When I'm Dead All This Will Be Yours!: Joe Teller: A Portrait by His Kid

Overview

On a visit to his elderly artist-parents, Teller found a dusty portfolio of cartoons that his father drew in 1939. Teller asked about the people in the drawings: the streetcar operators, waitresses, soldiers, bums. And Mam and Pad (Irene and Joe) began to unfold the hidden history of their world before their Bundle of Joy came along. Out came the Hobo Shoebox, full of letters Joe wrote while riding the rails during the Great Depression; their daring photos as art students, eloping to escape their feuding ...

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Overview

On a visit to his elderly artist-parents, Teller found a dusty portfolio of cartoons that his father drew in 1939. Teller asked about the people in the drawings: the streetcar operators, waitresses, soldiers, bums. And Mam and Pad (Irene and Joe) began to unfold the hidden history of their world before their Bundle of Joy came along. Out came the Hobo Shoebox, full of letters Joe wrote while riding the rails during the Great Depression; their daring photos as art students, eloping to escape their feuding families; and the War Trunk. Readers stand beside Teller as Pad teaches him why using a ruler in painting is evil; join Mam as she interprets the designs hidden in Joe's "art pancakes"; and enter the world of a most peculiar, philosophical, funny, and loving family.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Teller, the quiet half of the Penn and Teller showbiz team, made one of his monthly Philadelphia visits to see his parents, Joe and Irene ("Pad" and "Mam"), he was shown 100 unpublished cartoons his father drew in 1939. These "wryly observed scenes of Philadelphia street life," as Teller describes them, are in a loose, sketchy style imitative of the great George Lichty (1905-1983), famed for his long-run syndicated "Grin and Bear It." Teller and his father's "memories began to pump and the stories flowed" after they opened boxes of old letters that Teller read out loud (learning for the first time about a period in his parents' lives that he knew nothing about--such as the fact that his father's name is really Israel Max Teller). Joe's Depression-era hobo adventures led to travels throughout the U.S., Canada and Alaska, and by 1933, he returned to Philadelphia for art study. After Joe and Irene met during evening art classes, they married, and Joe worked half-days as a Philadelphia Inquirer copy boy. When the Inquirer rejected his cartoons, he moved into advertising art just as WWII began. Employing excerpts from letters and postcards, Teller successfully re-creates the world of his parents in a relaxed writing style of light humor and easy (yet highly effective) transitions between the past and present. The book is illustrated with 20 of Joe Teller's paintings in color and 50 of his b&w cartoons, plus a half-dozen photos. (Dec. 4) Forecast: Fans of the Penn and Teller team are certain to take an interest in this entertaining and poignant book, with its striking father-son cover photograph, but since Teller chooses not to speak as a performer, how will he promote the book? Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Teller, the silent magician of Penn & Teller fame, has written a loving "portrait" of his father. Witty and humorous, Teller sets out to give us a glimpse of his artist parents and their bohemian lifestyle. His father, Joe, actually spent time as a hobo, traveling across America before finding his way to the art classes where he met Teller's mother. Joe and Irene soon eloped and settled down, never losing their creativity or enjoyment of life. From excerpts of letters that Joe wrote to friends and family, the readers discover what his life on the road was like. During World War II, Joe was drafted, and his letters home from the Philippines describe life in the service. Many of Joe's drawings are also included here, wonderful cartoons that merit a book of their own. This sweet tribute to a beloved father focuses only on a few major highlights of his life. Senior readers who enjoy light, fast reading will appreciate and identify with the humor of the Depression era. Recommended for larger libraries where there is interest.--Rosalind Dayen, Broward Cty. South Regional Lib., Pembroke Pines, FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Diane Scharper
In 'When I'm Dead All This Will Be Yours Teller takes a warm and humorous, albeit superficial, look at the youthful adventures of his father, Joe Teller, the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who tramped across the United States, studied art (and while doing so, met his wife, Irene, another artist, to whom the book devotes only a few pages) and served in World War II. Teller illustrates these adventures with more than 50 cartoons his father drew when he worked as a copy boy at The Philadelphia Inquirer during the early years of his marriage. Because the cartoons had been rejected for the comics page (supposedly ''there were no vacancies''), his parents express their pleasure at their publication in this memoir (well, his mother says, ''What an honor''; his father says, ''Honor, schmonor!'').
New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780922233229
  • Publisher: Blast Books
  • Publication date: 11/15/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 6.56 (w) x 8.68 (h) x 0.69 (d)

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