Tuesday, October 31, 2017
MTGinktober covers up for Day 31, "Mask," starring Sakashima the Imposter, hobbling along in his new position as Kamigawa's chief regional Happy Mask Salesman!
I wanted to draw Nissa for this one, actually. I had this concept of doing an homage to that famous scene in Ghost in the Shell where the cyborg's head/face splits open--I wanted to draw that but with a Magic character. Drawing Nissa as the star was my cold calculation on how to make it more appealing (and slightly more disturbing). The hook was that this was more of a robotic mask. That was my leading idea until I convinced myself that was the easy way out--it's a female character, a Planeswalker, one of the most popular of the main Magic cast, a reference to a popular movie...this whole "selling out" thing has really been eating at me. This would have felt really hollow. I should have done it.
The only other idea seriously competing with this one was my absolute first idea, a reference to Skeletal Grimace, where Nissa was pulling off the skin of her face to reveal a cackling skeleton. That felt just a little too disturbing, such that it might turn people off, so I favored the GITS idea. I had also considered another Kaya and Koth piece with them reenacting the famous The Dark Knight Returns shot of a hulking Batman and lithe Robin jumping in unison and wearing similar masks, but I wasn't sold on the concept, considering I already teamed them last year, so it's like, what the only black characters can only exist together? That felt cheap and dumb, but I don't know if I was overthinking it. I've done repeat teams this year (and imagine I"ll do so again eventually), but they were thematically linked. The only link here would be that they were black, and that felt exploitative.
So anyway, my back-up plan all throughout these waffling debates was doing a take on Sakashima with a bunch of homages in the masks as our final send-off to this year in Inktober. Even better, fusing him with the Happy Mask Salesman from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. So, since I couldn't convince myself that any of the above mentioned ideas were the way to go, we settled on this admittedly unimpressive concept. This was an underwhelming finale, for sure. I knew it would be: it's a not-necessarily attractive character, it's a dude, and it's perilously close to the original art's composition, so it represented multiple levels of mediocrity. I knew the previous Liliana piece would do well, but felt that good old, self-sabotaging urge pressuring me not to employ Nissa again because it just felt too easy and I felt cheap enough this year.
Fun Facts: During research, I rediscovered that there are actually two official interpretations of Sakashima out there. Just like with Stuffy Doll, Udon Crew also made a go at this creature for Magic Online, so I ended up using the original's body and the avatar's face since it was considerably clearer to read than the card version.
Easter Eggs: So we already know it's overall an homage to the Happy Mask Salesman, whose face has become the mask Sakashima holds in his hand, which the shapeshifter created right after he murdered the maskmonger to get this gig. The mask in the back at top, facing away from camera is Zero. Appropriately enough for this coerced piece, right next to Z is the infamous Dragon Mask of legend--they say Magic was forced to use this art under pressure from the art director. To the right is Uba Mask and to Uba's right, just peeking out from behind the backpack is Vicky Vasquez, who is overlapped by Illusionary Mask. Further left is the Happy Mask Salesman's Mario mask of course, followed by Ivory Mask, which seems to have Cho-Manno's fountain in it, I discovered. On the bottom of the Imposter's pack is Mortivore and the old Phyrexian mask, which is most often seen as a logo or costume detail among Phyrexia-aligned creatures and most famously on display as the Apocalypse expansion symbol. Between those two is Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker. And rounding out the collection at the bottom of Sakashima's sleeve, replacing his student's mask, is the mask of The Blue Spirit from Avatar. I noticed Sakashima's masks all have little seals on their foreheads with cryptic characters on them, which seemed like an important detail, so I used each one to spell out my name in Japanese as well as piecemeal convey the date information.