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, 13 July 2012


H - So what do we want to talk about today then, Rex?

R - How close we are to publishing our comic...again.
H - Go on.
R - We’ve just received the manuscript back from our proofreader--who liked the book, incidentally, despite having no interest in comic books whatsoever. She particularly liked the Realm of the Archetypes sections, which she found funny.
H - That’s good then! 

R - So all we have to do now to finish the comic is to correct the small text errors that our proofreader caught, add our own last-minute flourishes to the Front and Back Matter, then zip the book up and send it to Kablam. If nothing goes wrong, the book will go on sale in about three weeks time.
H - Hold on a minute, Rex. You’re sounding worryingly knowledgeable about the publishing process, using terms like ‘zipping up,’ and ‘Front and Back Matter.’ What’s happened to you? Have you had a bump on the head?
R - I have had a bump on the head, Howard, as well you know, having been used by scientists as a baby to test Newton’s theory of gravity...which, I'm proud to say, they were able to prove beyond doubt. 
H - Right....
R - However, apropos of your question, I've not recently received a bump to the head. My newfound publishing knowledge (as you call it) is nothing but a sham. I use the words, but I have no idea what they mean.
H - I see.
R - I do, however, have complete confidence that you will find out what they mean, and what to do with them. This belief in your ability is what gives me my present rose-tinted view of the world. Everything will be all right.

H - Well, good. That's a real vote of confidence, Rex.
R - Now, I have a more pressing matter. It’s been raining here on Dartmoor constantly since March, and I want to know if it's possible to get truly waterproof clothing.
H - Okay, that came a little out of left field, even for you. Is your Mac not waterproof then?
R - It's water resistant, for sure, but as to whether it's water proof, I am not so sure. Also, it only goes down to my midcalf, so I'm sitting here in your kitchen with soaking wet shins.
H - Have you tried Wellington boots?
R - I have, and whereas they keep my shins dry, they are slippery when wet and so I keep falling over.
H - Hm. So what you need is something that is completely waterproof and yet non-slip.
R - Yes!
H - Have you tried goose fat?
R - You mean, cover myself in goose fat when I venture to your house, like a man preparing to swim the English Channel?
H - Yes. That's exactly what I mean. Considering how much rain we're having this summer.
R - No. I haven’t tried that. 
H - No?
R - No, and I won’t be trying it.
H - Why not?
R - Because I hardly think that goose fat would be non-slip.
H - Fair enough. Now back to the post. The 'Front and Back Matter’ for our book consists of the Copyright Page, the Acknowledgements Page (our ‘thank yous’ to all of the people who helped us and gave us support), the About the Author/Artist Page, plus other bits and bobs of information. We're sinking images from your John Barleycorn Tarot very faintly into the background of those pages, almost like watermarks. These are the 'flourishes' that you referred to. The ‘zipping-up’ procedure is one that I have no prior experience of, I’m afraid, Rex. I know what it is, but not how to do it. I do, however, know a man who does. It's something to do with digitally compressing the files to make them small enough to send to the printers over the Internet without destroying their integrity. 
R - So it’s like when children have those sponge snakes that they squash into a tube, and when you take the top off, the snakes spring out at you, hitting you in the eye, and knocking you over?
H - Yes, Rex. I guess it's a little like that.
R - Oh. I have another question.
H - Has it got anything to do with the weather, or clothing, or sponge snakes?
R - No.
H - Good. Go ahead then.
R - Why are we now posting on Fridays again, instead of Mondays?
H - We tried Mondays when we came back to the JB blog after our spring hiatus, but somehow it never really gelled for me. This blog is, as much as anything, a kind of round-up of our work week, and posting on Monday didn’t really have that feel. We tried it and it didn’t work for us, so we changed....
R - And we’ve done enough of that over the last couple of years haven’t we, Howard?
H - Yes, Rex. We have!

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