Frog Tarot by Michael Kutzer
Review by Saskia Jansen
I wrote this review to talk about the Frog Tarot, but I can't really do this without mentioning its 'brothers and sisters' and a little bit of the background. The Frog Tarot is one of the new Cudahy tarot series by the German artist Michael Kutzer (Michael's Tarot, Tarot Pers). The series is named after the town in the U.S. where Michael Kutzer now lives. Each tarot in the series features a different kind of animal. Right now, three decks have been completed and published: the Elephant Tarot, Frog Tarot and Hedgehog Tarot. In the future, these will be joined by Pigs, Mice and Seals Tarots.
These Tarots are more art tarots to be admired and kept than for use in actual readings, yet they do offer some very interesting perspectives. The decks are self-published by Michael's partner Susan, who has done a tremendous job in printing these beauties. Each Cudahy tarot will be printed in a limited edition of only 32 copies. They are printed on thick watercolor paper. Cards measure 2.28 by 4.01 inches. When looking at the images, you get the feeling that you are looking at the original pencil drawings. The backs of the cards repeat the names Susan and Michael and the Cudahy Tarot over and over and therefore are not really reversible. The price of the deck is pretty steep at $135, but looking at the amount of work involved in making and printing this deck, it is not surprising.
The Cudady Tarots are all ULTRA cute, but also very funny. Michael Kutzer has an excellent sense of humor and that can clearly be seen in the decks. At the same time, he is true to the nature of the animal featured in each of the decks and even addresses certain environmental issues. The card composition also touches on the sometimes-deadly threats for each animal.
The Frog Tarot is no exception to the rule. In the Major Arcana, we encounter at least three of the most deadly threats frogs can encounter: storks, cars, and culinary chefs. There are actually several so-called 'revenge' cards in the deck. One example is the Chariot, where we see a frog driving a car and running over a human. On Strength a muscular 'superfrog' is telling off a stork and a frog prepares to cut off the legs of a chef in the Justice card. I find that last card particularly funny. On other cards, (Death, Hanged Man (at top), and The Devil), the threats themselves have the upper hand.
Another thing the deck shows is the true nature of frogs. According to the little white booklet that accompanies the deck, "The Frogs' World is the pond, of course, the bugs and worms and flies he likes to eat". It also states: "A frog's ideal are not very high-pointed, I suppose. ”Food and sex, that's it!” Well, this certainly shows on the Lovers card, where two frogs are having it on. Both have got such content expressions that you can just imagine they are completely happy. On the Moon card, the frogs are more interested in their 'snack' (a juicy worm) than anything coming up from the depths. And a fly is more important then the Angel on the Judgement card.
The minors are not the usual suits, but consist of Flies, Worms, Cat-Tails and Water Lilies. The aces are particularly funny. The Ace of Flies shows a fly holding up a banner saying "I am a stork". I wonder if this will fool the frogs. On the Ace of Worms, a frog is strangled by a worm, so I guess this card can be called 'the revenge of the worm.' All the minors are illustrated, although they don't really have any particular message of meaning, in my opinion. They seem more like funny, illustrated pip cards to me. But they are very funny in places and definitely worth looking at.
All in all, the Frog Tarot is a very interesting and wonderful deck. The deck is well thought out and nicely executed, so you do get your money's worth. Because of the nature of the deck, I would recommend this deck mostly for collectors.
The Frog Tarot and other Cudahy Tarots can be purchased directly from the artist by contacting Susan Arenz.
Saskia Jansen is a tarot collector and reader from the Netherlands. She bought her first tarot deck in 1996 and has been hooked ever since. Her main interest is in historical Rider Waite Smith decks and clones, and is the proud possessor of a Roses and Lilies Pamela-A Tarot. Her collection currently contains more than 600 tarot decks.
Images © Michael Kutzer
Review © 2005 Saskia Jansen
Page © 2005 Diane Wilkes