5 Self-Portraits Famous Authors Doodled in Their Own Books

Abe Books
Abe Books

Most fans consider themselves lucky to get an autograph from their hero, but some book lovers get even luckier when they attend a book signing with their favorite author. A few literary luminaries are known for doodling a self portrait along with their signature when signing copies of their own work. Maurice Sendak, for instance, took the time to do a quick sketch of Mickey, the main character from his picture book In the Night Kitchen, while signing a copy of the book (above) for a fan.

The online marketplace AbeBooks.com gathered examples of these so-called “literary selfies” from famous writers like Sendak, Kurt Vonnegut, and Neil Gaiman. Here are five author self-portraits AbeBooks found in the title pages and flyleafs of signed books.

1. MAURICE SENDAK

Abe Books

In 1970, the Where the Wild Things Are author took the time to doodle one of his characters for a fan named Burt, adding "Mazel tov!" Lucky Burt.

2. JOHN UPDIKE

Abe Books

The two-time Pulitzer winner John Updike could have been a skilled caricaturist, if this drawing is any indication.

3. KURT VONNEGUT

Abe Books

Vonnegut was, according to Richard Davies of AbeBooks.com, so fond of doodling in his books that his drawings are considered a trademark of the Slaughterhouse-Five author's signatures.

4. GAY TALESE

Abe Books

This doodle-signature by New Journalism pioneer Gay Talese was signed not long after his bestselling dive into the world of a New York mafia family, Honor Thy Father, came out in 1971. Like Vonnegut, he drew himself with a cigarette hanging from his lips.

5. NEIL GAIMAN

Abe Books

It's not surprising that novelist Neil Gaiman would add a little artistic flair to his signature. The prolific British author, who has dabbled in short fiction, novels, movies, and comic books, added a reference to his series The Sandman above this undated self-portrait.

Check out more literary selfies here.

Mifflin Madness: Who Is the Greatest Character on The Office? It's Time to Vote

Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
NBC

Your years of watching (and re-watching) The Office, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, have all led up to this moment. Welcome to Mifflin Madness—Mental Floss's cutthroat competition to determine The Office's greatest character. Is Michael Scott the boss you most love to hate? Or did Kevin Malone suck you in with his giant pot of chili?

You have 24 hours to cast your vote for each round on Twitter before the bracket is updated and half of the chosen characters are eliminated.

The full bracket is below, followed by the round one and round two winners. You can cast your round three vote(s) here. Be sure to check back on Monday at 4 p.m. ET to see if your favorite Dunder Mifflin employee has advanced to the next round. 

Round One


Round Two


Round Three


The Office Planned to Break Up Jim and Pam in the Final Season—Then (Smartly) Thought Better of It

Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly's relationship in The Office was truly a romance for the ages. Fans were delighted when, in Season 3—after years of flirting—John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer’s characters finally got together. But an alternative plan for the show’s ninth and final season saw the couple going their separate ways.

Season 9 saw one of the most stressful storylines the show had to offer when Jim took a job in Philadelphia and Pam struggled to take care of their children on her own back in Scranton, putting intense strain on their otherwise seemingly perfect relationship. In one unforgettable scene, a particularly tense phone call between the couple ends with Pam in tears. Fischer’s character then turns to someone off camera named Brian for advice.

As Collider reports, Pam and Jim's relationship could have taken a turn for worse in the final season—and the writers had planned it that way. As recounted in Andy Greene's new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, series creator Greg Daniels sat down with each of the show's stars before starting the final season to discuss where their characters would go. John Krasinski, who played Jim, pitched the idea of putting Jim and Pam’s relationship on thin ice. According to Krasinski:

"My whole pitch to Greg was that we’ve done so much with Jim and Pam, and now, after marriage and kids, there was a bit of a lull there, I think, for them about what they wanted to do … And I said to Greg, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.'"

Several writers weighed in with ideas about how they might handle a split between Jim and Pam from a narrative standpoint—though not everyone was on the same page.

Warren Lieberstein, a writer on the series, remembered when the idea of bringing Brian—the documentary crew's boom operator—into the mix. “[This] was something that came up in Season 5, I think," Lieberstein said. "What if that character had been secretly there the entire time and predated the relationship with Jim and had been a shoulder that she cried on for years?’ It just seemed very intriguing." Apparently, the writers thought breaking the fourth wall would jeopardize the show, so they saved it for the last season.

Writer Owen Ellickson said there was even some talk of Pam and Brian “maybe hooking up a little bit," but the negative response to the storyline led the writers to "pull the ripcord on [Pam and Jim's separation] because it was so painful to fans of the show." Ellickson said that they backtracked so quickly, they even had to re-edit certain episodes that had already been shot to nix the idea of Jim and Pam splitting up. Which is something the show's millions of fans will be forever grateful for.

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