Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Final Card Reveal

The ten of pentacles is  the last card in the deck, so it's only fitting that it should be my final reveal. They keyword I typically associate with this card is "Legacy." The significance of the image is largely personal. 

The printed proof has arrived and all systems are ready to go. Come back on the March 2 launch date.  And thanks for taking this journey through Puppet Tarot Land with me.

-- Frede.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wands and More Wands

I wouldn't normally re-post all the deck images like this, but having changed the main font mid-way through the design process, that means half the images on this site no longer reflect the finished designs!! -- And I am finding that I really like how they all look together....

-- Frede

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Devil in the Details

The base image for this card was just right, but I was feeling a little bored that day and wanted to juice it up: so I built Mr. Punch a new gibbet with rope that had substance, and in place of the cartoon Devil that he was hanging in the original drawing, I added in an actual Devil puppet from one of my mother's Punch and Judy sets (long gone now, alas; thrown to the winds in auction). I twisted the puppet's body this way and that to make him look more dingle-dangly, and because I wanted him hanging over the edge of the stage (but didn't want to lose any part of him from the card) I added in a second proscenium: actually a Punch and Judy ball-toss game.

The question that this card asks is, Who is really the Devil here? Where typical Devil cards depict The Horned One as an Evil Influence dominating humanity from outside, this one more or less clearly states that Evil comes from Man, and is an influence extending outward to darken the world.

Only one more card reveal left!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Second 12

Here's the second group of 12 cards seen all together. A better view of The Devil -- the only Major Arcana card that hasn't been revealed so far on this site -- will go up tomorrow. Hope you like these!

-- Frede.

Monday, April 20, 2015

With this card I used another New Year's allegory from the pages of Punch magazine to create a very slightly radical take on the Temperance card. Although many of the classic symbols are still there (including a couple added by me), the blending of contrasting fluids into a cohesive whole is replaced by the metaphor of musical collaboration, and the departure of imbalance. 

Although anything can happen between now and then and many a slip-up can occur, I have for entirely personal reasons set the tentative release date of this deck for May 2, 2015. 

Just two more cards left to reveal here... and they are two of my favorites.

-- Frede.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

All Together Now

Here are the first ten cards of the Major Arcana. They've all been revealed already on this site, but I thought maybe you'd like to see them all together. Click on the image to enlarge. More to come!

-- Frede.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Judgement Day? -- Or Just a New Year's Allegory?

Although I didn't find and hadn't seen this base image until well into the process of making the deck, it's just a fact that drawings like this are the reason that a Punch Tarot seems inevitable. This is actually a detail of a much larger drawing, a simple (?) New Year's allegory published in Punch magazine to usher in the year 1891. Beyond the cropping, I didn't have to do anything other than color the thing. Another, later New Year's allegory will appear on one of the remaining cards.

It's all done now. I've been through, made the final revisions and changed, formatted the final images, and the deck is off at the printers for the excruciating wait to get a printed proof. I'll be posting the last few cards slowly over the next couple of weeks. 

Meanwhile, I've already started designing the add-ons. What do you think of the new Reading Mat?

Although it's based on the King of Wands card from this deck, I can think of any number of wonder tarot decks that it would work well with! Hope you like it.

Still more to come -- it's not over yet!

-- Frede.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

La Force

I'm kind of tickled with how this one turned out. Britannia and her lion were the only choice for this card, but finding the right version of them to use -- and then finding the right Punch for them -- took me a while. 

-- Frede.

Designs on The Queen

This is the last card I had to complete among the Royal Families. I have five cards left to go: four majors and one minor.

It had a different base image slotted in until just yesterday. I'm so glad now that I changed it. In the original image, Punch seems to be offering the lady a Victoria Cross medal. It wasn't until the last minute that I thought to sub out the medal for the cup -- DUH!

Barring disaster, I will have all the base work on this deck finished by Friday, and will be able to go back, make the final revisions and refinements, and get this puppy in the physical works... "I are 'cited!"

If it seems that these have gone by fast, just consider that this is "what I am doing now;" it's all that I'm doing now: no writing, no side projects. Pamela Colman Smith created her deck in five months, and I'd have to go and look at the dates, but I dare say it's been just about that for the creation of this deck from the time I started working on it until now.

Many thanks for joining me on the journey!

-- Frede.

