Thursday, June 23, 2016


R. A. Lafferty, Pennies by Anthony Ryan Rhodes

They were beautiful, musty unknowns.

There was a period, just before I left Tulsa, where I frequented antique shops. Mainly, I looked for odd photographs. Most Tulsa shop owners didn’t ask much for old pictures, not like they do here in Florida.

I looked for photos and I looked for odd old books, ones I never intended to read (I didn’t look for R. A. Lafferty novels. I didn’t know they existed.) I found and I brought home many books with cloth bindings and warn edges that carried an air musty dignity that my shiny comic book collection could not and that went well with all the old photographs now populating the walls of my apartment.

Most of these old books were mysteries until you opened them. Along the spine the ink was flaked or faded, the indention smooth.

I wonder if this is why Ray made his own spines, crowding his office with shelf upon shelf of tombs with yellow tape and bold handwritten titles. His eyesight wasn’t the best. We know that.

When they cleared out his office, most of Ray’s books wound up in places where they served no function, mostly due to Ray’s spines. Regardless of their intellectual contents (and their previous owner), school librarians would not keep them on the shelves and bookstores could not move them, not for more than a few coins.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Santuario de Chimayo

Feast of Laughter, Santuario de Chimayo

Kevin Cheek is a gracious man. He is a technical writer by trade and editor of the Feast of Laughter book series. For volume three, Kevin asked if I would create a non-Lafferty inspired illustration for his article Outside the Cathedral (a self-aware and personal piece about being a non-Catholic who enjoys reading the often Catholic undertones in R. A. Lafferty stories).

El Santuario de Chimayo is an historic church in New Mexico known for good pilgrimage and holy flavored dirt, and is of significant interpersonal and spiritual significance for many, many people. Kevin frames his article around his experience of regularly visiting the church with his family.

Since I've started making art again, everything I have created has been for Feast of Laughter. This was the first illustration in that time that was not for an R. A. Lafferty story. The process of pulling lines in vector drawing is so tedious, it's not something I can do to just while away the time, but Kevin's commission gave me an excuse. It was nice to turn away from stories and silly characters for a bit and stare at a place and try to pull some emotion out of those images.

I should do this more often.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

FOL3 - Back Covers

My first duties on Feast of Laughter were as a volunteer, digitally removing dust and patching scratches in what is probably the best photograph of R. A. Lafferty I have seen (taken by Keith Purtell).

R A Lafferty, Feast of Laughter 3, Back Cover

For Volume 3, I had the pleasure of designing the back cover using dozens of photos of Lafferty's office door, courtesy of Mr. Warren Brown. The editorial team had wanted either something with the full door or something with a collage of it's components. Eventually, we settled on the image above, which uses both.

Digital collage of Elements from Lafferty's office door by AR Rhodes.

Much of Lafferty’s office (doors, walls, and furnature) was decorated in this manner. He had fully decoupaged his creative domain. I cannot speak for the man, but this is exactly the kind of creative inclination I get when I’m wistfully drunk and especially bored. I shall never show you my guitar case or my poor, poor guitar, for that matter. But will say they are both hopelessly enwrapped in lawless visual trivia.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Feast of Laughter, Vol 3 - Now In Print

Feast of Laughter, Vol 3, 2015

R. A. Lafferty was a science fiction writer from Tulsa, recognized by many writers as one of the most original authors of the Twentieth Century. These days he's mostly forgotten.

A handful of fans started a book zine for him in late 2014 and I've been fortunate enough to have fourteen or so illustrations printed in the third volume alongside critical essays, correspondence between Lafferty and Alan Dean Foster, and even a gushing interview with Harlan Ellison.

The books are available Print-on-Demand from Amazon, but a free pdf version can be downloaded from the website.

I'm very happy with the production quality of the book, both inside and out. It was a joy working on this volume and with the team of fans who found the time in their full lives to make it.

Recently, author Michael Swanwick had this to say about it on his blog:

"Feast of Laughter has to be one of the most extraordinary fannish feats of recent years. It's a full-length book/zine containing new and reprint essays, appreciations, letters, whatevers pertaining to the man who was easily the most original science fiction writer of the Twentieth Century -- Raphael Aloysius Lafferty.
R. A. Lafferty, "Ray" as his friends called him, was, during his lifetime, recognized as one of the giants of the field. Now, alas, he's close to forgotten.

But not quite! Some of the great man's friends and admirers have been working hard to reignite Lafferty's reputation. This volume of Feast of Laughter is the third collection of Laffertiana and it is a must for all serious Lafferty fans."

I'm beaming.