Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Different Kind of Wheel

I think that I'm on pretty safe ground to say that no one has ever used a keg of wine as their Wheel of Fortune before. But the original illustration even included the X on the front of the barrel. it was just too good to resist. And Mister Punch is certainly in command in the Sphinx position on top. 

Unfortunately, I think my limitations as a colorist are showing on this one. I'm not entirely satisfied with the way it turned out, but the nice thing is that at this stage nothing is set in stone. I may lighten up the figures or change the colors entirely. 

Like the Hierophant card, the base illustration is a Victorian-era cartoon that appeared in the pages of Britain's top magazine of political and social satire, PUNCH. 

As an aside, the font I've chosen was designed to emulate the hand-lettering of Maxfield Parrish. 

Thanks for visiting, and I always love to hear feedback... especially now, when I can still change things!

-- Frede.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Empress --

-- is of course the long-suffering Miss Judy, with her equally-long-suffering baby.

In the tamer and more politically correct Punch and Judy shows of today, this pair is rarely abused at all. But in the real thing, the unexpurgated shows of the Victorian era, Judy and The Baby are Mister Punch's first and primary victims. Of course the horrible Mister Punch beats both of them with his stick, but it's the baby who gets the worst treatment: in milder versions of the show, the baby is repeatedly thrown out of the window (though usually caught by the more sensitive members of the child audience, and returned to the stage). Darker versions of the show find the baby tossed into the sausage-meat machine and ground into sausage. Quite by accident of course.

This sort of treatment of babies is not unique to Mister Punch. I am reminded of a song I learned in my childhood about a certain Mister Dunderbeck:

Oh Dunderbeck, oh Dunderbeck how could you be so mean?
To ever have invented the sausage-meat machine
Now all the neighbors cats and dogs will never more be seen
'cuz they've been ground to sausage-meat in Dunderbeck's machine.

I am afraid that if the classic Punch and Judy show was offered on TV as kid's entertainment today, there would be an outcry so vast that it would shake the pillars of the nation. Because of course Mister Punch is a vile little man: he beats his wife and children, he beats black people, he beats his friends. About the only character he's remotely nice to is his dog, Toby. When the policeman comes to arrest him, Punch beats up the policeman. The judge gets similar treatment. When Punch is sent to the scaffold to be hung for his crimes, he turns the tables and hangs the hangman. The Devil comes along right about now. Mister Devil gets what's coming to him and then some, because Punch is ten times the devil that The Devil is. Not even Death himself can put an end to Mister Punch's awful behavior. 

All of this makes the Punch and Judy show a ridiculously perfect choice to feature in a tarot deck. I'm not sure why it qualified him to become the star and namesake of Britain's longest-running satirical magazine, but perhaps that's something we'll find out together as this project rolls along...


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Punch Card The First

I wasn't originally going to color it this much, as the original black-and-white illustrations have a great look with no help needed from me. But with base illustrations coming from a wide range of sources, some of them vibrantly colored, this would produce a really ragged, schizophrenic looking deck. Better to color the black and white sources than bleed the color out of the colored ones, I thought... especially as a lot of tarot readers rely on color as part of the symbolism.

There will be some cards that I don't have to color at all, and others -- like this one -- that need a complete coloring job. For this, I'm looking at real hand-colored Victorian prints to see how they did it, and trying to emulate what I see.

Likewise, there will be cards like this one with base illustrations that I don't have to alter at all, in any way... and there will be cards where I am forced to collage entirely new illustrations out of a range of base elements. We'll see how that goes. 

The pip cards will be -- in the Marseilles style -- just that: pip cards without significant illustrations, just arrangements of wands, cups, etc. -- although I do hope to work Mister Punch somewhere into the design of each one. Again, we'll see how that goes. If I've learned anything over the years, it's that you always start with a definite plan and a clear direction -- and  then end up making new plans and going off in entirely different directions. It's just an occupational hazard.

Hope you like this first card, and that it gives you a rough indication of what the deck is going to look like. Thanks for your kind interest -- and I would love to hear your thoughts.

"That's the way to do it!"

-- Frede.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Welcome to a New Victorian Tarot

That's The Way to Do It!


The Victorian world of the Punch and Judy show is perfectly suited to Tarot. When you combine the rich history of his stage appearances with his iconic appearances in the British satirical magazine bearing his name, Mister Punch has mastered nearly every comic situation and is now ready to take on his biggest challenge of all, as you will soon see in his unique take on the tarot. 

Here is the home of my latest Tarot project -- a full tarot deck in the Marseilles style with a vintage, theatrical appeal. 

I am the creator of the acclaimed Tarot of the Zirkus M├Ągi, The Marvelous Oracle of Oz, and The Golliwogg Oracle. I am also the author of two novels, a volume of Tarot meanings, and an assortment of other odd items that I hope will amuse. My divination decks all have a vintage flavor, yet all are unique, and all are designed to be working tools useful to professional and novice readers alike. My decks all have an edge to them, and this one will be no exception. 

I hope you will join me in watching over the birth of this exciting "new vintage" tarot deck. Card designs will start appearing here soon. My hope is that the finished product will be ready for the second quarter of 2015.