The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread) still haunts the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, southeast France. On August 16, 1951, the inhabitants were suddenly racked with frightful hallucinations of terrifying beasts and fire.
Eventually, it was determined that the best-known local baker had unwittingly contaminated his flour with ergot, a hallucinogenic mould that infects rye grain. Another theory was the bread had been poisoned with organic mercury.
However, H P Albarelli Jr., an investigative journalist, claims the outbreak resulted from a covert experiment directed by the CIA and the US Army's top-secret Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
The scientists who produced both alternative explanations, he writes, worked for the Swiss-based Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company, which was then secretly supplying both the Army and CIA with LSD.
N. rapah pitchers have huge orifices, but they also grow large concave lids held at an angle of about 90 degrees away from the orifice. The inside of these lids are covered with glands that exude huge amounts of nectar. Most importantly, the distance from the front of the pitcher's mouth to the glands corresponds exactly to the head to body length of mountain tree shrews.
The shrew perches on the plant to lick nectar from the "lid" and on most occasions it poops into the conveniently positioned toilet bowl to mark its territory. [...] This toilet bowl system is so effective that the plant satisfies almost all its nutritional needs from the shrew feces.
There's a difference between making only a little money and starving. We're very much in the latter. Jamie's lucky to get a couple of hundred dollars from an issue. [...] As in, every time Jamie ran out of money, he had to stop and do something else. A couple of hundred dollars doesn't cover rent or pay for his fashionable haircuts. And doing this bitty work f--ks up the production anyway, because you can't concentrate or plan. You just spend your entire life in low-level money panic.
Frankly, Jamie is just shy of thirty and one of the most talented illustrators of his generation. Even I'm not a big a bastard enough to want him to spend another year in "Phonogram"'s brand of hell. He deserves a paycheck. [...]
We've been doing "Phonogram" for over 4 years, not including the years before the first series came out. Imagine if we could have just done the comic and not had to deal with any of the shit we've had to. We'd have been up to issue 44 now. Instead, we have 13 issues.
I feel frustrated. Enormously lucky, sure, but frustrated. We've done this wonderful thing we're crazy-proud about. But if the whole economic system was just a couple of degrees to the left, everything would have been different. I mean, just to give you an idea about narrow the margins are between what we are and what we could be, if we were selling 6K instead of 4K, we could have done those 44 issues. The difference between breaking even and actually being able to do it in comics is insane. It's like being kept under ice, clawing. I feel like a bonsai plant.
And that's a god damned shame.