My baby has a thing for mystic tales
Learning early lessons from your friendly Chilean psychomagician
I don’t think we have a lot of books in our house. I will admit its pretty varied though. You can tell which side is mine, and which side is my wife’s. I love books. I used to design them and still do the occasional one. So I’m really glad that our daughter loves books. I don't know if it's because we value them so much, or if she, at this stage is just not so interested in toys. But she loves them. She loves pop-up books with monkeys and birds. She loves her le mie prime 50 parole. She loves deeply detailed illustration books about the Lizsts with their lists. She loves Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. She loves Hairy MacLary.
But for some reason, there is one book she absolutely adores and asks for it Every. Single. Day. It's a book that belongs on my bookshelf: Alejandro Jodorowsky's Panic Fables: mystic teachings and other initiatory teachings.
Why did she pick this book? Well she likes a good spine, so I figured the deep blue spine with bright yellow lettering beneath a crazy bald man was what caught her eye, gazing along one of our bookshelves in our flat. But that doesn't explain how she knew that inside was filled with incredible drawings and very child-friendly fables.
Jodorowsky created these Fables between 1967 and 1973 in the cultural supplement of the Mexican newspaper El Heraldo de México. He planned to do them for 3 months, but his total output - one Fable every week without interruption for 6.5 years - is a treasure trove of comic mastery.
For me, there is something akin to Ram Dass' Be Here Now. The DIY nature of the comic compilation; the esoteric yet playful exploration of everything and anything relating to life and existence. I've loved Jodorowsky since before I knew who he was in the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky's Dune: his work with Mœbius it turns out informed a lot of my early imagination and exploration in science-fiction. He is someone who has provided a lot of spiritual, creative support over the years. As a prolific, strange man, he inspires me deeply.
So colour me surprised when my baby daughter decides to seemingly plucked this comic book randomly off the shelf and insist we go through the pages of mystical stories and cosmic fables.
What I really appreciate about this collection is Jodorowsky was exploring his ideas through a very simple medium: a single comic-book page, every week, conceived and developed by himself. You can sometimes feel the pressure in his mark-making. Some weeks he just needs to bash something out. Sometimes they are pretty spare, minimal, single thoughts. Other times he can barely cram in all the ideas in one page, detailed as they are with mixed media and text boxes. We live with such poor newspaper comics nowadays, can you imagine opening up one of these on your Sunday morning, fresh cup of coffee in hand, as the sun shines through your kitchen?
I love doing my best impression of Jodorowsky whenever he appears as a character in the comic (which happens a lot) , and there is genuinely an incredible amount of wisdom in his surrealist take on philosophy, metaphysics, religion and society as a whole.
Every child educator and psychologist infers the importance of reading to your child. Given the potent strength of Jodowosky’s ideas, I wonder if anyone gave any thought to what you expose your child to. I like to believe that something is seeping in, especially something as weird as Jodorowsky’s newspaper comics.