Welcome to the archive of the John Barleycorn blog, produced by Howard Gayton and Rex Van Ryn during the process of creating their graphic novel John Barleycorn Must Die. As part of that process, you'll find discussions of magic, of creativity, and 'Around the Table' discussions with a range of internationally known artists, writers and film makers. The graphic novel was printed in a limited edition, so if you managed to get one, good for you! Although this project is over now, we're leaving this blog online as an archive and as a snap shot in time.

Friday, 15 July 2011

vita brevis, ars lunga

H - It was very interesting to revisit our ‘Around the Table' discussion with Yoann Lossel over the past two weeks. Since the original conversation took place a few months ago, I’d forgotten half of the things we’d talked about. Reading the transcript of it brought back some lovely memories. 
R - I have repeatedly said that they are a charming couple, and I think I have been vindicated in that opinion.
H - Vindicated? 
R - Yes!
H - Why, who was against you?
R - Everyone is always against me, Howard, as you well know.
H - I think you might be a little bit paranoid, Rex.
R - Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not all out to get me.
H - Who on earth would be out to get you?
R - On earth?
H - Don’t start all that nonsense again. There are no aliens trying to abduct you, Rex. 
R - We’ll see about that!
H - Well, while we’re waiting, what will we post this week, Wex?
R - Huh? What do you mean, 'Wex'?
H - It’s alliteration, Rex. Alliteration. 
R - …
H - This material’s wasted on you. Never mind. What do you want to talk about?
R - Um…I’d like to talk about the three new Tarot cards I’ve just produced. “Ah,” I hear you cry, “there are only twenty-two major arcana cards in the Tarot; how can you possibly produce more major arcana?” 
H - ….
R - I said: “Ah,” I hear you cry, “there are only twenty-two major arcana; how can you possibly produce more major arcana?” 
H - Oh for heaven’s sake, Rex, yes, I'll say it: Ah. There are only twenty-two major arcana; how can you possibly produce more major arcana?
R – Well, since you ask, Howard, the answer is that in the spirit of this enterprise, I’ve changed them.
H - How have you changed them, Rex?
R - One of the characters from our story has been pulled out all together, and two characters have become far more relevant to the tale, hence they've found their way onto the John Barleycorn Tarot to replace two other characters that have diminished in importance.
H - This character shift came about during one of our Days of the Long Knives, when we cut several scenes, and merged others together, in order to make the story flow better. We're now happy that the story arc is working, and the first draft is going on a pace.
R - Yes.
H - So who are these new characters, Rex?
R - Maria Cross, Maggie’s mum has become Le Monde. Maggie’s friend Ally has become Le Toille.
H - And we introduce the rather charming character of Death! 
R – Yes, I tried several versions of Death -- first of all looking at the traditional Tarot death card, with the skeleton, and then, after several unsatisfactory attempts, opting for a comic book Grim Reaper, who is more in keeping with the style of the John Barleycorn Tarot.
H - Let’s have look at them then….

Maria Cross




  1. These rambles are dear to my heart!

    Quick question, all hedged about with apologies in case the answer is embedded in a post I missed: is there a reason that Ally's tarot card is "Le'Toille" instead of "L'Étoile," meaning The Star? "Toile" can be canvas / cloth / tapestry, but it's a feminine noun, and I see the other Tarot cards are following the regular names, so I wasn't sure if this was just a misspelling or if it had some deeper -- more ESOTERIC! -- significance.

  2. I love these rambles too. Best laugh I've had all day....

    And the new Tarot images are fabulous, Rex!

  3. Ummm... there's a deeper-more esoteric-significance... I think!

  4. A most fine and suitably alarming rendition of "La Mort" for the Tarot cards. Capital work Rex!

    Signed: The Real Anonymous