What the Moth Sees

I have two slides for today’s GLP comic, each is a representation of a subtle color variation. I don’t know which variation was submitted for publication, and Ha Kim Ngoc was surprised to learn that a second color variation exists. She thinks the color happened in the processing of the slide, but she can’t say which variation is more true to the original artwork, so I am posting both images.

I think this misprint from Newark’s Star-Ledger is a lovely tone poem of sepia, chestnut and ivory, but Ha Kim Ngoc is sure Yost hated it:

Four at the Bellingham Review

“A large part of Yost’s comic was drawn in a conventional style with traditional comic strip narratives, easily recognized as a “funny animal” comic…”

Yost’s influences were Krazy Kat by George Herriman, Pogo by Walt Kelly, comics in the New Yorker drawn by Charles Addams and Saul Steinberg, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, the animations of Chuck Jones, especially the Coyote and Road Runner cartoons, and The Far Side by Gary Larson (although Larson, one of Yost’s contemporaries, occupied a somewhat adversarial relationship to Yost). If you can imagine a pastiche of all these disparate sources, you can probably envision Yost’s drawings for the earliest Geranium Lake Properties comics, with a jackalope named Jack Loki as the main protagonist. Yost developed his own distinctive style (and his creative purpose irrevocably departed from his influences) at the beginning of the second year of GLP’s run, when the artist began experimenting with abstract comics and asemic writing for dream sequences, which mostly occurred when Jack Loki embarked on vision quests under the influence of hallucinogenic substances.

I was not perfectly honest in the description for the Bellingham Review when I said I pay no mind to that part of GLP rendered by Yost as conventional funny animal comics. I don’t feature that work here in this blog, but certainly I, and my panel of experts, Ha Kim Ngoc, Michael Veerduer, Benedict Thorarinsson, Algernon and Agatha Dawe-Saffery, have scrutinized every frame of Geranium Lake Properties, attempting to make our understanding of the GLP universe as complete as it can be. I have to say, I find the more traditional narrative of Yost’s epic rather ordinary, maybe even a little boring, but that’s really the fault of my own personal taste, and not a criticism of whatever literary merit it might deserve.

(For insight into Yost’s creative process, I prefer the more piquant information gleaned from Gralie Bohe’s novel, The Boy in the Yellow Leatherette Portmanteau, a roman à clef about Yost’s life after his mysterious disappearance.)

Christopher Patton is the person who invited me to submit my work, and he picked the four GLP comics out of the eight I sent him. He also did me the great favor of editing a much-too-long essay about GLP into the brief paragraph needed for the piece in the Bellingham Review. I am very grateful he let me take advantage of his editorial skills. He demonstrated an extraordinary eye for what is essential. (Please don’t miss viewing his own work featured in the Bellingham Review, an animated short film with a keen asemic perspective.)

Two of the four GLP comics at the Bellingham Review might be familiar to you: “The Conjoined Numina of Valfad Niam and yre-Ovna” from the Cephalopod Jamboree, and “Iron Earth, Stone Water, Separate Stars” from a post during this past winter.

Paska Potkaisan Paska” is an illustration of an odd creature from Jackalopian culture who is not a native character of their myths. He is sometimes called “Potkia Paskaa”, and also called “The Shitkicker” in English. He is a personification of their view of an entity that is peculiar to human culture, an entity humans call “popular media” or “the media” or “the news”.

The offerings from Yost for Scarabaeus Day in both 1993 and 1995 have a tricky connection with the Enochian language, the language of angels revealed to John Dee and Edward Kelley in 16th century England. In each panel, you might be able to discern fragments of the letters Gal, Pa, Mals, Gon, Pal and Gon (with point) arranged in this pattern:

