Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Card Back Design, MK 1


My first crack at the card back design. It doesn't quite line up as well as I would like, but I think it's in the Ball Park of heading in the right direction. The devious aspect of my nature would like to include something secret in this back design -- something hidden. It does NOT contain anything like that at the present moment, and really I would need to do some research into card design in order to figure out what to conceal there and how to conceal it... any requests?

-- Freder.

The Alchemy of Oz


Occasionally I come close to hitting the target of what I intended. Sometimes I have to go the long way around. This was one of those times.

One of the Oz books most coveted by collectors is The Wizard of Oz Waddle Book. I'm not sure that it draws quite the astonishing sale prices of its insanely valuable cousin, The Mickey Mouse Waddle Book, but these things are rare. If you do find one, chances are it doesn't have its waddles. If it does have its waddles, most likely they have been punched out and used. If you're lucky enough to own an unused Wizard of Oz Waddle Book, then hold out for your price -- you can get it.

The Waddle Book was an otherwise very ordinary edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that came with color inserts, printed on cardboard, which could be punched out and assembled into paper toys that would march down a tilted incline (or the Yellow Brick Road ramp  also included) -- with a little coaxing. It was a Great Thing. Books of Wonder (I believe) reprinted it a while back, and I dare say that edition could be worth something someday, too. I have two Waddle Books: The original, sans waddles of any kind, and the reprint with waddles intact.

As shown on the book's wraparound paper cover, the Scarecrow and Tin Man have gotten their hands on a copy and are obviously enjoying it thoroughly. How cool must it be, to have a moving paper toy of yourself?

I've cast the whole thing in a metaphysical context. Hope you like it.

-- Freder

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Into even Fantasy Character's Lives a Little Rain...


This card corresponds to the Three of Swords. Unless I have mis-counted it is the fiftieth card that I've designed for this deck. I'd like to push that number up closer to seventy. We'll see how that goes. If I get higher than fifty-two, but not close enough to seventy, I might be forced to cut the number of cards back to fifty-two, which might not be a bad thing in the sense that it would allow me to weed out some of the cards I don't care so much for. But officially now I am aiming for a 70 to 72-card deck, like my Golliwogg Oracle. More cards simply makes for a better tool: the more words you have in your vocabulary, the more things you can say, yes?

Woot! I have to start thinking about a back design for the cards. One good thing: the standard "OZ" logo with the Z fitted inside the O is completely reversible. I guess I know where to start.

Thanks everyone for your growing enthusiasm for the deck. It helps a lot!!!

-- Freder.

The Trojan Scarecrow


L. Frank Baum seems to have been as ardent a feminist as was possible for a man to be at the turn of the century. His mother-in-law was a prominent cohort of Susan B. Anthony's, and he created some of the strongest female characters of so-called Children's Literature. His gender-bending resolution to The Marvelous Land of Oz is still surprising today. So it's kind of mystifying that the same book features his most backward female character, the villain, General Jinjur -- whose army of girls (with knitting needles for weapons) takes over the Emerald City, only to be chased out of it again when the Scarecrow loads his straw full of mice and smuggles them into the city. Yes, all the girl soldiers in Jinjur's army, and especially Jinjur herself, are afraid of mice. *Sigh* It just goes to show that you can't win 'em all -- and that the old military strategies are still the best.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Learnin.'


This is one that required me to do all the coloring myself, and I had a little fun with it. The book is not just the color of leather, it is an actual old letter book cover that I layered in. Likewise, TikTok (whom we have caught in a studious mood) is not just copper colored, he's been filled with an actual copper plate. This number 55 replaces a previous #55 -- "Transparancy" -- the latter of which now needs a new number assigned to it. As I enter into the final third of the deck I'm running into lots of cases where the numbers I want to use have already been taken. This is forcing me to rethink both some earlier cards and the new ones -- because the numbers are not just randomly assigned. I'm not in any way a numerologist (math was my worst subject), but I am attempting to make the numerological correspondences accurate to the meaning of the cards.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Box Design MK1



This is a little bit premature, since I don't even know yet how many cards are going to be in the final deck, among other things... on the other hand, there's nothing like having a box design (even if you change it later) to make something feel Real, to make it feel like it's Really Going to Happen. This is my first shot and it's far enough ahead of time so that I can afford to back-brain it while I finish the deck. What do you think?

