Thursday, January 28, 2010

Secrets Behind the Beanworld!

Once upon a time, long long ago, in the Land Of Television Commercials, there was a lovely old lady named Mrs. Olsen. She inexplicably seemed to come from Scandinavia.

She wandered from street to street and house to house and seemed to know every newlywed couple in The Town. Particularly beautiful young wives who were thoroughly inept at brewing a decent cup of coffee.

(Establishments like Starbucks, Peet's and Seattle's Best selling the culinary delights of a perfectly perked cup of java were many, many years off in the far flung future. In this land Land Of Television Commercials, it seemed that a new wife's coffee-making deficiency was a serious hindrance to marital bliss.)

In commercial after commercial, we met perky young women who immediately became deflated by a husband's uncaring and insensitive remark about his wife's terrible coffee to their host (or guest) Mrs. Olsen.

This criticism would being the poor lady to the edge of tears.
Mrs. Olsen, like a clucking mother hen, would whoosh the wife off into the female sanctity of the kitchen.

Look for yourself here!
And here!
And here!

See what I mean?

Mrs. Olsen always shared the esoteric alchemical secret of making good coffee.
It was simple.

"Folgers is the best coffee because it is mountain grown!"

"Mountain grown?"

"That's the richest kind!"

And just like that (finger snap!)problems over!

We can rest assured that the couple will live happily ever after (if they can avoid the public humiliation of ring-around-the-collar or ground-in-dirt.)

When it came time to write Too Much Chow! in the panel shown above with Der Kveen (on page 55 of Wahoolazuma! ) the bit wrote itself and I could anticipate that everyone reading it would understand the in-joke.

In 1986, only a year after TOTB #2 was published, Folgers Coffee discontinued the Mrs. Olsen campaign. It clearly had outlived its pre-feminist absurd sensibilities. It was replaced with the "Best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup." They continued to promote the idea of the superiority of mountain grown coffee. They still do even to this day, although with far more subtlety.

So, if you are too young to remember Mrs. Olsen, now you know another secret behind the Beanworld.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yet more Hoo●Hoo●HAs & Hoka●Hoka●HEYs!

Great correspondence coming in from all over the place: via gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and of course right here on the blog.

As always..
.italics are me--roman font is you guys!
(I'll be jumping into the letters and commenting as we move along!)

Damin Toell wrote:

Hi Larry,

Excuse my being dull if I'm missing it, but is there a way to order the recent Dark Horse BEANWORLD publications autographed by you? I tried going through your blog a little while back, as well as the links to retailers you have, but I didn't seem to turn anything up. Perhaps there's a way to order directly from you?

Please accept my apologies if this isn't something you're inclined to provide, but it seems like such a celebratory time for us Beanworld fans (between the books and your online presence) that it has awakened a geeky/youthful optimism in me.

I greatly appreciate that awakening, Damin.
As far as inquiring about autographed books via the mail, it's certainly nothing to apologize for, but the answer is regrettably this isn't something I'm set up to do.
Nowadays anyway.

The reason I go to conventions and make the occasionally store appearances is to sign as many things as a fan puts in front of me. I really enjoy meeting, greeting, and otherwise intermingling face-to-face with Beanworld fans but in the meantime it is in every one's best interest for me to devote all my time and energy to making more Beanworld stories.

Anonymous wrote:

I've read Here There a couple of times already and plan on many more re-reads, knowing I'll find new things each time.

I'm still not 100% clear on one thing though - In the previous volume, Heyoka changes the bean template by entering it, and in this volume, when she leaves it, it reverts back to normal. At least that's my reading of the situation.

That's correct.

My question, though, I guess boils down to, what was the point of that episode? I don't really get a sense that her alteration of the template really did anything, other than remove her from the playing field for awhile. Does the template affect the beans or the whole Beanworld?

If it affects the beans themselves, could it have affected the Cuties even if the alteration happened after they had already emerged from their Pod'l Pool? They have displayed unusual growth patterns re: their limb growth after all, though I don't see how that matches up with Heyoka's alteration to the template. I'm a bit flummoxed on this one. Anyone else have any thoughts on just what did or didn't result from Heyoka's time in the template?

I'm glad you made these observations and asked these questions, Anon.
Beanworld wanted its readers to start wondering about these very things.

