Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Cory!

This year is one of those years
that my beautiful, good natured wife Cory's birthday
falls on Thanksgiving.

This year, like all years, we have so much to be thankful for.

I think most folks know that the core of the relationship between Beanish and
Dreamishness is about as autobiographical as anything gets in Beanworld.

The illo above was almost the cover of Here There.
When we decided to use the other cover,
Cory said "I like that drawing so much. It's a shame not to use it."

I said "Tell you what. I'll post it
on my blog
on your birthday."

And so that's just what I did.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Neil Gaiman and The Bean Book

This past week, on Tuesday, Neil Gaiman tweeted:

19:01 Things that make me happy: Larry Marder is bringing out a new BEANWORLD book! 15 years after the last. #

19:04 Larry Marder's Beanworld is a most peculiar comic book experience, a mashup of Jack Kirby, Native American myth, Marcel Duchamp, and R Crumb

20:04 I should have known: the Beanworld creator is @larrymarder in the Twitterworld.

And those are words that made me happy too.

Which now, brings us to this:

You see, once upon a time, long long ago, in a land far, far away, Cory and I had breakfast with Neil Gaiman.

(Okay, so you can see it was in 1992 and we were all in Chicago. I'm pretty sure Steve Bissette was there too.)

It was on this occassion that I hit up Neil for a sketch in "The Bean Book."
What's the Bean Book?
It's a 5 3/4" x 8 1/2" black sketchbook that used to be so common on the convention circuit.
Oh, they still exist.
But they are far less common nowadays.

The rules of my book were simple:
"Draw anything you'd like but please have it make some reference to beans."

I carried it around for years.
1986 to 1994 to be exact.

After it filled up, I put the entire project aside.
Last year I bought a new sketch book with the intention of starting a second round....but I keep forgetting to bring the book with me when I travel.

I guess I'm going to add two things 2010's list of things to do in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Beanworld.

Scan and post the multitude of amazing pages from Bean Book One.
And really so many of them really are incredible.

See if I can get a second Bean Book up and running.

But I think today is a good day to give a look-see at what is in its pages by showcasing Neil's sketch.

Climbing up the Picture Plane

"Look at any given element.
Is it a symbol?
A picture?
A pure shape?
It’s everything all at once!"

The above is quoted from Climbing up the Picture Plane over at Scott McCloud's blog.

In addition to my pal Professor McCloud's words of encouragement, there are a bunch of pages from Here There that haven't been previously printed in any way, shape, or form.

It's also well worth a look-see to remember how Beanworld tracks within Scott's own "goofy terminology."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

3 Emails of Interest.

Email number one

Hi Larry--
Congratulations on the imminent birth of volume III. I can't wait to see the seasonal big-big clock tick one closer to the apocalyptic "boogie woogie beantown" you teased us once back in one of the old letter columns -- the one where everybody was zipping around the city on float-powered skateboards.
I'm writing because I just got myself appointed volunteer webmaster over at the Marcel Duchamp journal. I know you've often mentioned his influence on your work but have yet to see anything really substantive on the family resemblance. Do you know of anyone who's researched this who might like to submit an article for us? You of course are always more than welcome to contribute, but I know your time is tightly allocated.
Thanks for all the years of beanishness,

Robert Scott Martin

Well this is rather exciting news, Robert!
In the presentation I give from time to time, I talk extensively and specifically about the influence Duchamp had on me and how it shows up odd ways in Beanworld. But that talk has never been published and although it has been taped, as far as I know, it's never shown up on YouTube or anything like that. Next year is the 25th anniversary of the publication of Beanworld #1 and I'm sure I'll be giving the talk again at various times and places.

For now, the above is part of an " interview" I did in 1992. I can't remember where it was published but the entire piece can be seen here.

I have a feeling when time allows, I'll contribute something to

And quite possibly someone from the Beanworld community might feel inspired to do so sooner than me.

My biggest priority for next year is going to be...oh wait....I'll put that news in my New Years post.
So that will ave to wait for now.