Keep in mind that the text is not final, the number of cards or the booklet and how many pages that might have are not final -- NOTHING ABOUT this design is final. But I think it's a good starting point. Oh, and -- I left the fold lines turned on when I made the png for the site, so that you could see how it's all going to fold up... those fold lines -- the little thin green-gold lines around each panel -- will be going away in the final package.

Happy Yule, y'all!

-- Freder
www.ducksoup.me

Monday, December 22, 2014

Meet The Fuddles


Among the many New Peoples that Dorothy and the Wizard encounter in their tour of the Land of Oz (in Baum's The Emerald City of Oz) are The Fuddles: who are living Jigsaw Puzzles.

I love The Fuddles because I understand them. Every time something upsetting or startling happens in the village of the Fuddles, all of the people literally fly to pieces -- and there they lie until someone who is Less Easily Rattled comes along to piece them together again. Here, as the caption indicates, Dorothy and the Wizard have just managed to get one person's head together -- so at least they can get the story of what happened and some intelligent responses to their queries. Oftentimes in our daily lives we feel that we are assembling other people's jigsaw puzzles. Once in a while we succeed is making the right connections.

I am definitely a Fuddle. 

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pardon My French


Some designs go like a wonderful dream; others are the Pure Stuff of Nightmares. This particular son of a bitch would fall into the latter category. You've seen it once before -- in fact you've seen two versions of it before, both of which sucked bilge water. I think it sucks slightly less now. 

W.W. Denslow was normally as great a designer as he was an illustrator, but this is probably one of his worst laid-out illustrations -- with a huge blank space bang in the middle, a girl attendant who has no business being in the bloody picture at all... and the Scarecrow just stuck on there all anyhow, sitting on the floor for no reason other than to balance out the girl attendant who shouldn't even be there! After having worked with this illustration for a while, and even having tried to alter the layout digitally, I can now say with some feeling that I hate this illustration with a purple passion.

You wouldn't believe what this stupid card has put me through. It's been such a pain in my ass that I just want to throw at someone and say, "Here's your damn card, take it or leave it!!" It now corresponds to the "Judgement" card in a normal tarot deck, and good riddance to the bloody thing. I'm not going to dick around with it any more.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Soft Sculpture


Yes, this uses the same number as the card I posted a few days ago, called "Deliverance." Well -- I still don't like anything about that other goddamn card, so I've pulled it out of the deck, and re-assigned the number to this one.

L. Frank Baum's books operate specifically on the level with a child's understanding of the world: absolutely everything in the Land of Oz is alive and has a soul -- all that's needed is something like Doctor Nikidik's magical Powder of Life to give the thing animation and allow it to speak its mind. Here we see Scraps the Patchwork Girl in her nascent state, before the Powder has worked its wonders on her. She was created to be an indentured servant: but she was born with a free spirit, and wasn't going to have any of that "slave" stuff, no matter what. Oz is full of once-inanimate objects that have a mind of their own... in this way, is it really so very different from the world that we live in?

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Life As We Know It


At the very beginning of The Marvelous Land of Oz is found one of the most magical moments in the entire series. In a fit of rebelliousness, the enslaved servant boy Tip (who, although we don't know it yet, is really Ozma, rightful ruler of Oz, under an enchantment that has stolen her memory and changed her sex) decides to throw a "jump scare" into his captor, the witch Mombi. He builds a pumpkin-headed man to frighten her upon her return. Alas, his trick scarcely works -- and Mombi decides to test her new Powder of Life on the stick figure. Not one of her better decisions, it must be said. Jack Pumpkinhead is indeed brought to life -- he becomes a fast friend of Tip's, and helps the boy to escape Mombi's clutches.

