web stats

CSBG Archive

Beanworld, Larry Marder and Me. A Formal Complaint.

A reader asked me if anything came of this piece that MarkAndrew wrote a little over a year ago, and the answer (as far as I know) was no, but I figured it was an interesting enough piece to share with you folks on the current blog, and, well, who knows who might see it (perhaps, dare we hope, even a certain Mr. M?). – Brian

I’ve been good. I eat my vegetables, do my homework every night, am kind to old people and small animals. Sure, there’ve been a few lapses; But, hey, those nuns TOTALLY had it coming.

Therefore, I think I deserve new Beanworld.

Or at least an explanation.

And, come to think of it, so do you:
LeftBean.2.gif

The Part Where I Explain What Th’ Hell I’m Talking About

Tales of the Beanworld was a twenty-one issue comic book series published by Eclipse comics in the mid-eighties through early nineties. Lettered, drawn, inked, lettered, and, far as I know, individually hand stapled by a dude named Larry Marder.

The Comic itself is about…

Well, it’s tough to explain. There’s really nothing else like it, in comics or anywhere.

One contributor to the Beanworld fanzine (Indexed HERE) called it “A Two Dimensional Stick Figure World with it’s own self consistent laws of nature” which is about as close as you can get in a one sentence description. Amazon calls it an “Ecological Fable” which just makes it sound doofy, like……Captain Planet
.
.
.

Versus

.
.
.
.
.
.ELVES!!! *

More’n anything else, I’d say that Beanworld is a way of looking at the world. It’s about the subtle, and not so subtle, interconnections that tie the world together. The inhabitants of the Beanworld, (You can see one above) are engaged in a kinda symbiotic relationship based on gathering food and taking it to the critters who live in the lake below them for “processing.”

(I’m glossing over the core concepts of the book a LOT here. It’s quite a bit more complex and more interesting than I make it sound.

But this post isn’t about Beanworld.

It’s about me complaining.)

However, the Beanworld critters can also be affected by forces from the “outside” world, or the “worlds” surrounding their environment that they have no access too. Ferinstance, in Beanworld # 2, A bunch of insects creep up from underground, smack the beans around with their (relatively) advanced technology, eat all the beans food, then lay eggs before taking off again. The eggs are then used as tools by the beans an integrated into the Beanworld’s technological development. The insects and the beans, working at completely different goals from completely different points of view irrevocably affect each others environment in ways that neither of them could predict. In Beanworld, there are obvious interconnections and subtle interconnections…. And interconnections we don’t understand yet because Larry Marder’s quit working on the Beanworld…

The idea of a universe where everything ties into everything else was, actually, pretty important to my intellectual development. We plod through life leaving ripples, affecting the world around us in ways we can be unaware of….

That just felt RIGHT to me. The idea really changed me. Like, now, I always try to look at the world…. Not so much trying to figure out how stuff ties together, but with an awareness that it does.

Yeah. Smart stuff, this book. Important stuff. Stuff that can actually change people’s lives.

At least mine.

And, from reading various interviews with and essays by Larry Marder, I felt that HE thought he was doing important work as well. There was a genuine commitment to his creation….

I didn’t create Beanworld for fame and fortune. I work on Beabwirkd because of a personal vow I took two decades ago…. My lifelong relationship with Beanworld was initiated by an intense obsession compelling me to make it come alive. Beanworld is my personal myth. I can see it from beginning to end. Parts of it are crystal clear, other are fuzzy, and new ideas pop up all the time.

I will work on Beanworld for the rest of my life.

1

Again.

For emphasis.

Point: Marder

“I Can See It Through From Beginning to End.”

“I Will Work On Beanworld for the Rest of My Life. “

Counterpoint: MarkAndrew

*CoughBullshitCough*

Let’s look at the facts.

The last issue of Beanworld was published twelve years ago. The last chapter of the Beanworld serial in the Rob Liefeld “Asylum” comic came out nine years ago.

