[Archival copy – Addresses and upcoming news info might not be current]
online newsletter for/adhesive force between
Larry Marder’s TALES OF THE BEANWORLD
Vol. 2 #1 March 6, 1995
Gunk’l’dunk is here to provide a forum for fans of Larry Marder’s TALES OF THE BEANWORLD (TOTB), and to promote wider readership of this unique comic. No fixed schedule exists for Gunk’l’dunk.
Compiled by BobH.
E-mail me to comment or contribute. No high-tech, just tell me why you’re writing in plain English.
Founded by Jeremy York (editor, v1 #0-#11)
Submissions and any sort of feedback always welcome.
Welcome to Gunk’l’dunk! As you’ve read by now, this is a newsletter for fans of Larry Marder and his comic, TALES OF THE BEANWORLD. If you’re not familiar with the comic, you’re welcome, too. Maybe we can infect you. I’ve written a short Beanworld primer later in this newsletter. I hope future issues have something much better (anyone else up for writing a beginners guide to the Beanworld?).
Some of you may know that Jeremy York compiled the first 11 issues of this newsletter. I can’t find Jeremy now, unfortunately. If you know how to reach him, please let me know. Jeremy’s issues (along with an interview with Marder and some other files) are still available from some ftp sites. I’ll include details sometime later (I want to get the wording right). They’re well worth reading.
At the moment, Gunk’l’dunk won’t be available by e-mail. It’ll be uploaded to the GEnie comics library and posted on Usenet (probably rac.info and rac.alternative). Maybe later it’ll be possible to subscribe and have it e-mailed directly to you (if anyone is willing to set up an automatic mailing list, I’m listening). I will also be printing up copies to send to Larry Marder and a few others, but that’s all. However, anyone is free to distribute it either by e-mail, on disk, or on paper. Heck, they’re encouraged to!
Oh, all e-mail to me that includes the words “Beanworld” or “Gunk’l’dunk” in the subject will be assumed fodder for distribution in the newsletter unless you really clearly state otherwise.
THIS ISSUE’S CONTENTS
WHAT IS THIS BEAN THING?
What a question. BEANWORLD is billed by its creator Larry Marder as “A most peculiar comic book experience”. I think “experience” is more key there than “peculiar”. Stripped bare and described in ASCII, Beanworld sounds extraordinarily lame to most people. It is a comic and should be experienced as such. If you’re the type of person inclined to give it a chance, there’s a good shot it’ll click with some previously undisturbed tumblers in your brain and you’ll be hooked (there’s also a chance you won’t like it, but them’s the breaks). So my best answer is “try an issue. You’ll find a map and glossary there that’ll fill you in on the basics, and then read it with an open mind”.
If you insist, another answer is that BEANWORLD is about the first generations of a tribe of beans, just finding their place in the universe. Right now their life revolves mainly around the search for food (they’re part of a chain that involves their Spiritual Guardian (a giant tree) and another species called the Hoi Polloi. And steel worms). As they progress, they begin to learn about art and music as members of the tribe “break out” (they no longer actively participate in getting food, but rather contribute to society in other ways). Honestly, I can’t do the book justice. If anyone sends me a good, short prose description of the book, I’ll print it.
Well, since Jeremy’s last issue of Gunk’l’dunk, a lot has happened. Let’s see. TOTB #20 came out in August of 1993, followed by #21 in December of that same year. Those two together form a sort of “Beanworld #0”, which relates the origin of the Beanworld. Nothing new on the Heyoka front.
There hasn’t been anything released since then, although that should soon change. Larry Marder is now self-publishing under the Beanworld Press imprint. 1995 should seen new printings of the first and second Beanworld collections in March and June (collecting the first seven issues), a portfolio in May, and finally (I should have details soon), and finally the all new FLOAT FORCE in August. FLOAT FORCE will be a 64 page book, and (fingers crossed) future volumes of Beanworld should all be at least that long, published annually.
Well, this is mostly from second hand sources. If I actually hear from Larry this section might have real info someday. Anyway, in the two year drought between TOTB #19 and #20, Larry was working in an advertising job for a Chicago retailer. Then, sometime after that, he took a job as the executive editor of Image Comics, where he still works. Understandably, this kind of stuff eats up a lot of his time. Hopefully what he’s doing now will have long term effects that will make it possible for a quality comic like TOTB to do much better in the comic book marketplace.
WHAT ELSE HAS LARRY MARDER DONE….
What’s that? You have TALES OF THE BEANWORLD #1-#21 and every printing of both BEANWORLD collections, and you’re still not satisfied? You want every piece of Larry Marder work ever had published? Well, here, for curiosity and the completist, is a quick run through of other places you can find Larry’s work. Note that I may eventually turn this into a formal Marder bibliography, and additions and corrections are welcome.
