Tag Archives: Magick

Promethea Lives!

PrometheaAndGod

(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)

If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times. Promethea is the best comic book ever made. Alan Moore, JH Williams III, Mick Gray, Jeremy Cox, and Todd Klein created a transcendant testament that tickles while it teaches. There is, perhaps, no greater source for learning about magical and spiritual traditions while being totally entertained. If you have never read the 32 issue series, please do it as soon as you can.

Our personal connection to Promethea is pretty intense. We jumped in at issue 12 and it became the only book we ever wrote letters for. Yes, the early issues had a published letter section just like the glory days. The book was highly irregular when it came to schedule, and I will never forget the months it was late. Such delicious agony. Then the ecstasy.

The page above shows the moment that Sophie finally came face to face with God. Did she say just any old words? Of course not. She was Promethea. She was the invisible embrace of the collective imagination that joins us all. She said our prayer.

We have three children. They are magical adults now, but every night when I tucked them in we said a prayer. It goes like this.

Dear God, I love you.

Help me to be what you want me to be, and thank you for everything.

Amen.

When I saw that Alan Moore had written the same words for Sophie to say when she finally got a chance to speak to The Universe, I was speechless.

There were many, many moments like that from 1999-2004 while the new issues were still flowing. Issue #32 was the end of the line, in keeping with the Kabbalistic tradition. Promethea, however, lives on.

Surfing the interwebs keeps everything going nowadays. Yesterday something jumped from its grave and pulled my eyes out of their sockets. I was toying with bing instead of the google, and their image search returned a synchronicitizer stronger than any other.

The best interview I ever found involving Promethea contained two pics that blew my mind, since the original art hangs on our wall. They were nestled comfortably alongside Mick Gray, the World’s Greatest Inker. We will start with the interview highlights, then I will explain the connection.

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(Mick Gray and his wife Holly.)

Working on Promethea is much more challenging than any other job I have ever had. J.H. is always pushing me to the next level and it has been very rewarding. I am not looking forward to its end. It is just so inspiring to work on this book.

Alan Moore is well known for the notoriously long and detailed scripts that he provides for his illustrators that still give leeway for their input into the finished product. Do you get to read much of Alan’s scripts yourself or do you just concentrate on finishing the art that JH Williams provides for you?

I have a copy of the script for issue #1 and it is huge. But my job is to work close with J.H. to try and capture the vision. I have only talked to Alan once over the phone (After we won the Eisner award!) but J.H. talks with him quite often. There is a lot of communication between everybody who works on this book, this is why the quality is so high.

When Promethea finishes with Issue #32 you will have been working on it for about 5 years (1999-2004). Is this the longest you have worked on a single title?

Yes this is the longest run we both have on a book.

What are some of your favorite images from Promethea so far?

The “Mobius Strip” page from issue #15 (this is most definitively the most asked about page), the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” from issue #5 and the whole issue #12!

From an artists point of view what were some of the hardest images you have had to produce for Promethea. Which images do you think most closely approximated what you imagined they would turn out like?

The “Four Horseman” page was a lot of work, it just took a lot of time! And issue #12 was pretty tough because of the deal with all the pages put end to end make one long piece of art. That took extra time in making sure all the pages butted up to each other just right. Wow, that was some issue.

Do you have a favorite character that you enjoy producing an image of more than any of the others?

I have a soft spot for the original costume of Sophie’s. I miss it! Even thought it took longer to pencil and ink, it was just so cool.

Both Alan and JH Williams have said in interviews that while they were working on the Daath Issue “The Stars are But Thistles (#20) they were taken quite ill as if someone or something didn’t want them to be doing it. Did you have a similar experience yourself when you worked on it and have you received any interesting feedback from readers about this particular issue?

Hmmm… I had a really bad hemorrhoid during that issue… just kidding. I have never heard about this from Alan or J.H., sorry.

Has working on Promethea spurred any interest in finding out more about Magick, The Kabbalah, Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, John Dee or any other figures of real people who have appeared in Promethea?

I am very interested in the Kabbalah and I have been on a spiritual journey of my own for many years. Working on this book has just made me more interested in these subjects.

 Issue #26 which just came out looks and feels almost like a Tom Strong comic rather than the usual Promethea one (if there is such a thing as a usual Promethea Issue). Did you enjoy your change of style on this one. Are there any other comic such as Ghostworld which inspired this style?

I just love all the different styles J.H. has used on Promethea. It just makes it so much fun when you don’t know what is coming next.

How many awards have you won for your work on Promethea. Was the Eisner a single statue that you had to share with JHW or did you each get a statue?

We have been nominated many times (including this year!) for different awards but the only one we have actually won is for “Best Single Issue” for Promethea # 10 in 2001. We each got a nice plaque for our walls!

Is there a question about your work on Promethea that no one has ever asked you but you wish they would so you could answer it?

If you could work on any book, with any team, and do it forever, what would it be? Promethea.

Endless love to eroomnala for that magnificent interview. Now the freaky part. Mick Gray supplied a before-and-after set of drawings to illustrate the state of the page when it was given to him by JH Williams III. It just so happened to be the exact page we own, thanks to ebay. Spooky conicidence? Divine intervention? Either way, what bliss.

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That is the drawing from JH Williams III. Promethea #7, pages 6-7.

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That is the finished inking by Mick Gray. The planets and eyes are actually collaged onto the ink surface.

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That is a photograph of the pages, hanging in our bedroom .

So, you see, Promethea lives! Synchronicity is her standard time zone, and she set the alarm for this very moment. Thank you Alan Moore. Thank you JH Williams III. Thank you Mick Gray. Thank you Todd Klein. Thank you everyone at DC who allowed something this real to be published.

We will glow in gratitude forever.

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Alphabets of Desire: Chakra Kabbalah Eight-Circuit Reality Creators Anonymous.

alphabetsofdesire

(Alphabets of Desire copyright Todd Klein and Alan Moore.)

Today’s nugget of wisdom from Alphabets of Desire is solid alchemical gold. Whether you study Kabballah or tune your Chakras or practice the Karma Mechanics of the Eight-Circuit model, you can create your own reality.

Here is the next serving of Alan Moore’s actual words, as lettered by Todd Klein:

A is derived from the Greek alpha, with the modern capital adapted from the earlier North Semitic aleph, said to have been winged in its initial form. A is for Alexandria where at the hinges of the first millennium were Hebrew scholars blowing dust from brittle scrolls, Phythagorean parchments that described creation in ten spheres which corresponded with their base-ten system of arithmetic. By adding twenty-two lines to connect the numbered globes with one another, one line for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet, they could combine all the components of their world, its numbers and its letters, in a single memorable symbol called the Tree of Life that would provide a basis for all the all-inclusive knowledge system known as the Kabbalah. Centuries thereafter, in Prague, lived two fabled rabbis who maintained that by manipulation of the kabbalistic lexicon they’d conjured a lamb dinner with full trimmings, every night for many years.

Arranging letters in a certain order they’d evoked the minted sizzle of the tender flesh, a slight resistance in the roasted skin of vegetables that yields to a serrated edge, exposes steaming fluff within. A slippery marbling on the meniscus of the gravy and the scent of hot bread rolls cracked open. Every forkful of the lean and flaking meat glazes the lips with grease and next a warming slither in the gullet that’s suffused throughout our grateful centre. Recombining letters, they had entered the pure magic of creation. Spelling, they had cast a savoury and aromatic spell in words so delicately seasoned they were edible. 

 And here is the explanation:

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Magical systems such as Kabbalah distill the creative potential of life into its basic structures. The tower of  human potential can be built all the way up. Alan Moore’s incomparable riff goes way beyond any ability I have to explain these powers. He condensed two centuries into two paragraphs while making the reader’s mouth water for emphasis. I am humbled.

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Alphabets of Desire: The Words Get In The Way.

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promethea

(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)

Welcome to the third portion of the extended study of Alphabets of Desire by Todd Klein and Alan Moore, who also happen to be two of Promethea’s real parents. Our introduction has the full image and ordering information, this section has a knife.