This is the most overtly occult card I've designed for the deck so far, I think maybe. It corresponds -- quite nicely -- with the Ace of Wands in a regular tarot deck.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Moving Right Along...


This card has a nifty dual meaning that I didn't (at first) intend. It's both EXPEDITE and EXPEDITION, in the sense that Ojo and the others are expediting The Scarecrow's ascent (or decent) up (or down) the ladder -- but they are also all together on an expedition through the mysterious unexplored areas of the Land of Oz

Well... when you go on an expedition, it is a good thing, is it not, to have others along to help and aid, and whom you can help and aid, when things go wrong -- as they inevitably do!

Although not the most detailed map of Oz available, the little one that I've included here at least has the benefit of placing the Munchkin country in its correct location -- in the Eastern parts of Oz. Some maps reverse its position with the Winkie country. L. Frank Baum himself got their locations confused, much as Stan Lee couldn't remember the names or other vital details of his own characters. These things happen to Creative Folk. 

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nostalgia



When a design is as much a pain in the ass as was the last card I posted here, you're grateful when the next one cooperates at least a little bit. This one took some time, but at least it didn't fight me tooth and nail. About the only thing I think that I'm going to change is the title: it should be NOSTALGIA, I think, as this card corresponds to the six of cups in a normal tarot deck.

When I first read The Marvelous Land of Oz, all those years ago, a lifetime ago, the scene that really choked me up was this one: the reunion of The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman (they went their separate ways after the first book, with the Scarecrow ruling the Emerald City and the Tin Woodman becoming the King of the Winkie Country, living in the Tin Castle that they built especially for him). 

If Walter Murch's Return to Oz got anything wrong, it is simply this: it failed to reunite these two in any meaningful way. The Tin Woodman did have a much larger part in the original script, but he proved too expensive and was one of the characters whose part was cut to the bare minimum in the finished film. When we do see him, however, he looks SPECTACULAR: just the way that John R. Neill drew him, and just the way that he lives in our imaginations. 

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Saturday, December 13, 2014

When Art Fights Back


Holy Mother of Cheezits, but I had a hard time with this god-damn card. I still don't like it. I don't like the black background, but trust me, without it the image looks like shit on toast. Nothing else works. At one point, just before I broke for dinner, I threw the bloody thing in the trash. Maybe it should have stayed there. Maybe it should go back. This is what happens when art goes bad: you bang your head on it until the blood runs into your eyes and still can't make it hang together the way that it should. You just reach a point where it looks somewhat less like something that your cat coughed up, and you're too tired to wrestle any more with the son of a bitch. Any suggestions? I'd welcome anything that would break the ice on this miserable mess.

EDIT: I can't stop farting around with the thing. It's driving me nuts. I think maybe I like the version below just a little bit better. Any votes?



-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Post Haste


Forgive me for patting myself on the back, but I like this one Really Quite A Lot. It corresponds to the Eight of Wands in a tarot deck, and does it rather well IMHO. Beyond that, I'm happier with the layout and collage effect than I am with some other cards so far. 

This card marks the first appearance of The Saw Horse in the deck -- although he's one of the series' longest-running characters, having been brought to life by Tip/Ozma quite shortly after Jack Pumpkinhead, and by the same means. This was in the second book in the series, The Marvelous Land of Oz... probably my favorite of all of them. The base image is from John R. Neill's dust-jacket for The Emerald City of Oz

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

With a Little Help from Friends


The most exotic people in Oz share one thing in common with the rest of us "meat people" -- as L. Frank Baum referred to "normal" humans: in their adventures across the Land of Oz they encounter dangerous situations, and just like us they can be damaged, wounded, hurt, sometimes torn apart. But for people like the Scarecrow, getting back to a state of equanimity is relatively easy, and this is true of all the fantastical people in Oz. Put their stuffing back in, oil their joints, carve them a new head, touch up their paint, and they are Like New, ready to face the world again.