For now....let's move on to email number two

You and I have "met" though we've never actually met.

That is to say, there are two different anecdotes that, once I relate them, MAY make you think to yourself, "Oh yeah... I remember that guy." "

Meeting" One - Fall '92 - My then finace, Kimberly, calls Beanworld Press from our apartment in Seattle and she is pleasantly surprised to find "Mrs. Larry Marder" on the other end of the line. She explains that her fiance (aka me) is a huge Beanworld fan and that she'd like to purchase a hardcover edition of Volume One (Eclipse ed.) as a gift for me. Cory is such a warm presence on the phone that they get to talking and Kimberly mentions that we're expecting.

Now, we were very poor at the time and my birthday is a scant 7 days before Christmas, so I was only going to get one combined birthday/Christmas present. I was ecstatic when I tore open the paper to expose a beautiful hardcover edition of my favorite comic with not only a signed/numbered sketchplate, but an additional drawing of a baby bean labled "Geoffrey, Good luck with your own Lil' Cutie! Larry". My daughter, Aubriana, is now 16 and for as long as she can remember she has known that there is a special drawing of Aubri-as-a-bean in the Beanworld book that she and her daddy read together.

"Meeting" Two - Summer-ish 1997 - I'm working as a Flash programmer at a PR firm in Washington, DC. The fact that we take on clients like Philip Morris is making me a little more nauseous every day. I am bored at work and surfing the net. I either stumble upon or re-stumble upon BeanWeb. I happen to make a connection between one of its sections, "Science = Magic?", and a phone conversation I'd recently had with my brother about Arthur C. Clarke, and was inspired enough to drop Mark Irons a note. He replied, requesting my permission to publish a portion of my e-mail on the site. Flattered, I agree and since that day, whenever I Google myself, my name comes up in conjunction with a site that is a resounding tribute to my favorite comic book of all time.

Either of those ring a bell? If not... Hi Larry! I'm Geoffrey Hawley and I've loved your leguminous creation(s) since issue 10 of Tales of the Beanworld hit the stands at Zanadu Comics (Seattle). I began voraciously hunting down the nine I had missed. Around this time, I had another goal: filling in the gaps in my Flaming Carrot collection. These quests, combined, had me visiting every comics shop in the metro-Seattle area. The majority were little hole-in-the-wall "We've got BOTH kinds of comics! X-Men with Cover 1 AND X-Men with Cover 2" kinds of comic shops. As you can probably imagine, the person behind the counter looked at the 20-yr-old asking for "Beanworld" and "Flaming Carrot" and saw an escapee from the psych ward... who happened to be a vegetarian.

Larry, your creation exploded into my head like few others have. You are in the same league as Moebius, Jack Kirby, Bob Burden, Winsor McCay, Jim Woodring, Chris Ware, Jason, Chester Brown, Mike Mignola, Paul Chadwick, and Mike Allred in my estimation. I am currently attending college to be an elementary school teacher and recently learned the term "mentor book(s)". These are the books that writers find that they return to again and again - a well from which it would be impossible to dip too many times. For me those mentor books (and two films) are:

-McCloud's "Understanding Comics"
-Burton/Selick's"Nightmare Before Christmas"

-Luigi Serafini's "Codex Seraphinianus"

-Don Hertzfeldt's "The Meaning of Life"

and -Larry Marder's "Tales of the Beanworld".

Beanworld and "Understanding Comics," in particular, shaped not only my tastes as a comic book enthusiast, but every piece I've concocted since my exposure. They had a lasting impact on not only my artistic vocabulary (the shapes and lines I use to compose my pictures), but on my perception of art in general. Issue 4, "Beanish Breaks Out", is such a compact representation of my career aspirations. I long to produce art and have the community as a whole say "Yeah! We dig your artistic creations! Come and absorb vitamins & nutrients thru' your head. Soak trace minerals thru' your feet." Artists as a whole share a lifelong empathy with Beanish as we nervously ponder, "Are they rejecting my break out? ...gosh... Am I gonna have to return to a life of chow sol'jering?" Your elegant depiction of complex, important topics (like anthropology, the benefits and pitfalls of scientific R&D, and ecology's tenuous balance) with simple drawings and whimsical language are an inspiration to me on several levels both artistic and in matters of social conscience.