These represent the letters D, B, P, I, X and Y from the English alphabet. According to a theory from Benedict Thorarinsson, these letters spell out the names Galpa Malsgonpalgon and D. B. Pixy, which are code names for David Banner, the protagonist from the old television series (1978 – 1982) about The Hulk, a character from Marvel Comics. I don’t know if I am convinced of Thorarinsson’s theory, although I probably should be. Thorarinsson is an enthusiastic GLP fan with an earnest parasocial relationship with Wm. Yost. He has expressed some amazing insights into Yost’s character, plus he is a well-respected paleographer in his professional life. The character of David Banner, as depicted by the actor Bill Bixby, deeply influenced Yost as a teenager. Along with Hawkeye Pierce (played by Alan Alda in the series M*A*S*H, 1972 – 1983) and Kwai Chang Caine (a Shaolin monk played by David Carradine in the series Kung Fu, 1972 – 1975), David Banner helped to form Yost’s ideals of manhood, pacifism and the questing life.

The original post about Scarabaeus Day.

The Palace Map

Aka, “How the Blue Jay Remembers Where He Buried His Acorn”.

I surmise that this method is not 100% effective, since I have several oak trees in my yard that are the results of jays burying acorns.

Also, I’m in the middle of writing a blog post about the appearance of my work in issue 82 of the Bellingham Review, but go ahead and sneak a look here: http://bhreview.org/2021/04/11/lin-tarczynski/

The Perfidy of Pink

Pink is such a treacherous color, it is the color of wishful thinking, of rose-colored glasses, the pink cloud is what recovering alcoholics call their brand-new sobriety (an all-too-brief phenomenon). Pink in the language of flowers symbolizes happiness, that most fickle and slippery state of emotions. Jackalopes regard pink with the liveliest suspicion, and they have all sorts of adverse reactions to it, ranging from annoyance to disgust to terror. The most fearsome monsters in their legends are pink. They would use the color to catch people’s attention–if jackalopes made warning labels, crime scene tape, stop signs and crosswalks, they would all be pink. (Jackalopes usually ignore warning labels, crime scene tape, stop signs and crosswalks, which they consider superfluous to their own senses and intelligence.)


Only One to Challenge Antiquity

The date on this GLP panel was Easter Sunday in 1996, but the comic was published on March 26th. That was the first day of Fool’s Week in 1996. This year, the first day of Fool’s Week is tomorrow, March 29th. If you share your household with a jackalope, or have friends who are jackalopes, I’m sure you are aware that a prank war will begin tomorrow. You also know that you need not fear the arrival of mail exploding with glitter, soap disguised as candy, Saran-wrapped toilet bowls, or googly eyes stuck to any and all surfaces. When you crack your eggs for your breakfast scramble, you will not discover rainbow Jello instead of the protein, fat, vitamins and minerals that make an egg a neat little package of high-quality nutrition.

According to the Jackalopian tradition for the All Fools holiday, a prank is a ridiculously lavish gift, something extravagant and useless. It can be a book for someone who already owns a library of books they have not read yet, or a bar of dark sinful chocolate from Lithuania flavored with wild Porcini mushrooms.

Or you could buy one-of-a-kind ceramics made by local potters (Jean Shinn, Charles Varni) and fill them with dirt, rocks and plants, even though you have stacks of mass produced clay pots:

It’s a bit of foolishness that you would never buy for yourself, but then you do, and then you give it to yourself. That is the Jackalopian ideal of a prank war during Fool’s Week.

Are you saying to yourself, “Wait, what kind of war is that? That’s not a war.” A jackalope will say to you, “Au contraire!” (Because speaking with a bad French accent is also one of the many traditions practiced during Fool’s Week.) “Nobody engages in a war unless it is for their own benefit. We just remove all the middlemen–and all the toil and suffering–and get right to the benefit. It is war with efficiency. It is delightful, as war should be.”

Actually, now that I think of it, Jello eggs are delightful, and making them requires patience and a peculiar set of skills. Especially if you want to make the multi-colored stripey ones, which would necessitate the purchase of at least six Jello packets of different colors. That’s fairly extravagant, and the whole thing involves a ridiculous amount of effort.

The above image is the misprint by our favorite paragon of flawed media, Newark’s Star-Ledger, and below is my garishly exuberant interpretation of today’s comic as an animated gif.

