Friday, October 27, 2017
MTGinktober ascends to Day 27, "Climb," starring Stoneforge Mystic and Goblin Guide, two not quite legendary adventurers who should know better but definitely don't!
We all know Goblin Guide is terrible at guiding, much like most of his goblinial compatriots are famously bad at their jobs, but what if the fabled Stoneforge Mystic--who was so adept she got banned (and probably would have otherwise been reprinted along with the Gobfather in a Modern Masters set)--what if she was in fact awful at her job too? Inept, yet confident females is one of my favorite tropes--earnest females in authority positions that mean well, but are ultimately just as clumsy and clownish as legendary goofs like Chris Farley and Will Ferrell--I'm thinking of comedy monsters like Lucille Ball, Cheri Oteri, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler. What appeals to me is the fearlessness of looking dumb, while still playing it totally straight, like the audience is the one who is out of the loop. Team Rocket's dynamic played a role in these characterizations, too, where Jessie and James (and Meowth) are kinda equal partners, but Jessie is kinda regarded as the unofficial leader and although they kinda take her as the smarter one, they're all just as dumb as each other. I love that energy of try-hards who just barely make it by. So that masterful stupidity is what I strive for in pieces like this. That's why Toni has a deadly serious expression, yet everything about the piece reeks of a plan falling apart.
Between Goblin Guide and Stoneforge Mystic, Stoneforge is the "brains" of the bunch who plans their missions and calls the shots, and Goblin Guide is sorta the maps/navigation expert and the muscle. But in reality, they're both just as stupid and only get buy on sheer luck, so things always seem to work out for them despite their best, bungled efforts. While they think they have earth-manipulation powers, their real magic is controlling luck, but they are too dumb to realize it! This shot is Toni issuing an order to explore, completely unaware they're all tangled up in their own ropework. Goblin Guide is trying to look like he knows what he's doing so he's pointing to his forehead and shading a direction he things they should go--he's trying to mirror Toni's pose, but has the gestures on the wrong hands.
Fun Facts: The concept I had was to have a disorienting image that looks slightly off until you realize that you're looking at it upside down! So I wanted to play with gravity here, and in one of my original concept sketches, I even had the idea of putting characters walking on the ground, which would look like they were neatly floating in the sky. I was thinking of how ho-hum the goblins in Mogg Flunkies look on patrol duty, so I wanted to capture that energy but with a potentially all-Algen artwork if we had fellow climbers Chasm Guide expertly jetting around "below" our inept heroes. I really didn't want to include Munda, Ambush Leader, though...just a little too burly for me. Anyway, I scrapped the idea of guest stars for clarity and time, though you can spot their roughs in one of my thumbnail concepts.
Easter Eggs: I merged all three current versions of Goblin guide here. The general curled up pose and floppy ears and fingers come from the OG Zendikar printing; the pants and climbing gear come from the Modern Masters version; and the bags, scrolls, and rope bracers come from the GP promo version. Stoneforge merges her two current versions (also a Zendikar and GP Promo joint, oddly enough) so basically the top half of the stylization comes from Algenpflegerito's way and the bottom half comes from the original. The background is Florian de Gesincourt's mountainous Island from Khans of Tarkir. Again, as is tradition with Algen art, I included the "swooshy, German B" ß thing, which is planted on the (blank!) map.