DrawingIllustrationPerformance ArtScienceVisual Art

Freakshow and Tell Posters

A year or so ago, MAL’s Beth introduced our local skeptics group to Thom Britton and his show, Freakshow and Tell. That night during his show, he asked me to stand on his head while he was lying on a pile of broken glass. Not the absolute weirdest way I’ve ever spent a Friday night, but close.

Thom is a mix of the Jim Rose Circus and Bill Nye. He performs a number of classic freakshow acts, but explains the science behind them and their historical context. If you enjoyed that Oatmeal comic about Tesla and Edison, then this is your JAM.

He has an event tonight and several other times throughout the month in Chicago at the Lincoln Loft!! It’s very much worth checking out, and the Lincoln Loft is a cool venue!

Thom recently (ok, not super recently, but I was too occupied to write this post then) had a booth at an event at my favorite Chicago musuem/shill-for-the-energy-industry, the Museum of Science and Industry. He and I had spoken about what I do and had always planned to collaborate on some artwork for his show, and he needed some banners for his booth. These were the results that I cranked out in a matter of hours.

Skeleton of a Two-Headed Cow
Skeleton of a Two-Headed (Polycephalic) Cow
Also a freak because he lacks a pancreas and gallbladder.

I created the main images and Thom put them on his backdrop and added the carny text. I am not entirely sure why the sword swallower is over 4000 years old….or maybe the act is? And yes, this man is missing his pancreas and gallbladder, but those organs didn’t seem relevant to the path of the sword, so I left them out in the interest of time.

And no, Thom does not have a polycephalic cow (yet?), nor does he swallow swords (I think he wanted sideshow posters that would lend themselves well to my skillz). He does stand on a Tesla coil (that is on), he does eat fire, and he does do painful-looking things with broken glass. And his stage banter is excellent. Go see him!


Katie is an animator and illustrator of human innards living in Chicago.

Related Articles


Leave a Reply

Back to top button