The Fantod Pack
My friends got me a bottle of poison and the Fantod Pack for Christmas; there must be a message in there somewhere. This deck has a long and gory history. The original art appeared in a 1966 issue of Esquire Magazine accompanying two stories, “A Chthonian Christmas” and “An Awful Vista of the Year.” An unauthorized edition was printed by Owl Press in 1969. An authorized limited edition of 750 copies was released in 1995 by Gotham Book Mart Inc. Copies of the 1995 edition are difficult to find, and can cost up to $400.00.
An affordable reprint of this twisted little deck was published by Pomegranate Communications in 2007. It contains twenty unnumbered cards printed on high-quality glossy cardstock featuring Gorey’s delightfully morbid little drawings. The lovely booklet that accompanies the deck provides interpretations for each of the cards. Since the Fantod Pack is not a tarot deck, but a dark satire on tarot decks, the interpretations are dastardly and decidedly evil. For instance, the card called The Feather means “November, blackmail, a forged passport, hysterical pregnancy, loss of eyelashes, disorders of the small intestine, a disagreeable letter, delirium, hindrance to prospects, twitching, separation, imbroglios, a mistake.”
The booklet was written by Madame Groeda Weyrd (an anagram for Edward Gorey). Madame Weyrd has a predilection for accidents in strange locations, so if you pull The Effigy card, you might have an accident in a stadium, or if you get The Limb, you might have an accident in a theatre. Strange illnesses are also possible – The Child portends sties, crawling sickness, or catarrh. The other cards forecast some of the yuckiest possible diseases on the planet, although I noticed that Madame Weyrd sadly omitted parasitic infestations and Plantar’s warts. Some of the disastrous forecasts were obscure enough to send me running for the dictionary. Luckily the card interpretations include either days of the week or specific months, so you know when the boom will drop.
Edward Gorey (February 22, 1925 – April 15, 2000) is probably best known for the animated opening sequence for PBS’s Mystery series. His artwork is a playful blend of ominous images and sinister characters garbed in neo-Edwardian costumes. Gorey was an author and illustrator, and produced around 100 books of his own in addition to illustrating the work of other authors. This strange and rather reclusive man was an unabashed pop culture junkie and ballet lover. He was also a cat lover, and lived with several cats in his Cape Cod home (now the Gorey House Museum).
The deck is suitable for readings at gory parties. It may be tempting to use it with certain clients. I had a notion to slip these cards into the Deviant Moon Tarot deck for a few extra shocks and groans. This is a great collector’s item, and loads of fun for people attuned to the shadowy side of life. The deck is a welcome contrast to airy-fairy feel-good decks where nothing ever goes wrong and the world is certainly perfect if you believe hard enough.
~review by Elizabeth Hazel
Deck and book by Edward Gorey (a.k.a. Madam Groeda Weyrd)
Pomegranate Publications, 2007, boxed 20-card deck and booklet, $10.00. (www.goredetails.net).
Proceeds from this deck go to the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, and supports various animal welfare organizations.
(previously published in the ATA Quarterly Journal, Winter 2008 issue)