The" Beanworld Influence" at the Goofy Service Station, or as the Goofy Service Jerks call them the "Factories," are the source of "Blessing Stuff" that the Jerks call "Reproductive Propellant."
Reproductive Propellant allows Gran'Ma'Pa to make new Pod'l'pools.
And out of the Pod'l'pools come Baby Beans.

Once the Reproductive Propellant leaves the Service Station it is no longer attached to it it in any direct way.
So any
affect/effect Heyoka, may or may not have on future Reproductive Propellant is up in the air at the moment.

What went on and (will go on) between Heyoka and the Beanworld Influence is looming large in the creative process right now.
There will be more about this in Book Four, "Something More!"
I know this because I spent the better part of yesterday drawing a sequence that takes a look at this very subject.
I guess that can suffice as a small Tuesday teaser!

Jesse wrote:

I've been a fan of your work for the better part
of my life at this point. A kind uncle of mine turned my father and I
towards the Beanworld back when issue 5 of the comics had just come
out, and we avidly collected and read and hypothesized from that point
forward. We pored over the letter pages as much as the panels looking
for clues, and chided ourselves for not noticing the single left
handed Hoi Polloi before you'd called it out yourself.

(I don't think you are alone on that account. And for those of you that are newer to the Beanworld--check out "Wahoolazuma!" pg 67)

My dad and I had some wonderful, amazing times both with your books
and inspired by your books. Trips to the local comic shop were
exciting times for a 12 year old me, and no matter what else I was
reading at the time if there was a new Beanworld out whatever else had
my attention was put down so that it could come home with us.

That same kind uncle even took me out to the San Diego Comicon one
year (I'd guess in the mid-to-late 80's) and I got to actually meet
you and shake your hand and thank you in person for what you'd done.

You were kind and gracious to me, even when i gawked and pestered you
like a nerd.

(Jesse, no matter how cool anyone might seem sitting on the other side of the table, in the comics game, we are all nerds!)

And! You gave us action figures! We held onto those
little dried beans so long that one of them actually sprouted.

(As I've said before, that is my favorite phenomenon! When FREE Beanworld Action some action!)

A few days ago my fiance's eyes flashed across the sharpie-drawn
artwork she'd seen a hundred times before on the back of my old bass
guitar, but this time she called out "Hey! That's Beanish!"

She's been reading the old issues with interest and fascination, and
encouraging me to email you just to say "Hi!" since the magic of the
Internet has made you so easy to drop a note to these days. When she
recognized Beanish and called him out by name it gave me the push I
needed to send this to you.

(Thank you, Jesse's fiance!)

I've attached a phone cam picture of the back of the headstock so that
you could see the faded remains of the lovingly-scribbled bean and
miscellaneous mixed realities that i had scrawled on it when i was 18
or so. I'm hoping it at least gives you a grin, because your work has
made me smile (and ponder) since I was a child.

(I love seeing ancient Beanworldish artifacts!)

I can't thank you enough for picking this all back up again. We have
missed you dearly, and now I'm back to eagerly anticipating and
pondering with childlike glee.

I'm glad simply that you're out there, being Larry Marder. Thank you
so so much for sharing yourself with us.

Thank YOU, Jesse. I had too many truly amazing adventures in other dimensions to regret the time I was away from Beanworld, but enough was enough, and I'm back to stay!
I truly believe the best is yet to come.

Keep those cards and letter coming folks!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Tuesday Tantalizing Teaser of 2010!

A sol'jer on a scout in the sky.
Found some sort of herd in migration.
"The sky sure is full of Mysterious Things!"

Friday, January 15, 2010

More From The Beanworld Archives!

top: 8 3/4" x height: 5 3/4" x bottom: 10 3/4"
Ink, color pencils, color markers on card stock
(really old and yellow card stock!)

This drawing is undated but from the style and the tools used I can tell it is from the late '70s--before I started putting Beanworld stories down onto paper in the sequential art format.

At the time I was deep in study of the Grail Mythos and also very interested in Malevich & Suprematism.

I see the influences here.
All these years later, I still like the basic composition.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn't started telling comic book stories in 1980 and instead had started painting or printmaking.

Never will know the answer to that!

Friday, January 8, 2010

More Hoo●Hoo●HAs & a Hoka●Hoka●HEY!

