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The Order of Oddfish


Odd-Fish art, a contest, and my radio debut!

March 4, 2010


Modern dandy Basil Arnould Price, a fifteen-year-old prodigy whose work on DeviantArt is staggering, contributed this amazing picture for the Odd-Fish art show: a stylish portrait of Ian Barrows, Jo’s best friend in Eldritch City.

I’m blown away by this! Basil really captured the what I wanted Ian to be; both his unstable, adolescent good looks and his tentative awkwardness. The rose in his hand and the butterfly perched on his rifle give him such a fragile, earnest air. It seems fraught with symbolic import, like some allegorical code. I also appreciate that Basil put Ian in proper knightly raiment. It gives it the proper medieval, chivalrous atmosphere. The brooding weather in the background, with the nightmarish half-face in the clouds, is a masterful complement to Ian’s uncertain mood. It’s a really astonishing piece!

Basil writes, “I felt like Ian was sort of an embodiment of the gentle, somewhat youthfully insecure first boyfriend, complete with awkward teenage facial hair. He’s the sort of boy that I can easily identify with. And yes, those are monstrous faces in the background, intended to represent Ichthala, along with the unnamed fish that so lovingly vomits up the city.” Exactly.

What a stroke of good fortune to get someone like Basil to do a piece for this show. He’s a star in the making. We’re dealing with someone who writes for their contact information, “To contact me, you must fire a maroon flare into the sky whilst wearing a purple, smoking jacket.” This is how I talk in a perfect alternate reality.

By the way, fellow Chicago writer Margo Gremmler has done a splendid write-up of The Order of Odd-Fish on her blog, with a creative contest in which you can win a copy of the Odd-Fish paperback and a CD of the movie soundtrack I compiled for the book. Go now! Enter and win!

Back? I’ve got one more piece of Odd-Fish art to share—this one completely different from everything I’ve received so far, an absolutely unique collage from artist Carol Mollica, whom you can learn more about at her blog Artist In Progress.


It’s a collage of Jo Larouche’s life, and I love how Carol integrated the text of the the jacket into the piece, including the warning about Jo being “dangerous” (helpfully pointed out, with dry humor, as “enclosed advice”) and put in so many little subtle touches—the fish and the bird and the mysterious woman in the margin (Aunt Lily? Jo’s mother? A Silent Sister?) and the clip from the British WWII posters (“keep calm and carry on”)! Bang-up job, as they would say . . . as it happens, at work at the U of C, and every day I pass an identically-styled “keep calm and carry on” sign, so that was an unexpected coincidence! Great work, Carol—I’m so excited about the mixture of the realistic and the abstract I’ve been getting for this show. Both Carol and Basil say there’s a possibility that more work might be on the way, and I certainly hope that comes to be!

By the way, on Tuesday I visited Dwight Township High School, about an hour or so away from Chicago, and had a great time. I will be posting pictures and video of the epic visit soon. (Four 85-minute sessions in a row. I was run ragged at the end, but the students were spectacular.)

Last but absolutely not least: I had the great honor of being interviewed by Rick Kogan on WGN Radio 720 last Sunday. You can listen to the interview here. It was a blast, even though I was kind of intimidated at first. Rick Kogan is the last of the hard-ass, old-school Chicago newspapermen—an old pal of Chicago giants such as Mike Rokyo, Studs Terkel, and Nelson Algren.

He also has the most succulent voice in broadcasting: a deep, smooth growl.

To express how smooth I thought Kogan’s voice was, on the show I compared it to a “prime rib wrapped in a velvet cloth soaked in Bailey’s,” but that was a misstep; you should have seen the man wince. No hard-drinking newspaperman worth his salt would be caught anywhere near such sissy stuff as Bailey’s. I chose it because of its “smooth” cloyingness, but no—I should have said his voice was like a “prime rib wrapped in a velvet cloth soaked in fifty year old single malt scotch.” My apologies, Rick.