These are Alan Moore’s next six sentences:

We are living in a code. We feel the apple resting in our palm, its weight, the waxen texture of its skin. We see the highlights rolling on its dimpled contours and the point at which leaf-green becomes lustrous red. Lifting it to our lips we catch its perfume, redolent of rural mornings, urban dinnertimes, our mother’s pastry and the way she had her hair. Our bite is audible, the crunch of tooth enamel in the crisp wet flesh, cell splitting violently from cell and a sweet aerosol of juice sprayed from the fissure as microscopic dew upon our taste buds. The familiar flavor is infused in our saliva, its initial sharpness rounding to a sumptuous curve there in the mouth’s dark privacy and rivulets of juice uncurl in sticky ribbons on our chins, but our experience of the apple can be only an experience of those words used to contain the raw phenomenon: red, green, sweet, crisp, round, and the way she had her hair.

Do you remember the last time something felt really good? Well, while you were actually experiencing it you weren’t putting it into words. Direct connections don’t have soundtracks. Or narration. Or storyboards.

The human brain gets trained to explain. That sack of meat in the skull is ideally suited to specific translation and categorization. Once it is schooled, it is too late.

The exquisite apple eating doesn’t happen to you. It just happens. In order for you to know what you went through, you need to use code. Identifying yourself with the bliss is a separation process. The words get in the way.

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Sunday Mandala: Tributes and Remixes.

DuplationMediation

What a fanglorious Sunday morning this is. Basking in the glow of one human masterpiece reinterpreted by another artist. If you open your ears all the way, you can hear countless cover versions and re-mixes of Michael Jackson’s exquisite catalog coating the entire surface of the Earth. Inevitable synchronicity dragged my eyes across the sizzle of the googlesphere toward a blinking bauble by Alex Duplation Mediation for breakfast. It is a New Day Rising.

You see, today’s mandala is an interpretation of Julie Dillon’s champagne bottle crashing with a splash against the flying angel pointed toward the horizon that launched this ship. I started the Sunday Mandala feature twelve weeks ago with her work. Today that image has been spectacularized into a morffledelic chakrabbalah map to the center of infinity equals one equals zero.

What a fanglorious Sunday morning this is.

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Alphabets of Desire: Sorting It Out.

Promethea

(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)

Welcome to the first installment of our extended analysis of Alphabets of Desire. Yesterday we broke ground with a thorough introduction, which includes the full glory of the piece. Today we take on the first chunk of text. The illustration above is a page from another Todd Klein collaboration with Alan Moore. Promethea is so good that I will never get enough, and that particular page leads into the concept we will be exploring. Hang on to your hat, your head is going to be in question.

A is for apple, first fruit from the Tree of Knowledge whereby we discover that we cannot know the apple. We cannot perceive reality directly, are aware of nothing save our own awareness, an unending storm of information roaring in the ganglia, the retina and the tympanum, washed across the cobbles of the tongue and gusting in the cilia.  Attempting to construe a habitable cosmos from this chaos of sensation we evolve some form of language, words that will define distinct, recurring elements in the surrounding landscape and will separate one concept from another.

When Todd Klein asked Alan Moore to write something suitable for exquisite lettering, language was an obviously perfect choice. The result is a rambling romp through a wordsmith’s wallowing in what words really are. It starts at the top, with the letter “A”. Then it starts twisting. Why cannot we know the apple?

The Tree of Knowledge is a metaphor for the roving mind that each of us pilots through life. That slippery little self is rather clever, and it will not stop until it is convinced. There is one big problem with that. Pretty soon the mind knows that there are many things that it will never really know. Science knows how to prove, and in the case of the behavior and characteristics of subatomic particles it has already proven itself completely inadequate to explain the reality of the situation.

Don’t even get me started on the big questions. We cannot prove that we are not brains in a jar on the table of some mad doctor. We cannot prove how this all started. We cannot even begin to think about how to prove why things are.

As Alan Moore points out, the only thing we ever experience directly is our own personal array of sensory information. He uses technically poetic terms for thinking, seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling. We feel the world. That’s all we ever do for sure.