In terms of reprinted material, Beanworld Volume 4 was published in 1999, leaving five issues five mini-comics and the Asylum strips never collected.

“Rest of My Life?”

I’m not seeing it.

The Part Where I Take A Right Turn Off Topic ‘an Talk About Art and Responsibility

Now

I’m not arguing IN GENERAL that artists are required to provide us with art. I’m not saying we should all head over to J.D. Sallinger’s house ‘an chain him to his desk till he writes another book, or that we threaten Bill Watterson with homicidal psycho jungle cats ’till he brings back Calvin and Hobbes. Marcel Duchamp finished out his life movin’ to New York to play chess.

More power to ‘em, sez I.

They don’t owe us anything. Great, honestly genius-type Artists, (‘an I’d argue that Larry Marder belongs in the company of the folks I listed above) should produce good work as long as they can, and stop when the strain gets too great. Sometimes the muse just leaves ‘em, and they figure it’s time to hang up. Sometimes, being the mercurial motherfuckers they are, they just can’t deal with the public or us fans any more. Sometimes they remember to take their meds and the great purple space frog from Andromeda seven stops bringing them story ideas when they sleep.
Who knows?

H-O-W-E-V-E-R, in THIS particular context:

We’ve got ourselves a couple of mitigating circumstances:

Beanworld.2.gif

* Beanworld, unlike Calvin and Hobbes, is an unfinished work. There’s two vitally major plot points that have yet to be explained, and a good couple dozen other mini-mysteries that have yet to be explained.

* One of the most effective aspects of Beanworld was the way it used the serial nature of comic; Each month it gave us a new piece of the puzzle, one more crumb of understanding as to how the fictional world worked. (I’ll probably talk about this more in a later post.)

* Through the essays in the Tales of the Beanworld Trades has always tried to be open and honest with his audience regarding the nitty gritty of his personal creative process. It seemed as though he was in fairly close contact with the author of the Beanworld fanzine. Still, there have been, as far as I can tell, NO public announcements of any sort regarding Beanworld in the last five years.

* Marder is still involved in the industry, sorta. This doesn’t necassarilly Now an individual of low breeding would make some sarcastic comment about his comitement to making Kung Fu Grip Spawn with real! crotch grabbing action! over doing something creatively worthwhile. ** But I shall refrain. So it ain’t like he had a total mental breakdown and hid himself from the comix readin’ public forever.

* And, darmmit, he promised more Beanworld!

I don’t think Marder owes us any more Beanworld any more than Sallinger owes us Bride of the Return of Catcher in the Rye. But, from my perspective, he DOES owe us Beanworld fans the courtesy of a formal reiteration of his promise to work on Beanworld for the rest of his life, OR a formal “Fuck Off. I don’t DO that anymore.”

Beanworld’s important to me. More than any other comic published by anyone, and more than all but a handful of folks working in any artsy-type medium, Beanworld’s busted into my mental space kicked down some brain-walls, shifted around the brain-furniture so it’s more Fun Sooee and reupholstered the brain-kitchen. It changed the way I think about the world.

It changed the way I think about God.

If Marder’s going to leave us (ME!) with an unfinished symphony, I think it’s fair for the audience (ME!) to ask that the symphony is, indeed, gonna remain unfinished.

So. Here’s what I’m going to do.

At the Beanworld website, there’s an address for Beanworld publishing.

I’m going to transfer this here blog entry to word. I might clean up the part about the Asian Hookers. (I might not. ) And I’ll nicely ask “What the hell, dude!”

(Plus I need to order the last few issues of Beanworld I don’t have.

‘Cause I *know* I owe Larry Marder and Beanworld a debt for the affect they’ve had on my life.

Marder said he’d made a personal vow to work on this comic forever.

So I gotta ask to ask, as a fan, if he thinks he owes anything to his creation.

