by John Bloner, Jr.
Where do you live? You might reside in the town where you were born or you may have moved around so much you’re not sure where you are anymore. If you’re a writer, artist, or a professional daydreamer like me, you probably live most of the time in your imagination.
Was the land of Narnia more real to C.S. Lewis than his house near Oxford, England? Does George R.R. Martin escape more often to Winterfell than he stays in Santa Fe? Is it fair to say that after penning her Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling has spent at least as much time at Hogwarts School than she has in everyday Scotland?
Like you, I’ve been unable to travel because of the pandemic, but I’ve still been able to ferry to a fantastical place called Ferkelburg, which is under construction by our crew of artists and authors at the Krazines in southeastern Wisconsin (and other parts of the USA). With pen strokes, swipes of paint brushes, and the soft clicks of computer keys, the city is emerging from a collective and creative unconscious.
I collected the words and images of the Krazines’ creatives and published them last month in a 56-page, full-color guidebook called Greetings from Ferkelburg. Cover art by Mary Bamborough.
Translated, Ferkelburg is Castle Piglet, referring not to barnyard swine, but to the tiny tardigrade, a microscopic animal, also known as a moss piglet. Not coincidentally, the Krazines publish a monthly art and creative-writing magazine that’s called Moss Piglet. You may correctly assume that the Krazines are mad about these wee invertebrates.
When putting the Krazines to work on the construction of Ferkelburg, I provided no blueprints or maps. I offered no insights on the people who might live there, nothing on the town’s history, and not a word about if it were a modern metropolis, a rural town, or if it existed in a time of lords and ladies or an era of flying cars and teleportation.
I was amazed by the variety and quality of the interpretations from the 19 artists and authors who took on the challenge. Joan Wiese Johannes of Port Edwards, WI, inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, crafted several free-verse epitaphs for the Ferkelburg residents, including Fiona Ferkel Armstrong Masters Hughes, who’d gone to their final rest in the town’s cemetery, while her husband, Jeffrey (first row), and I (second row) contributed artwork. The bespectacled gal at bottom left is a portrait of Fiona. At bottom right is Dorothy Brown and her companion, Potato Chip.
Chicago artist Sylvia Pavlova created a pair of watercolors, showing a pair of quaint shops in Ferkelburg’s business district and a comfy cottage sitting room. Wouldn’t you love to rest on that sofa with a hot cup of tea?
Several contributors used collage to show different environments. Racine artist Terry Evans presented a worldview and populated it with Wonder Woman and her ensemble of creatives: The Muses of Mirth. Fellow Racine artist Jon C. Bolton shared a picture of the local swimming hole in his piece, “Soup Tsunami.” Kenosha artist Zelia Zeta assembled images of one of Ferkelburg’s woodland creatures, the Ferkelmunk, with a couple of giddy souls and some trinkets from the local flea market.
Racine artist Mary Nelson became the director of the Ferkelburg Historical Society in order to provide these tintypes taken by the late and beloved Ferkelburgian, Early Octavio Bumbershoot. According to his bio, “While revered for his prowess behind the lens of his camera, Bumbershoot had no recollection of every taking a picture. When presented with a camera during his waking hours, he fumbled with the device and uttered words unprintable. Asleep, however, he was a master, rivaling Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier Bresson. He roamed the streets while fast asleep, snapping pictures on High Street and capturing parades, picnics, and lake outings like no other, as well as some of Ferkelburg’s historic buildings.”
Scappoose, OR artist Linda D’Amario window-shopped in Ferkelburg until she found Heavenly Handbag Boutique, where she sketched some of the accessories there, and her husband, Dan, wrote a poem about the place. Click HERE for a digital version of our Greetings from Ferkelburg issue and turn to page 18 to read Dan’s piece.
Other contributors to Greetings from Ferkelburg include authors Jodi Diderrich, Michael Hopkins, and Christy Hoff, as well as Wendy J. Welch, whose abstract piece is shown at left, Ruth E. Lyng, who concocted a character named Fred who is literally falling to pieces (center), and Ashi Tara, who told a tale of a clan of skeletons, who once roamed Ferkelburg in swarms and communicated through telepathy (right).
The Krazines are just getting started with stories and pictures from Ferkelburg. In the first half of 2021, they’ll produce postcards and share them with subscribers to their publication, offer a special edition issue, titled Ferkelburg in Black-and-White, which will feature a story by Jodi Diderrich (excerpted in the January 2021 issue), as well as art, prose and poetry by other contributors.
Additional products of original art, prints, stickers, buttons, and other items will follow.
We are building toward a live event (or a series of live events) in which participants will create their own live-action role-playing (LARP) characters, design their own wardrobes, and imbue their personas with specific abilities. They will interact with other characters, following a plot constructed by the event organizers. No date has yet been established for this activity.
If you would like to learn more or get involved with the Krazines, visit our website by clicking HERE, following our Facebook page by clicking HERE, and joining our group on Facebook by clicking HERE.
To read the publication, Greetings from Ferkelburg, published in January 2021, click HERE.
For additional information and suggestions, send email to email@example.com