Sleight of hand as superpower: Magician’s comic recasts magic

August 18th, 2012 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

A few days ago on our Facebook and Twitter pages, we introduced you to Jon Armstrong and his incredible tiny plunger. Some of you might have noticed that the performance was given at the most recent San Diego Comic Con.

Armstrong wasn’t there as hired entertainment. He was there promoting a comic book he helped create. Armstrong and co-creator Mike Costa are the writers behind “Smoke and Mirrors,” a five-issue series that tells the story of Terry Ward, a stage magician who is transported to a world where magic is real.

Here’s the twist: Sleight of hand is his ‘superpower.’

His trade becomes his special ability: In order to survive, he relies on illusion, trickery and sleight of hand to defeat his enemies. He also becomes a mentor to a young boy named Ethan, who ends up discovering Ward’s secret. Drawn by Ryan Browne and published by IDW Publishing, the comic also includes writing about the art of magic from some legendary names, including Max Maven, Jamy Ian Swiss and Shawn McMasters.

What makes the comic stand out is how magic is treated within its pages. Armstrong wanted to redefine the archetype of magician/hero within a comic book:

I didn’t want it to be like every other magic comic book, because magicians in comic books and pulp literature usually have real magical powers and have to pretend they’re fake magicians to blend in and hide their powers. We wanted to do the exact opposite.

The comic was profiled in-depth Friday on Armstrong and Costa talked at length about the comic’s creation and how the art of magic is treated within its pages. One of Armstrong’s favorite scenes is in issue No. 2, where

The most remarkable thing about the comic is how it treats magic.

Both writers are members of the Magic Castle; Armstrong is a chairman on the castle’s board of trustees (he is also performing there Aug. 20-26 alongside John Carney.) Though magicians have been typecast as having superpowers, both of the writers note that magic and comics have overlapped and intertwined over the years.

We did a whole thing about one of our precursors, a very famous comic artist by the name of Jim Steranko, who redefined how comics looked … And what’s amazing is the way he redirected and moved the page and changed the narrative in ways that had never been done before. I genuinely think that had a lot to do with the fact that he was a famous magician before he was an artist.

Here’s Armstrong’s tiny plunger routine:

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