Catherine Yronwode

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Catherine Yronwode
Catherine Yronwode, at the Oakland Comic Book Convention in the 1980s.jpg
Catherine Yronwode in the 1980s.
Born Catherine Anna Manfredi
(1947-05-12) May 12, 1947 (age 68)
San Francisco
Nationality American
Occupation Writer, editor, publisher
Notable work Eclipse Comics editor-in-chief
Awards Inkpot Award 1983

Catherine Anna "Cat" Yronwode (née Manfredi; May 12, 1947) is an American writer, editor, graphic designer, typesetter, publisher, and practitioner of folk magic with an extensive career in the comic book industry.

Early life[edit]

She was born Catherine Anna Manfredi in 1947 in San Francisco to "bohemian/academic parents".[1] Her father, Joseph Manfredi, was a Sicilian American abstract artist; her mother, Liselotte Erlanger, was an Ashkenazi Jewish refugee from Germany, a writer, and a cousin of the composer Franz Reizenstein. Manfredi grew up in Berkeley and Santa Monica, and traveling abroad. Her parents had a bookstore in Berkeley, Glozer's Booksellers, for several years.[citation needed]

Manfredi made window signs for the Cabale Creamery (a folk music coffeehouse in Berkeley) while still in high school. She attended Shimer College in Illinois as an early entrant, but dropped out. Returning to Berkeley, she sold the Berkeley Barb underground newspaper on the streets, and catalogued rare books for her parents' bookstore. In 1965 she left urban life for rural places.[citation needed]


Early work[edit]

Yronwode has written in a number of fields. She began writing while in her teens, contributing to science fiction fanzines under her name of Catherine Manfredi. During the 1960s, she was a member of the Bay Area Astrologers Group, co-writing its weekly astrology column for an underground newspaper, San Francisco Express Times / Good Times. She produced record reviews on a freelance basis for the nascent Rolling Stone magazine, and short articles on low-tech living for the Whole Earth Catalog and Country Women magazine. While in jail for growing marijuana, she wrote about her experiences for the Spokane Natural.

With her mother Liselotte Glozer, Catherine co-wrote and hand-lettered the faux-medieval cookbook, My Lady's Closet Opened and the Secret of Baking Revealed by Two Gentlewomen (Glozer's Booksellers, 1969).

From 1965 through 1980, Manfredi lived as a rural back-to-the-land hippie in various places, including Tolstoy Peace Farm, an anarchist commune in Washington; the Equitable Farm commune in Mendocino County, and the Garden of Joy Blues commune in Oregon County, Missouri. In 1969 (see below), she adopted the surname "Yronwode" with her partner, which she has retained and published under.[1][2]

Comics and trading cards[edit]

In 1980, Yronwode worked as an editor for Ken Pierce Publishing, editing and writing introductions to a line of comic strip reprint books. Titles included Modesty Blaise by Peter O'Donnell and Jim Holdaway, Mike Hammer by Mickey Spillane, and The Phantom by Lee Falk.[3]

Yronwode also began a long-running column titled "Fit to Print" for the Comics Buyer's Guide. The column was widely read and gave her a gatekeeper role in comics. Beanworld creator Larry Marder credits her positive review therein for his title's success.[4] Similarly, when Dan Brereton received a poor review from Yronwode for an early project, he felt his "promising career in comics was over".[5] The column, and her work with the APA-I comic-book indexing cooperative, led to freelance editing jobs at Kitchen Sink Press, an important early alternative comics imprint. She published The Art of Will Eisner in 1981. She continued to write books for Kitchen Sink for several years.[6][7]

In 1982 she began a partnership with Dean Mullaney. With his brother Jan, in 1976 Mullaney had co-founded Eclipse Enterprises, a comic book and graphic novel publisher. With Yronwode as editor-in-chief, Eclipse published many well-known works, including Miracleman by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens, and Zot! by Scott McCloud.[8][third-party source needed] Eclipse also published graphic novels that were adapted from opera librettos, such as The Magic Flute by P. Craig Russell, and classic children's literature, such as The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien.[9] Yronwode won an Inkpot Award in 1983.

In 1985, Yronwode and cartoonist Trina Robbins co-wrote the Eclipse book Women and the Comics, on the history of female comic-strip and comic-book creators. As the first book on this subject,[citation needed] its publication was covered in the mainstream press in addition to the fan press.[10][11][12]

During the 1980s, Eclipse developed a new line of non-fiction, non-sports trading cards, edited by Yronwode. Controversial political subjects such as the Iran-Contra scandal, the Savings and Loan crisis, the AIDS epidemic, and the Kennedy Assassination, as well as true crime accounts of serial killers, mass murderers, the mafia, and organized crime were covered in these card sets. Yronwode was widely interviewed in the media about her role in their creation.[13]

Eclipse and other legal cases[edit]

Eclipse ceased publication in 1994 and shortly after filed for bankruptcy.[3][7]

