In the Village of Webster, New York (“Where Life is Worth Living“), there was a comic book store within 14-year-old-me’s bike riding limits set by my folks. 14-year-old-me is buying whatever Image #1 issues come out each month (probably Gen 13 #1), when I noticd a middle aged woman behind the counter, thick glasses, messy hair, sort of hunched over, whistling some tune, and putting collectible cards away in an Ultra Pro binder. Marvel Masterpieces, various Spawn and X-men collectible cards had found their way into my parents’ home over the years, so I was hip to non-baseball cards. I thought maybe she had some 3.5 by 2.5” Greg & Tim Hildebrandt or Joe Jusko illustrated beauts so I ask her what she’s up to.


The shopkeeper tells me she’s been sleeving Magic: the Gathering singles and aims the binder at me. Demonic Tutor stares out from the center of the page.


Within a year I become semi-obsessed, move through my first CrawwurmGrizzlyBears.dek, amass a pretty sweet collection of Fourth Edition, Fallen Empires, and Ice Age cards, and trade for the impossibly valuable Demonic Tutor (worth about $300,000 in 1995 fourteen-year-old-boy dollars). I stopped inventing super heroes, don’t draw comics anymore, and start drawing epic battles between goblins, elves, and the likes. At some point I key into Necropotence and my fate is sealed.

My family and I quit going to church when … actually I don’t think we ever went to church as a family. My dad was maybe Catholic and my mom agnostic/atheist. They thought it was important for me to go to religious instruction classes (via St Paul’s) because morality and ethics often get confusedly tied to religion. I remember expressing disbelief in the immaculate conception in one of these classes and shortly thereafter never having to go again.

“How do we know Mary didn’t just cheat on Joseph and this is the best excuse she could come up with?” asks 12-year-old-Matt of his teacher.

I avoid sleepovers at friends’ houses on Saturday nights if I know they went to Sunday School in the morning but I get tricked into attending a couple of times. I get into bits of Buddhism/Nietzche at an early age and generally want to keep my eternal options open. I even ask classmates if I can have their souls in the event that there is a Satan and he triumphs over God in a great holy war (surprisingly I “acquire” a lot of souls this way despite most of the kids I ask being Christian). They will be valuable and can easily be used to trade for goods and services in a post apocalyptic hell-Earth.

Around the summer of 1994 I read the Satanic Bible because the cover looked cool and I know people might be bothered by it.

I buy Nine Inch Nails’s Broken EP because the video for “Wish” scares the shit out of me (still does, kinda, all those angry … goths?).

I believe in demons and evil about as much as I believe in any supernatural entity (read: not at all). Something in the news had come out (1998?) about Magic: the Gathering being evil and by then I’d figured out that the  things people I don’t agree with deem evil are almost always awesome (and certainly not evil).

Demonic Tutor is sweet for all the reasons above and more! He’s fictional (the image is not a photograph of an actual demon).  The art is about as perfect a hook as Magic art gets if the viewer is coming off of comic books and into collectible card games – Tutor himself looks like a Frazetta fantasy comic character; he’s got Death Dealer eyes, bulging muscles, perfect skin, horns, long nails, a ring of power (assumed), and sweet shoulder armor. He’s even got a book which clearly symbolizes knowledge and we all know knowledge is power. Check out that volcano in the background! That’s totally relevant! There’s no ground, no visibility, and the right side of Tutor’s body is invisibile below the shoulder armor and strap. This is all typical Douglas Shuler Magic art. The guy almost never paints anything beyond a color to represent the location of a figure, all of his portraits look like they’re modeled on the same dude (even the ladies!).

He’s the predecessor for Alex Ross (I’d even argue that Alex Ross is Douglas Shuler from the future sent back in time to draw comic books). Observe how he, too, only paints from one source regardless of a figure’s gender.

I like when evil has a place in Magic. I like when art looks off beat and maybe even bad. I especially like art that references other art, furthering the dialogue, inspires my practice. Demonic Tutor is and does all of these things. It assisted in getting me into a game I love and my eyes light up to this day any time I see the card in any condition (even the shitty new art D-Toots).

The End.
Matt “The Obliterator” Jones

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.