Little Hoodoo & Little Space fuse into Little Space Hoodoo (from Space Hoodoo Comix # 1)
Fourscore and Twenty Years Ago (or some period of time feeling that long), a dear friend of mine mailed me an issue of the comic book TOO MUCH COFFEE MAN (which later meta-morphed into one of the only magazines worth reading: TOO MUCH COFFEE, MAN). We were both Brothers of the Bean and the gift was well-received.
In that particular issue, Author and Artist Shannon Wheeler presented a “mini-comic,” the format and creation of which was very simple: simply take one sheet of standard printing paper, fold into fours and designate a template with front cover and 7 pages of material. Draw it up, fold it up, add a staple and trim off the top.
Bingo! You’ve got a mini-comic!
Well, I had to give it a try myself. And then I had to try it again.
And soon, I couldn’t stop.
At the time, I was corresponding heavily with my dear friend, Dennis O’Brien, an Artist-Writer-Wizard from the Rockford area in Illinois. We had met at an art show where I was exhibiting, struck up a conversation about Comics, Cabala & the Corrosion of Culture and, essentially, became best friends overnight. This friendship rapidly became an ongoing multi-media maelstrom of communication in which the US Postal System became our SECOND best friend. Letters turned into packages stuffed with cards, notes, artwork, bags of coffee and 90 minute cassettes wherein we’d document our days on hand-held recorders from the vantage point of the Pentagency (a secret society so cloaked and clandestine that we only let ourselves in-which probably accounts for our history being wholly devoid of schism or imitative offshoots).
Eventually we’d both catch up to speed with the internet and discover faster and more expedient ways to converse. Email. Instant chat. But we had already developed our artform and didn’t give a shit about expediency. The manner in which we mailed material to each other began to generate certain magical feedback into our separate spheres of spiritual adventure.
Dennis turned me onto Robert Anton Wilson and William Burroughs. I still owe him a debt of gratitude for introducing me to the power and potential in Positive Paranoia.
I repaid the favor by turning him onto mini-comix as an artform.
The Pentagency was also known as K.O.P.H.I. (Kult of Phred, Incorporated, International and then Intergalactic).
Since Dennis’ death in 2002, we are now Interdimensional.
So who the hell is Phred?
Phred entered our correspondence from the get-go as the universal yellow smiley face, created by State Mutual’s Harvey Ball in 1963. He was known to us at that time simply as “Fred.” Over the course of hundreds of letters, little Mr. Sunshine would eventually reveal his true nature as one of the Good Greys, a Master Alchemist from the Sirius Star System-and we would become his Agents.
Saint Harvey channeling Fred v 1.0 from Sirius B
Both the Phredian Mythos and Modus Operandi of the Kultus was well underway as a joint-endeavor when I wrote and drew Kophi Komix # 1. As “K.O.P.H.I.” wasn’t my own private possession (we had decided that we’d both be Popes in the Kultus-with shared infallibility), it only made sense that Dennis’ mini-comics were ALSO entitled Kophi Komix. Maybe we could have cheerfully agreed to sue each other over copyright infringement but seeing as neither of us had any money, we just went ahead as partners in mindcrime and we each ran our own series.
Front Cover of Kophi Komix # 13, drawn and quartered by Dennis O’Brien (aka Dionysus Orion aka Avocado Johnson of Swamp Studios)
As we sent issues back and forth in the mail to each other, the storylines began to bleed into one another and timelines overlapped. Soon, we had “connective conundrums” to address and thus began filling the storyline spaces between issues with sub-issues (i.e between MY issue # 2 and HIS issue # 3, one of us might need to draw up issue # 2.1 and # 2.2 to handle seeming discrepancies in continuity-I hadn’t read Wittgenstein yet but you can see why I would eventually find his Tractatus quite appealing).
At a certain point we just started numbering every issue ZERO and even WE didn’t know how many ZERO issues we had floating about.
The magic was increasing, the mythos was growing and every arcane pursuit (which included a form of Gematria utilzing Goldfish crackers) was being pulled into the vortex we were stirring into Alien Java with a spoon.