During her career as a comic book editor and publisher, Yronwode was involved in three court cases related to free speech/free expression under the First Amendment. In the Michael Correa case , which led to the founding of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Yronwode was an expert witness for the defense.[14]

In 1992, the convicted serial killer Kenneth Bianchi, one-half of the pair known as "The Hillside Strangler", sued Yronwode for 8.5 million dollars for having an image of his face depicted on a trading card; he claimed his face was his trademark. The judge dismissed the case after ruling that, if Bianchi had been using his face as a trademark when he was killing women, he would not have tried to hide it from the police.[15][16]

Also in 1992, Eclipse was a plaintiff when Nassau County, New York seized a crime-themed trading card series of theirs under a county ordinance prohibiting sales of certain trading cards to minors.[17] The case, in which Yronwode testified and the ACLU provided Eclipse's representation, reached the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. It ruled against the county, overturning the ordinance.[18][19][20][21]

Other work[edit]

During the 1990s, Yronwode was a staff editor and contributor to Organic Gardening Magazine. She published The California Gardener's Book of Lists (Taylor, 1998). Other subjects she has covered for various magazines include collectibles, popular culture,[3] rural acoustic blues music, early rock'n'roll, and sex magick.[1]

Yronwode has also written extensively on magic, sacred architecture[22] and folklore subjects. She has written on the worldwide use of charms and talismans and the system of African American folk magic called hoodoo.

Since 1996, she has run the website, covering magic, occultism, sex magick, and folklore subjects. She is the co-proprietor, with Nagasiva, of an occult shop, spiritual supply manufactory, and book publishing firm, The Lucky Mojo Curio Company. She has produced work as a graphic artist of labels for spiritual supplies and written books on folk magic and religious topics.[2][23][24] Extensive interviews with both of the Yronwodes can be found in Christine Wicker's survey of early 21st-century magical practitioners, Not in Kansas Anymore[2] and in Carolyn Morrow Long's academic history of 20th-century occult shops, Spiritual Merchants: Religion, Magic, and Commerce.[23]

Personal life[edit]

In 1967 Yronwode met Peter Paskin. They began a relationship, and in 1969 created a new surname which they both used: "Yronwode", pronounced "Ironwood." Catherine prefers her name to be styled in lower case, as "catherine yronwode."[citation needed]

While living at Equitable Farm, Peter and Catherine were interviewed at length by Rolling Stone magazine for an article on hippie anarchist communes.[25] The couple had two children: Cicely (who was born in 1970 and died of SIDS the same year) and Althaea, born in 1971. In 1972, the Yronwodes relocated to the Garden of Joy Blues commune in the Missouri Ozarks. In 1976, Catherine and Peter Yronwode broke up.[1]

Yronwode and Mullaney married in 1987. They filed for divorce in 1993. After that, Yronwode left the Eclipse company and no longer owned shares in it.[citation needed]

Yronwode lives on an old farmstead in rural Forestville, California in "tantric partnership"[1][2] with Tyagi Nagasiva (now Nagasiva Bryan W Yronwode). They met in 1998 and married in 2000.[citation needed] Both Yronwodes worked in the production department of Claypool Comics until that company ceased print publication in 2007.


  • My Lady's Closet Opened and the Secret of Baking Revealed, by Two Gentlewomen (with Liselotte Erlanger Glozer). Glozer's Booksellers, 1969.
  • Will Eisner Color Treasury (with Will Eisner). Kitchen Sink Press,1981. ISBN 0-87816-006-X
  • The Art of Will Eisner. Kitchen Sink Press, 1982. ISBN 0-87816-004-3
  • Women and the Comics (with Trina Robbins). Eclipse, 1983. ISBN 0-913035-01-7
  • The Outer Space Spirit: 1952 (with Will Eisner, Wally Wood, and Pete Hamill). Kitchen Sink Press, 1989. ISBN 0-87816-012-4
  • The California Gardener's Book of Lists (with Eileen Smith). Taylor Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-87833-964-7
  • Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic. Lucky Mojo, 2002. ISBN 0-9719612-0-4
  • Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course. Lucky Mojo, 2006. ISBN 0-9719612-2-0
  • Throwing the Bones: Foretelling the Future With Bones, Shells, and Nuts. Lucky Mojo, 2012. ISBN 978-0971961234
  • The Art of Hoodoo Candle Magic in Rootwork, Conjure, and Spiritual Church Services (with Mikhail Strabo), Missionary Independent Spiritual Church, 2013. ISBN 0-9836483-6-0
  • The Black Folder: Personal Communications on the Mastery of Hoodoo (editor / contributor, with 17 other authors), Missionary Independent Spiritual Church, 2013. ISBN 9780983648376
  • Paper in My Shoe: Name Papers, Petition Papers, and Prayer Papers in the Hoodoo Rootwork Tradition. Lucky Mojo, 2015. ISBN 978-0996147101


