Monday, July 4, 2016

Every Fourth Deserves a Fifth

Too pooped for the usual Snark GN blather today, so I thought it better-than-best to celebrate America's birthday, the Fourth of July, with this drawing … from left to right, George Mason, Voltaire, David Hume and Georg Lichtenberg. The ladies are anonymous patriots …


 "… possessed by a sudden pity for his ingenuous though well-meaning friend, Wadsworth clasped Candide’s shoulders.
“Don’t worry, man. I played Caliban in too many blaxploitation versions of The Tempest to bother anymore with reading between the squirrelly lines of every rich honky pervert who gets his rocks off by not getting his rocks off.” — American Candide


Make this Fourth special for your family and friends with American Candide, the novel as nasty as they wanna be.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Snark Without Qualities

If you’ve been assiduously following our graphic novel version of The Hunting of the Snark, you will have noticed a steady accumulation of visual details as the story progresses. Such a gradual amplification of things is what the critics call fritter-my-wig or even what-you-may-call-um and believe me, it’s all the rage in the right sort of literary circles.

However, we ‘umble visual artists, (fixated as always on more alimentary matters) call such an accumulation of visual tchotchkes "chicken fat". The late, great Will Elder coined the term whilst inking a drowned fly into a late night rendering of Harvey Kurtzman’s matzoh-ball soup as a practical joke. After a bit of the usual overheated vaudeville cross-talk-cum-haberule®-brandishing and some soft-shoeing with the Pro-White on Elder’s part, the moniker stuck and generations of artists have been ladling the chicken fat (or even schmalz if it’s germane to the proceedings) into their more soup-like drawings ever since.

All of which is a very convoluted and uselessly byzantine way of saying that you should keep a close eye on the progression of our Snark Hunt for it’s growing ever richer in unsaturated animal lipids such as chicken fat and Martin Heidegger. Naturally, one wonders what Lewis Carroll would have made of all our messing about with his otherwise perfectly normal recipe for a bowl of soup … would he have smacked his lips appreciatively at the our addition of the accurately-besmocked and bestyed pigherder Witnesses demonstrating the swineless vacuity of this comic operetta of a legal farce? Would he have slurped greedily at the tasty bits of the timeless humour of Mister Piggy’s magnum opus hoisted aloft before the proceedings like some sort of philosophical pearls before swine?

Or would Mister Carroll have paused in mid-luncheon, his spoon poised at his lips, and angrily demanded this artist to explain post haste what this other bird, this nonchicken and perhaps even swan-like bird masquerading as a legal bagpipe is doing in our collation of a Snark Hunt?

Alas, for Mr. Carroll and his delicate Victorian sense and sensibilities! This unexpectedly swannish creature is probably the grotesque and unexpected consequence of this artist using second-grade-fresh chicken fat in his cheapster drawings, a fly-by-night chicken fat cunningly adulterated with etymological preservatives of unknown provenance.

Yes, dear reader, this sudden outbreak of swans and bagpipes is no accident, on the contrary, it is a Significant Detail! Curiously, the word "sound", deriving as it does from the Old English word "swan," (properly, the sounding bird) seems to provide a perfect excuse for this artist to wreak further havoc on the entire chicken fat paradigm and perhaps even clear the way for a future swan-fat thing-um-a-jig. Or something along these metaphorically miscegenated lines of reasoning which so bedevil this production of the Snark

Without error or flaw indeed, eh?

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Conqueror Snark

 Melodramatic courtroom scenes are the crack cocaine of modern cinema and television; the average viewer must have a regular dose at certain intervals or they will soon lose interest in whatever televisual dog’s-breakfast is being served ‘em by the sweaty-palmed, hysterically gibbering minions of Hollywood or Bollywood or whatever-wood they happen to find themselves lost in quasi-Dantesque peril (pause for breath here).

However, our watchword for today is — eschew the obvious! Pester me not for your cheap thrills of courtroom antics leavened by lurid, torn-from-the-headlines social issues! You shall have none of that here and I do not care if you lapse into oddly compelling convulsions. Instead, you shall have a wholesome bit of this week’s episode of Lewis Carroll’s Snark Hunt, in which we find the Barrister heaving onto his hind legs before an English judge and jury, all for the benefit of a porcine defendant of no fixed address. There are no lurid social issues being mooted about in this courtroom, just the sweaty business of Man vs. Swine with a pinch of Desertion to lend it all an air of forensic veracity,

Good lord, I hear you mutter, everyone looks like everyone else, what’s going on here? Fret not, dear reader, you are not hallucinating nor is this artist suffering from idiopathic monofacia, in fact this is a prime example of what legal experts call habeas corpus (or more correctly, habeo corpus, for the benefit of congenitally officious readers).

