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The Order of Oddfish


The Hunting of the Schwenk

March 31, 2009

The Hunting of The Schwenk by Kevin Buckelew

Kevin Buckelew, the notorious fish-hat-wearing young man from Colorado who, it was revealed in an earlier post, is actually my mother, did me the tremendous honor of drawing the above scene from The Order of Odd-Fish. It’s Colonel Korsakov and two Odd-Fish squires, hot on the tail of the elusive Schwenk!

This picture is fantastic! So many great details are packed in: the squires shushing each other as they wield weapons from Sir Festus’ collection, the tentative manner in which Korsakov peers around the corner, the hidden Wormbeard skulking on a lizard-dog in the alley, the way the Schwenk blithely strides across the rooftops, the hypercolorful design of Eldritch City . . . I especially like how Kevin himself is peering out the window (with mysteriously long, sharp fingernails?) and how the words on the storefront, “Kevin Fish Hats,” are twisted into a weird Eldritch City alphabet. Brilliant! Thanks, Kevin! You can check out Kevin’s other work on DeviantArt.

This picture rightly earns a place of honor among the other Odd-Fish art I’ve received: DarkshireWarlock’s pictures of Jo and Fiona in costume battle armor, Michelle’s painting of Jo in Aunt Lily’s garden, Mrs. Vivian’s class’s Odd-Fish art, Libby’s two-voice Ichthala poem, and Freya, Georgia, Theo, and August’s gingerbread ruby palace:

Jo in her Aznath, the Silver Kitten of Deceit Armor, (c) 2008 by DarkshireWarlock

Fiona in her Ichthala, the All-Devouring Mother Armor, (c) 2008 by DarkshireWarlock

Jo in the ruby palace garden.

Gingerbread Ruby Palace

I’m fascinated (and grateful) to see how The Order of Odd-Fish is interpreted through so many different artistic sensibilities. Keep them coming!

Tina Wexler Stephanie Elliott

Two weeks ago I went to New York City and finally met in person two people whose stupendous efforts brought The Order of Odd-Fish into the world: my marvelous agent Tina Wexler (left) and my insightful, charming editor Stephanie Elliott (right).

I wanted to bring them gifts to show my appreciation. But what to get them?

I remembered that one of Tina’s many successful books is The Little Book of Hindu Deities, a hip primer to Hinduism drawn in crisp anime style. So I gave Tina a print of Kali that I’d picked up a couple years ago in India. Kali is the Hindu goddess associated with death and destruction, and one of the inspirations for Ichthala in Odd-Fish, so it seemed doubly appropriate. Kali now hangs on the wall in Tina’s office!

For Stephanie I bought John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited because I adore those books. Everyone should read and cherish them. What? You say you don’t like them? Then I’m afraid you are wrong.

The toughest gift was for my other agent, the legendary Lisa Bankoff. Stumped for what to get her, I googled her name and discovered something fascinating—if not about my Lisa Bankoff, then at least about a Lisa Bankoff—a “Lisa Bankoff” who was a member of the 1970s acid folk/baroque psychedelic band Chimera!

Could my Lisa Bankoff have been in this band? It was just possible. Look at those girls on the album cover, then Lisa on the right. Is it just me, or is the girl on the right the spitting image of Lisa? Good Lord, had I broken the case wide open and discovered my agent’s secret rock-and-roll past?

Even better, Chimera were no fly-by-night amateurs: it featured not only Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Weston, but also Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and Rick Wright. Using the magic of the Internet, I listened to this very rare album and it’s amazing—a real find! You can read all about Chimera and download the album here for free, but I hunted down a physical CD and shipped it to Lisa.

Alas, Lisa Bankoff claims she was never, in fact, a member of Chimera. Unfortunately for me, she was on vacation when I visited New York, so I never got to meet her either. (Off on tour opening for Pearls Before Swine, no doubt.)

Oh well. I’ll see if I can unearth yet another Lisa Bankoff doppelganger for my next visit.

(Speaking of doppelgangers, I wonder how many people think The Order of Odd-Fish was written by the televangelist James Kennedy? Or the 49th richest American James Kennedy? Or indeed “jazzman/rocker/fusionist extraordinaire” James Kennedy? It turns out the world is full of these illegitimate James Kennedys.)

The main reason I visited New York was to speak at the JET Alumni Author Showcase, sponsored by Jetwit (JET Writers, Interpreters and Translators) and the Japanese Consulate-General. It was through the JET Programme that I came to live in rural Japan for two years, and I recommend it for anyone with a sense of adventure, curiosity about Japan, and patience with learning Japanese. My years on JET were some best times of my life; my wife and I made a lot of friends and had many weird, wonderful experiences. One day I’ll post the stories and pictures of my time in Japan.

Anyway, I was honored to speak with two other talented JET Alumni authors: Roland Kelts, the author of the fascinating cultural history Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the US, and Robert Weston, the perverse mastermind behind the funny, imaginative rhyming novel Zorgamazoo.

We all read from our books, answered questions from the audience and moderator Randall David Cook, and then signed books and mingled in a cocktail party. I got to meet some friends from high school, college, and Japan I hadn’t seen in years—as well as some people I had only previously known through the Internet, such as the charming Rie from the enlightening Leaving Shangri-L.A. blog. (Don’t know what “glamour-bombing” is? Rie’s got you covered.)

All the videos of the event can be viewed here. If you’re interested, below is a clip where I’m reading the “Apology Gun” episode from The Order of Odd-Fish, followed by the “Jo and Fiona Exchange Pre-Duel Ritualized Threats and Insults” episode:

It was a hoot! Thanks to Steven Horowitz, Amber Liang, Chau Lam, and everyone associated with Jetwit and the Japanese Consulate-General for making this great event happen. Otsukaresama deshita!