May the Circle, Be Unbroken, By an’ By Lord, By and By.

Mark A.

* This is my fanfiction idea. You can’t have it.

“And then Legolas, his crystal blue eyes almost encasing the stranger in their vast, mysterious depths, brought his bow to bear and proclaimed “Hold! Blue One! Why hast thou journeyed into the valley of the naked elves?!”

** No offense to fans of Kung Fu Grip Spawn. Or crotch grabbing action.

1 From “Hoo Hoo Has and A Hoka Hoka HEY,” the essay at the end of the second edition of the first Beanworld trade Paperback, first printing 1995.

22 Comments

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 22, 2007 at 4:20 am

I only ever saw Beanworld characters in appearances in other books (like Gen13#13b), but I always wanted to see more.
To here that they had a point, as oppossed to just be cute little buggers makes me even more keen.

I don’t think i’ve ever managed to track down the whole published series (I think I’m missing a couple of issues in the early teens) but I’m really keen to see it come to some sort of resolution too. It’s top of my ‘unfinished series I’d like to see concluded’ list, along with Zander Cannon’s ‘Replacement God’. The fact that I’ve been able to strike ‘Ragmop’ off the list recently gives me some hope that these things *do* happen…

I’d settle for new editions of the TPBs.

If you’re going to complain about unfinished comics, you’ll be here all day. Like all rejected lovers, I could strangle Ty Templeton for ditching STIG’S INFERNO (and I don’t care if Klaus Whatisname died. Would Klaus have told Ty to finish the story?). And Ben Edlund for quitting THE TICK for Hollywood. And Doug Grey(?) for never finishing EYE OF MONGOMBO. And Mark Schultz for never finishing XENOZOIC TALES. And… And… And… fill in the blanks. I SUPPORTED those books, buying them faithfully and sending in encouragement, until the authors just “got a better deal” and moved on. Thanks for leaving us hanging, guys!

Clayton Emery AKA Sarah Hargate
Webmaster, Challengers of the Unknown
http://www.challengersoftheunknown.com

And that’s another thing! While Beanworld: volume one is still fairly readily available, and there’s a decent number of volume twos about, three and four are REALLY tough to find; I did a search for vol. four a few months back an’ found nothing.

Twelve years? Does this make him the reigning champ of lateness?
Hey Jim Lee! Don’t let those ASBARTW pages fly out the door, man!

I desperately need copies of Volumes 3 and 4.

Gah!

CU

I would LOVE to see more Beanworld. Come back, Larry! All is forgiven! And by “all” I mean how long you’ve made us wait…!

Bean World, Eye of Mongombo, Hep Cats, Big Numbers, Barry Windsor-Smith Storyteller, Owl Hoots, Journey: Wardrums.

Waiting for all of them.

Good luck getting a response from him through the email address. I tried that a couple years ago to get the ashcans I was missing and he never responded. And if he wouldn’t respond to an actual request to *give* him money, I doubt he’ll respond to a request to do actual work.

And my complete set of Beanworld is one of my pride and joys. And yes, I bought every freaking trade, that’s how important the series is to me.

-David

You know, I’ve always said that if he’s not going to ever get back to the series, they should at least finish collecting the stuff that did get published. Beanworld Vol. 5 is way up near the tippity top of my trade paperback dream list.

Hey David.

What E-mail did you use? I e-mailed him when I originally wrote this thread (year ‘r so ago) but didn’t get a response. (I think the e-mail itself was returned-to-sendered.)

And then I just gave up, ’cause lazy.

Wonder if it was the same one?

But since this post is back I’ll try some ‘o the paper-mail addresses I found on the Beanworld website.

Anyone else got any contact info?

I don’t think he owes us new Beanworld, but an explanation as to the lack of new Beanworld would be nice. If it’s just “I can’t make a living off of this” or even “I’m finally out of ideas and don’t think I can do it justice anymore”, that’s fine.