Yes indeed, we have here the body and the face of the Barrister, AKA Martin Heidegger, multiplied ten-fold so that he can simultaneously play all the necessary roles of this Carrollian nightmare of a courtroom drama. In doing so, not only do we cut down on unnecessary expenditures of our favorite brand of second-grade-fresh, reheated cafeteria-style india ink but we can also avoid the bothersome necessity of accurately drawing the many different faces of a full complement of judge, jury, defendant, spectators and string section.

Good lord, I hear you mutter, string section? Why yes, a string section and I think they are playing something rather jolly, a spritely tune which could even serve as an overture to the impending legal machinations of Messers Heidegger, Heidegger, Heidegger and Heidegger (gesundheit). It sounds rather like a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan and the hypernaturally eagle-eyed reader will have already noted the bit of foolscap in the Barrister’s hand upon which we can observe that hark, the hour of ten is sounding!

Cryptically sound advice indeed, for it might serve as both an indicator of the numerical quantity of Heideggers facially cluttering the landscape and more to the point, perhaps even the opening verses of Gilbert and Sullivan’s forensic benchwarmer, Trial By Jury.

The well-oiled Carrollian will sigh appreciatively at all this, knowing as they do that Carroll once harbored designs of collaborating with Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan. These designs were crushed by something or the other, such was (and is) the topsy-turvy world of the crushing theater.

It is only now, over 130 years later, that the reader can judge for himself what such a collaboration might have looked like as he peruses our artistic reconstruction of a Carroll and Sullivan collaboration. I suggest that with glass in eye, you observe in a melodiously crosshatched manner that Heideggers with anxious fears are abounding, breathing hope and fear — for to-day in this arena, summoned by a stern subpoena, the Snark shortly will appear.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The sleep of reason produces snark!

And on the sixth Fit, the Barrister slept.

Played here by the notorious Continental steamer, Martin Heidegger, (right Zeit up and left Sein down) the Barrister has been overwhelmed by the fumes of cheap plonk and the Beaver’s well-turned ankles and has sunk into a torpid slumber upon a thickly inked lawn.

Our reader, who eschews cheap drink and chorus girls in favor of the headier vintages of Carrollian verse, will note that the Barrister has been furnished here with dreams in the plural. He or she will nod knowingly, perhaps even smugly, for every Carrollian worth their mustard and cress is cognizant of the Master’s mysterious penchant for dreams.

In fact, Lewis Carroll never met a novel or poem in which he didn’t feel obliged to stuff in the odd bit of dreamwork to move the plot along, and by providing the luckless Barrister with an multiplicity of dreams our poet may be betraying his own crypto-Hindu sympathies! Classical Hindu epistemology, bursting at the seams as it does with a nightmarish superfluity of dreams and illusions, all of ‘em nested one within the other, would have been pure catnip for the likes of Carroll.

This artist is aware that there are those amongst us who will object to the above theory, they might mutter darkly about a certain virulent strain of Neo-Platonism run amuck on the playing fields of Eton from which Carroll may have been infected, rather than some curry-inflected metaphysics hailing from god knows where. Well, they can toss their Neo-Platonic influences into the dust bin as far as we’re concerned, for it’s Hinduism which has the pukka goods on Runaway Idealism and this Floating Metadream We Call Life. Like the Red King in Through the Looking Glass, we are all of us, readers, artist, poet and Barrister, dreaming of one another and if we ever do wake up to find out what’s Real, well, what is Reality anyway, huh?

After mentally digesting all of this, the less tolerant reader will start things off by giving this over-heated illustrator a gentle boxing about the ears and a light touching up with a lead featherduster. They will then will reach for their Bradshaw of the Future (our preferred etymological opium den) and look pensive whilst they peruse the pedigree of the word "dream", a word which in Old English meant "joy" or even curiouser and curiouser, "music".

Tossing aside their Bradshaw with an insouciant pshaw, the less tolerant DR will then gird their loins and push their way past the more tolerant DR (still asleep and reeking of cheap plonk and ankles, no doubt) and towards the well-inked anthropomorphic forks afflicted with the Amorous Gigantism of Inanimate Objects, the Beaver’s size 9 chukka boots, the winged goblets and obligatory bar of soap, the Man-Ray-smiles and the cloth-headed judge-and-jury — all of ‘em merely a smokescreen for the 9-piece band ensconced in their band-shell in the background of this etymological-cum-epistemological mis-en-scene!

And what is this joyful music that our dream orchestra* is producing for the benefit of our dream Barrister? Is it the melodious warblings of some Hindustani songstress afflicted with a keening adenoidal distress? Is it the rock ‘n roll oompah-oompah of some hipster, Platonic cave-dwellers? To find out, dear readers, stay tuned for next week’s episode of The Hunting of the Snark!
____________________

*Our readers might even be more bewildered than usual to learn that this illustrator is afflicted with the syndrome of musical dreaming; for many years his dreams have been provided with a sort of involuntary cinematic soundtrack, not of his choosing although usually of a classical nature. On occasion a bit of pop rubbish gets by, the theme to Star Wars or suchlike, but this artist is the sort of high-minded fellow who thinks nothing of walking out of a bad film or dream.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Snarkness at Noon

 Well, isn’t this jolly, all of us having our tiffin in this lovely English garden waiting for the sun, and if the sun don't come, we’ll get a tan from standing in the English rain. What a clever way with words these Brits have, always joking around and making light of the darkest (and wettest) situations. Here we are, in the very thing-um-a-jig of a Snark Hunt, crosshatching to the left of us, crosshatching to the right of us, and our merry lads have seen fit to burst forth into song, a semimelodious bit of Old English galdor reminiscent of the salad days of Aethelred the Unready and suchlike skaldic mumbo-jumbery.

All of which affords this illustrator a bit of artistic license sufficient to render a thimble, some forks, an esperant anchor, a smile and some soap, ie., five-sevenths of the afore-mentioned Snarkic prophylaxes. He’s also taken the liberty of laying on some cakes and ale (on an illustrator’s meager salary of a moon and sixpence) and has even hired a band-cum-bandshell, all of which should provide sufficient innocent merriment for the B-Boyz and their Protosurrealist demimondaines, at least enough to show ‘em that this illustrator cares.

Naturally, this illustrative care increases our stanzel’s Combined Snarkic Prophylactic Level (CSPL) to six-sevenths, which fraction, when its numerator and denominator are multiplied, provides us with the number 42, a number mooted by some to be The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything in It.

Lewis Carroll thought enough of the number 42 to provide it with a comfortable home and small pension, way back in the Good Old Days of Fit the First. There are certain small-minded persons who will always look askance at such instances of numerophilia, they will mutter darkly of alphanumeric miscegenation and cryptokabbalistic cabals and all that sort of thing which they suspect is always going on at parties like the one pictured above. Which is why those sort of people never get invited to this sort of party, huzzah!

And so, ladies and gentlemen and sundry weirdos, proclaims this illustrator as he sways drunkenly onto his feet, I propose a toast!

Let’s hear it for Lewis Carroll (tipsy shouts of hear, hear!) … the best Anglican maths-tutor-cum-nonsense-wallah Oxford ever produced (gurgled cries of approval emanating from a giant thimble full of wine) … a true friend of man and anapest alike (slurred bleats of rhubarb-rhubarb, custard-custard) … and the most important Victorian poet to ever use the words 'railway-share'! (exeunt all, with general bedlam, light to variable).

Monday, May 30, 2016

12 Angry Snarks

 With a nightmarish fanfare of snores and snorts, Fit the Sixth of Lewis Carroll’s cri-de-cœur, AKA The Hunting of the Snark, now heaves into view. This page, a little number which I call The Barrister’s Dream, is an illustrative poke-in-the-snoot aimed squarely at the grand English tradition of Oneiric Verse, ie., such yawn-inducing showstoppers as the Dream of the Rood, Bill Blake’s Dream and Christina "Sister Wombat" Rossetti’s Dream Land.

The reader will note that in this Fit of his Snark, Carroll successfully introduced the nightmarish element of potential litigation into the English Dream Poem, thus bringing to light the adversarial relationship twixt Dreamer and Dream.

We all of us dream and yet none of us truly know why, nor, more to the point, what our dreams might mean. If this is not an apt metaphor for the relationship twixt the Average Citizen and the Law, I’m a frittered-cheese-wig! Hence, our need for barristers and all their jolly legal ilk cluttering the land, and hence we find that even whilst asleep, Carroll has seen fit to provide you, the D.R., with qualified legal assistance at affordable rates.

If you are so inclined, it might occur to you that the Entire Meaning of the Snark is a similar enigma, impervious to explanation save by employing the services of a picture-wallah such as my ever-so-‘umble self. It might even occur to you that my tactic of employing Martin Heidegger as our Snarkic Barrister bodes ill for any useful solution to any of the above questions. Heidegger was a notorious Teutonic chatterbox and utterly useless for any explanation more complex than obtaining the directions to the nearest washroom, in short, prime material for any barrister’s office wishing to pad their billable hours beyond all human endurance.

Alas, you are not so inclined. You are, like the Barrister Heidegger, comfortably reclined and fast asleep on company time, amazed by this Snark-hunter’s dream which we call life.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Gosford Snark

 The preternaturally alert reader will instantly recognize the decor of this panel as a quintessentially English bit of inkery lifted whole from the Yellow Submarine, that snarkalicious confection crafted by Messers Dunnings, Coates, Edelmann et alia. Their Anglo-Canadian-Teutonic vision of the archetypical English garden party, Pepperland, is shown here being hijacked by a band of desperate Snark Hunters in need of shelter from the heavy weather of Fit the Fifth.

In truth, there is little to recommend in this Fit to anyone in need of some jollies to lighten the burden of another long day working for the Man and all that. F5, as some Snarkistanis dub it, is a place where there is a gnashing of teeth and a smiting of thighs in the very best tradition of the sadomasochistic hallucinations and delusions of St. Anthony and his Victorian spiritual descendants, those lecturers at certain educational institutions who were condemned to the spiritual tortures of instructing the Boschian progeny of the upper classes in all matters animal, vegetable and mineral.

As proof positive of all of the above, let us note that Lewis Carroll, a mild-mannered man noted for his personal gentleness, saw fit to end this Fit with a semi-Swiftian comment upon all of the above. This novel friendship between the Beaver and the Butcher is cemented not by the altruistic bonds of selfless love but by the grotesque imperatives of Fear and Loathing!

You old cynic, Mr. Carroll! You’ve been hobnobbing too much with that old boojum-lover Mr. C.L. Dodgson, whose years of teaching at Christ Church had taught him to regard his young charges as at worst, nasty, brutish and short, and at best, nasty, brutish and short from the right sort of families.

Which is why this illustrator thought it might brighten up the place a bit if we had a little bit of Pepperland and the Fab Four smuggled in to do the honors for the Jubjub’s Song which closes this Fit. Come on, Messers Dodgson and Carroll, it’s not as bad as all that, all you need is love!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Snark, a Vagrant!

 The attentive reader will notice that in this panel, as in the last two panels, we have been undergoing what specialists in this sort of thing call a Transition. Beginning with an ur-schoolroom redolent of the worst Boschian horrors Christ Church has on tap, we shifted into a theatrical backdrop of sorts, then flitted through a hasty visual flashback of various preceding Fits and now find ourselves in a pastoral sort of setting, evocative of an English garden party frequented by exactly the sort of Carrollian riffraff one always finds lurking about at such affairs.

Gosh! This Transformation business is mickle hard to pull off, it’s certainly easier for the likes of poets such as Lewis Carroll to shift quarters if they wish, it’s merely a question of them upending a spare thesaurus and rummaging about with a few adjectives and suitable prepositions. For us picture-wallahs, it’s a whole different story! The extras have to be chosen and then costumed, the appropriate locales have to be researched and then reproduced at considerable expense, then there’s lighting and makeup, why, the catering alone is an logistical boojum!

In this case, we’ve arranged for some currently unemployed peons from Alice in Wonderland to serve drinks and snacks whilst the Fellowship of the Snark mill around in period costumes with various Protosurrealist floozies glued to their arms, all of ‘em muttering rhubarb-rhubarb-custard-custard to give it all that air of Carrollian verisimilitude.

Of course, in the Good Old Days they didn’t call it a Transition, it was a Metamorphosis back then and it was all the rage in pre-Christian circles. You couldn’t go outside for the morning paper without bumping into someone’s teenaged daughter bursting into foliage or regressing into a giant spider; such goings-on were pure catnip for the poets of that time and I think it’s safe to say that the advent of monotheism put the kibosh on a considerable source of innocent merriment for both gods and mortals.

All of which brings us to the semi-belated point that in some subliminal manner, Lewis Carroll’s Anglican penchant for Nonsense verse is really the sneaky pagan’s taste for Metamorphosis resurgent in the usually sacrosanct domain of Logic and Semiotics! As always, I’ll eschew further elaboration of this particular observation out of respect for the sausage-stuffing-phobia of any decent reader towards such crypto-Bismarckian literary goings-ons.

I shall confine myself to remarking that Metamorphosis is a fine thing, a double-plus-fine thing to liven up any bit of illustration or verse you might have handy; perhaps the Beaver and Butcher’s unexpected metamorphosis into the very best of friends is just the sort of versification needed to bring back the salad days of wine, women and Pagan Nonsense …

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Snark of a Thousand Faces

 May we conjecture that in this melodramatic passage of verse (redolent of Tennyson’s more sentimental confections) the poet Lewis Carroll is performing some sort of prosodic sleight-of-hand meant to encapsulate the entire gamut of stormy passions and turgid pleasures which we lesser folk call Married Life?

The fool-suckling and small-beer-chronicling of married life was unknown to Carroll personally. However his friend C.L. Dodgson seems to have known something about the Vast Mystery of Connubial and Familial Bliss in a second-hand sort of manner and probably let Carroll in on the joke, so to speak.

The true-life confessions of the Beaver are spicy stuff indeed, by Victorian standards! Her bitter observation that looks are always more eloquent even than tears is a clear reference to the Eternal Dilemma of the weeping, middle-aged woman confronting the illicitly toothsome paramour of her caddishly retro-adolescent-spouse.