But let me give you a little more of my history with your beans: During my early 20s in Seattle, one of my dearest friends was Rich Goodwin. I introduced him to Beanworld and he was hooked. Rich had a huge impact on my sense of humor and often undertook Andy Kaufman-esque public pranks by enticing his friends to say and do bizarre things as we walked the hills of the various areas of early 90s Seattle. An exercise that Rich and I would do often was to ride on a public bus within which he would quiz me on all things Beanworld - "What is gunk'l'dunk?", "What are the four realities?", "Where did Mr. Spook get his trusty fork?" - and each time I would answer correctly. Both of us used voices loud enough that we were certain we could be overheard by those in our immediate vicinity. It gave us hours of amusement to have drawn-out conversations using as many Beanworld-specific words and phrases as possible knowing that those around us had no idea what we were talking about but that this bizarre topic had an undeniable inner-consistency.

Does that make any sense? It did to us, and it was a great source of amusement for us. In my mid-20s, I lived in Colorado Springs and got involved with an esoteric theater troupe. Those were vibrant, heady times with all-night conversations about cosmology, the Persian Gulf War (conducted by Bush the senior), Tom Waits, and Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Several of these friends of mine were open-minded enough about art that I could convince them to try some of my less-mainstream comics. Beanworld was a stand out. Everyone loved it. We talked about it whenever we gathered. Later many of us decided to rent a house together. We wanted this to be like a commune with all of us pitching in on everything and sharing everything. Without even a formal discussion, it just came to be known as "Beanworld." To this day whenever I'm in Colorado Springs, I'll usually run into someone from back then and they'll say, "Remember that time up at Beanworld when you and Raven drew on that huge piece of paper together for like twelve straight hours?" or the conga sessions or the hikes by moonlight on mountain trails. My attic room at "Beanworld" was festooned with huge copier blow-ups of panels from various B&W comics.

Some of yours that I distinctly remember were:

"Infesticate? Ya? Ya!" and "One eyeblink later" from pages 13 and 22 of issue 2

"So Mr. Spook explained." from page 9 of issue 3 "Looks good! Feels good! Sounds good!" and "I don't feel like doing anything." from pages 12 and 17 of issue 4

"It's true! My fork has an alien origin!" from page 15 of issue 5

"Hoka-Hoka-Hey!" from page 5 of issue 10 and the last panel on page 17 of issue 12.

If you can picture those reproduced at about 18" x 18" interspersed with other enlarged panels from Burden, Charles Burns, Steve Purcell, and others, you'll get some idea of how whimsical the walls of my room looked.

After my daughter, Aubri, was born in 1993, I lived a much quieter, family-centric life and taught myself the various tools needed to develop interactive multimedia. I've been a multimedia developer for the majority of the last 13 years. As anyone who spends any time with computers knows, one has to perpetually come up with usernames and passwords. Whenever its my choice and it satisfies the username parameters, I always choose "beanish".

Leading up to SPX 2002, it was announced that they'd be accepting submissions for that year's anthology from anyone, as long as it honored the biographic theme. I decided to finally write and draw a comic. 14 agonized-over pages later, I submitted my story on Jorge Luis Borges and literally nearly fainted when my first-time-submitting-anything-to-anybody story was selected and published.

Two years later at the maiden voyage of MoCCA, I premiered my first (and only, to date) self-published comic with a dedication to you on the inside cover. It has received many glowing reviews. Last year, I Googled your name and "beanworld". It was just something I'd do frome time to time. It had been over a decade since you had set aside Tales of the Beanworld to go work your magic at Image and I never really expected that the search engine would return any results that I hadn't seen a hundred times before, but hope lingered on. Next thing you know I'm calling my two dearest comic-loving friends and stammering on and on about how Larry Marder's making new Beanworld!