The Cipher of the Minotaur

The Winding Coil Dance of Uryandifa is a Jackalopian myth that roughly corresponds to the Greek story of Ariadne and the Labyrinth, but without Theseus, who may have been important to the Athenians, but he is a nobody to jackalopes. A far more noteworthy character is the Minotaur, who is cherished as a hero in Jackalopian culture. His part in the story remains as tragic as it is in the Greek myth, but in the Jackalopian story he is an intelligent creature with a complicated nature, who has managed to acquire some hard-earned wisdom. Uryandifa is the name of his sister (Ariadne in the Greek myth), a goddess who gives the Minotaur sanctuary in the lands consecrated to her. The boundaries of her territory are configured by the path of the Winding Coil Dance, an intricate labyrinth shaped by the feet, paws, hooves, and bodies of Uryandifa’s votaries, as they dance in worship and celebration.

As a general rule, jackalopes find Greek myths annoying, even offensive. Tales of human heroes with physiques of Hollywood perfection slaying unfortunate beasts who were cursed because of the wounded vanity of overprivileged gods will be naturally unpopular with people who revere jackals and antelopes as their ancestors. Jackalopes are happy to count themselves as members of the animal kingdom without needing to be its princely overlords.

Là sul ciglio del colle

The 13th day of the last month was Kill Your Darlings Day according to the Jackalopian calendar of Official Holidays. I did not have a true understanding of the holiday – I thought it was a kind of “holiday for the rest of us”, for those of us who did not have a Valentine for February 14th, a lover upon whom we could heap chocolates and roses.

This year, on February 13th, I spent most of the day buying a car, to replace my beloved ’98 Mercury Sable station wagon, which I had owned for the past seven years. The Mercury Sable was the car that had trekked many times to Los Angeles and back in 2019, jam-packed to the roof with furniture and many (so many!) boxes of Nancy’s stuff, as I cleaned out my sister’s house after her death. For four months that car carried those loads reliably, stalwartly, even valiantly, through freeways and highways numbered 101, 23, 118, 126, 5 and 210. Through the Santa Susana Pass, through the Gaviota Pass, through Buellton, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, or past Magic Mountain, Fillmore and Santa Paula. And every time that car sped onto the broad white lanes of the Ventura highway, with nowhere else to go between tall bluffs and the Pacific Ocean, I would sing that song by America, named for a mythical representation of the road thrumming beneath the wheels of my old car.

Amplify, Intensify, Billow

This could be your name, no. 190

Today is the fourth Tuesday of January, so that makes this day the first Larrikin Day of 2021.

Utilizing the Five Ws or 5W1H is often suggested as a method of finding your larrikin name. You are supposed to ask yourself Who? What? When? Where? Why? And optionally, How? Answering these questions somehow leads you to an inspiration for your larrikin name. For myself, I have yet to find this technique useful, but many jackalopes are enthusiastic about this exercise. More useful to me has been the aib process, which is taught by the acolytes of Junie-Ada Ulrichkopf.

The author of The Boy in the Yellow Leatherette Portmanteau, a book which has the questionable distinction of being the only roman à clef novel about Yost’s life, came up with her nom de plume, Gralie Bohe, by using the aib technique.

The Death of the Suzerain

Jack Loki, the peripatetic protagonist of the GLP universe, encountered several arch-enemies in his travels, but in the beginning, villains did not trouble his carefree life. Ramon Berenguer, who signed Yost to his first comics syndicate, the McNaught Syndicate, suggested that Yost create a nemesis for Jack Loki. After all, the world would be a much duller place without the Roadrunner’s Coyote, Krazy Kat’s Ignatz, or Reed Richard’s Dr. Doom. The Suzerain of Omunchelkum was GLP’s first outright villain, the result of several phone conversations between Yost and Berenguer.