Meat People are not so easily repaired, whether their wounds are physical or emotional. The process of getting repaired is just as necessary, but can take much longer -- and it involves much more complicated therapies than just a quick Polish and Buff. Nonetheless, one must ALWAYS keep oneself in Good Repair, for we never know what lies in wait for us around the next bend of the Yellow Brick Road.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Unsure Steps...



The number of Baum's Oz books that I haven't read is in the minority -- but the base image from this card is from one of them. The caption makes it clear that the A-B-Sea Monster is benevolent, and that the Scarecrow crossed this river easily with its aid -- but the illustration belies the "easy" part as it's obvious that the Scarecrow is filled with trepidation both about his journey, and about the creature who seems to be aiding him. Perhaps he fears reaching the other side only to be gobbled up? It seems that similar fears are on the mind of the young bride in the vintage photo pinned to the card.

This card roughly corresponds with the six of cups in a tarot deck... emphasis on the "roughly."

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

A Light in the Dark



Quoth Jack Pumpkinhead, shortly after his birth, "It will take me a little time to discover whether I am very wise or very foolish." And really, isn't that the line of questioning that we all should tale with ourselves? Although he may not, in most things, be experienced (as opposed to wise), Jack is always an admirable companion to have at one's side, and here we see his ability to shine a little light in the dark of the night.

This card corresponds to #18, The Moon, in a normal tarot deck.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It Takes Two to Tango...


The Oz Books, it must be said, got goofier and wonkier as they went on. In The Tin Woodman of Oz, Baum introduced Nick Chopper's counterpart: Captain Fyter, the Tin Soldier of Oz. I believe (although I could be wrong) that this was the Tin Soldier's first and last appearance in the Baum books. It's not one of L. Frank's better ideas, frankly, although I did once toy with the notion of writing my own Oz book starring the stalwart Fyter. 

This is the 37th card I've made. Earlier today I went through the whole deck (so far) and made a few changes of suit and numerology, because I did have several duplicate numbers. This was a good step towards bringing the whole into alignment as an occult deck, and there may be more changes like that as I get closer to finishing the project. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm at the point where I have to start thinking about the deck as a whole, not as just a random bunch of cards. These kinds of revisions are technical, though, so I won't be posting updated versions here at the site. 

I'm not sure if I've posted this before, but this is part of my methodology: Red cards from the Quadling Country represent the Earth element, Yellow cards from the Winkie country represent the Air element, Purple cards from the Gillikin country represent Fire and Blue cards from the Munchkin country represent water. If the colors seem off, that's because these are the colors of the country of origin, not the element.

There is some argument as to whether the Munchkin country lies to the East or the West of Oz. Different Maps place it in different areas. I am a purist, and insist that Munchkin and lies in the East, while the land of the Winkies lies to the West. Gillikins live in the North and Quadlings in the south.

"And that'thhhh," as Lily Tomlin used to say, "the Trutttttthhhhh...."

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Sunday, December 7, 2014

With a Little Help from My Friends...


This card corresponds to the Four of Wands in a Tarot deck. 

The base image is from a piece of original John R. Neill artwork, which accounts for the richness and detail. And Tik-Tok is correctly colored for a change! It depicts a scene from Ozma of Oz in which Dorothy and Billina, the talking hen, encounter a frozen Tik-Tok for the first time. 

It's one of the many scenes straight out of the books that was beautifully realized by Walter Murch in his movie Return to Oz. If you haven't seen it, I heartily recommend it. It is disliked only by those people who don't understand it or its origins, or by people whose only experience with Oz is in the MGM musical of 1939. It's been accused of being "too scary for kids," but this is unfair to both the film and to children, who are more resilient than grown-ups give them credit for. In its early scenes it is indeed scary to grown-ups -- because we understand what's going on and what's about to happen to Dorothy just before Ozma intervenes. Children don't know the details: they just know that Dorothy is in a Bad Situation and may be a little anxious for her to get out of it.