Larry Marder's making new Beanworld!! And so it came to pass. And when did "Larry Marder's Beanworld Holiday Special" arrive in stores? On December 17th, 2008. ...which also happened to be my 40th birthday.

Ain't life cool?

So anyway, thank you for all your hard work on your utterly charming creation and for returning to this story that has meant so much to me, my daughter, my friends, and my life. Words can not describe how excited I am to receive a WHOMPing huge new chapter of the saga of the beans when "Remember Here When You Are There!" arrives later this year. I've wanted to write you for so long but feared that I might gush too much and seem.. I dunno.. creepy? Hopefully that's not the case and I can get your mailing address and mail you my comic.

Thanks again,

Geoffrey Hawley

Oh is oh so cool!
Meeting #1.
Yes, absolutely, I quite remember Cory insisting that I stop whatever it was that I was doing and sit down and inscribe your book because the clock was ticking and she had to get it into the mail in order for it to arrive on time. That is how Cory was, and is to this day, about getting me to do important things like that. Quite frankly, left on my own, I'll space out and sometimes, even though I have the best of intentions, I'll plain forget.

Meeting #2.
Deeper Issues.
Yes, I remember this page too.

The term "mentor book" is new to me.
But I get it.

And it is a lot better a term than the one I used to use which was "gateway book." which was to me a book that was a little like the Kansas farm door that Dorothy opens in Wizard of Oz to reveal a new world exploding with potential.

But I think the idea of a book that's "a well from which it would be impossible to dip too many times" is far more appropriate.

That's quite accurately describes the relationship I have with the work of Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, George Herimann, and Basil Wolverton.

I don't know if I've ever seen your 2002 SPX Borges piece or not.
I like Borges but I admit I haven't read a whole lot of his stuff.
I read the Labyrynths anthology in my late 20s, and even though I can't say I remember all the details of the stories, the haunting tone of the tales has stuck with me all these years.
Particularly the one about the library.

I sent a copy of your letter along to my editor, Diana Schutz and her reaction was pretty on the money: Too bad we don't have lettercols anymore.
Which is true.
For now, this blog will have to suffice.
Which brings me to email number three, also from Diana:

Larry, just got word: as expected, Beanworld book 3 took less time on the water than we allotted. It's due to ship from Diamond 11/25 for an in-store on-sale of 12/2. Perfect timing for Christmas shopping.


I'll say!
So there's some news after all.
The on-the-shelf arrival of Remember Here When You Are There is now seemingly only days away!
The fifteen year wait is now less than 15 days from being over!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Something You Should Know!

New England retailer, John Rovnaks, and the good folks at are running a terrific promotion for Remember Here When You Are There.

At no additional cost to you, the Beanworld fan, you can purchase a Here There graphic novel and receive a limited edition signed color bookplate--using a drawing that won't appear anywhere else.

One of my heroes, Gene Colan said "...I think Panel To Panel.Net is a sensational venture. One that I'm eager to lend my name and hand to!

Me too!

As my ol' pal Stephen R. Bissette has said, "If we can't get more John Rovnaks in this world, let's all support the John Rovnak we've got...".

Couldn't have said it better myself!

w/exclusive signed P2P bookplate

Fifteen years in the making, Remember Here When You Are There! completes the "Springtime" cycle of stories, in which the perfect harmony of the Beanworld is interrupted for the first time.Larry Marder's Beanworld is a most peculiar comic book experience, inspired by equal parts Jack Kirby, Native American mythology, Marcel Duchamp, and Robert Crumb. Now, Marder returns to his sui generis creation with the first in a series of original Beanworld graphic novels!Chock full of characters new and old, this volume sees the Pod'l'pool Cuties learn to fly; Beanish efforts to write a love song; and the long-anticipated return of Heyoka and the Big Fish to the Beanworld!