Yost began to dislike the Suzerain quite soon after the character was introduced to readers. Even though his conversations with Berenguer had been stimulating and amiable, Yost was uncomfortable with collaborative efforts. He worried that collaborations were diluted, inauthentic work, and feared he might insult the creative spirits that were his muses. (Nevertheless, he did managed to collaborate with more than a few other artists on GLP panels over the years.) Eventually, Yost killed off the Suzerain, again acting on a suggestion from Berenguer. Jack Loki was accused of the Suzerain’s murder, but the case was dismissed by the judge, who said “It is easy to blithely move on to the next case with a petition so obviously lacking.” A few weeks later, Yost created a new villain, Bern Nemaguerre, named after Ramon Berenguer.

Berenguer would become a real friend and remained so until his death in 1998. When the McNaught Syndicate collapsed in 1989, Berenguer moved on to a job with another comics syndicator, United Media Enterprises. He had hoped that Yost would come with him and sign with UME, but Yost decided to accept an offer from a media syndicate headquartered in Italy. It was a decision that Yost would come to regret.

The Steadfast Amity of the Porte-cochère

We are pretty sure this is another appearance of Raro, Ileop and Plorumquith, with Plorumquith in his orchid-like form rather than his more common body, which takes the shape of a jackal (according to Michael Veerduer) or an aardwolf (the opinion of Benedict Thorarinsson).

The Amicale Porte-cochère is a dance popularly performed at Jackalopian wedding receptions; it is usually the dance that precedes the departure of the bride and groom. Apparently, the primary function of Raro, Ileop and Plorumquith as demigods in the GLP universe is to dance at weddings.

Vernal Mars

The note attached to today’s comic reminds me that Martians love the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee, and that May 15, 1985 was an earth date for the vernal equinox of Mars.

It has been a while since I posted a GLP comic with Martian context, although I have posted a wealth of kiGamnch material lately, and Martians are as enthusiastic about kiGamnch traditions as jackalopes, and have adopted many of the traditions as their own. There is a theory (favored by Michael Veerduer, GLP historian, and Algernon and Agatha Dawe-Saffery, GLP fans extraordinaire) that kiGamnch concepts originated on Mars and were exported to earth through the buoyant cultural exchange between Martians and jackalopes. This exchange probably dates back to the nineteenth century, maybe even earlier, and was definitely an elaborate and thriving affiliation by the time Edgar Rice Burroughs published A Princess of Mars in 1912.

(Some people think this is a cover from a popular Martian comics version of A Princess of Mars.)

Today is Kopje Modder Dag on the Official Geranium Lake Properties Calendar. Cup of Mud Day. Cup of Java. Cup of Joe. Today we can celebrate coffee, the rocket fuel of the modern world. Martians do not drink coffee, they brew it, with their terribly precious water, for the aroma of the fresh pot. A Martian’s sense of smell is not like ours, which is not surprising, considering that they have no mouth, no nose. They do not even have a head! Which is weird, because they still love to wear hats, so it is accepted knowledge that Martians once had heads.

I understand there might be some of you who have met Martians and will insist that they have heads, but either the person you met was not actually a Martian (a Venusian perhaps, I think they have heads) or you were not aware that Martians don elaborate gear that gives them the illusion of “headness”. Martians have their own word for the quality of headness, but since we have no biological capacity to speak Martian, they have politely rendered it into a word for human use, “umnaalom”. They think umnaalom makes humans more comfortable with their presence, plus it allows them to wear hats.

“This could be your name, no. 189”, with six variations. It could also be an asemic writing version of “umnaalom”.

I believe that the sensory information Martians receive from the scent of freshly brewed coffee includes experiences that equate to visual and auditory hallucinations for humans. Whatever the experience is for Martians, it must be phenomenal, for them to use their horribly limited supply of liquid, pure water for such an extravagant use. Yet Martians are by nature extravagant, very charmingly so. To be in their company is such a joy that a human sense of delight can become quite exhausted after a few hours. Jackalopes have more stamina for marvelous events, which must be beneficial in their successful associations with the denizens of the red planet.