As Harlan Ellison once pointed out, this also underestimates the powerfully scary content of the MGM musical: tell me you weren't frightened the first time you saw Margaret Hamilton summon up those goddamn Flying Monkeys. 

So Nervous Nellies can stay at home. For the rest of us, Return to Oz is a wonderful representation of Oz as L. Frank Baum envisioned it.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Got a Grip on You...



With work on the companion book for my Tarot of the Zirkus M├Ągi all but done, it's my hope that I can now turn back to Oz and start pushing this project through to completion. I haven't made an up-to-date count on how many cards I've done for this deck, but I'm certain that I must be more than halfway there. The book was a big part of what was standing in my way, and the reason why there haven't been any updates lately. You might say that the book was an Entanglement, and now that I'm free of the thing I'm ready to turn back to projects that actually interest me. 

The base card of course is by Denslow, while the Nome King is an actual paper doll drawn by John R. Neill for The Oz Toy Book. When you add in The Devil card from my own deck (see above) ... well, such a collection of Evil is Seldom Seen outside of the U.S. Congress!

-- Freder
www.ducksoup.me

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Making Connections



In the end I couldn't resist quoting the Tarot for this one; I thought the connection was pretty obvious, anyway... The base illustration is John R. Neill's frontispiece for The Scarecrow of Oz.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

The Hammerheads


As far as I know, The Hammerheads only appeared in the first of the Oz books, but they remain one of my favorites among the antagonistic types that live in the darker regions of the Land of Oz; specifically, the southern Gillikin country. You don't want to butt heads with these guys... because they will literally shoot their heads at you if you get in their way. 

The Roly Rogues were a different breed of monster, but they do look sort of similar in real life, don't they? Originally appearing in the book Queen Zixi of Ix, Baum moved them to Oz for the movie version of The Patchwork Girl of Oz

The movie version? Yup. Baum was a lousy businessman and this didn't change when he got rich. A great hunk of his earnings from the Oz books were sunk into The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, which made -- I think -- three films based on the Oz books. Unfortunately, they were primitive even by the standards of the time, and did not catch on with the viewing public. The Oz Film Mfg. Co went bust after a very short time. I put the company logo on the bottom corner basically as a way of crediting the movie still above it.

The deck is now definitely into the back stretch... it's reached the point where I have to be aware of things like balance and structure. The turn into the home stretch is still ahead of me, but I'm getting there. With more than fifty potential base images to chose from, it's time to start getting particular and judgmental. 

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

That Wiley Woozy


Oh, this one fought me like a sunuvabitch. Which is appropriate, I guess, considering the theme of the card... still, as a designer I'm a bit like a Bad Cop (are there any good ones?) who just wants my design to shut up and come along quietly. 

Here for the first time we see The Woozy... a fairly minor but curious character who made his debut in Baum's The Patchwork Girl of Oz. His main personality traits were that he shot sparks when he got mad, and in the vein of Groucho Marx, no matter what it was or who presented it, he was against it. Ojo the munchkin boy and Scraps the patchwork girl are here shown "persuading" him to... you guessed it, come along quietly. The Glass Cat, per usual, is watching the whole affair in supreme boredom.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fly Like An Eagle


The Flying Gump is certainly one of the more remarkable characters to make his home in the land of Oz. He was created out of a couple of old sofas and some palm leaves by Ozma (whilst in the skin of the boy Pip) with the aid of her friends Jack, The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman -- and especially with the aid of Mombi's Powder of Life. Like Tik-Tok and Jack Pumpkinhead, he was realized beautifully in Walter Murch's Return to Oz

The art for this card has a pretty remarkable pedigree, too. I paired a base illustration by Neill with the sky from a painting by Winslow Homer. Sitting in for the Emerald City are a couple of buildings from Chicago's World Columbian Exhibition, The White City, a place known to have inspired L. Frank Baum in the creation of The Emerald City.

