03 September 2007

Graphic novel background notes

  • Picabia's wealth did come from a Cuban sugar plantation. He was very successful until Dada fell apart in the early 20s. He did indeed end up poor and critically maligned, though his reputation has been rehabilitated somewhat recently (one day I'll set out why I reckon he's the greatest artist of the 20th century and why I reckon Duchamp stole all his ideas). Several of Picabia's contemporaries remarked that he was a physical coward (except for when he was behind the wheel of a car). He much preferred egging other people on than doing things himself.
  • Claiming that Piero invented double-entry book-keeping is a bit of a stretch. History records that it was Luca Pacioli, who was Piero's pupil. However, Pacioli was accused of plagiarising Piero, and so I've assumed Pacioli stole the idea for double-entry book-keeping from Piero. It's also possible to interpret Piero's Baptism as being about the mystical significance of accounting.
  • Columbus fluked the right route to the New World. You need to hit the right latitude for the right prevailing winds.
  • We do indeed get barbecues, hammocks, and smoking tobacco for pleasure from the Taino. According to Peter Martyr, 'It requires so little to satisfy them that, in that vast region [Hispaniola, which I've named Libertaria], there is always more land to cultivate than is needed. It is indeed a golden age, [for] neither ditches nor hedges nor walls enclose their domains; they live in gardens open to all, without laws and without judges.' They were completely wiped out within decades of the Spanish's arrival.
  • Caciques (chiefs) and bohiques (priests) would take cohoba to cure illnesses, see the future, and talk to the gods. Before taking it, they would ritually purge themselves using specially carved wooden sticks. On cohoba, things appear upside down, movements and gestures are reversed, and you see shifting and intense kaleidoscopic colours. At the beginning of time, the gods overlaid the world with layers of geometric design that can only be seen on cohoba. Destructive spirits rip holes in this fabric and cause illness, crop failure, and hurricanes etc.
  • Although the Classic Mayan civilisation had collapsed a long time ago, there were still Mayan cities when the Spanish arrived. The Spanish did, on one occasion, get invited to dinner and then attacked. You'll find out why in the next instalment.
  • My working title is The New World: A revenge fantasy.
NB: If you click on the label 'graphic novel' you'll see the first two instalments. The third will probably not be posted till early next week, the way things are going.

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