King of Pointy Things

I suppose this could have been The Emperor just as well ... but by the time I found this illustration I had already done The Emperor, and anyway nearly everyone in the picture (including Kingy Punch himself) is holding onto something sharp and pointy. Note that the Jester (usually a role reserved for Punch!) is "riding" a Pantomime Horse, with his own feet sticking out the bottom.

And all I can think of now is Carol Cleveland sighing, "Ohhh, Pantomime Horse... you were... won-derful..."

-- Frede.

Coin of the Realm

If you look closely, you will see that our Queen has the words "Illustrated London News" written across her sash. I could have taken these words out but chose not to: they show that our Queen is connected with and interested in the Practical Affairs of the Day, which is after all what makes a Pentacle Queen tick.

-- Frede.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Strange case of Punch V. Punch

I cobbled this together from four separate elements. Mister Punch -- at least in the pages of the magazine named for him -- appeared just as often in positions of state as he did acting outside the law... actually, more often that not, the magazine version of Punch is a fine upstanding citizen. As he has no problem at all passing judgement on his fellow man, it's only fair that he's just as comfortable sentencing himself. Here's a case of the scales truly being in balance...

-- Frede.

Old Man Of The Mountain

At the beginning of an allegorical visit to the planets, Mister Punch pays a visit to Father Time, and it is the moment of their meeting that gives us our Hermit card. If you have a copy of Cab Calloway singing "The Old Man of The Mountain," why not slip it on right now?

-- Frede.

Punch on the Half-Shell

For a while, this was going to be the Knight of Cups, being so very water-themed and all... but the drawing that I ended up using there was too cute to let go. I actually had many candidates for this card, featuring Punch in both mythological and rural settings, but all were laid out horizontally, and would have been difficult t frame in a tall, narrow card. This one wins by default, because its layout almost exactly replicates that of a Marseilles-style Chariot card. 


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Flinging Babies

Of course Mister Punch is most noted for his bad behavior, and his behavior is never worse than when directed at his own family -- in particular, Punch Junior. I think it is really doubtful that there are any professional Punch and Judy performers still working today who actually allow their Punch to shove his baby into a meat grinder and grind it up into sausages, but it is fervently to be hoped that they still allow him to toss the baby out the window. I fondly recall my first Punch and Judy show where the baby was flung wildly from the stage and landed with a plop right at my feet. One looks at one's own parents in a much more appreciative light after one has witnessed their first Punch & Judy show.

I may add some yods back into this one before it sees print... I don't know. I'm kind of pleased with it the way it is, but a Tower card without yods just doesn't feel right.

-- Frede.

The High Priestess


Today, London -- Tomorrow -- !!

The base image here has been with the deck right from the start: this is one of the very first cards I laid out, and one of the original Punch magazine cartoons that made me think of doing a Punch tarot in the first place. Beyond the coloring, I've done little to it other than to take out the line-art for the globe and replace it with a real vintage-style globe. I could have put a wreath around him, I could have included the four angelic symbols that typically reside in the four corners of this card, but I decided not to. Mister Punch himself and the attitude that  he is posing are all the symbols this card needs.

All but one of the minors are now done, all but three of the court cards are done, and all but nine of the Majors are done. Of the Majors, only three do not have their basic design quite nailed down yet.

I'm beginning to feel that I've come around the final turn and am heading for home. 


The Most Illusive Card

The seven of swords may be the trickiest card in the deck, but then tricksy-ness is part of the meaning that it has become associated with. Once again I had a base image that I'd immediately fallen in love with, but which I could not find a place for. 

It actually shows an aged Mister Punch from a then far-future time (wearing springs on his feet and an electromagnetic hat) visiting a museum of outdated technologies ("modern antiques" according to the caption)... and as near as I can tell, all of the exhibits were in active contemporary use in 1879, when the illustration was made. So what we actually have here is an allegory of progress, in which the great and advanced technologies of today become the museum pieces of the future. Here is the original illustration:

The things on display include gas light fixtures, a diving suit, a steam engine, a thermometer, fireplace implements, wood paving, clay drainage pipes and more. Christine Payne-Towler, she of the great Tarot of the Holy Light, defines the seven of swords as "the card of mental preparedness, acquired through the use of imagination, including rehearing and visualizing one's desired achievements in advance." In my own Tarot of the Zirkus Magi, I ended up assigning the title of "Audacity" to this card. Katz and Goodwin, in their new volume Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot. define the card as "Design, attempt, wish, hope, confidence."

It takes a little thinking, but in the end I think this audacious illustration is right at home on this card. In the original drawing, Mister Punch is shown leaning on a cane. I replaced it with a sword. I then hung five more swords in the case behind him (replacing the oar), and placed the final card below the puppet theater stage.