-- Freder
www.ducksoup.me

Miles and Miles and Miles of Heart


It's been a horrible week, and making this card hasn't helped. Really, who doesn't go through life without earning a Purple Heart at some point?

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chaos Reigns


The recent prevalence of cards starring the Scarecrow have nothing to do with character preference on my part, although I did have a wonderful Scarecrow Halloween costume from F.A.O. Schwartz when I was a little boy that I wore and wore until I wore it out... I just simply made a run through Baum's The Scarecrow of Oz and found several pictures that I knew I wanted to use. Fear not, fans of the other Oz characters! I hope to be working with the Tin Man and others very soon. 

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Scarecrow as Zen Hero


One of the interesting things about the Oz books is that L. Frank Baum didn't particularly want to be writing them. He was much more interested in writing books in other genres, and much more attached to some of his other characters, some of whom he dragged kicking and screaming across the Deadly Desert into Oz proper. In his book The Scarecrow of Oz, the title character does not even appear until almost halfway through the book... and he spends a significant portion of the book's final third immobilized and without a body with which to actually do anything.

Ironically, this makes him a perfect role model for Zen thinking, yes? For this card, I have corresponded him to the King of Swords in a tarot deck... literally thought in thought, head in the air. 

There's more than one way to get ahead, after all...

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Sunday, November 9, 2014

"I am, however, a very Bad Wizard..."


Of course I started this card with "HUMBUG" as the keyword, even though I knew that it would have to go. "Humbug," IMHO, is not a useful word for an oracle deck. On the other hand, Oz's faux wizard is a character who has some lessons to teach -- and "AFFECTATION" is the word that I finally settled on. As you can see, our Wizard is well-traveled, and has been known to deal in products that are a little less savory than Honorary Diplomas, Testimonials, and what have you...

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Contentment


The Tin (now nickel-plated) Woodman has his tin castle, the Scarecrow has his corncob house, and Jack Pumpkinhead has his pumpkin house. L. Frank Baum obviously believed that everyone should have a house that's suited just for them, and who can argue with that?

This one went through about five different names before I finally settled on "Contentment." With oracle decks the names are all-important, and if you don't have the right ones, the deck won't work. I hope I've finally got this one right at last.

Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Learn As You Go


The base image is one of my favorite drawings that John R. Neill did for the series, the cover to one of Ruth Plumley Thompson's Oz books, Ozoplaning with The Wizard of Oz. Still, I had no idea what I was going to do with it, what keyword it could possibly fit with. Since the characters are clearly looking at something way up in the sky, I decided to go with a vintage celestial theme... and "Apprehension" was the best I could do for the keyword (if any of you have a better idea, please let me know!!). A vintage celestial map and a vintage smiley moon turned out to work nicely, I think... but then came the challenge of taking a full-size golden sextant and turning it into a small silver charm sextant -- and attaching it to a real charm bracelet. This was interesting to say the least and for a while I was confounded by it. But in the end... I think it's close to being right. I decided against any further ornamentation, which I figured would just clutter up an already busy image. Hope you like it.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Monday, November 3, 2014

Watch Out for The Flowers...!


The deadly poppy field conjured up by the Witch of the West is not the only instance of beauty masking danger in the Land of Oz. In Book 2 of the series, Pip/Ozma, Jack Pumpkinhead, The Saw Horse, The Scarecrow and the recently nickel-plated Tin Woodman were surrounded by a menacing patch of Sunflowers. The Woodman was not in the mood to take any more guff from a bunch of plants.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Working in Concert


The element and numerical correspondences are finally starting to come into focus in my mind; this may mean having to change them on previous designs. This card corresponds to the three of cups in a tarot deck, which is why it's been given the number 43 and the Munchkin element of water. The base illustration is by Denslow. 

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"He said Oil his Mouth!"