Also, the Spawn.com message boards went down the *second* I tried to register. (Thinking that, y’know, maybe L. M. hangs out there.)

I’m not saying there’s a conspiracy or anything, mind.

Nope.

I AM saying I’m really, really glad my job doesn’t entail my talking to Spawn fans very often.

I think it was something like beanworld@aol.com.

Another thing that should be mentioned is that when he released a bunch of the ashcans he kept talking about “Float Factor,” the new Beanworld he was working on that still hasn’t seen either the light of day or the ink of printer. And those ashcans came out not long after the Asylum issues.

-David

Okay, I did some searching and it was beanpress@aol.com, like is shown on the Beanweb (www.proaxis.com/~half/BeanWeb/home.html).

-David

Great post.
Even if I’m not that angry ;) it totally reflects how I feel about TOTB and what this comics means to me. Every year or so, I scout the web hoping to find news that the Beanworld is back.

Since there are some hardcore fans here, here’s some secret about the Beanworld that (I expect) very few people know about. I’m the proud winner of one of the Do-It-Yourself Beanworld contests and I received a certificate. It’s a drawing that (possibly) hints at the future of the beans and the nature of the Float Factor: The beans will build stairs in the sky with the mystery pods.

Yeah, not knowing more is killing me too.

Btw, Chad, I suspected the influence of TOTB in your beautifully lean “Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot”.

Cool :) (if I’m not totally wrong)

That is cool that you reposted this Brian, and that you wrote it in the first place Mark. And hey look at all these other people agreeing!

In my rereading of the series this week, I have gotten to issue 19, and already in the letter pages there are shadows looming, as Mr. Marder doesn’t manage to go bi-monthly, there are references to lower sales, and he gets distracted from his Life Work by a gig helping comic stores market themselves…

Today I imagined him working away on Beanworld out of the public eye, and it would one day appear like Marcel Duchamp with Given: 1 The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas.

You are absolutely 100% right, Mark. The beanworld changed the way I saw comics, and art in general.The whole thing is just baffling. If I knew how to get hold of Marder you can bet your ass I would, if only, as you say, to hear him tell me to “Fuck off, I don’t give a shit about those beans anymore!” Which would be fair.

Beanworld was really something else. The first issue I got was #12, quickly filled in the back issues (though I never got #1, and read it only in the collection) and waited shaking with anxiety for each future issue. I loved it so much, poring over the letter columns, trying to figure everything out, trying to draw it all…god, I could barely deal with it.

I agree – I don’t think he owes us anything, but it would be really nice if he would make a statement to the thousands of people that followed it for all those years. It was a really great thing that pushed people in many directions…even if he doesn’t care about it anymore or for whatever reason isn’t going to continue it, he should know how huge it was for some of us that did buy it.

I got an issue from a friend of mine. Checked it out, and loved it. :D

I have a few strange comic book loves that I would like to see more of. Mainly so I can revisit old “friends” and see how they did.

DC had the “Tangent” comic line which was a fun comic line in 1997 and 1998. They left their version of the Atom, Flash, Manhunter, Joker, Plastic Man, and Phantom (remember that in the tangent world only the name is familiar) of the Secret Six (the Tangent Justice League basically) apparently dead and defeated at the hands of the Ultra-Humanite. And they left no indication of what the actual outcome was for ten years. Finally last year in Infinate Crisis, we see them scrambling to save people on their world, and later in Ion this year it is shown they are still alive, though kinda in stasis. I can not tell you how HAPPY I was see them!! I was just elated. But so often these comics with great stories leave us hanging for whatever reason. I have to admit though, the world of Tangent and Beanworld are common in one way.. they INSPIRE THE IMAGINATION. In a way, do we really want it all spelled out to us? Isn’t it sometimes more fun to imagine, to finally break down and maybe write your own story on how it ended? I know I have. :)

Anyway, getting into Beanworld now, and just love it.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives