The Stele of 14-Shull Min, from Izabal, Guatemala


The Stele of 14-Shull Min, from Izabal, Guatemala

When melissadawn (one of my co-conspirators at Ello) showed me a picture of N52 magnets I started digging through my image files, looking for today’s GLP comic. Her image had reminded me of a note from Ha Kim Ngoc, Yost’s assistant and occasional collaborator, about a puzzling inscription. “Drawn by magnets” had been written by Yost in pencil, in one of his most easily recognized forms of handwriting, on the back of the original drawing for this comic.

The original art for Geranium Lake Properties is in an inaccessible place, spirited away by the Italian media corporation that claims ownership of Yost’s intellectual property, but I have a nearly complete set of images made from high quality transparencies of Yost’s drawings. This incomparable resource was entrusted to me by Ha Kim Ngoc. Along with the image library, Ha Kim Ngoc gave me copies of her notes about the creative history and physical characteristics of the drawings.

© 2017 lcmt

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A sober and squeak-free summons

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© 2016 Lin Tarczynski

Image 1: Collaborative effort for Geranium Lake Properties by Yost and his assistant, Ha Kim Ngoc
Image 2: Ngoc’s initial contribution

The people who admire GLP are a discerning but small group, and at various points in the last three years I have created fictional fans to swell the numbers of our tiny band of brothers and sisters. Plus I needed help writing the backstory of Geranium Lake Properties, and creating characters is an excellent first step to writing fiction. (The danger is that if you have too much fun writing characters you may lose motivation to plod onward with the relatively boring task of actually writing the story.) GLP’s foremost fictional fan is Ha Kim Ngoc, one of those amazing Americans hybrids, a daughter and granddaughter of Vietnamese, Korean, Polish and Welsh immigrants.

Before she became Yost’s assistant in 1991, Ha Kim Ngoc was writing and drawing “Somnifery”, a comic strip influenced by Carlos Castaneda, Goya’s Black Paintings, Lorca’s theory of duende, and Little Nemo in Slumberland. “Somnifery” appeared irregularly in different zines during the 80’s, notably Spongesucker, Ralph and Fascia. At the same time, Ngoc collaborated with Yost on a handful of GLP comics.

The ideogram in the lower right-hand corner of today’s panel is a tribute to Harriet Lariat, a pseudonym used by Ngoc’s Polish grandmother and her grandmother’s sister-in-law, the writer/artist team who created Sue Generous and Bossy Oyster, a 64-page Golden Age comic book. The comic followed the crime-fighting adventures of a glamorous American housewife and her plucky Jack Russell terrier (loosely based on the characters of Nora Charles and her dog Astor from the Thin Man movies). Each issue featured several different stories, all the captions were written in Polish, while the speech balloons were in English. The authors hoped to educate Polish immigrants who were eager to immerse themselves in American culture. The title was printed by Eastern Color Printing and enjoyed a modest success within its target audience, published from 1937 to 1941, with a total of 31 issues.

A few drafts from the narrows

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© 2016 Lin Tarczynski

I hesitated to include the following artifact in this post. It is a digital file of a scan of a bad xerox copy of an extremely dirty piece of paper that might not be authentic.

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This little piece of evidence indicates that today’s comic is an illustration of Kipling’s “How the Whale Got His Throat”. It comes to us from the collection of Algernon and Agatha Dawe-Saffery, a brother and sister from Burnley in Lancashire, England. They are fans extraordinaire of GLP and online compatriots of Ha Kim Ngoc, Yost’s former assistant. The claim for this scrappy memo is that it was written by Yost, and it reveals the meanings for the symbols used in “A few drafts from the narrows”. Ha Kim Ngoc has her doubts, and has stated that the writing is unlike any writing she has seen from Yost. The Dawe-Safferys counter that Yost wrote in many different styles, and was always inventing new ones for his “natural” asemic handwriting.

On the back of today’s comic, “Fitch. R D” is written in pencil by Yost. This could be an abbreviation of “Fitchburg Road”, which appears in the Kipling story.

Geranium Lake Properties, turn one hair

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© lcmt 2015

In this panel, I am feeling the end of fall, and the first frosts of winter. Ha Kim Ngoc identifies this as part of Jack Loki’s translations of Shakespeare for horned lizards, but she does not tell us which play this panel illustrates. To me it looks more like Dickens, especially at this time of year, when I have already watched my first Christmas Carol movie. “Mothers and daughters” is the note Yost penciled on the back

Geranium Lake Properties, when the pied ordinaries of your grief become mute

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© lcmt 2015

On the back of this comic, Wm. Yost penciled “Series: Jack Loki translates Shakespeare for horned lizards” and “Phrynosoma platyrhinos or coronatum?” His assistant, Ha Kim Ngoc, says there are more than a dozen panels that belong to the Shakespeare translation series, but she is not sure this panel is one of them. Yost wrote his ideas down on pieces of paper, scraps or envelopes or whatever was handy. He jotted all sorts of things on the backs of his GLP panels, including phone numbers of people he never called, titles of books he never read, and confirmation numbers for bills he paid over the phone.

Asemic comics are published here three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday (or sometimes Saturday night).