-- Frede.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Here is Mister Punch in his Victorian garden, the model of contentment, penning an Ode to Nature. If it's anything like the ode spoken by the Big Bad Wolf in a Warner Brothers cartoon by Chuck Jones, it will read: "Huh-LLO, Naytcah! Ah LUHV yis!" I stopped short of putting a Raven on his hump. Maybe I should do that...

Did I mention that there's going to be another goddam book to go with this deck? I don't even want to think about it right now....

-- Frede.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

New Ambitions... Beginning to Manifest

Although simple in design, this is quite a hopeful card and one that is meaningful to me at this moment in time.

-- Frede.

"And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them..."

I found the cartoon drawing of a Punch phrenology head early on and knew that I wanted to use it somewhere in the deck, but until just yesterday I could not for life of me figure out how in heck I was going to fit it in. It was coming down to the wire: really, only the two of swords and one other card had not been blocked out, and this drawing fit with neither of them -- or so I thought. Then yesterday this idea presented itself out of the blue, and ohmygosh I could not get on it fast enough. A good idea is an exciting thing and you want nothing more than to make it happen right away. Fortunately I didn't have to wait. I think it's just what the card ordered. What do you think?

-- Frede.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

West and Wewaxation At Wast!

After a long session of Making Hay (something that Mister Punch does assiduously, in or out of the hay field), Punch is in need of a slight rest. Bit of a sit-down with a pint in the shade... and might as well take advantage of the moment to sharpen up the old scythe,  After all, you never know who's going to need cutting down to size.

-- Frede.

Something Fishy Here...

This is probably my favorite of the Pages, just because Pamela Colman Smith drew a little fishy coming peeking out of his cup -- and now I've included that fishy in my Tarot of the Zirkus Magi, and here. Little touches like that turn static images into stories, and storytelling -- whether it's your story, or the story of your client, or a fictional story laid out in a writer's study -- is what the Tarot is all about, is it not?

-- Freder.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Ass in The Mirror

Well, this is more than a little bit unusual for the five of swords, but I'm kind of tickled with it. In his role as a Trickster figure, it is Mister Punch's job to hold up a mirror to us and force us to see the truth about ourselves... in the pages of Punch magazine, Mister P. particularly relished this role. "You, sir, are an ass. Look for yourself." One wishes that some of today's politicians would look into this particular mirror. Mister Boehner, being a particular Horse's Ass, would, I am sure, get an enlightening view of himself.

I actually built a Victorian room around these two. That's a real Victorian oriental rug that they are standing on; real Victorian wainscoting lines the wall, and above that is real Victorian wallpaper.

-- Frede.

Twenty-One cards to go. Twenty-One has not seemed so far away since I was about twelve years old.

-- Frede.

The Fire Queen

Mister Punch is nothing if not a passionate man. Indeed, he is always letting his passions get the better from him, as here with the Queen of Wands. She is clearly Out of His League, but Punch was never one to let any damn thing get in the way of his desires. 

-- Frede.

Monday, April 6, 2015

An Unironic Knight

Until recently, I've been doing my best to respect the original artists' work and keep as much of their linework and composition as possible. With this card, however, I was really quite ruthless in erasing the bulk of the original cartoon: it was simply too muddy and confused to my eye. There was a castle in the original illustration; I took it out and replaced it with a digital one. There was a tree and several other hunters convening behind Mister Punch in the original illustration; I took  them all out. The result is, perhaps, the least ironic card in the deck, a very straightforward (to my mind) knight of swords. OK for one card -- but I wouldn't want it to become a trend. 

-- Frede.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Crocodiles In The Night

When the crocodiles come to visit us  in the wee small hours of the morning, even someone with the chutzpah of Mister Punch is only right to feel more than a little bit anxious. This is already on its way to becoming my favorite Nine of Swords ever. Night anxiety is just exactly like having a crocodile in your bed. Speaking of crocodiles, I saw an item on the News Hour recently about an archeological discovery: seems there was a breed of these beasties that walked upright like a man, and stood eight feet tall. I've known some people like that. I've worked for a couple of them.



Would you take a journey over water with Mister Punch as the ship's captain? I think that I might. Although Mister P is thoroughly disreputable in every other aspect, he does always have his own self-interest in mind -- and it certainly wouldn't be in his best interest to lose a ship at sea with himself in it. Unless, say, the ship was full of policemen, judges, beadles, devils and hangmen... and in that case it would simply be in his best interest not to go down with the ship. 