The Bellman’s fleeting emasculation is a proto-Freudian dig (or even a snigger, I’m not quite sure) at thing-um-a-jig and perhaps even what-you-may-call-um, pretty strong stuff indeed for a commoner’s garden variety Snark Hunt and better left to the plain-brown-wrapper crowd who frequent the less-reputable purlieus of English verse!

There’s also some versical bits and pieces hinting at the Disconsolation of Books, the Inevitable Patching It Up for the Sake of the Kids and even a bit of emotional doubletalk on the Bellman’s part, solely for the purposes of smoothing things over for his pal the Butcher, who remains conveniently silent throughout this whole cringe-inducing, Mills & Boon production.

All in all, it’s a pretty sordid low point in this Snark and perhaps even in this artist’s ongoing commentary upon the same. Sure, I’ve dressed it all up with a nice picture and some fancy music-hall-type crosstalk of a pseudo-intellectual bent but deep underneath it all, it’s all really quite shallow. Wearisome days, indeed, eh?

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Unbearable Lightness of Drawing Snark

Dear readers, if Lewis Carroll was alive today, he would never get into print. He would have no comps to be measured against, a shocking excess of originality and an unmarketable habit of assuming children want to be genuinely challenged. Even if he self-published (which is what he did for the first Alice book in essence), no distributor would handle him. 

The point is that diverse books are not just about different races or cultures, that's just part of it … to me, diversity is more about alternative viewpoints, ideas that are not pre-commodified or safely clichéd but which really expand the reader's head. I published my novel, American Candide, with Rosarium Publishing, a minority-owned house that publishes books by authors and artists that tell diverse stories, with multicultural perspectives and unorthodox subjects that the bigger houses refuse to touch. Rosarium is having an indiegogo campaign to refinance, so if the issue of diversity in publishing and storytelling matters to you, check them out … or tell a friend. It's your Literary Multiverse, dear reader … do you want to stagnate in a provincial monoculture or flourish in a diverse, vigorous world culture? Now back to the snarky laughs …

Friendship is, of course, a double-edged sort of business, the very sort of tricksy fritter-my-wig-thingum-a-jig that Messers Lewis Carroll and C.L. Dodgson must have pondered over quite a bit in the course of their own long and fruitful association.

The attentive reader (is there any other?) will remember my own reasons for emasculating the Beaver, and I think that this very stanzel is proof positive of the aesthetic rightness (or is it righteousness?) of that long-ago, fateful decision on my part.

And so, we see here the Beaver and Butcher heaving into view with their freshly-minted friendship in tow. Needless to say, the friendship of the Butcher will prove a heavy burden for the luckless Beaver. The former’s penchant for looking the part of an incredible dunce, as evidenced in his just-concluded, semi-interminable monologue upon all things Jubjub, will weigh heavily upon the Beaver’s sensitive soul.

May we conjecture that Carroll might have had the same private misgivings concerning his rather leechlike pal, Dodgson? The basic principles of Prosodic Forensics may apply here, my dear Watson, when one bears in mind that once one has removed the impossible from whatever verse one is studying, whatever one is left with, however improbably, is the logical solution.

The Butcher’s poetic modus operandi is painfully obvious: dunderheaded obliviousness to all things outside his realm of expertise, a compulsion to lecture strangers ad infinitum, etc. Such a description is, as some of us are painfully aware, the very epitome of the college lecturer, of which C.L. Dodgson was a prime example.

The Beaver’s versical activities in the last Five Fits have been limited solely to making lace and saving the entire crew from wreck. The former activity is utterly frivolous, as is versifying in general, and the latter activity is nothing less than an oblique reference to her skill in composing galdors, those Celtic verse charms used in pagan times to protect the common folk from evil through the application of some mysterious, verbal magic unknown to the layman!

The attentive reader should promptly compare the above description to Lewis Carroll, and finding that it’s a perfect match, brandish their regulation Scotland Yard handcuffs, then secure the guilty party and march him off to the station to take his statement, the villain!

And while you’re at it, Sergeant, cuff that Dodgson wallah, he was probably in on it with Carroll, the two of ‘em are inseparable friends, don’t you know. We’ll soon have at least one of ‘em singing like a canary, probably till the next day, I’m afraid.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bavarian Snark!

 Our Hunting of the Snark resumes its Jubjubian subplot for yet another stanzel; Lewis Carroll regales us here with a spirited description of a Jubjub being tortured by a variety of methods whose diabolical ingenuity and inventive discomfort seem uncomfortably redolent of an impromptu herd of schoolboys possessing the usual cretinous surplus of high spirits and moral pygmyism.

Carroll’s closest associate, C.L. Dodgson, would have been quite familiar with such goings-on, both as grim memories of his own public-schooling at Rugby and more to the point, as part of his quotidian duties as a maths tutor at Christ Church, where we can have little doubt that the vast majority of his students possessed a similar burning enthusiasm to make things hot for all creatures great and small.

This implicit connection twixt torture and mathematics must have troubled Dodgson’s gentle soul; no doubt he shared his unease with the more worldly Carroll, who then incorporated all of the above into this snappy bit of verse which we are chewing over right now.

In his Annotated Snark, Martin Gardner briefly discussed Prof. John Leech’s observations upon the mathematical implications of this stanza. Leech noted that by substituting locuses (or loci) for locusts, and tape measure for tape, one is then provided with the rudimentary instructions for the sawing and gluing together of the various wooden rods necessary for the skeletal framework of a regular polyhedron.

One can have little doubt that these instructions for the construction of a geometric solid would have provided Dodgson’s students with some considerable discomfort! From their 19th-century British discomfort they would have slipped, inevitably, into the very graphic slough of a fullblown 16th-century German melancholia, with all its attendant polyhedronal tortures!

Huzzah for the symmetrical mathematical-moral shape of things in our cozy world of boiled and salted Jubjubs-cum-schoolboys, ‘tis all very well thought out, Messers Carroll and Dodgson! The morally high-minded reader can chuckle appreciatively at all this, the rest of you just rattle your jewelry in a passing gust of old-fashioned schadenfreude.

NB. I must draw your attention, my dear Watson, to the curious incident of the dog barking at the moon. It is a Catalonian, 20th-century dog prone to bouts of selenic melancolia originating from its anachronistic exile to Nuremberg.


If you're read this far, then you deserve to know that my publisher, Rosarium Publishing,  is running an indiegogo campaign to raise funds to continue their expansion … Rosarium specializes in books by and about minorities, books which offer stories and viewpoints which few other publishers take on. If diversity in publishing means something to you, check 'em out, or at least spread the word … http://bit.ly/rosariumpub

Monday, April 18, 2016

Eat, Drink, Prey!


In lieu of slandering Lewis Carroll here's a delicious, kitchen-tested recipe for curried Snark … if your butcher doesn't stock Snark, you can substitute beef, lamb or goat. Indian cooking is notoriously time-consuming but I promise you that this recipe is both foolproof and tastes authentic.

Genuine Assamese Snark Curry 

 Mix the following together:
1 kilo of Snark meat, cubed (if no Snark is to be had, use beef, goat or lamb, preferably with bones)
6 medium onions, minced
small head of garlic, minced
an inch of fresh ginger, grated
tablespoon of turmeric
one cinnamon stick
one cup of oil
tablespoon of salt
• a sufficient amount of genuinely hot green chilis, slit
tablespoon of ground cumin, a tablespoon of ground coriander and a tablespoon of garam masala

Mix and let sit overnight. Cook on low heat, with the lid on and stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Add one cup of water, bring to boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 90 minutes or until meat is tender. The curry should finish up with a thick gravy, not at all runny. If beef, lamb or goat meat was used, serve with rice or naan, vegetables and dal.
 


However, if you did use Snark, then might I suggest that you top off this culinary fiesta by sending a few thank-you rupees to my publisher, Rosarium, who is having an Indiegogo campaign to finance the extrication of their books from the clutches of a sleazy distributor (long, depressing story).

Rosarium publishes fiction and comix by minority authors with minority viewpoints (the combination is rarer than you might think), heck, they're even publishing my novel, American Candide, (also delayed by distributor but should be out May 1, latest) which is proof positive that Rosarium does what most publishers only talk about: publish books to expand people's thinking instead of shutting it down.

There is a reason why the political landscape is so dismal of late and it's not an accident … suppressing voices and stories under the guise of commercial considerations has paid off handsomely for The Man. So if you have a few spare bucks and care about art and politics and literature, send 'em to Rosarium. They won't waste it.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

American Candide …


American Candide
by Mahendra Singh (Rosarium, 2016, ISBN 978-0996769211)

200 pgs., 31 illustrations by the author
NB. Should be available on Amazon-USA by May 1, latest … the distributor is being very naughty.
 

Voltaire's most famous creation, Candide, rebooted for the better-than-best of all possible worlds, 21st-century America! From the slums of Africa to the McMansions of suburbia, the human condition wreaks havoc upon Candide and his posse as they search for an American Dream being held against its will in an undisclosed location. College-boy sissies will call it a Juvenalian satire upon America's penchant for mindless optimism and casual racism but American Candide calls it "rage against the rage, Voltaire-dude!"
Amazon USA  
Amazon UK  
Rosarium
Indiebound.org (consortium of independent bookstores) 
Alibris
Amazon Italia  
Amazon Deutschland

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bohemian Snark Rhapsody


“But it knows any friend it has met once before:
It never will look at a bribe:
And in charity-meetings it stands at the door,
And collects — though it does not subscribe.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, this is not double vision but rather a mea culpa of sorts! Lewis Carroll always warned us not to bring home any Snarks we might find on the street and this applies double-plusly to any Snarks we might find on the internet, present company excluded, of course.