Each Copy purchased here, at Panel to Panel, will include an exclusive signed bookplate created by Larry Marder.


Check out the P2P interview with Larry Marder here!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A NEW Tuesday Tantalyzing Teaser!

While we are all waiting for Remember Here When You Are There! to arrive and go on sale, I thought I'd show you something completely different.

It's an uncorrected panel (without its lettering) from a non-Beanworld, non-Dark Horse project that I'm doing for an old friend of mine.

I don't believe the project has been announced yet.

When it'll be the first to know.

Meanwhile, there are also several unannounced Beanworld Dark Horse projects slotted onto next year's work schedule.

More on those later too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

“Myths communicate with each other by means of men and without men knowing it.”

Claude Levi-Strauss has died at age 100.

I’ll be honest; I didn’t realize that he was still alive.

I quite enjoyed reading his books long, long ago in the ‘70s. The influence his writings had on me is hard to measure. I never read Levi-Strauss in any sort of academic setting which might have been a good thing for someone like me.

I’ve said it before and this is as good a time to say it again. One of the things I learned from Duchamp is that an artist can read philosophy and science and pick and chose the bits and pieces, and stir it into the recipe of the art piece he or she is baking. I definitely did that with Levi-Strauss. The fact that I used a cooking reference to make that point is kind of Levi-Strauss-ian. That’s definitely what I did with the shards and fragments of Levi-Strauss’ writings as they found homes in my thought processes.

I can’t claim that I understand most of his writing, it’s very dense. But I fixated very early onto one idea of his: myths aren’t just false stories or silly fairy tales but that underneath the nonsense of mythology there is a message that makes sense.

What the words of the myth describe isn’t what the myth is about. Underneath or inside the myth with all its outlandish and puzzling plot twists and character transformations there are messages from some other time and place. The thing to study in mythology is its structure.

I drive my friends crazy as I poke around looking for the underlying structure of films TV shows, books, and comics. It was through Levi-Strauss that I discovered the structure of the Grail Myth which can be summarized as this: The bumpkin must prove himself worthy to be in the presence of great the Grail's enormous power.

So that can be Parsifal not asking the Fisher King what the Horn of Plenty is, Dorothy not asking what all the excitement is about regarding the Ruby slippers, or Luke Skywalker flipping up the mechanical gun sight and trusting the Force.
And on and on.

Levi-Strauss’ writings compared about 800 myths of the South American bands of the Ge language group. The one myth that had the most profound influence on me was The Origin of Cultivated Plants (which pretty much means maize/corn).

So many of these stories started out with something like “in addition to the meat they hunted, the people mostly ate rotten wood.”

Rotten wood?
What’s up with that nonsense?

Depending on the individual transcription there would follow all sorts of crazy adventures, but generally in the end, a deity most often named Star-Woman (often in the shape of frog or mouse) would reveal the existence of corn to the worthy, and they no longer had to eat rotten wood.

After I had a few Beanworld stories under my belt, I decided to see if I could try to write a story like that.

The result was Big Fish Story, now found in Wahoolazuma!
I got close enough to my goal to be pleased with the result.

Levi-Strauss famously said “Myths communicate with each other by means of men and without men knowing it.”

I can’t exactly explain why I think that is true, but I do.

Whatever Beanworld is, it is nestled in a tradition of storytelling that goes way, way back into….hmmmmm…where does it go back to?
Not so sure.

It shares a structural foundation with all sorts of myths that lead to other myths that lead to other myths. I think that is why a common appreciation of Beanworld is that it somehow resonates inside the imagination of the reader. I think that goes back to Levi-Strauss' observation that “Myths communicate with each other by means of men and without men knowing it.”

Well, anyway, I learned a lot from reading pretty much all of Levi-Strauss’s published works, and I learned even more from reading about Levi-Strauss.

Two survey books were pretty important to my thinking about of Levi-Strauss. Claude Levi-Strauss: An Introduction by Octavio Paz and Claude Levi Strauss by Edmund Leach.

Both highly recommended.