The Podium


About the time Jeff McBride and I started discussing the possibility of ArcMage, Jeff was going through some serious changes in his life and work. He was moving from New York to Las Vegas, and had decided to take what was, for him, a big step: out from behind the mask. He was going to start appearing onstage without his famous whiteface makeup.

This may not sound like such a big thing, if you don't know Jeff's work. His kabuki-like whiteface (and the masks which mimic it) has been Jeff's signature, his logo, his performance identity, for many years.

To me, this was life imitating art. Jeff's famous "Unmasking" routine, the centerpiece of his show, tells the story of a performer who becomes trapped by the masks he wears, and the ordeal he goes through to break free of them, and find his own authentic face.

All art is, in some sense, a portrait of the artist, and when Jeff developed this piece, it was in partly a fictional portrayal of a process he'd just been through. I doubt he had any idea he'd go through another version of it lo these many years later, "deja vu all over again", as the repetitiously redundent are prone to say.

Ever since ArcMage went live with the original first pages (twice the size, and twice the download time they are now), I've been offstage, behind the masks of Alex, Magnus, Remington, and the other folks who people the pages of Arc.

So here was Mcbride, the magician of the masks, daring to step out from behind the inscrutable whiteface and show, onstage, something of Jeff McBride the person, as opposed to McBride the performer.

I figured I ought to be willing to do the same.

Most print comics have some sort of editorial material in them, after all, even if it does usually amount to the editor plugging the wonderfulness of next issue's episode before introducing this month's letters (yeah, we'll get back to letters in a moment...)

I've always held that a work of art ought to speak for itself. If you need the creator, or a critic, or someone else to explain it, than the artist isn't really doing their job. Oh, I'll allow as how critical analysis can add to the depth of your understanding about particularly deep, dense, or multilayered work, but that's icing on the cake. If art doesn't communicate clearly on it's own, it is, to my way of thinking, pretty pointless.

(In this regard, I highly reccommend The Painted Word, by Tom Wolfe.)

So I am a little hesitant to start spouting off about influences and themes in "ArcMage". What I will do here instead is (leaving the critical analysis thing aside) reveal a little of how ArcMage came about, what's coming up, and probably I'll use this space from time to time to get up on my soapbox and rant about whatever's on my mind at the moment.

Just because I can.

I'll try to tie it in to Arc, but I'm not making any promises. Fair enough?

Oh, yeah, I said I'd come back to letters...

We're working on that. We've gotten a few letters about Arc, and Bryce (McBrideMagic's webmaster) and I are looking at the possibility of setting up a threaded discussion board as a letters page. Anyone out there interested? Email me about it if you are.

Til next time,


DISCLAIMER:The opinions expressed on this page are purely and entirely those of the author, do not necessarily reflect the opinions or attitudes of Jeff McBride, McBride Magic, Inc., Tobias Beckwith & Associates, or Magic by Design. Viewer discretion advised, read at your own risk. No warranty is expressed or implied. No purchase necessary. This side up. Use no hooks. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
©1999 Duncan Eagleson all rights reserved.

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