by Kevin Andrew Murphy
So, you’ve been to Jokertown and want to come home with a souvenir of the Wild Card world (but not the actual Wild Card virus, mind you) but even the cheapest masks at Holbrooks are a bit expensive—and not much different than what you could get in New Orleans or Venice—and the assorted books and “novelty items” at The Land Where the Bong-Trees Grow, while sold and often made by jokers, aren’t appreciably different than those sold by nats elsewhere—apart from the T-shirts coming in a wider range of sizes and numbers of arms. You want something unique, something not just created by a wild card but by a wild card power.
Aces! Magazine has, in our offices, some unique souvenirs like this, gifts from aces of days past. One of these is a sort of fused purple glass ashtray (apologies that we’ve seen to have mislaid the attribution plaque and our senior editor, Mr. Downs, was unavailable for comment as of publication) and another a gold butterfly transmuted by the ace Midas.
Some of these ace creations are still available on the second-hand market, both in Jokertown and online, but we here at ACES! wish to give current visitors to Jokertown an idea of the possible souvenirs available today.
A favorite here in the Aces! office, Zargoza’s Bakery is owned and operated by Antionia Zargosa, a jack baker (jackhere used, in the modern form, for a joker with an ace power) whose armies of gingerbread men homunculi help her bake amazing pastries. Antonia’s fardelejos are a particular favorite, especially on Instagram, where a popular shot is having a fresh plate brought to your table by gingerbread men. Zargoza’s pastries are extraordinary, and the only possible criticism is that they don’t seem any different than those produced by the best nat bakers, including the same shelf life, not that they last that long in the Aces! break room.
Arachne’s Cobweb Lace
Back in the 80s, Arachne’s spider-shaped joker form was a common sight on Jokertown streets, tending a sidewalk booth where she sold the multicolored silk cobweb lace garments she wove from her own spinnerets. Versatile net-like accessories made from a unique material, they could be worn as shawls, scarves, belts, or even veils. More were available, for higher prices, from department stores.
Arachne is older now and weaving less, but her weaving is still available through her website. Arachne’s early pieces are highly sought after in the collectibles market.
Warning: Arachne’s unique weblike lace is very strong, and the holes are easy to snag. Not recommended for young children.
Kelvin Frost’s Ice Sculptures
Kelvin Frost’s wild card lets him survive sub-zero temperatures (in fact he prefers them, lives in a giant walk-in freezer which doubles as his studio). His sculptures, which graced the tables at Aces High for many years for the annual Wild Card dinners, are still available for commission and are a popular status symbol for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, or any other occasion that might be improved by an ice sculpture.
Warning: Frost’s sculptures, while made of normal ice, are delivered very cold, so do not lick or kiss them, no matter how good of an Instagram photo you think it will make. Trust us on this.
His Nibs’ Calligraphy
Sam Washburn, aka Swash or His Nibs, younger brother of Roger Ravenstone of The Jokertown Boys, is also a jack, with fountain-pen fingernails that produce ink of any color, as well as a tufted lion tail which he uses for Japanese brushwork. In addition to the calligraphy for old Jokertown Boys albums and the old menus at Starfields, His Nibs has done work for various venues and publications, including Aces! Washburn is best reached through his Etsy shop which has a gallery of his work. We particularly like the Amish marriage certificates and Ren Faire souvenir program books covers.
Mushroom Daddy’s Organic Produce
The Jokertown Farmer’s Market occurs sporadically, but when it does, one of the most highly regarded vendors is Mushroom Daddy, who dresses and talks like a hippie and looks like a nat, but we have it on authority from senior editor Downs that MD is in fact an ace. The produce from his farm is sublime, especially the herbs. Mushroom Daddy extols the healthy virtues of all his offerings, and there are some in the office who agree that it’s the wild card at work at not just organic manure. Regardless, it is the best we’ve ever tasted.
The Button Man’s Mushrooms & Aged Steaks
A well-known secret in the NYC culinary world for years, a citizen of Jokertown, known only as “the Button Man,” sells delicious button mushrooms, grown to order, as well as sublimely aged steaks, to various five-star restaurants. Chefs are very close-lipped about the Button Man’s identity but the Aces! investigation continues. We hope to find this ace or jack soon and bring you an exclusive interview. What is the Button Man’s secret?
Modular Man, Parts and Accessories
Though long regarded as an ace, even being invited to the exclusive ace-only Wild Cards night dinners Aces High, Modular Man blew up in 1986, separated into his various component parts, revealing him as an android. Modular Man’s parts and modules were acquired by others, and while a new Modular Man appeared nine months later, the various parts have occasionally surfaced and been resold, sometimes in the clandestine private market, occasionally on Ebay.
Aces! has been investigating. We have found information that a company known as Modular Man Enterprises was registered to a Dr. Maxim Travnicek in the 80s, but we have been unable to locate or contact Dr. Travnicek. Another possibility for Modular Man’s creator is a toymaking ace known only as the Professor who we lost track of about the same time. Is Dr. Travnicek the Professor? Investigations continue, including Modular Man’s current whereabouts.
However, parts of the original Modular Man can still be found on the collector’s market, although… beware… some may not be genuine. Some assembly required.