What brings all this to mind is the scandalous Case of the Missing Bribe, an affaire snarque which was first brought to my attention by the eminent Czech poet and Snark translator, Václav Z. J. Pinkava. It was he, who in discussing with me the above stanza regarding the Jubjub’s sordid personal habits, first detected the spurious substitution of the word bride with the word bribe in most internet texts. I'll watson Václav’s holmes thus …

"In the text I first based my translation upon, some years ago - the second b of bribe had become its mirror image, bride. It serves me right for working in IT, I should not have relied on electronic sources. I had also used Gutenberg, in 2005, so the Origin of Speciousness is now lucidly clear. The consequences of such a tiny but undetected 'program bug' are impressive. Snarkologists might find it curious that this shows up in the phrase "it never will look at a bribe" — nobody did look!"

Both Václav and I had run afoul of Gutenberg.org's tainted source copy! Shocking isn't it, dear reader, to discover that a certain someone is type-setting his raw copy from an internet site! Alas, I had already misdrawn the soiled stanza with its sordid Bride, the results of which you see above on the left. Fortunately, Václav is not only a poet, but a brainworker too, and his fertile mind was teeming with a scintillating maelstrom of myriad illustrative remedies à la Hedly Lamarr!

"Anyway, I may have a solution for you — or at least a talkaround … the Bride-as-Bribe is of course a theme reminiscent of classical Knight and Dragon stories, where the King offers his only daughter as a draconian bride-bribe to save the royal city from ruin. Rather a Grimm prospect. Tom Tower (the Christ Church background of the above drawings) looks rather like a hidden dragon to me, in your picture, with the gate as the mouth and the windows above as the eyes.

The b-d transform is, as hereto indicated, reminiscent of the two "eye" Tom Tower windows, with a bit of buttressing masonry as the uprights. Not unnaturally, then, given St George as the English patron saint, that this should be an undercurrent in any truly English literary endeavour. And, after all, on the blank part of old maps the inscription was either Hic Sunt Leones, or Hic Sunt Dracones, and so the brave Bellman has taken his crew not only into Snark country, but into Lion and Dragon country, too, just by using a blank map.

The Jubjub bird is, like most birds, not a creature of the KNight and so is much too unchivalrous to pay attention to any brides-as-bribes, lest the respective dragon-groom challenge the interloper to a fight. If Miguel de Cervantes made Don Quixote mistake windmills for Giants, then Lewis Carroll's opiated view of Tom Tower as a dragon is quite acceptable to me."


After ruminating upon Václav's advice, I remedied the situation with a corrected drawing. With this hasty addition of a large and angry honeybee, the Bride had Bee-come a Bribe and all was well again — for now, at least!





For me, the entire episode was a painful reminder of the subtle dangers lurking in even the most innocuous Carrollian verse (and the necessity of actually reading what I’m drawing, eh?). However, in further correspondence with Václav, I discovered that his own Czech translation had also run afoul of various linguistic sandbanks, which he had navigated with some considerable panache …

"Czech’s visual compactness is a side effect of diacritical marks, invented by Jan Hus, the Protestant martyr who was burnt as a heretic in Constance — albeit not for his orthography. This diacritical scheme is a great idea, it makes Czech far shorter to look at than Polish, a related language. However, the alphabet has a Carrollian 42 letters, including one dipthong 'ch', pronounced like the word Loch.

I have indeed maintained and in fact in some places enhanced the eccentricity of the text, in Carrolian style. This has led to no end of controversy. Czechs, like the French, have an institution to guard purity of language, and they are averse to anyone taking liberties, such as putting in one or two portmanteau words when the rhythmic straightjacket got too tight.

Anyway, let those Czech translators who come after me make do with the plainer versification they long for. It is often annoyingly inescapable to me, when I read Carroll's seemingly plain-English Snark, how he plays with multiple meanings in simple words (or at least I think he does). For example, in the Second Fit — "Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!" — makes me think of a personified Map wearing a cape! Another example of a bit of fun; in the Barrister's dream, I took a slight liberty with the translation of:

"The fact of Desertion I will not dispute;

But its guilt, as I trust, is removed
(So far as relates to the costs of this suit)
By the Alibi which has been proved."

It occurred to me that an Alibi literally means that the accused was somewhere else at the time, which, if one is being accused of desertion, can be interesting, if negated. So I translated this partly to say that the Alibi is proven by there being none, i.e. the pig was not somewhere else. As to the cost of the "suit", I hope there was no "gilt" implied; well at least it has been removed, and especially so in translation.

