/reliquary

The Lady Jessica

Among the rarest of rare cards in 1997’s Dune: Eye of the Storm CCG, I spent a solid two years on eBay, amazon, and the internet at large seeking The Lady Jessica.

The Dune collectible card game was published amid the last throes of the CCG boom of the late 1990’s. Like many of its cousins, Dune’s licensing passed from its initial publisher and creator (Five Rings Publishing and Last Unicorn Games) to Wizards of the Coast amid a flurry of copyright lawsuits. This along with the complexity of play and the extreme difficulty of securing character cards, like The Lady herself, spelled the game’s dwindling and ultimate demise.

Al’s Electric Cube

An heirloom from the house of my late maternal grandfather, Al Robinson, this acetate cube migrates about my bookcases and shelves.

Famed for being able to pick each and every lock on the Cal Tech campus when he attended school there, Al was an electrical engineer by trade and an all around mechanical wizard.

The cube is a result his desire to articulate a physical representation of electricity. He created it by sending an electric shock into the acetate as it set.

The Great Bear

From the Middle Earth Card Game published by Iron Crown Enterprises in the late 1990’s, this card was part of The Dragons expansion and features some of my favorite art in the entire game.

Beorn is among the most beloved and interesting characters in the Tolkien universe. Code-switching between man and bear, Beorn is a gargantuan protector and hermit. He and his kind were pivotal in the battle of five armies and tragically absent from the Rankin Bass Hobbit animation in 1976.

The card is specific but powerful. With three copies allowed per deck, it boosts the already powerful Beorn character card allowing him to shield his companions from multiple attacks and to transfer items to other characters without the necessity of individual corruption checks. I imagine a hunter and marshaling point deck centered around Beorn, Alatar, and a slew of powerful items.

Provenance

In my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade school years, I was rewarded on report card day with 1 or 2 ElfQuest graphic novels. While I had dabbled in comics to this point, these books were the first outside of Calvin & Hobbes to truly grip me. They taught me empathy, community, and the first shy blooming notions of love and sex.

Over the years I have carted these well loved copies from house to house, reading them every few years to different soundtracks and through various mindsets. I love them more each time.

Oracular

As an exercise in October, Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad each draw a themed piece for every day of the month. In 2018 Becky’s art for Inktober all centered around characters and imagery from a trio (now a quad) of zines ~ Wolves, The Mire, Demeter, and now The King’s Story. As a small offering to fans of the books and 18 Inktober a 200 copy run of the oracle deck was printed on Tarot sized cards. It sold out in a matter of minutes.

I was lucky enough to secure one of these original oracle decks and it is amongst my most prized pieces. It travels with me during each disaster and accompanies the cube above around my various shelves.

Recently Mystery School Comics Group ~ a collaboration between Becky, Michael, and friends once again published the oracle deck, but as a playing card style offering. I’ve picked up one of these as well and it is what I use for my daily spread.