dart gun!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Swell Mel

I just posted a big whack o' wonderful magazine work from the children's illustrator supreme Mel Crawford over at Flickr.
Be there or be square!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Blow Your Top!

That's right, don't blow your top - the new issue of Know magazine, Canada's favourite science magazine for younger kids hits the stands shortly! Everything you've ever wanted to know about volcanoes is in here, including a nifty Know Fun volcano-themed puzzle spread by the one-and-only, ever-lovin', blue-eyed me. Don't delay, pick one up today!