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

March 22, 2011

Not a morning(tide) person

faerie rogue with hangover
See Jim Nelson's original faerie rogue token here.

Like a lot of us, faerie rogues are not at full speed the second they fall out of their Bitterblossom. I sure have a touch of summoning sickness this morning. I was up late, partying with Oona.

But seriously, when your battlefield is laden with faerie rogue tokens it might help to have a special token for the new recruit with a hangover. Here's a high-resolution PDF. Keep the shades down and the coffee flowing.

Summoning sick faerie rogue token idea was proposed to me by two great Magic thinkers: Alexander Shearer and Arthur Halavais.

March 04, 2011

Bird is the word


I think that this is the first time I've illustrated a specific deck's key interaction (also the first time I've used a dip pen in a while, if anyone out there is interested in how I make this sausage). That deck is of course the Stoneforge Mystic/Squadron Hawk/swords blend that propelled so many to the top in Paris including Ben Stark for the win then shortly thereafter helped Gerry Thompson nab the cup at SCG DC. Some call the deck "Caw-Blade," and I've also heard "Angry Birds." Whatever the name, this is one sublime pile of cardboard.

Back when M11 was new someone from Wizards (possibly Aaron Forsythe) asked the community via Twitter to name their favorite card from the set. Without hesitation I repsonded with Squadron Hawk. I therefore demand credit for all of the card's recent success. I kid, but there is truth in my love for the birds.

Squadron Hawks

This deck has great appeal beyond the usual pack of control freaks. Aside from just being good it makes great use of two lovable mechanics: tutoring and equipment. Who doesn't like flipping through the library to find just the right card for the job? Who doesn't like turning mice into monsters with reusable gadgets? Soulless monsters, that's who.

If you are a devotee of the Hawks then you should most definitely order up Justin Treadway's excellent S.H. team shirt.

March 03, 2011

Bag of miscellaneous items

I should have a post with some new art up for ya in roughly the next 24 hours, give or take, depending on the tides and the benevolence of the overlords. In the meantime, I have a bag of miscellaneous items that have been gathering on the edge of my drawing board.

1. Check out Magic Pro Tour historian Brian David-Marshall representing Inkwell Looter on Day 1 of the recent Paris Magic Weekend, while his coverage partner Rich Hagon looks on!

Hagon and David-Marshall

This was amazing for me since the passion and ability Rich and Brian bring to their work are what made me care about the Pro Tour in the first place. Plus it's like I got to be a part of the biggest match in Magic history, kind of! Paris! See more Paris coverage and the Unfinished Business player-of-the-year shirt.

2. Remember these Wurm tokens I did for the Yo! MTG Taps guys? They've been handing them out at events but now you can get them here (while supplies last).

3. I'm a guest judge of the Second Chance for a Prerelease contest over at Quiet Speculation and am kicking in one of the original pen/ink drawings from my site for the prize pool. Step right up!