Great letters coming in.
Here's a the first batch of the year.
As always...italics are me--
roman font is you guys!

Barry Goldstein wrote:

Hi Larry....LONG time fan.

Just wanted to take a second to let you know how much I appreciate your new work. Remember Here When You Are There is really fulfilling. I have to tell you that I was a bit scared when I first received it.

I knew the quality would be great, the reprints have been top notch. I knew you had been long-brewing your ideas, thus the chances of them being ripe and juicy were high.

But, I was a bit scared. I am so familiar with Beanworld. I feel like I own a little bit of the leguminous island. A small corner of my brain spent a lot of time in the last 25 years chowing down on your efforts.

Frankly, the curse of the stinky sequel has burnt me too many times. In most cases, allowing something to not be completed would be better than the terrible damage some artists have perpetrated on concepts I held dear (Lucas, Lynch, Coppola, Caddyshack II)....

But Here There...really hit the spot. The artwork is crisp, clever and so well composed. Right on.

And the bean's story marches on.

I am particularly interested in how much the role of "desire" is turning out to be so central to the workings of the universe. Beanish's hearts, the desire of the Hoi Polloi to ring a Sprout Butt, the desire of the Butt to be transformed, and the desire on so many parts to offer themselves as a sacrifice, either in body or by sacrificing identity. Your realization of your Duchamp connection is really hitting home. Especially as it relates to the way that desire and chance/destiny seem to be at times in conflict and at other times in sync.

The desire to be "something more," is particularly fascinating to me, and I suspect that it will be revealed as a core principle of the Beanworld.

As a clinical psychologist, its nice to see that the internal/ emotional of the Bean's is just as important as their stomachs. There is a distinct hierarchy of needs in the Beanworld. Very Maslow-ian. Where the basic survival functions matter first. Food, Safety, Reproduction. Then comes a time of evolving and change. Breakouts bring individuality and a distinct identity. But unlike the rigid hierarchy proposed by early psychologists, in Beanworld, the ultimate meaning might seem to come from finally giving up that ego driven impulse and to give over everything for the sake of "completed-ness," or maybe even love.

The notion that wanting to be more, and willing change to better oneself, to literally transform reveals to me your inner optimistic self. Not a particularly common, or maybe even valued thing these days.

You think you were scared, Barry?

I didn't have a clue as to how Here There might be recieved.

I believed I was doing good work as I was doing it. Because I am such a firm advocate of the Duchampian notion that it is the reader, who in the end, makes the story I knew that the last person on Earth that could judge that would

Bringing that idea full circle is your comment "
I am so familiar with Beanworld. I feel like I own a little bit of the leguminous island."

Well, yeah, you do.

The Beanworld book that you read is mine.
The Beanworld that interacts with its readers, the Beanworld that took root in your head, is yours and yours alone.

I offer up a key.

You have the lock.
Whether or not that key opens a door to your imagination is up to you--not me.

The challenge of doing ongoing stories is to find the happy medium between offering the reader something familiar but not stale.

And not to wander too far outside of the reader's expectations. You never want to end up trashing the covenant between the creator and the reader that you are both are participants in a joint venture.

I find for me that the most fulfilling experiences as a reader/viewer are when the boundaries get pushed in increments a bit at a time but always pushing, pushing.

In my years in the business end of comics and toys, I witnessed first hand, creators saying "I own (insert character name here) and so I alone get to say who and what (insert character name here) IS. If I want to totally change the direction of the book with no warning or explanation that is my right to do."


It is.
And it is the reader/consumer's right to say "I don't recognize (insert name of comic book, TV show, movie series) anymore. I'm out of here."

One thing I learned analyzing sales from month-to-month and year-to-year is that fans are earned and not an entitlement.

Not a day goes by where this isn't on my mind.

I know where I am going is going to be challenging to Beanworld fans. But we are going to get there in increments a bit at a time but always pushing, pushing. And doing it together. Your observations regarding desire in Beanworld are tight on target. It is indeed a central theme and will be a big part of "Something More."