On the repeating mantra "They sought it with, etc.,", I had a great opportunity to use a double meaning in Czech, because "mydlit" (to soap) someone is an idiom for beating them up, for reigning blows upon them mercilessly; so I left out the smiles part and emphasized the soap, literally: "(they) confounded it with the way soap soaps/beats up." It has a nice euphony and alliteration about it in the Czech line. There is also an idiom to soap someone's stairs, i.e., to assist their downfall.

I initially surmised that I had to be very free with the translation when it came to the Snark's fondness for bathing machines, and their adding to the beauty of scenes, as no Czech reader would have a clue what a Victorian bathing machine is. No coastline here! So I took another angle on that, mentioning showers and (car-style) wash-machines, and the adding to the beauty of scenes being open to doubt because the view is cleaner but also drop-speckled. In the end I found a way of translating it as "wheeled bathing cabins" and left it up to the reader to research what they were. It seems to me that the assertion at the very beginning of the poem, "Just the place for a Snark", is best explained by envisaging numerous bathing machines liberally perched upon chasms and crags!

In Czech it is impossible to maintain all the tradesmen starting on B, or any one letter, without changing them. Incidentally, why is everyone convinced they had names beginning with B, when they are descriptions, and one in particular very oblique — the Bonnet Maker?

One of my greatest annoyances was how many Czechs have been led astray by their clichéd schooling, which mentions the Snark in the 3rd grade despite there not being a Czech translation until now. Accordingly, they consider the Snark to be predominantly shark-like, and so they wanted it translated into some Czech soundalike (czech for shark being Žralok pronounced zhrullock). I want the Snark to remain a Snark — I just added an accent on the á. I do rather wish Carroll had named him Xnark, though."

I do hope that you've have enjoyed this lengthy but detailed exposé into the hitherto concealed inner workings of the international Snark trade, both visual and linguistic. Sure, there’s plenty of glamour and gorgeous women and fast cars and forks and hope and all that but that’s 19th century British Nonsense poetry for you, isn’t it? It will all end in tears anyway …
___________

NB. Václav is a fine poet as well as translator and his verse is worth reading, as is his father's. Václav crafts his words with hope and care, as befits a truly talented and steadfast member of the Fellowship of the Snark! Bibliophiliac Snarkniks (and you know who you are) can find his Czech Snark readily available here

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Caliban Goes Art-School Confidential!

This is NOT what most publishers expect from minority/POC illustrator-authors

The most popular posts I've done on this blog were the technical critiques of Moebius' Airtight Garage … I suspect that there are young illustrators reading this blog in the hopes of actually learning something of practical use. So I'll skip the usual Snark and talk shop instead … if the public approves, there's plenty more on tap.

There's a lot of talk in North America about the problems of minorities in the publishing/comix business. I'd like to point out something that seems to get lost in the brouhaha: when you think through the business implications, your problem-of-being-a-minority is a distinct advantage.

Minority/POC illustrators and authors: since you are statistically less likely to have gone to the right school or drank at the right watering hole or even slept with the right people, you have only your work and your work habits to sell you to editors, art directors and publishers. You MUST consistently produce conceptually and technically superior work, on deadline and genuinely camera-ready or copy-editor-friendly, you have no other viable career strategy. Yes, publishers will pay you less but that will improve as you progress, assuming that you never relax your standards.

In fact, when you think it through, discrimination creates a distinct advantage for minorities in the Darwinian cesspool we call the publications business. Plus, it's a genuine hoot knowing that the Last Bastion of the Protestant Work Ethic in North America is the Invisible Man!

And here the lesson endeth.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The snark from another planet


We are very pleased to bring you this startling mental picture of a Jubjub, fleshed out, as it were, from the grease-stained and tattered blueprints provided to us by the engineering firm of Dodgson, Carroll & Associates. This once reputable British firm of snarkwrights, headquartered in Guildford, Surrey, had utterly cornered both the domestic and export trade in British Nonsense by the end of the 19th century.

Their patented Jubjub Bird, shown above, started out as a commoner’s garden-variety hoopoe-cum-popinjay but Carroll, a mad and impulsive boy at heart, kept adding on a bit here and bit there until he had invented what came to be known as "the bird of perpetual passion". Too spicy for staid British tastes, it enjoyed a certain vogue in France until the advent of lurid mass-produced, paperback novels rendered it obsolete.

This particular example is a fine example of the classic Victorian penchant for thick-ankled avians swaddled in the finest watered gutta-percha silk. It was discovered by this artist, roosting in the most meager, luxury suite of the Ritz-Carleton, subsisting on a paltry diet of sugar daddies and hot buttered toffs until it was lovingly restored to its original bird-brained splendor by a poultice of blank checks and a strict regimen of breakfast at Tiffanys.


I think it would look rather fetching hanging on your arm, whenever you appear at the Drones Club or wherever it is that you roost at night.