As social animals, we then look to share our sensations with each other. Before I could explain Alan Moore’s first three sentences to you, I first needed to understand them for myself. That demands categories. Sorting the swirling input calms things down. Dividing the raw feed into boxes of thought is something that uses words as tools. We build a house of flashcards to soothe the roving mind, and then we take pictures to show our friends.

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Save-It Saturday: X-Babies Attack!

xbabiesattack

That is the card that I never imagined would be printed. The final card in the final official expansion set. Here follows the article that inspired its appearance in reality.

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Risk Vs. Reward: X-Babies Attack!
By Rian Fike
9/3/2007

Marvel Legends fulfills quite a few fanboy desires, not the least of which is a major upgrade in the power level of the X-Men. The new mutants are mighty good, especially the little ones.

Forty long months I have been patiently waiting for Domino in our game. When it comes to the mythological ladies, she is just my type: high contrast, luck based, and nearly impossible to kill. Now we get to turn her sideways Vs. System style, thanks to a 1-drop with a freaky little ability. Big fun comes in small cardboard packages.

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Our tiny new Domino packs a large punch with her recovery ability, but you need to be rather odd to use it. Before we talk about where she will take us in the game, let’s see where she came from in the myths.

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Neena Thurman plays well with others, but most of the time, she is a freelance mercenary. Domino is an independent artist, and her medium is murder. She was born as a custom-engineered biological killing machine. Project Armageddon created her as a deadly human hybrid. The hideous experiment was an attempt to manufacture the perfect weapon. X genes were exploited with disastrous results.

Neena was one of only two surviving test organisms. Chalk-white skin, awesome black eye-patch, and the uncanny ability to be in exactly the right place at the right time. She was rescued from the nefarious laboratory and placed safely in a nurturing monastery to grow up. Domino eventually emerged into adult life and became a dynamite addition to the X-Force.

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As a member of Cable’s Six-Pack, the black-and-white hottie could really save the bacon when necessary. Her mutant abilities kick in subconsciously when she is in a dangerous situation. Domino cannot specifically control her luck powers the same way Longshot can, but when she is around, things always fall into place.

In Vs. System, that means she can keep herself and Cable flipped face-up at the beginning of the recovery phase every turn. There is only one catch. Your deck must have a built-in oddness about it. Check out Domino’s text:

Domino, Neena Thurman

Cost: 1

Team Affiliation: X-Men

Whenever a Cable or Domino you control becomes stunned, reveal the top card of your deck. If its cost is odd, recover that character at the start of the recovery phase this turn.

2 ATK / 1DEF
Ranged

My personal oddness often revolves around 1-cost Vs. System characters, and now they fulfill Domino’s board-maintaining probability powers. Before we jump into the construction of a deck to showcase this former test-tube baby, let’s look back at a list that caused some serious wailing at Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2007. We can use it as a basic template.

OutSoldiers

Phou Phommavong

5th place on Day 1, 21st overall

Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2007

Characters

14 Kree Soldiers

3 Owen Mercer ◊ Captain Boomerang Jr., Prodigal Son

2 Faust

3 Technocrat

1 Thunder, Anissa Pierce

1 Halo

1 Wylde

4 Kimiyo Hoshi ◊ Dr. Light, Sunburst

Plot Twists

4 Booze Elementals

4 Forged in Crisis

4 Batman and the Outsiders

4 Truth and Justice

4 Recruiting Drive

3 Poker Night

Locations

3 Hala

1 New Baxter Building

Equipment

3 Ego Gem

1 Reality Gem

Phou’s metagame masterpiece took our beloved Kim Hoshi to a place that I was not sure she could go, and it will remain forever as an inspiration to weenie lovers worldwide. It serves up a swarm of 1-cost characters to fuel the blinding glory of the female Dr. Light and her Outsiders tricks. Let’s translate it into baby talk using only Marvel Legends cards.

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X-Babies Attack!