Beanish wrote:

Larry, I just want to say that I love your work in a way that I never thought possible. I'm about 2 hours away from my appointment for my second Beanworld tattoo. I've got Beanish on my shoulder cap and am about to get three Cuties to go with him to represent my kids. My oldest daughter was so excited when I gave her her very own copies of all three books. All from a seemingly random purchase in the bargain bin at my local comic shop 15 years ago or so. So, I just want to say how excited I am for the return and resurgence of the Beanworld mythos. Thank you sir.

You're welcome, Beanish. Gotta love those "random" intersections that somehow make a difference in your life. I've had more than a few. If you, or anyone else, wants to send along some pics of your Beanworld-based tattoos, I'll be glad to start a LEGUMINOUS SKIN ART GALLERY!

Joe Rider wrote:

It's gonna be a loooong 15 months. Be sure to tease us a lot...

Not to worry, Joe.
Tactical teasery is always my lead logistic with the enlightened ones of the Leguminati.

John Knutson posted:

Got home a short while ago with a brand new copy of Larry Marder's latest installation of Beanworld (new stories, woot!). Had to go to Austin Books to get it, since Dragon's Lair Austin has failed me once again (not in my subscription, not on the shelf).

Later, John posted:

Just finished reading it... Loved it! Several issues resolved, and yet several unresolved mysteries :-)

How something like this happens is an unresolved mystery too. I've been around the block a few times in the business side of the comic industry since I entered it in '84 by creating a controversial marketing campaign for Eclipse Comics. The longer I've been in the biz; the less sense it makes to me at times.

With all the consolidation, streamlining of information, and data exchange flowing back and forth linking might imagine that we'd long passed the point where a contemporary comic book store passes up a guaranteed subscription sale to a regular customer in this topsy-turvy marketplace. That said, I appreciate the effort you made to get your hands on
Here There!

And I doubly appreciate Austin Book's support of Beanworld by having a copy in inventory for you, John. I'm glad that you enjoyed the the reading experience and thought it was worth the trek to score a copy of Here There!

As far as your comment on the book itself, what can I say? Pondering the puzzles of unresloved mysteries is the what pulls me foreword in my own life, so it's only natural that Beanworld mirrors and echoes that.

John H wrote regarding Codex Beanworld:

Thanks for responding to my speculations. That image Codex Beanworld is great! To someone not immersed in Beanworld it is fun to look at, but to someone who is it is so loaded with implication it is hard to describe. Those hats, in particular, are very interesting to see there, as is the weird surroundings that seem most similar to the cosmic setting of the Service Stations.

As I've said before, John, it's a rough draft, cipher, road map, visual list of things to not forget from me-in-the-past to me-in-the-future. It's me-in-the-present's responsibility to make sure the road Beanworld trail gets blazed gets from hither to yon. And let me add my thanks to one and all who became a member of CBLDF in that last minute end of the year membership offer.

And finally shawn o'hern wrote:
have a question... what does it mean when heyoka says "maybe"? what's the opposite of maybe?
The opposite of maybe, Shawn?

Why I reckon maybe it is....maybe!

Keep those cards and letter coming folks!

Friday, January 1, 2010

State of the Beanworld 2010!

Larry Marder's Beanworld: Book Four

It was thirty five years ago, during the summer of 1975, that I decided to dedicate my creative life to something called "Beanworld."
Thirty years ago I began work on the first complete Beanworld comic book story The Legend of Pop!Pop!Pop!
In a few weeks it is going to be a quarter century since a revised version of that story shipped to comic book stores as Tales of the Beanworld #1

Doesn't seem possible that all these years have rolled by --but facts are facts!

2010 is the 25th anniversary of Beanworld in the marketplace!

And the number one way I'm going to celebrate this milestone is to bury myself in the creation of the fourth volume of the Beanworld epic in a graphic novel titled Something More!

Seriously, what else could it be called?
After I drew the sequence at the bottom of page 105 in Here There! I knew that there were no longer any other titles in the running for the title of Book Four.

So what goes on in Something More?
A lot.
It's the first chapter of the "Summertime Saga."
(To me the previous three books are the "Springtime Tales.")

Many, many changes are coming to Beanworld.
Changes through growth.
Changes through discovery.
Changes through architecture.
Changes through landscaping.
Change through accidents.
Changes through destiny.

Dangling plot lines will be picked up and woven back in the fabric of the Beanworld.
And new stuff is going to unfold that very well may knock you off balance a bit.
(I say this with some authority because it is having that effect on me as the story unfolds upon my magic drawing tablet.)

