Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Just Because

This morning I got up, fed the kitties, then sat down here at the computer and made a painting of my Little Hunny pussyquat. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. Well -- that, and, I want to learn painting in Photoshop so that I can make painted tarot designs maybe eventually one day. I have comics and book projects that I want to work on too, and this all relies on learning to work with Photoshop in a completely new way. I have some fantastic tools for the creation of digital art, it's time that I started becoming more comfortable with them.

I liked my painting of Hunny well enough that this afternoon I decided to make it into a kind of vintage fruit can label. Here it is:


... and I liked that well enough that I decided to put it on a tee shirt. Well, why not? You can get one here: http://www.redbubble.com/people/ducksoupdotme/works/24103877-hunny-vintage-style-fruit-can-label?asc=u


As I noted in an earlier post, it's never been easier to publish things or produce goods and put them Out There. The problem is publishng things and producing goods that people actually want. Whether or not anyone out there would actually want a crudely painted picture of my cat turned into a fruit label on a tee shirt (or anything else you can get it on) is what they call, Another Question Entirely. 

-- Thorn.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Paperback Reader

Over the month of October I actually read a couple of old paperbacks from out of the piles of unread books floating around my house. The titles aren’t so much important as the simple fact that I’m reading again, and that they were mass-market paperbacks.

I guess the “mass-market paperback” isn’t exactly, completely dead… but it’s dead enough and it’s been that way long enough that the books actually felt small and strange in my hands, and looked small and strange to my eye. Over the past twenty-odd years we’ve grown so used to the “trade” -sized paperback that it’s become the new standard, and made the Old Standard feel odd to us.


The books themselves… well, they were fun and light October reading. The best was an early-70s survey of horror movies made up to that time, Horror in The Cinema, by Ivan Butler — an ex-actor who himself played in the British stage production of Dracula in the 1920s and ‘30s. 

This was a book that I’d read before, many years ago, when it was first published. I made the mistake of lending it to a high school chum (he wasn’t even that good of a friend) and never saw it again. Thanks to ABEBooks, I was able to replace it just last month, and reading and seeing it again was a particular delight. It came as somewhat of a surprise that I remembered whole swaths of it by heart. With this book, Butler didn’t just encourage my interest in the genre, but actually shaped my moral viewpoint of the cinema as a whole. Unlike many other volumes written later about Horror Movies, this one approaches the genre with a high level of standards and a contempt for unnecessary gore, violence and depravity that is today refreshing. 

Butler has been criticized for getting certain details wrong in his descriptions of the specific movies — but it’s important to note that when the book was written there was no such thing as video on demand, Blu-Ray or DVD disks, and even VHS was just a gleam in some inventor’s eye. In 1972, movies still had a very brief shelf life. When they left the theater, many disappeared seemingly forever. You waited patiently (or not) for a TV or museum showing, and considered yourself lucky if you go it. Repeat viewings are a luxury of the modern age, folks. In 1972 and earlier, you had maybe one change to see a film, and if you wrote about it later, you wrote strictly from memory. To criticize someone of that era for getting a few minor details wrong is nothing short of churlish, especially considering the deliberate tricks that films oftentimes play on us. 

(On a side note: fourteen-year-old boys of the modern era are now just a few clicks away from pornographic images of the most extreme sort. In 1972, when I was 14, the very chaste images of Fay Wray and other starlets appearing in Butler’s book were enough to inspire all sorts of lascivious thoughts and activity… again chaste by today’s standards!)


The other Octoberish title I read last month was The Frankenstein Wheel, by a “Paul Freeman” — probably a pseudonym for a better-known writer. This, too, had ties to my youth. It appeared at the local drugstore at approximately the same time as the Butler book, and was part of Popular Library’s “Frankenstein Horror Series” of the time.

The mass-market paperback was the actual descendant of and replacement for what were called Pulp Magazines back in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s; and in 1972 there were still paperback houses that took the association seriously! Popular Library’s Frankenstein Horror Series was as delightfully pulpish as paperbacks ever got, I think, and I was fortunate enough to actually be there when it was happening. The novels are frothy and written in purple prose and are full of monsters. In literary terms, they are very, very close to the kind of Monster Horror Thriller movie that Universal produced so well from the ‘30s to the ‘50s. The Frankenstein Wheel was the only only book in the series that actually had anything to do with Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, and one of four in the series that eluded me at the time. I finally got a copy a couple of years ago, from an online source.

It is a straightforward sequel to Mary Shelley’s novel, and if its literary worth is practically nil, in story terms it is one of the worthier sequels among the many Frankenstein knock-offs churned out by lesser writers than She. From my point of view, however, the literary worth of the thing is hardly the point. The Frankenstein Wheel was something New To Me that emerged from the fog of a particular moment in my personal history. For you and others like you, it would probably mean nothing. For me — it was like being fourteen years old again.

