Ancient Art (Corpus Carpi)

Corpus Carpi painting

There’s something about this…

Well, it’s a quiet Saturday night—that’s how it gets, eventually—and I found this scan of a dusty slide of one of my old acrylic paintings. I wanted to see how it looks on a web page, so… Huh. Interesting. The image has meaning for me, and it works as a symbol. It’s based on a photo I took of a carp carcass that someone had impaled on a fence post at Betterton Beach, about a mile and a half from our old house. Yup. We used to live that close to the water. Sometimes we’d hear foghorns from ships on the Bay.

carp sketch

Same thing as sketched at the beach, different angle

One of my many unfinished ventures was a comic strip based on the dead carp in this picture. I called it “The Adventures of Corpy the Carp: He’s Good and Dead!” The idea was that all kinds of things would happen to this dead carp without his having to do anything, of course, because he was dead. Most of the time a mangy kitty-cat sidekick would drag him around. Just what the world needed, another comic strip cat! But the dead fish is golden, too bad.

Corpy the Carp

From a page in my old sketchbook

I could never decide whether Corpy would “speak” (with thought balloons), because, you know, the dead thing. There’s a lot more comedy available that way, but I have to say that pure sight gags are killer. Gilbert Shelton is a master of that, you know.

Eventually I made a welded steel sculpture based on that carp, one of the most striking things I ever produced. A dentist in Galena bought it from a gallery show of mine for $1,200, woo-hoo! I remember I delivered it myself; the thing nearly fell apart in my truck, but man, was it gorgeous. When I unearth more slides, we can all have a look.

  • Vickyz March 23, 2014, 9:22 AM

    Corpy could have photos taken of him all over the world like the garden gnome! I think he should make comments.

    • JHF March 23, 2014, 10:01 AM

      Another bit o’ the old sketchbook:

  • Duncan March 24, 2014, 10:17 PM

    I can’t speak with any authority on this subject since I have not met any dead carp thus far in my travels. However, I have indeed met a couple of dead trout , whom I suspect share many things character traits with Carpy.
    Thus said, I am in favour of the idea of a dead carp communicating without the need for any comment or thought balloons. After all, a dead carp could muster at least two or three dozen facial expressions or even the judicious use of body language, to express his thoughts. Of course the latter would by necessity have to be rather subtle since he is after all deceased. Or is he?

    • JHF March 25, 2014, 12:20 AM

      Oh, he’s dead, all right. And I lean toward the sight gag configuration with no thoughts at all.

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