Sometimes a little lubrication is all that's needed to get things purring along again. Another Denslow illustration here... I told you I didn't like the way he renders Dorothy!

-- Freder
www.ducksoup.me

Bondage, Anyone?


The cards have been largely Neill-centric until now... that's because John R. Neill is hands-down my favorite Oz illustrator, although the quality and style of his work varied wildly from book to book. Sometimes he was too ornate for his own good... and sometimes you could tell he was just rushing through a job. But on the balance, his depictions of the Oz characters are the best, even though lots of illustrators have followed.

But the man who started it all was W.W. Denslow, and you'd be kooky not to like his stuff. He was as much a designer as an illustrator, and his work for the first book in the series is seamlessly woven into the text. His Wizard, when seen as he intended it to be seen, is a thing a beauty and a marvelous achievement. 

This doesn't make me like his renderings of Dorothy any better. But here is a Denslow illustration that reflects his contribution to the series: without W.W. Denslow, it's likely that we would not be talking about The Wizard of Oz today.

The number on this card currently coincides with the ten of swords in a Tarot deck. On second thought, I should probably change that number to 15, which coincides with The Devil, which is  more often associated with bondage and enslavement... to addictions and to the material world. There'll be time for revisions later on, and I expect to make a good few.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Twentieth (by my count) Card


Though it's less cluttered than some of the other cards (and maybe bacause of that) I quite like the way this one turned out. While the Scarecrow and the crows exchange their mutual defiance, the rune Nauthiz has been pinned to the card with a vintage hatpin. The pressed leaves show that disputes can be preserved just like anything else, but it's better to let them go in the wind. The base illustration is by John R. Neill, from Little Wizard Stories of Oz

I posted a photo of my work desk to Facebook just now, and though I'd share it here, too. You can click the image to enlarge it. I walked into the office this evening, saw this and thought to myself, This is my work! How lucky am I?


-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Enter The Hungry Tiger



The Hungry Tiger is not actually one of my favorite citizens of the Emerald City, but he is a notable one nonetheless... and he is perfectly suited for the "Self-Restraint" card. He would like nothing better than to devour nice fat babies, but his conscience tells him that this is bad... and anyway, he would just be hungry again soon. If this card turns up during a reading, perhaps you should re-consider indulging yourself in... whatever it is that you're craving!

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Path to Fortune... and When the Creator Gets It Wrong


The Broadway stage play based upon the life of Mister Tik-Tok has apparently been a hit... and he is carrying the proceeds off to the Bank of Oz. But Fortune is not fortune if you don't take the time to smell the flowers, and Tik -Tok has throughtfully pressed some between the cards of this deck.

I had to do a little bit of color-correction on this one... to repair an inconsistency in the original books. Well, authors sometimes forget the details of their own creations. Heaven knows it happened to Stan Lee often enough, but it also happened to L. Frank Baum and his principle illustrator, John R. Neill.

As can plainly be seen in the original illustration, included below, Neill incorrectly colored Tik-Tok (here and elsewhere... even in his own book) as being made of galvanized steel:


... in fact, as any Historian of Oz knows, Tik-Tok is made of COPPER. COPPER, Mister Neill, NOT STEEL. So... I took the opportunity here to fix up our favorite mechanical man in his proper shades. You can thank me later.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Extra! Extra!


Although this is one of the simplest designs I've done for the deck, I think it's one of my favorites, using as it does the front page of the actual Ozmapolitan "newspaper" that was used to advertise the publication of the second book in the series, The Marvelous Land of Oz. The resolution on the published card will be high enough that you'll be able to read the stories on the page. You can rest assured that clippings from this and other issues of the original Ozmapolitan will turn up on future card designs.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bon Voyage


The base illustration for this card -- again by John R. Neill -- is again from the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman entry in Baum's Little Wizard Stories of Oz. The photograph underneath the passport is of Fred G. Stone, the original Scarecrow on the Broadway stage, in full make-up. Stone reprised the role in a couple of silent movies produced by Baum's own Oz Film Mfg. Co. None of Mr. Baum's Oz movies are great classics of the cinema, but they do capture an eerie side of Oz not realized in other, more sophisticated adaptations. 