— Thorn.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

After The Fall

-- illustration from Tinker's Damn Tarot, ™and © 2016 Duck Soup Productions.

Of course there are lots of things I could write about here on the blog; but I haven’t had the heart. Why add to the noise? In 2016, hard news is virtually nonexistent, while punditism and blogs dominate the airwaves and the interwebs. In that kind of an atmosphere, anything I type carries as much weight as anything anyone else types. It may be democratic with a small ‘d,’ but it’s more noisy than useful. 

Of the election, the only thing I’ll do here is re-iterate something that I wrote on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and that is: I can't believe that 59 million Americans are all Haters — although the Democrats in their desperation to blame anyone and everyone except themselves for their loss have chosen to brand them as such.

It’s much more likely that the Average Person who voted for Trump watches a lot of reality TV and is a big fan of The Apprentice. Trump won simply because he was the biggest Celebrity in the race.

I’m old enough to remember The Beatles taking over America. For as long as I’ve been alive, America has Completely 100 percent Enamored with Celebrity. Just look at your supermarket newsstands — I don’t even know who 99 percent of those people are who get their faces on the supermarket tabloids, but other people seem to, and someone is buying those rags. 

If Donald Trump has been successful in any business, it's been the business of self-promotion. It's my belief that most of the people who voted for him did so out of Blind Celebrity Worship, the same as what got another ridiculously under-qualified Republican elected a few decades back. “I seen him on the tee-vee!” — it’s as simple as that.

It’s how Ahnolt got to be Der Gubernator, after all. 

*

I’ve always liked trying New Music and more often than not feel rewarded when I do. But the music business of today is like the Wild West when compared to that time, almost forgotten now, when Record Companies actually held all the power and a handful of powerful recording business executives were the Supreme Arbiters of Taste. 

It’s a lot easier — really almost unbelievably easier — for bands and musicians to get their music out there now, out where people can hear it; the irony may be that while it’s not nearly as hard to get onto the playing field as it used to be, it’s ever so much harder than it ever was to get noticed and heard, because that playing field is more crowded and noisier than it ever was.

Maybe in coming weeks I’ll write about some of the pleasant discoveries that have found their way into my ears recently; but for now it needs to be said that not all the stuff on that level playing field actually deserves to be there.

I won’t mention the name of the band I sampled last night because I’m not feeling vengeful towards them, and after all, who died and made me the supreme arbiter of taste? Also, it was on the strength of their name that I picked them out of the crowd; and I’d hate to tarnish their namesake with the awful sounds that came out of my speakers last night. But it was one of those things … all I needed to hear was a few bars to know that this particular bit of caterwauling was Not For Me.

It’s what happened next that I want to tell you about. Having sent the offending mp3 files straight to the recycling bin, I hopped online to read about the band, and there discovered that Wikipedia referred to their music as “nostalgic.”

I thought: ’Nostalgic’? Nostalgic of what? 

I supposed, on thinking about it, that the sound was a little bit late ‘nineties, early ‘naughties. But here’s the thing: in order to feel nostalgic about something, it has to have been gone for a little while. 

Am I now so old, have I lived long enough that some strange people out there are feeling nostalgic for the late nineties? — a period which happened like a week and a half ago and which is better off forgotten anyhow? I suppose if someone was born in the very early ’90s they might actually be old enough to feel a little bit wistful for that dismal time period, but frankly if you’re that young you’ve no right to be tossing words like ’nostalgia’ around like confetti. 

If you are under the age of about thirty, you do not get to decide what’s nostalgic, period — because you’ve only been alive for about five minutes, and you were born into a Science Fiction world where words like ‘nostalgic’ must of necessity be applied to a time before you were born.

— Thorn
www.tarotbyducksoup.com

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Vist to The Farm, by Jean Solé

Here's something I haven't done before. I hope that you will like it.

Once in a while, a trip through the DuckHaus bookshelves turns up something wonderful that I had forgotten all about. The rediscovery always brings a fresh sense of delight, because it's at once familiar and new, like meeting an old friend that you haven't thought of in years.

For a brief period in the late 1970's, it was possible -- thanks in large part to Heavy Metal magazine and the The National Lampoon, for Americans to get a taste of what foreign comics artists were up to. This was how I discovered the work of Jean Solé. I was immediately taken with his comics, and yet today I own only two examples of his work, notably his book Animaleries, which seems to be still in print, at least in France.

Although he is still active, amazingly I could not find out much about him on the internet, and less in English; most frustratingly, he does not even seem to have a website.

