Another major protagonist (and the principal narrator) of the tale is Freddy Wells, a brilliant young man who 'dropped out' of mainstream society (where he was on the fast-track to success in any one of several fields related to international politics), in order to pursue countercultural dreams of becoming an underground writer/musician who would change the world by waking it out of its moral slumber. Turned off by the dirty games leading to the top, he determined to make it without 'selling out.'   ("What profit it a man to gain the world but lose his soul?")  Mirroring the path of many 1960s rebels (and 60s-influenced rebels of the 1980s), he found his journey of idealism slowly fading into a journey of self-destruction and social marginalization until he, in his own way, became as lost and bitter as Abu.  The great uplifting gifts of soul-purity and street-vitality which had initially empowered him as he set out on his new path now came crashing down on his head in the form of abandonment and rejection; and the pain of that drove him to wantonness and self-neglect, centered on a variety of escapes including serious substance abuse.  A major theme of The March of the Eccentrics is the theme of REDEMPTION, as Freddy Wells seems to give up and lose all hope of mattering to anyone, let alone the earth, but then encounters Ellen and her father, and with them the chance to resurrect his wasted talents and put them to use to help a world that is in desperate need of them. 

Freddy is a character very much inspired by my own life, and by that of many other people I have known who seemed to throw their life away for their ideals.  Perhaps he is my way of seeking to rescue all of us, a good part of a generation "lost in space... with no time left to start again."  (Don McLean)  Underneath the rubble of our failures may lie the hope of the earth...

The relationship between an author and an artist is certainly capable of generating tension, and I must confess that I really gave Katalina a hard time about Freddy.  I needed a certain look, and was very much the stereotype 'impossible author' when it came to coming up with a visual image of him.  Certainly, Katalina deserves some kind of Award for putting up with me, perhaps the Nobel Prize for Surviving Unrealistic Demands.  In retrospect, I love all of the images she created.  I present a number of them here, in a progression we might well call "the evolution of Freddy Wells" or else "the amazing patience of Katalina Gutierrez."

^ This is a very interesting, early version of Freddy, a preliminary sketch by Katalina.  I actually loved it, but we moved on.

^ Here was another great Freddy, and a beautiful background, too (Washington Square Park, NYC).  Maybe I didn't find him rough enough or hurt enough?  Really beautiful, in spite of my inexplicable reluctance.

^ This Freddy had the unkempt, unshaven look I preferred, but I wanted more of a spark - Freddy was not just a handsome, Hollywood lead male, he had real fire and genius, something more.  Poor Katalina!  But she responded (below) with a perfect adjustment, somehow getting fire into his eyes, and raising his IQ by 50 points.  What a gift, to be able to do all that with pencil, chalk, crayon, brush (what did she use???  In the end, I think it was a magic wand!)

^ The final Freddy, Katalina's portrait of Freddy Wells in The March of the Eccentrics.  Now we have a character who is up to any challenge!

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