Safe voyage to you!

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jack Pumpkinhead Born Again


Another of my favorite Oz characters is a true accident of birth, Mister Jack Pumpkinhead. He was created by Pip / Ozma as a prank to frighten nasty old Mombi the witch... and when sprinkled with the magical Powder of Life he sprang into consciousness as the most ungainly and innocent of characters. Although, like all the other inhabitants of Oz, he is technically immortal, his head does have a tendency to rot. For this reason he tends a large garden full of replacement heads, so that he's never at a loss when he needs a new outlook on life. However, the old ones never go to waste. With all their accumulated knowledge, they make an excellent mulch for his pumpkin patch. Yes, even knowledge and experience can be recycled and rejuvenated.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Be Sure to Wind His Brains Up, Too....


Debuting in the third book of the series, Ozma of Oz, the mechanical man Tik-Tok is one of my favorite Ozian personalities. After a sustained period of hibernation he returned to life when Dorothy wound up his two gears: one for action and one for thinking. He was realized beautifully in Walter Murch's wonderful and often overlooked film, Return to Oz, which derives its plot from the second and third Oz books. And so it was kind of a Peak Experienece for me when, during my one and only trip to England. I finally "met" Tik Tok in person at the Museum of the Moving image. In every way as marvelous a machine in real life as he is in the book and movie, I wanted so badly to wind him up once again. 

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Two New Card Designs


The keyword for this one is giving me a little trouble. I started with "Mobility" and went through a couple more before settling on this one. But now as I'm getting ready to upload the preview, I'm suddenly thinking "Motivation." Eh, there's still plenty of time to make changes.


Scraps wasn't the only new character to debut in The Patchwork Girl of Oz. There was also The Woozy (coming soon) and The Glass Cat, who is perfectly suited to Transparency, although she is rather delicate.

Hope you like these new designs...

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Candy Everyone Wants


The end of book #2 in the series, The Marvelous Land of Oz, sees the Scarecrow deposed in favor of the land's rightful ruler, Ozma. But never fear -- in Oz there is always a place for everyone, and so the Scarecrow winds up as secretary of the treasury, where he is literally stuffed with money. Of course there are other kinds of security, and the best things in life are free, but you can leave 'em for the birds and bees, just give me mooo-ho-hoooooneyyyyyyyyy......

Can you tell it's late in the day?

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Original Hippie


L. Frank Baum had a habit of pulling fresh new characters out of his head just when the Oz series was starting to grow stale. One of the most popular of these made her debut in her very own book, The Patchwork Girl of Oz. It's one of my favorite books in the series, and one of the freshest. Baum had a history of creating strong female characters, and Scraps the Patchwork girl, with her stubborn refusal to settle for the status quo, was certainly one of these. Her motto is right there for all to see. Hope you like this new (at last!) card.

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Sunday, October 12, 2014

At Last, At Last...


... at last, I'm "done" with revising existing designs and can move on deeper into the deck with some NEW cards. Sheesh, not a moment too soon! I'm anxious now to move forward...

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me

Friday, October 10, 2014

Grief -- Again.


I never seem to get as much done in a day as I want to, and these "simple" revisions are taking more time than I had hoped. This one opens up a whole new can of worms, as I have now, it seems, given myself permission to change the "paper" or background image if I feel like it. Do I now go back and re-revise the ones I've just done with new backgrounds?

Maybe so and maybe no -- but not right now. I need to move forward and not second-guess myself any more on existing designs. There will be plenty of time to make even more changes before this thing goes to press.

One thing is for sure... you're getting a straight dose of my creative "process" such as it is... although calling it "creative" feels like I'm putting on airs, and calling it a "process" makes it sound as if I actually have a plan....

Onward...

-- Freder.
www.ducksoup.me