And then Dennis died.
There is much I’ve not addressed in this blog but suffice to say: along with our chaotic and free-form shamanic comix, there had grown a friendship which had only expanded over time in terms of depth and love.
D was my Brother and my Friend.
I recall sitting in my shitty little one bedroom apartment when I received news of his death. As could be expected, I felt sick, sad and hollow, as gutted as I wished the Reaper had been for being such a fucker that day.
And I distinctly recall the thought which entered my head at that moment:
“That’s the end of Kophi Komix.”
I mean, how was it to go on? It wasn’t about ME, it was about US! We did this TOGETHER!
There was the visitation, the funeral, the moving on with life.
But I wasn’t “moving on.”
And so I sat down one night and folded up a single sheet of paper. I had experienced enough of the magic to know that what I was doing was more than just crafting a cartoon. It was a means of contact being built from the basic toolbox of the cave-shaman.
I drew the first issue of the new volume of Kophi Komix.
Dennis was back. And so was I. And the Mission was ON.
What Mission? Well, it was Secret Stuff, so Secret that I apparently didn’t even know myself.
“No way out but forward GO.”
All I knew was, like Robert Blake (that would be William Blake’s brother, not the guy in Baretta), Dennis was with me still, a spirit presence guiding the process and working alongside me from the Other Side of things.
You can’t keep a Good Man down…or DEAD!
That series ran 31 issues. And Horus was, appropriately, one of my pals through those 217 pages (even if he did remove my face with a power drill in one of the later issues).
More comics were created. More of the magic was moved around. And soon those little books began to function along the lines of John Candy’s typewriter in Delirious. So-called Reality and the malleable storyline spelled out in penciled panels began to overlap. This wasn’t quite the walk in the park it might sound like as both Good and Bad Karmas are called for in the recipe and these need to be adequately worked into each other.
Fortunately, there was a master Alchemist from Sirius B on the payroll.
To this day, I do not hesitate to recommend that every Voudon-Gnostic working along the lines of Michael Bertiaux’s Voudon-Gnostic Workbook and the system of La Couleuvre Noire (for which I presently serve as Sovereign Grand Master) read Scott McCloud’s brilliant book, Understanding Comics. It may seem to be a most unlikely prerequisite study but there are real magical secrets contained in that delightful graphic novel (even if Scott himself would lower his Harry Potter eyeglasses and raise a brow at the suggestion). The dynamics of the reader/comic relationship are examined in great detail and this pouring back and forth of mind and energy is of direct relevance to active work with those symbols attached to the Loa and known as Veves.
Top Secret Magical Grimoire in which is contained the Ancient Arte of Activating Sigils, Symbols and Smiley Faces
Dennis readily understood these things and built them into his mini-comix with unique spatial arrangements, hieroglyphics and so forth. The storylines thus functioned on numerous levels at once. The symbols thus employed , however, do not need to be terribly arcane. All that is needed is for them to adequately “read” in the interface which happens on two levels. The first is between the creator and his work. The second is between the work and the reader. Some creators have expertly blended these two levels of connectivity and this, I find, to be the preferrable approach.
If this is beginning to sound abstract, no worries. My purpose in writing this blog was to sketch out a bit of the background for what evolved into my approach to comics as a means to not only entertain but to serve as a field of catharis, existential exploration and, ultimately, magic in the Crowleyan sense: Change occurring in conformity with Will.
Many of the themes worked with in Kophi Komix have now given way to a new phase in the building up of the magical universe. New enemies, new allies, new goals.
What has emerged is SPACE HOODOO COMIX. We are hoping to have the first issue completed, printed and ready to go by this coming weekend. These will no longer be the mini-comix of days gone by although we are looking at including bonus mini-comix with each issue along with trading cards, prayer cards, tarot cards and color prints exclusive to each issue.
The idea is to be sending out a package worth opening and one in which we might offer what the Mighty Mr. McCloud expressed so succinctly in his Grand Grimoire:
Unless, of course, there’s no self to see.
Then there’ll just be Robots, Cthulhu & a Skull-Faced Kid with a Magic Bone.
Which should work.