Bon voyage!

-- Frede.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Coldest Ace

This seems to be the day of "Making Decisions that All Make My Job Harder." Because yes, I've decided to start labelling the heretofore unlabelled Minors. This is a design decision, not a show of sympathy for people who are too lazy to count the swords or cups or what have you on any given card. 

And I've modified the yellow banner at the bottom so that it is less speckly. So now that has to be changed on every card as well.

I'm not in love with myself today.

On the other hand, I am in love with the new font. I've plugged it in to several of the completed cards and it's perfect. Just what I was looking for from the start. Yaayyyy!

-- Frede.

The Mother of All Revisions

... lies not in what I did to the background of this card (although I am one thousand percent happier with this version), but in the font. I just made a lot of extra work for myself.

I own about a bazillion fonts. Even so, finding the right one for any given job can sometimes be a horrible difficulty. Right from the beginning, the font that I have been using for this deck -- P22's Parrish Hand -- felt to me only like a close approximation of what I wanted. It had the character that I was looking for, but not the weight -- and it was not 100 percent historically "right," either. I tried, literally, dozens of other fonts ... and I had many that had the weight I was looking for, and were even evocative of the right historical period ... but they did not have that slightly off, slightly funky character that I was looking for (or if they did, they had other issues, like for instance not having a complete character set). 

Just today -- literally just minutes ago -- I found a font that I thought had everything I was looking for. I bought it, plugged it in to this card -- and I love it. I was right. It's perfect. It's called "Wilder."

This means I have to go back and change the lettering on every single card I've done so far. I'll likely do this at the very end, when I'm making the final files for production. As I do *not* propose to go back and make all-new internet preview images for this site, you will just have to imagine the different font when you go back and look at the older cards.

I didn't want to spend the money and I didn't want to do the extra work... but when something is right, you know it's right, and if you're going to be able to look at yourself in the mirror you just have to do it whether you want to or not.

-- Frede.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Turning the Page

I wrote a whole long thing to go here but in the end it boils down to "I'm not entirely happy with this one and I don't know why." Nothing is certain in life, but I'd bet you money that this card changes somehow before it sees print. Still, for now, I need to stop fiddling with it and let the old back-brain do its job...

-- Frede.

Feeling Confined?

It's kind of a strange thing. I'm finding that when you apply a base image that connects only loosely with the meaning of any given card, it actually kind of lends depth and breadth to the card meaning. Just so long as it's close enough. You get too far off base and it's just a miss. But if you're close enough, it opens the card up. It's hard to know sometimes when you're in the middle of a design whether or not you've hit close enough to the target, or if it's just a miss. 

-- Frede.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Knighty-Knight, Punch...

The Knights (and The Chariot) were one area of the deck where I had a surfeit of options for base art. Riding on horses and in carriages was such a part of Victorian life that the cartoonists of Punch magazine regularly drew Mister Punch on horseback or driving a cart. I had, literally, twice as many potential base images to choose from as what I needed, and all of them were kind of wonderful in their own way. In the end, the decisions kind of made themselves: Punch in his speeding carriage with the high wheels was a natural for the Knight of Pentacles, and this young master Punch mounted on his playroom hobby-horse is, I think, a natural for the Knight of wands. To tie him even more to the rest of the suit, I gave him the Mister Punch wooden club that appears throughout the minors. The wallpaper of his playroom is, a believe, an authentic Victorian wallpaper (though further artified by me), while that cobalt blue paint on the wainscoting was a popular color of the time.


Master of His Domain

Hopefully this dots all the Is and crosses all the Ts as far as this particular card is concerned. This is one of the very first images/cards that I chose for the deck, although when I did the sample images it was nothing more than the original line art against a cream background. It shows Mister Punch playing a game of Cups and Balls with Earth as his ball and a spiky wand to spear it on as his cup. Aside from the coloring, the additions that I made were strictly to bring it closer in line to Waite-Smith symbolism. The Magician is one of about two to four cards that really have to be RIGHT in order to nail down any given deck, IMHO. I think that I put off finishing it for so long because I knew exactly where I was going with it, and wanted to see how the rest of the deck was going to shape up first.

But now -- as of yesterday, I have the base art selected for all but about four or five of the cards. That means I am definitely Over The Hump -- it's all down hill from here. Getting the base images right is really half the job. 

-- Frede.