Something More! will be in the same format--an affordable hardcover in with black and white artwork.
Diana Schutz and her crew will oversee editorial and production at Dark Horse.
Why mess with success?

One of the questions I'm sure to be asked "Is the Solstice Sol'jer (seen below) in Something More?

And no.
The word solstice does give you a hint where the Sol'jer slots in and Something More won't quite get us all the way there.
But still....well...umm...wait and see, wait and see.

The usual hints and teasers will be dropping along the way.

This leads to the big question:
When will Something More be published?

Will you have to wait another agonizing 15 years?
More like 15 months in between books.

Something More is what I'm doing this year.

We intend for it to be published in the first quarter of 2011.

The last 25 years harvested three Beanworld volumes.
It should only take a fraction of that time to get the next three books.
And then the ones coming after that

But between then and now....
A little short story, in color, will be published in MySpace Dark Horse Presents Issue 33 in April.
It's called "First Steps."
I suspect you can figure out what it might be about!

2009 was an excellent year for Beanworld.
This time last year the Holiday Special had just hit the racks as Beanworld was dipping its toe into the world of commerce for the first time in a long long time.

Thanks to Diana Schutz's and Dark Horse's belief in the strength of its content and the potential of Beanworld to make a powerful impact in the marketplace--in the brief span of 12 months three handsome, beautifully designed and crisply printed hardcover volumes have been published and distributed.

Beanworld's acceptance by a generation of pop culture fans raised on Pixar, Cartoon Network, and manga showed that the world had caught up with this most peculiar comic book experience at last.

And the reviews echoed this.

"Like George Lucas, Stan Lee, and J.J. Abrams, cartoonist Larry Marder is the creator of a deeply imagined alternate world that inspires obsessive fandom and yields glossaries, maps, and websites. "

"Beanworld life is a carefully calibrated blend of the quotidian and magical. Like the best imaginary universes, it provides a constant unfolding of anxious and ecstatic mysteries both sacred and profane. "

" of the most original and brilliant comic-book universes ever created."

"...the drawings in Beanworld are eerily apt. It is almost as if they were not drawn but instead grew from the pages. Simple yet viscerally attractive, the art is charming. But it also has an odd sophistication, a hint of something more lying beneath."

"Where other fantasy authors are happy to mirror our present or past in their secondary worlds, embellishing their borrowed settings with a patina of imaginary magic and invented legend, Marder's Beanworld is its own highly original realm, with its own natural laws and mythology."

"Beanworld continually has surprises just hiding up its sleeve, and this new volume is no exception. I love how Marder can take shamanistic traditions and transplant elements into a story that also includes the hero’s journey, pop culture references, slapstick comedy, and the life cycle of a plant. There’s nothing else out there quite like Beanworld. If you’ve never read it before, please, check it out."

The greatest surprise, however, has been the response from young readers in the Young Adult and 'Tween slices of the demographic pie chart.
It was something we hoped for but didn't know for sure would actually occur.
In hindsight, I wish we had placed the "ALL AGES" designation on the first two volumes, but hindsight is 20/20.

The result is that many retailers weren't aware that Beanworld has a multi-generational appeal and racked it with the more mature books. When retailers recognized that Beanworld had a kid reach they moved it to their all ages section and sales increased.

Part of my goal for this year is to continue to raise awareness of Beanworld's all ages reach.

And that will happen, in part, as I go out on the road

These are the appearances I'm sure of.

San Francisco
April 2-4

Chicago, IL
April 16-18

Toronto, Ontario
May 8-9

San Diego, CA
July 21-25

I'm a Guest of Honor at Comic-Con and that means that there will be all sorts of special things happening there.

I'll be doing panels and giving talks wherever they give me a platform to do so.
It's going to be a very busy spring and summer.

All the while I'll be plugging away at Something More and will get it wrapped up by the fall.

As far as any and everything else goes...
It's just too soon to say.
As things develop and can be revealed then the first place to read about it will be here!

Also...not on the Beanworld front but Larry Marder news is I'll have a story in Silverline's Fractured Fables anthology to be published later in the year. I'm doing my take on Three Billy Goats Gruff in a thoroughly off the wall tale called "Troll Bridge.