From the Crap Archives: Your Child's Favorite Weeping Farmer Coloring Book
The Farmer and the Crows
Authors: Herbert R. Simmons and Lester L. Boyice
Publisher: H&R Publishing, Lenexa, Kansas
Discovered at: Salvation Army
The Cover Promises: Crows and a sunburned farmer but none of the anguish within. Representative Quote: "The Farmer woke up early the next morning,...before the sun came up. He loaded up his shotgun with buckshot, ... walked out into the field." (page 11)
Initially, this dreary, hopeless, thoroughly upsetting "story coloring book" only looks like it might upset your child if your child is concerned with things like aesthetics. The first few pages depict a farm, a farmer, and some crows well enough that the child who once owned this copy has dutifully cheered them up.
As the pages pass, and the crows eat the farmer's corn, our child gives up on it. The images are peculiarly static, often looking like slightly altered photocopies of each other. Worse, they're sometimes horrifying.
Here, the farmer attempts to scare away crows by becoming da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.
The farmer fails to scare the crows away. His wife, dog and scarecrow fail, too. Desperate, he considers (and dismisses) the possibility of opening farmer-crow negotiations. (Note that, without color to distract us, he looks like Burt Reynolds in a cauliflower toupee.)
Here, things get bleak.
Some kids excel at coloring flowers. Others are adept at smiling suns. Still others are best at the hard look on a man's face as he prepares to kill.
For the next four pages, the farmer lurks behind a haystack, cradling his shotgun. The crows arrive, and the farmer allows them to fatten themselves up. Simmons writes, chillingly, "He wanted them to eat for a while so they wouldn't be able to fly away so fast."
This is the first page the child has colored since the third. Much like the little girl's pink coat in Schindler's List, the yellow corn reminds us of life's fragile beauty even during times of despair.
The farmer, meanwhile, still has work to do. Like any good coloring book authors, Simmons and Boyice address the process of decay:
Then, on the final page, as the farmer stoops down to collect the carcasses, his spirit is crushed by the cruelty of existence.
Shocking Detail: The back cover promises: "The Farmer and the Crows, and animated thought-provoking story-coloring book graphically illustrates just how far 'PEER PRESSURE' can go when it takes control."
Reading this, your Crap Archivist stumbles confusedly through the cornfield of his mind, waving a shotgun and beseeching the heavens: "How in the holy hell is this horror story about 'PEER PRESSURE'? Do these people think the end of Of Mice and Men is about saying no to drugs? Or that Cannibal Holocaust teaches us how to save money and calculate interest?"
Highlight: Oh, Farmer Chekhov! Is there a Crayola called "Sadness"?