Characters

12 Multiple Man, Army ◊ Madrox

4 Domino

4 Cable, Nathan Summers

4 Wolverine, Logan

1 Jubilee, Mallrat

1 Shadowcat, Phase Shifter

1 Blink

1 Nightcrawler, Man of the Cloth

1 Bishop, Time Cop

Plot Twists

4 Bodyslide

4 Mobilize

4 Fastball Special

3 Battle Tactics

3 Healing Factor

3 Berserker Rage

3 Sneak Attack

3 Adamantium Claws

2 Overwhelming Force

Locations

2 Xavier’s Institute of Higher Learning

Phou’s OutSoldiers deck uses Kree Soldiers as fodder for a team-attacking character advantage. X-Babies are going Madrox. Multiple Man is back with a printed X-Men affiliation, and he loves him some Fastball Special. The OutSoldiers bounce guys back to hand to fill the red card requirements of the focus on swarming. X-Babies will rely on recovery to keep the characters on the table each turn. Phou’s win condition was total board control with Kim Hoshi. Domino is aiming for beatdown and burn with Bodyslide.

Cable is a perfect fit for the X-Babies deck. He appeared as an infant in Cable and Deadpool #7, and he has a sweet little 3-drop that rocks. Here is his heated text:

Cable, Nathan Summers

Cost: 3

Team Affiliation: X-Men

When Cable enters play, target opponent loses 1 endurance for each X-Men character you control.

5ATK / 4 DEF

Ranged

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With a mom like Madelyne Pryor, it was inevitable that Nathan Summers would come out looking good. Cyclops is his father, so you know he is a gifted child. Marvel Legends gives Cable his eagerly anticipated Vs. System debut. Bodyslide makes him an intriguing addition to any deckbuilder’s repertoire.

Bodyslide

Plot Twist

Cost: 3

Play only if you control Cable.

Remove target non-stunned character you control from the game. Its owner puts it into play at the start of your next attack step.

That means that Cable, Nathan Summers could swerve out of the game during the draw phase and allow another copy to be recruited. If his playmates have formed a kiddie six-pack to greet him, he will burn for 7. Then the fresh copy can Bodyslide out and return at the beginning of your attack step with its temporal twin. The first copy grabs another 7 opposing endurance, followed by 8 more from its parallel partner. That’s hot stuff.

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In the myths, Cable can slip in and out of time. He spends his days trying to save the world by altering history. That is a sticky business, but it allows more costume changes than any comic book character I can think of. Whenever and wherever Cable shows up, he is always sporting a sharp new outfit.

There are only six cards in the X-Babies deck that have an even cost, so Domino will be a near lock to get lucky. The new Battle Tactics that the X-men have been given are like a turbo-charged Combat Protocols, and they cost 2. Overwhelming Force allows the team-attacking toddlers to remain unstunned, also at a cost of 2. The single copy of Bishop, Time Cop is the 4-drop babysitter. If you let Bishop try the Bodyslide, the kids will laugh their way around the table screaming “+4 ATK!” for the whole turn.

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No X-Babies deck would be complete without a little Wolverine. The Logan version is back in Marvel Legends, and for a 3-drop, he is a really big boy. Scruffy may actually become the favorite win condition of the deck. He has some major ATK pumps that last an entire turn. The nursery includes toys that keep him from being stunned, recover him when he is, and ready him for a fur-flying finish. A small set of adamantium fingernails are poised to rip big holes in opposing characters and endurance totals. Wolverine’s Berserker Rage is about to arrive as a viable Vs. System strategy, and the X-Babies deck is only the beginning.

I have no idea how well the tiny tikes will hold up against proven classic decks. I can’t tell if there will be equally massive forces to oppose as the other new Marvel Legends creations crawl from the incubator. The only way to find out will be to build the deck and give it a go. I leave the little mutant rug rats with you now so that you can help me test them. We will say goodbye with a quote from Cable himself. When Nathan Summers revived Apocalypse in order to unite the X-Men against a common enemy, everyone called him crazy. His response?

“The risks are worth the rewards.”

Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes and he has a kitchen table in his crib. If you do some testing with the X-Babies in your playpen, send the results to fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net

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Squirrel Girl: The only character ever to use a Vs. System card in panel.

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Check back here tommorrow for the second half of the full first appearance of Squirrel Girl, but now this.

Yes it is true. Only one character in the entire history of comic books ever used a Vs. System card to size up an enemy. Doreen Green, you are a true hero.

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