March 30, 2011

We make the Great Work work!

United Monitors of Phyrexia, Local 143

For some background see this, this and this.

What are Phyrexian Monitors? I don't really know. To me it looks like they do the low-level tasks that are the backbone of any insatiable, virulent society. They keep the flesh flowing and the vats bubbling. And who values unity more than a Phyrexian? All will be one.

This got me thinking about how I consume the flavor and story of Magic. I'm a big fan of the material, of course, which I absorb through the cards as they cross my path. The resulting loose tapestry of characters, places and narrative makes a strong impression but is riddled with gaps. "Who's this guy?" "Who actually won this war?" "Why do Monitors have popsicle-stick teeth and no eyes? And do they have dental, vision, collective bargaining power, etc?" Yes, those are some sweet, juicy gaps.

Monitors, strip 1

The gaps offer me two paths:

  1. Research it further if I am sufficiently intrigued. Fun.

  2. Fill the gaps with my own imagination. Also fun.

It's a kick-ass way to be submerged in a fantasy world. I wouldn't be as thrilled by Magic's flavor if I had the full picture. What I get via the cards piques my interest and inspires me.

I appreciate that the flavor writers sweat the details backstage to make a consistent, coherent world and then judiciously distribute tantalizing nuggets of that work to the cards. I'm a big fan of Doug Beyer's weekly journeys to flavor country. And I hope that these creators would not be too appalled if they happened to see some dude from the internet tweaking and re-interpreting their creations for his own weird kicks.

Monitors strip 2


  1. This is great.

    I love how the Monitor on Diabolic Servitude is dressed in a weird leather skirt thing, while all the others don't even look like they have distinct legs. He kind of reminds me of the Rancor keeper from Return of the Jedi. (Malakili. Yeah, I know his name off the top of my head) I imagine him sobbing when his Zombie-tentacle guy gets killed by an Intrepid Hero or something.

    Speaking of, the original art for Intrepid Hero makes him look so dorky. I love it.

  2. Have you seen the wallpaper for "Brutalizer Exarch"? Looks monitor-esque to me. Mostly just teeth wearing a pillowcase of some sort.

  3. Yep, I saw that, and I believe that one of the other New Phyrexia preview images is showing a Phyrexian Monitor: