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!


-- Frede

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

1984 is Now


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 

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.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Whisper in the Air

And just like that, just like a switch was thrown, there’s Fall in the air. Just a hint; just enough to let you know it’s coming.

It’s my favorite kind of weather: mid to upper seventies, low humidity, and a firm but gentle breeze off the northwest. Just enough to let you know that another summer is winding down, another year more than half gone.

It’s the kind of weather that makes you comfortable after a stretch of hot days, that forces a sigh out of your body. It’s both a gift and a warning. Breathe deep now, and enjoy this moment of peace, for winter is not far away, life is short, and few are the moments when you do not have to be mindful of your place within it.

— Frede.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Always Something

--Hellboy © Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Comics

I’m going to be writing a longer article about this for the second issue of my irregular “bookazine” The Sanctum, but I wanted to make quick note of it here on the blog: in the second issue of Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy makes a rare guest appearance,  although he doesn’t participate in any of the story’s main action. In fact, his only role in the plot is to reassure a young B.P.R.D. rookie that everything will be all right in the end:

“Calm down,” he says to the young man. “Of course there’s trouble, but stop worrying about Abe.”

To me, this sums up everything that’s finest about the series, and everything that comics do best. In the Hellboy Universe, “It’s Always Something.” There’s always some monster that wants to eat you, some spirit from beyond the grave that wants to devour your whole world. Just when you think you’re done with it, some other Horrible Thing comes along to growl and snarl at you.

Hellboy’s words to the young agent are typical of his character. In the face of some new Monster that’s ten times larger than the one he just had a hard time beating, a typical Hellboy reaction is a resigned “Oh, crap.”

This is what comics are for: to remind us that every time we turn around, every day, every issue, some damn monster or super-villain is going to come lumbering along to make trouble for you. Oh, crap — here comes another one. It never stops until you die (and in Hellboy’s case, it didn’t even stop then). 

That’s what life is: Always One More Thing.

How you face it is what makes you. Do you come unglued, fall apart? Or do you cock your fist and say to your problems, “Look, you. I’ve had about enough of this crap. Lie down. And STAY down!” — POW!

Of course they don’t stay down, or if they do, just wait for the bigger one to come along in its wake. 

Life is endless Trouble. Hellboy — and the other great heroes of the comics — exist to say to us, “Calm down. Of course there’s trouble. But stop worrying. Just take care of it and move on to the next thing.”

— Frede

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lesser Evil Voting is Destroying America

This is my first, last, and only statement on the subject. There will be no further political posts after this one. Typing it as simply as I can: I will vote for Dr. Jill Stein this fall, and not all the League of Shamers goose-stepping behind Hillary Clinton while the country goes over the cliff will make me change my mind.

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