Why Five Fools?

The Jester Thumbnail

It started out as the Fool’s Journey, beginning with just the Jester. and all of the imagery in the tabloids fitted around him. Now there are the five different archetypes used I often get asked why those five and what the significance of each is, and yet was never asked that when it was just the Jester.

I know that for some, especially in a historical context, the Fool and the Jester are somewhat interchangable terms, but is that in itself the reason? Would it have been possible to describe The Journey pictographically with just the Jester? After all, people at least understand the concept of the Jester, don’t they? And if that understanding is wrong, should the Jester even be there- exorcised from the work altogether?

It wasn’t really a conscious decision to make it five fools initially. There is no deep profound numerological thinking, no linking pentagrammatically to pagan symbology. It comes from a simple need to expand the pantheon, and the first to join in an overt way was The Auguste. I say overt, because the clues to The Scarecrow have been plain to see within the Live and Love Tabloid almost from day one, and it’s the one Tabloid that’s been relatively unchanged in two decades. At its inception though, it was to be a single appearance within a particular story to be told, so more on that later.

The Auguste Thumbnail

The Auguste there was initially to add a more knockabout, slapstick style of tomfoolery because I was not happy to see the Jester in this role. He was supposed to represent a more cerebral foil for the fellow journeyman, and the idea of him using clumsiness, even that feigned clumsiness of the circus clown, didn’t seem to fit- it just didn’t seem an appropriate use of The Jester’s abilities.

Then it hit me- insert custard pie gag here- why try to force The Jester to be a circus clown when I could just as easily use the ready made clown. Enter The Auguste. 

He was initially a straight swap out on a couple of the tabloids, which amounted to little more than a costume change to satisfy my own misgivings. It was to trigger a whole new train of thought however. If the Jester wasn’t right for the knockabout stuff, what else needed a rethink? It was in these thoughts, scribbles, rambles and meditations that the project moved away from illustration’s for Maha Abu’s singular Fool’s Taro and the Fools’ Journey started to manifest itself.

 Lots of questions then.

If a singular fool could no longer adequately represent this Journey, then how many fools would be required? If it’s to be a chronicle of a journey, then which journey? From where to where? And to what purpose? Is it a collection of parables on the human condition, little vignettes intended to illuminate in a charming way, or a huge philosophical cosmology drawn out in an epic scale? These questions, and dozens like them, have been asked, answered, ruminated, reframed, revisited and revised over the last twenty years, and will continue to be so.