The story you're about to read was my first exposure to his work... and I was so happy to "re-discover" it again today. Quite beyond the pleasures of his style, his ideas are so big and clever and literary and magical. I hope you agree. It was originally presented in this country in the book The National  Lampoon presents French Comics (The Kind Men Like).

Obviously, I do not hold the copyright to this material. It is offered in the spirit of an enthusiastic fan wishing to share something that he loves. I will take this post down in the unlikely event that the author ever finds it, and in finding it objects to its use. In the meantime, if anyone can present more links to examples of his work, please send them via the email link in the sidebar.

You can click on each page to enlarge it. Enjoy!









Onward!

-- Frede
www.ducksoup.me
www.tarotbyducksoup.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

1984 is Now

“WAR IS PEACE.
SLAVERY IS FREEDOM.
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH."

Yup, Orwell was right, that's exactly what they've made of the world and the pill that they have convinced millions to swallow. That's the world-view that will only deepen its hold if either of the major-party candidates win. That's the world they started shaping from the moment Ronald Reagan took office, and the world they codified on Sept. 11, 2001. 

A long, long time ago, then-President Jimmy Carter addressed the nation and announced with some pride that the nation was At Peace.

I was still quite young and my political worldview was both unformed and uninformed. I’m not proud of my reaction to President Carter’s address. I mentally sneered. I thought, “Big Deal.” 

I thought this, because I was complacent in Peace. The Vietnam war was over, but still fresh in people’s minds. I believed that we had entered a post-war era where Peace was the new normal, where everyone had had enough of killing. I believed that this was not so much an accomplishment of President Carter’s, but a place that we had arrived at, a belief that we all shared, earned in blood.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized how wrong I was. Carter was justified in his “pride of peace” — a peace he maintained despite pressure from all sides, and especially from above, from the one percent, to launch a major war in the Middle East. I believe that this is why he was a one-term president: he angered the one percent, stood in the way of bringing about their worldview, and so they got rid of him and installed Ronald Reagan, who by all accounts was nothing more or less than a ventriloquist dummy. 

Carter’s Presidency was derided in the public mind, so that it would never happen again. But we were all wrong, all of us. Carter was the last Great President this nation had, and perhaps (although history has yet to form an opinion around President Obama) the last Great President this country will ever have. 

As long as the one percent is choosing our candidates for us and rigging the process (which they have done brilliantly in this election cycle), we will be locked into the Orwellian worldview that now has us in its taloned grip. 

Me -- I'm so fucking sick of war. This war, that war, any war, and who profits by it? Ask yourself that and you will have damn near all the answers. As the poets once said, the way to fight war is not with more war. But that's what we've got, and that's what we'll have until the majority of people start to get as sick of this crap as I am.

— Frede
www.tarotbyducksoup.com 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Deck That Almost Was


For a few days this past week, my latest Tarot deck, Tinker’s Damn Tarot, was out of print and unavailable in Tarot size. I made the announcement and took it off sale completely.

Now it’s back. Why? And why declare it out of print in the first place?

I’ve been in negotiations with a printing company in Shaghai, China, to create a fancy new edition of the deck that would have retailed at less than half the price of the current edition. The reason I took the current edition off-sale is simply because I didn’t want anyone paying the higher price when a less expensive edition would be coming along in a matter of weeks.

But that’s not going to happen now, and I am forced to return the First Edition back to sale. Of all the decks I’ve done, it’s close to being my favorite, and I don’t want it to unavailable.

What happened is simply this: I was quoted a price on 1,000 copies of the deck. I signed a contract based on that quotation and turned it in… and the very next morning the sales rep emailed me to say, “Oh by the way, the price is not what we quoted you, but actually $1,200 more than that.”

Twelve hundred bucks. That’s not a minor change in the terms! And it put the cost of production well out of my reach unless I run another Kickstarter campaign… which I do not want to do at this time. 

I wrote them back to say, “Uhhh, no it isn’t. The price is what we agreed on, or the deal is off.”

That was more than 24 hours ago, and I’ve heard nothing back from then since, so I’m calling it a day this project.

About the only good thing to come of all this is that I did a bunch of work on the new edition creating a box design — and a Little White Booklet of instructions. I hate for all that work to go to waste — and so now I’m offering a PDF version of the Tinker’s Damn Little White Booklet (with keywords and definitions for each card, plus a couple of tarot “spreads”) as a Free Download for anyone buying the deck. And if you’ve bought the deck already, just email me here (or use the sidebar link), and I’ll provide you with a Download Link for your copy. Everyone, retroactively, gets a Little White Booklet! 

Judging from the number of people who have asked me to clarify various card meanings, I’m guessing that will be a welcome addition. Well… as they say in the biz, it’s an ill wind that blows no good, yes?

— Frede.
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