Monday, October 24, 2016


This was a bit of a special MTGinktober for Day 19's "Flight." At first I thought I might do something relating to Kazu Kibuishi's classic Flight anthology, since it was one of my absolute biggest inspirations in college and even earlier (I aspired to be good enough to enter that anthology some day...). We even named the Yale Comics Club anthology Escape in homage to it (and by the way, how cool that the Flight prompt comes right after Escape!). But in the end, I decided to go with a special Magic Angel that's not strictly Magic-related, but pretty much kinda Magic-related, Sakura Tenshi.

I'm a huge fan of inside references nobody could ever hope to get (another reason I list them online is so I don't forget myself years down the road), so let's detail what's going on with this piece. First of all, it's a medley of all kinds of nods to The Vossfather, Algenpfleger, who's been an inspiration since college. Obviously we have Thalia, and slightly less obviously a quasi-Restoration Angel, two of his most famous illustrations. The Angel is not a direct cover of Resto, tho, it's his famous playmat design Sakura Angel or Sakura Tenshi. Not to brag or nuffin, but I pretty much Art Directed that whole piece, so in other words I basically drew it for him, trust me, don't ask him, just take my word for it what were we talking about again oh right the next section which is starting now ha ha hey look what's that over there.

Right, so next we get a little more eagle-eyed with the references. Thalia's little design details on her belt and sheath are actually little German B swooshy things -> ß. And then since we're using Thalia's background, I thought it'd be neat to mimic the playful side of his aesthetic and have little dooders hanging out on the grass. And not just any bugs, but references to his famous token series. I included a little seal because that's his mascot, of course, but I dropped in the little Germ because that was the very first token I ever got from him (I call him the "German Germ" and he watches over my Drafts from my Draft kit deckbox). The caterpillar balancing out the bottom right corner is my own design, but using the JV club style. And that's pretty much everything I snuck into this piece. If I can sum the experience in a word: edutainment.

Next, Day 20 was "Squeeze," so I decided to try to draw into a cramped space--the space of Japanese coins. I wanted a deeper meaning than simply drawing in a confined area, though, so initially I wanted to draw Owen Turtenwald and three rats, in reference to his command performance with Monoblack Devotion during Return to Ravnica-Theros Standard. But then I thought of his good friends Reid Duke and William Jensen, who famously have an incredibly tight bond--you might say they're squeezed together tightly.

They're so tight that their collective name is the "Peach Garden Oath," and Japanese money has flowers and stuff on it, so I thought it'd be neat to make a Peach version of our 5 yen coin to round out our yen collection's donut-hole-having member. I wanted unconventional expressions so I scoured the documentary Enter the Battlefield for interesting shots, but I knew exactly which scene I wanted for Owen, which I also knew was going to be a special challenge to capture the subtle emotions there.

Bonus sketch: I've wanted to do fan art of ETB for a while and this felt like a good opportunity to do a quick sketch--plus I wanted to test out my maru pen before using it on the actual piece, so I sketched this for the test run. I'm pretty used to the G-Pen by now which I've used on every MTGinktober hitherto, but the marupen (a finer-point nib) is still noticeably harder to pilot...Anyway, this sketch was inspired by one of the saddest scenes in the film, I tear up every time. Note the sketch depicts fiction, but I just wanted to capture the emotions I feel while watching that scene. I believe there exists a photo of Owen hugging William Jensen after falling just short of winning Worlds(?), so maybe that subconsciously influenced this sketch, too, but I just drew from the gut on this one. Owen is a controversial guy, but any critics really ought to watch this film. Regardless of how you feel about him, it kinda helps put stuff in perspective.

(The Chris Pikula storyline is also surprisingly poignant--man, that part where he talks about his kid and/vs. Magic...I don't know why that hit me so hard. I guess cuz I've decided to give up on all "real life" things for art? I dunno. I don't care about the real world so I literally don't even know what I'm missing. Friendship, love, it's all alien to me, but I do know--ignorantly--I would never forgive myself if I chose those over art. I'm obviously missing something, but I'm terrified that allowing myself to learn more would make me balk or unmask regret.)

I will say, though, the only real problem I've had with The Big O was when he posted a picture of himself smoking a cigar. My understanding of influential people (specifically people who kids look up to) smoking has taken a huge dive since living in Japan--the poor kids here are almost expected to start smoking. It's so incredibly sad. They don't even have a chance. Everyone--fathers, mothers, sports stars--they smoke right in front of kids, it's culturally normal. It's heartbreaking. Obviously it's the guy's choice to do whatever he wants and Magic sure doesn't pay enough to warrant influencing his personal life, but I admire guys like LSV and Reid Duke who nevertheless do put in an effort to accept that they are unwitting role models. You ever see that picture of LSV signing autographs for those little girls? My gosh! Another oddly emotional experience. Anyway. You know, for a Magic-centric post, it has certainly gotten pretty emo. Sigh. Wish my deck were emo, that way it could cut itself. ZING!

And yes, I'm fully aware Zero smokes, but that's because/so nobody likes him. Also I am a nobody.


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