  1. ^ a b c d e Catherine Yronwode. "Catherine Yronwode (biography page)". Retrieved 2006-09-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d Wicker, Christine (2005). Not in Kansas Anymore – A Curious Tale of How Magic is Transforming America, Harper: San Francisco. ISBN 0-06-072678-4
  3. ^ a b c Michigan State University Libraries. "Special Collections Division Reading Room Index to the Comic Art Collection "Yps" to "Yugoslavia"". Archived from the original on August 7, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  4. ^ Jeremy York (November 9, 1991). "Larry Marder interview". Gunk'L'Dunk e-zine. Archived from the original on July 26, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-26. 
  5. ^ Rick Beckley (May 25, 2000). "Interview with Dan Brereton". (defunct, via Brereton's website). Archived from the original on September 11, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-26. [dead link]
  6. ^ Catherine Yronwode at the Grand Comics Database
  7. ^ a b Michigan State University Libraries. "Special Collections Division Reading Room Index to the Comic Art Collection "Eclipse Extra" to "Écluses"". Archived from the original on August 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  8. ^ Catherine Yronwode. "Eclipse Comics Index". Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  9. ^ "Conan in Comics? Yes. Hulk? Sure. But Fafner? Wotan?" by John Rockwell, New York Times, April 5, 1990
  10. ^ "Women in the Comics: Assertive and Independent Women Make a Comeback," Miami Herald, December 1, 1988
  11. ^ "Comic Books Are For Adults Too" by William Singleton, Scripps Howard News Service, Chronicle-Telegram (newspaper), January 7, 1988
  12. ^ "Funny How Things Change," Daily Herald (newspaper), December 28, 1988
  13. ^
    • "Trading Card Fame for S&L Scoundrels" by Judith Crossen, Reuters, Philadelphia Daily News (newspaper), September 9, 1991
    • "A Full Deck of Scandals at a Glance" by Susan Trausch, The Boston Globe (newspaper), September 18, 1991
    • "Insider Trading with Keating, Milken", Los Angeles Daily News (newspaper), October 20, 1991
    • "Price tag on JFK intrigue Assassination aficionados spawn cottage industry" by Kathryn Jones, Dallas Morning News (newspaper), November 22, 1991
    • "Kennedy Assassination is an Industry with Growing Market", Associated Press, Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (newspaper), November 28, 1991
    • "Ban Urged on Sale of Crime Cards", The Record (newspaper), April 30, 1992
    • "'True Crime' Cards Thriving Despite Outrage", The New York Times (newspaper), June 16, 1992
    • "Killer Cards Hit Capital Stores Amid Criticism", Sacramento Bee (newspaper), June 19, 1992
    • "Killer Cards: Two groups trying to deal fatal blow to criminal cards", The Oregonian (newspaper), August 18, 1992
    • "AIDS cards to include condoms", Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (newspaper), September 23, 1992
    • "AIDS Awareness is in the cards", Dallas Morning News (newspaper), July 7, 1993
    • "AIDS Activism turns to cards" Dayton Daily News (newspaper), July 13, 1993
    "Ban Sought on Cards depicting AIDS victim" The Boston Globe (newspaper) January 15, 1994
  14. ^ "Censorship of Comics Bibliography: 1980s". Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Retrieved 2006-09-26. 
  15. ^ "Serial Killer Sues Trading Card Maker", San Jose Mercury News, December 18, 1992
  16. ^ "Card-Carrying Rebels: Two Guerrilla Journalists Turn Crime and Crises into Camp Collectibles" by Kathleen Donnelly, San Jose Mercury News (newspaper), January 10, 1993
  17. ^ "Nassau County Limits Sale of Crime Trading Cards". New York Times (newspaper), June 16, 1992
  18. ^ "Nassau Is Faulted for Law Over Killer Trading Cards", New York Times (newspaper), October 17, 1995
  19. ^ "Arts & First Amendment Issues: Comic Books". First Amendment Center. Retrieved 2006-09-26. 
  20. ^ "Battling Against Censorship: Killer Cards". Long Island Newsday. Retrieved 2006-09-26. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Eclipse Enterprises v. Gulotta". FindLaw. Retrieved 2006-09-26. 
  22. ^ "Finding the Unexpected on www.ididn'", New York Times (newspaper), July 21, 1991
  23. ^ a b Long, Carolyn Morrow (2001) Spiritual Merchants: Religion, Magic, and Commerce. University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1-57233-109-7
  24. ^ Cameron McWhirter (December 28, 2010). "Need a Job? Losing Your House? Who Says Hoodoo Can't Help? Tough Times Boost Sales of Spider Dust, Spells for Good Fortune, Mojo Powders". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  25. ^ "Mendocino: Tryin' To Make a Dime in the Big Woods", text by Charles Perry, photographs by Robert Altman, Rolling Stone magazine #73, December 24, 1970

External links[edit]