AMAZING HEROES #100 (Fantagraphics) – Marder did an illustration and short paragraph for this special “Kirby tribute” issue of AH. Page 29.
AMAZING HEROES #136 – A “Superman tribute” this time, Marder’s beans are seen on page 45.
GIANT-SIZE MINI COMICS #1 (Eclipse) – Marder drew the cover (non Beanworld) and three interior pages: “Uncle Xaspa, the hip insect” (p. 7), “Around like a do-nut?” (p. 8) and “Heyoka” (p. 31). He is also the editor of this issue, and wrote the text piece at the back (p. 32), letting you know who the contributors are.
GRIMJACK #42 (First Comics) – Marder drew the Munden’s Bar story in this issue, “Closed Set”. Written by John Ostrander and Del Close, no actual Beanworld appearance. 6 pages in colour (poorly printed colour on some pages).
IMAGES OF OMAHA #2 (Kitchen Sink) – Benefit comic for Reed Waller. On page 23 is “Beanworld boom’n for their ol’ pal, Omaha”, featuring Beanworld characters and Omaha. Note that while Marder is fine, many of the pages here feature nudity so be advised.
LADY ARCANE #2 (Heroic Press) – I haven’t seen the actual comic, but Marder drew a single panel on page 13, Proffy giving Lady Arcane a Mystery Pod and a Twink. This gift is discussed by the characters on page 14. Lady Arcane has not used the gift as of this writing.
NORMALMAN #6 (Aardvark Vanaheim) – On the letter page is a drawing of some a bean and a very weird version of Normalman. Jim Valentino says “This is my favourite illio of normalman yet!”
NORMALMAN/MEGATON MAN #1 (Image Comics) – Larry Marder wrote, drew and lettered all the Mr. Spook dialogue in this comic, which is mostly written by Jim Valentino and Don Simpson, with short contributions by many others. Marder also drew most of the last scene (pages 22/23) and coloured it as well. (Note this story actually continues from a book called SPLITTING IMAGE, which I don’t have. I know Mr. Spook appears on the final page of that, but I don’t know either if Marder drew it or if that drawing is the same as page 1 of this book. Anyone?)
PHANTOM FORCE #2 (Image Comics) – “A Kirby Tale” is a two page text tribute to Jack Kirby, recounting the story about Kirby and the Hopi Kachina dolls (also told in a Beanworld letter column).
RIP OFF COMIX #17 (Rip Off Press) – “My Covenant With the Hawk”, written by Marder, illustrated by Don Simpson. This is auto- biography, about the time Marder got caught shop-lifting. Quite an oddity, the only Marder “script only” piece I’ve seen. Note that while this story is clean, the rest of the book features comics that are inappropriate for some.
SCOUT #17 (Eclipse) – Mr. Spook and a whole bunch of Chow Sol’jers (hundreds!) appear to Scout during a healing ceremony and help him out, and Mr. Spook gives some wise advice. Three pages (22-24 of “Key to the Highway”), plus a small Bean on the cover.
TOTAL ECLIPSE #3-#5 (Eclipse) – Beanish appears (drawn and apparently at least partly written by Larry Marder) in these three issues. Dreamishness also appears in #3. The book is otherwise done by Marv Wolfman, Bo Hampton and Rick Bryant. Beanish also appears often on the cover of #4, painted by Bill Sienkiewicz (I don’t think Marder had a hand in the cover). A short description (with drawings) of Beanish and Dreamishness appears on the inside back cover of #3. Larry Marder is also credited as one of the “consulting editors” for the series. See TOTB #10 and #11 for where this fits in Beanworld continuity.
ZOT! #4 (Eclipse) – The first page of the letter column features an illustrated letter from one Larry Marder.
DIY BEANWORLD Certificate – I think they’re all the same. Only way to get one is to win the contest. I have one. Framed and everything. :-) Lovely drawing.
Following are some sources of interviews with Marder and reviews of his work.
AMAZING HEROES #200 – This features a four page interview conducted by Jeffrey Lang, which was then layed out and illustrated in comic book style by Marder. Very interesting, with nice stuff on Duchamp and marketing, as well as the Beanworld. (pages 65-68)
COMICS SCENE #31 – This features an article by Kim Howard Johnson on the Beanworld. Interesting reading. In addition to reprint art, this has a photo of Larry and Cory Marder and the pencils for page one of TOTB #21. The article is 5 pages long (pages 13- 16, 66).
THE COMICS JOURNAL has reviewed BEANWORLD at least twice, though I don’t have the issue numbers offhand. I think one was in the recent Joe Kubert issue. In addition, Marder’s been quoted in news stories often, though usually as spokesman for Image or Moondogs.
