Good morning and good eveeeeening; welcome back to the Mirror Gallery here on Hipsters of the Coast for the latest Secret Layers of Secret Lair covering Spookydrop 2023! It was quite curious when the last offering from Secret Lair, the Fall Superdrop 2023, lasted only thirty days, but now we know why, and it was because of this creepy crawly Spookydrop knocking on the door.

This Superdrop hosts an Artist Series, five different selections from Universes Beyond, and two groups of Basic Lands from returning artists. As always with these Secret Layers articles, we’ll take a closer look at the art and artists that are a part of this recent offering, and peel back some of the fun and interesting bits that make up this collection.

These are the Secret Layers of Secret Lair Spookydrop 2023.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Artist Series: John Avon

We’ll begin with a collection I’ve become very familiar with, originally debuted right before MagicCon Las Vegas. The latest Artist Series is by the inimitable John Avon, with four brand new artworks, and all of them deeply personal traditional paintings. While we may be used to Avon’s landscapes in Magic, he’s created something extra special, pulling from his nearly thirty years experience with the game and inspired by those closest to him. It’s a brilliant set, and one that players and collectors alike should certainly be excited about.. 

Evil Dead

Our first Universes Beyond skins Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead horror franchise onto Magic cards just in time for Halloween. From a chainsaw-wielding Bruce Campbell to the cabin deep within the woods, all the story components seem to be here in this miniature narrative. The horror genre was never really my thing growing up in the 90s and so it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Army of Darkness (the only I’ve seen from this story). But for fans of this series, these cards should be a fun addition to their Commander battlefield. 


Staying spooky, the next drop of this set is another Universe Beyond in Creepshow, the pulp-inspired horror film cult classic from the early 1980s. Double-sided Magic cards return again as each of these function as its own mini story, telling the terrifying tales of each creature and land by way of comic panel. I’m interested to see how these might look in foil in their current design, and while I’m not the biggest fan of double-faced cards done like this, they certainly fit thematically. These also have some of the most arresting art of the entire drop, and a rare chance to look at the same character from multiple angles; not something we often get to do!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Princess Bride

A HUGE drop in both size and excitement, the beloved film The Princess Bride has come to Magic by way of Secret Lair! This style takes a bit from the Dominaria stained glass showcases we’ve seen otherwise in Magic, and fills it with the faces and stories of this classic. The gang’s all here and largely reskinned onto playable cards, and even with nine different artists contributing to the set, there’s a beautiful cohesion to this collection. This one’s a visual winner Wizards, well done.

Dr. Who: Dalek Lands

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the first thing about Dr. Who; it’s one of the few science fiction properties of which I’ve never seen a single episode. I do know it to be widely popular, and as such, I’m sure there are a fair few folks very excited to have the Daleks (they’re bad guys) grace the Kaladesh fast lands that desperately needed a reprint. Artists Nino Is, who is very much a Magic regular, and Shahab Alizadeh, who joined the game with Tales of Middle-Earth, bring this set of robot-laden landscapes to life, even though their mechanical main characters are certainly looking for death!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dr. Who: Weeping Angels

Another group of ‘bad guys’ (that I also know nothing about) found within Dr. Who are the Weeping Angels, who now take the place of five of Magic’s angels from throughout the game’s history. Their associated cards, illustrated by Universes Beyond phenom Helge C. Balzer and newcomers Fang Xinyu and Nephelomancer, are just as unsettling on the card as when I was Googling exactly what they were. Even as a know-nothing I do know these are a slam dunk fit for the crossover, and as such, I expect these to be fairly popular. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Meditation on Nature by JungShan

Taiwanese artist JungShan, also known as Rola Chang, returns to Secret Lair with a set of Basic Lands done in their sumi-e style! These five cards bring their total contribution to Magic to now twenty cards, and are their very first lands for Magic. She’s captured a serenity in ink and brush pen that are the perfect compliment to the other cards she’s done, set on both Kamigawa and Phyrexia. These are going to look great in both foil and non-foil.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

PIXEL LANDS 02.JPG by Jubilee

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, pixel artist Jubilee returns to Magic and Secret Lair with their second set of Basic Lands, a follow-up to their Snow-Covered Secret Lair from 2021. Flora and fungi abound in pixelated color, and these lands have an incredible depth of perspective that feels as if you could walk right through the frame, and keep on going forever. They’re fun and funky, and even though a reprisal, still fresh to the look and feel of Secret Lair.

Wrapping Up

Here closes the chapter of the 2023 Spookydrop. This collection is dominated by Universes Beyond and Basic Lands, and I can’t actually remember a more centralized Superdrop of “like” thematic cards. If you love spooky season, blinged-out basics, or 1980s fantasy and science fiction, then this is an absolute dream. And if not, well, that’s ok too, because you don’t need any of these cards; you can just play with other versions.

There are also more collections than ever for bundling, which must be another experiment by the team to see exactly what people buy, and how they buy it. While picking foils or non-foil exclusively has been an option for quite some time, there are now opportunities for just lands, just Universes Beyond (or not) and even just for Dr. Who, if that’s what you fancy. And remember- you don’t have to buy every single one of everything; buy what you love, and the rest will follow. 

While we wait for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, I’ll have some different content than what you might be used to, but these sort of gaps are always a fun time to experiment and try something new. I’ll keep them a surprise for now, but make sure you stay tuned right here to the Mirror Gallery, and as always, thanks for reading.

Donny Caltrider (he/him) is a Senior Writer at Hipsters of Coast writing about all things related to the art of Magic: The Gathering and the larger imaginative realism genre. He has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and enjoys telling stories about art, objects, and the intersection of fantasy with real-life. When he’s not writing for Hipsters or working with artists, you can find him traveling with his wife, petting his two cats, and watching the Baltimore Orioles.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.