In 1978 I was living in Dover, New Jersey attending The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in my quest to become a comic book creator.
In order to draw cartoons with an illusion of authenticity, I often needed to obtain visual reference material. In those days there was no Internet, so each call for reference meant a trip to the library.
Since I also had no car, a library visit required a walk to the Dover train station. The train carried me to Morristown, the location of the closest public library. Because of the inconvenience of it all, I would never just locate the Needed item and leave. I’d stay and browse and get some extra added value out of the trip.
On one such browse I discovered a book of Appalachian folktales called Old Greasybeard: Tales From the Cumberland Gap, by Leonard Roberts (Folklore Associates, 1969). I was attracted by the cartoon drawing on the cover. The book was filled with short, punchy, absurd and fanciful stories collected from Appalachian Mountain residents via tape recorder. They were hilariously addictive. I read a few while standing there and quickly decided to put the book on my borrower’s card and bring it to home base.
I liked the horror and the humor contained within, and I also enjoyed the informal storytelling and the mad dialects as they were faithfully transcribed.
In the days that followed I tortured my classmates by reading one story after another aloud while they attempted to complete class work.
The story that resonated with me was Tailipoe – – because I’d heard the story before, in my childhood. Or at least I’d herd a variation of the story. I discovered that there were lots of versions, most with just a few key elements in common to earn them their pedigree. I’d add to the pile, but it would be years before I tried my hand at a Tailipoe story.
Next I’ll lay out a few of the variations.
Illustration by Leonard Epstein
Tailipoe 101 – PART 3
Convention appearance queries – Info here!