COMIC BOOK REBELS – An interview conducted by Steve Bissette and Stanley Wiater dealing mostly with the business and history of comics and comic marketing, but with some Beanworld info as well. Pages 16-27, with two pages of reprint drawings from TOTB. Also features a Bissette drawing of Marder.
There was also an interview conducted by Jeremy York for on-line distribution. I believe only the first part was released, and is available for ftp along with past issues of Gunk’l’dunk. I’ll get details soon. This was also apparently printed in a fanzine called CIAO (no, not CHOW, silly!).
Request for info. I don’t read CEREBUS. I know Dave Sim has run previews for many self-published books. Has he run one for TOTB? Also, I understand Sim and Marder did a jam piece for a CBLDF auction. Many similar jam pieces have run in CEREBUS, has the Sim/Marder one?
EVERYWHERE ARE BEANS….
I find the Beanworld characters to be among the most sketchable ever created for comics, and find myself doodling them often. So I’m not surprised that some other artists have drawn Beans. Here’s a preliminary list of appearances of the Beans in the work of other artists. Most of the following are highly recommended.
AMAZING HEROES #185 – Teri Wood’s “The Cartoonist” features an appearance by Mr. Spook (page 89).
DR. FATE #41 (DC Comics)- By Bill Messner-Loebs and Peter Gross. On page 14, Inza is reading a book called “Beans and The World”, by Fr. Lawrence Marder, and discusses the theories of said writer, who “taught using subtle illustrated metaphors”.
GIANT-SIZE MINI COMICS #1 – On page 12, Mike Bannon brings us “Tales of the Kidney Beanworld”. Said characters are clearly based on Marder’s beans (though with mouths).
HATE #8 (Fantagraphics) – Peter Bagge, a rock band keeps changing its name to various comic book titles (a la “Love and Rockets”), and one of their shortlived names is “Tales of the Beanworld”.
THOR #340 (Marvel Comics)- Not a real reference, but the letter page mentions an illustrated letter they got from Larry Marder of Chicago, which they can’t reproduce. I assume Larry was fond of the retro-Kirby spin that Walt Simonson was giving Thor at the time.
UNDERSTANDING COMICS (Tundra)- By Scott McCloud. Beanish appears, as drawn by McCloud, on pages 4 and 53 (“Marder’s beans walk the line from design to meaning”). Marder is also mention several times in the acknowledgements.
WANDERING STAR #5 (Pen and Ink)- by Teri Wood. On page 13, Erica (of Mart Wagner’s HEPCATS) is shown wearing a Mr. Spook pin.
ZOT! #30 – Matt Feazell’s intro to his Cynicalman story mentions Beanworld #4 and features a drawing of Beanish.
ZOT! #31 – Scott McCloud. Ronnie stops his girlfriend Brandy from buying “that cartoony bean thing”. The drawing shows a page where Beanish meets Dreamishness, though I don’t know if it’s an actual page in TOTB.
ZOT! #34 – E. Yarber and Matt Feazell bring us “The Rot Knot”, a six page crossover between Zot! dimension 10 1/2 and Beanworld 10 1/2. Funny stuff.
IN FUTURE ISSUES
If there are any. I don’t know how much work this will be, and truthfully I’d much rather be reading and contributing than compiling this. First volunteer to take over can have the job. Also, feedback will help me keep going.
Anyway, if I do continue, I’d like to do a few things.
A Beanworld trivia contest might be nice, and if I do it there’ll be a call for questions first. Don’t know whether this’ll be judged, or just for fun. It’ll probably only be judged if I can find a decent prize and a sucker to mark the entries.
I definitely want to do a poll, and will even make the effort to compile the results. The only real question I have so far is “What other comics do you like?”, so Bean fans can find some other good books.
I’d like to do an index to Beanworld merchandise, all that stuff released by Planet Studios and Ready-Made Rubber. However, I know that some of the t-shirts, pins and rubber stamps were never advertised in the comic, so I’ll need some help with this. I’d also like to know which of those items are still available.
I might do a guide to Beanworld on-line, listing places where Beanworld files are available and discussion takes place. I can do GEnie well enough (there’s some interesting stuff in the file libraries here), but would need help for other places.
I welcome any suggestions for what you want to see. “The reader is the one who makes the newsletter”, as Marcel Duchamp might say (okay, he probably =wouldn’t= say that….). If people send them in, I’ll include introductions of Beanworld fans, stories on how you found the Beanworld, and comments on the material in the newsletter. I’d also be glad to include short essays on speculation about the details of the BigBigPicture.
And that is it. Hope you enjoyed.