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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Buffalo Faustus


When this country was only 200 years old, I was illustrating small press publications. Above is a cover from the July 1976 number of Poetry Humor Magazine.
 
40 years ago I could draw a pretty good horse for a one-color run. These were not fancy publications. They served much the same purpose as blogging serves now, except they were paper and had to be subscribed to and sent out by regular post. The issue above was thematized by waste. My rider was a recurring character who, on this cover, is shown heroically tossing a toaster onto a rubbish heap. I named him Buffalo Faustus --a commentitious frontiersman who recycled things in the wild west in exchange for spiritual redemption. He had big adventures. I wrote this for that issue:
Sign on the glass door said:
            INQUIRE WITHIN.
Inside, it said the same thing backwards, which
frightened me. 
Outside, the boulevard was jammed in a wink with
hundreds after the same puzzle and the sweat they worked up
Sloshed hugely with skidding cars.

I put my back to the door and held it against the crowd.

Owner walked up --mean-looking woman wth a long curved nose and a long curved
chin, ends of which met in front of her thin cruel lips. She said, "YEEEEESSSSS?"

"Just browsing," I grunted, holding off a wall of shoppers. A car burst through the big window and rolled over. She left to attend to it. Driver came to, spat out some upholstery and asked,

"'S okay t'park here?"

She mumbled something into the wreckage and got back to me, pointed at the sign and asked if I had any inquiries to make.

I said,"Yes, is there a back door to this place?"

******************************************************

This is an abbreviated version of my contribution  to Poetry Humor Magazine but it adequately fixes Buffalo Faustus's position in an increasingly chaotic universe. I have no idea what its spacial-temporal coordinates might be after 40 years of inattention, but imagine they are not so very distant from my own. I do, however, have now --as I had in 1976-- high hopes for our country's resourcefulness and ability to stabilize under duress. I have no doubt Buffalo found the back door to political upheavals of his time and will reappear with inquiries useful to our current remove.

To all, a happy fourth!





26 comments:

  1. We need more humor, more creative minds, more Buffalo Faustus characters who recycle for spiritual redemption. Your poem is funny (I like that last line)...and your illustration is absolutely fantastic!

    Wishing you and Norma a wonderful holiday weekend!

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    1. Thanks Jon, I find a lot of little literary magazines when I clear out old boxes. There was much humor, much fun, in them and some had surprisingly wide circulation. Happy 4th to you too!

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  2. Interesting to learn about your past labors... For some reason, Buffalo Faustus reminds me of Edward Abbey's "The Brave Cowboy" that was made into the movie, "Lonely Are the Brave"

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    1. In the mid-'70s, there was a well-defined social need for independent thinkers --much like Abbey's cowboy-- committed to creative movements to stabilize a chaotic and divisive nation. Yes, I see certain similarities.

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  3. Ah, looking for the back seems a wise strategy, should an unwanted political eventuality crash through our system like that car and its driver.
    Glad to make the acquaintance of Buffalo Faustus.
    Until today I was unaware of Poetry Humor Magazine. Was it a California publication?

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    1. It was California-based but small presses advertised each other so it had a surprisingly broad circulation during its 1 or 2 year run.

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  4. I like the idea of Buffalo Faustus but the chaos drives me crazy. I hope that was not the whole story and that things happened a bit more slowly.

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    1. You're right, the excerpt is truncated. Original ends with Buffalo on the roof encountering a TV ad-exec washing the brains of his descendants in a giant Maytag. As for chaos, it reflected a very busy time for us all.

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  5. So you've always been this way?

    (That's a compliment, in case there is any doubt :))

    Happy Fourth to you and the missus!

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    1. O Jenny, yes. I've always played in imagination --as a kid found metaphors for reality in a toybox under my bed. I'll ring a brass bell on the 4th. No fireworks for me out on the prairie.

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  6. Thanks for the introduction to Buffalo Faustus...really intriguing...and the chaos has the cogs whirring. What a character!!

    Have a great 4th...and keep that brass bell ringing...*smiles*

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    1. Thanks, Ygraine! I find the bell more reliable than fireworks; it can be used over and over again.

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  7. Nicely drawn indeed, Geo. Reminds me of one of the New Riders of the Purple Sage albums.
    Spending the holiday near the beach in OC, had dinner last night in Laguna Beach at a excellent Caribbean restaurant.

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    1. Thanks, Mike. Remember it's high tide, so don't go climbing out on the rocks. OC Register reports 2 women had to be rescued at Thousand Steps Beach this morning.

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  8. Where are those cowboys now who were always polite, called women ma'm, said please and thank you, and always protected the damsel in distress. It sometimes seems like they are all gone, but I have hope that a rider in a white hat will arise, peace and harmony will be returned, and we will all get along. I believe in happy endings even when things look as bad as they seem today. Maybe we just need to yodel louder so the powers that be can hear us.

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    1. I don't know, Arleen. I always start feeling silly when I try to yodel, but I have a white hat and a brass bell. I'll just lip-sync while you yodel. Things will get better!

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  9. Dear Geo., as I always assumed you were an artist even in 1976! I like that drawing very much (and the text, of course) - the magazine must be a treasure for collectors now, am I right? (Here in Germany they collect the "Buffalo Bill - pulp magazines) Husband once made an exhibition on Karl May - and that was a little sensation because the Literaturarchiv Marbach normally only exhibits "highbrow" literature. (Karl May claimed to have met Bill cody at one of his shows in Germany).

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    1. Dear Brigitta, I used to offer my services as "compulsive doodler" to several little magazines --all short-lived, but such fun. I don't know much about Karl May beyond his wonderful biographical exaggerations, inventing a persona for himself as much as for the fine characters of his stories. I don't think May ever traveled to the American west but I hope he really did get to meet Bill Cody --Cody knew how to craft a public image too!

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  10. I like how you drew the toaster with a look of alarm on its "face" over being tossed in the trash.
    Well, that's what I see, at least.
    'Course, I've been drinking.

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    1. Al, I agree but suspect all toaster look alarmed from that angle --sort of like most modern cars look upset.

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  11. Had a nice time in reading your post!

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  12. HI Geo,
    Buffalo Faustus was ahead of his time and so are you. Commenticious might be my new favorite word.

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    1. Kind Chicken. The word lends a sophistication to Buffalo that he might otherwise have missed out on.

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  13. A publication based on humorous poetry??? It sounds like something I would have loved. Based on your cover art and the snippet of your poem, I'm sure I would have. You're some kinda talented, dude. :)

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    1. It was one of many little magazines of the time --a time in need of humor. Funnest part was going to readings, drinking beer and listening to the poetry of my city.

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