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  1. Made up my mind long ago that I should paint A CIRCUS. I've had 50124 (Merlock the Magnificent) and 50125 (Yvette, Magician's Assistant) for a while, and also one of the Killer Clowns (50247, Zonkers). And then I found a sheet of red-and-white Big Top striped paper, and a few other things from other sources, and The Addiction set in. Here's what I've got so far: Sarastro the Mentalist there is from Black Cat, and the lady in the Romany garb is a Nolzur's dancer that comes with the barmaid. The orb was from Nolzur's Wizard's study set dressing, and you've already met Cole Stoker, the Pulp Minis stevedore. (Every circus needs roustabouts, especially ones with shovels.) BUT IT WASN'T ENOUGH. IT WOULD NEVER BE ENOUGH. A circus needs: -a ringmaster (50277) -MORE CLOWNS (02216, Kosmo) -a sinister knife-thrower (50012, Jack the Ripper) -acrobats (50169, Lady Tiger--there weren't any acrobats under the Circus tag, but if you want spandex and eye-catching costumes, you go Superheroes) -fire-eaters/daredevils (50196, Devil Girl; she would also work in a Weird West game) -animal tamers (coulda used a pith-helmeted pulp explorer, but 50041 has a whip and a sweet costume) -a strongman (50273, Herq) And I also picked up 50121, Dr. VooDoo, because top hat, theatrics, and magic fit in well with the themes I've got. Had some wooden discs for targets (the half-assed paint job is on purpose, such as an underpaid clown might slap on with a very wide brush). I'll also make some cotton candy and fried food stalls, inspired by this: http://carmensminiaturepainting.blogspot.com/2007/04/how-i-made-hotdog-stand-for-my-pulp.html Decided to make Zonkers the "friendly" clown and Kosmo the "horrifying Grimaldi/Pagliacci" clown. My order arrived with a sample of deep midnight/cobalt blue that was perfect. So far, this is ArmyPainter True Red, that reaper-sample blue, white, and black. Devil Girl is also done in Reaper's Cinnamon Red (my go-to for tieflings.) The Plan (advice and C&C welcome): Jack, I think, will be grey pinstripes, including the top hat, the top of which is a target. Firefox the Animal Tamer: Brown whip, redhead, pale skin, fox-orange costume Lady Tiger: I would give her tiger stripes, but don't want to step on the orange territory too much, so yellow cheetah/leopard pattern perhaps? Ringmaster: Seeking advice on the trousers. White? Pale khaki? YELLOW? Stripe down the side, of course. Dr. VooDoo: Straightforward brown skin, yellowed grass skirt, going to try to paint skull-and-ribcage makeup on him Kosmo: that lollipop. Advice welcome. Rainbow, heavy on yellow? Peppermint? Continue his terrifying color scheme? Herq: I feel like he needs horizontal stripes on the tank top. Red or blue? Devil Girl: Also torn. I don't want that duster to be black (thinking probably tan, for the Hellboy resonance?) but that bustier is what's perplexing me. Come with me on this journey into calliope-sounding, popcorn-scented MADNESS!
  2. "STEP right up, ladiesangentlemen: come one, come all to the BERTON & BRADBURY MAGIC CIRCUS, home to the greatest-collection-of-esoteric-practitioners-the-world-has ever SEEN! WITNESS feats of legerdemain and sorcery beyond the grasp of mortal men! Be AMAZED by the death-defying stunts of our dexterous daredevil divas! MARVEL at the FREAKS OF NATURE collected-at-no-small-expense-to-purse-or-lifeanlimb from all corners of the earth! SEE the jaw-dropping power of the World's Strongest Man! GASP in awe at the lovely Beast-Tamer, who TOYS with RAVENOUS CARNIVORES as though they were but FEEBLE PUPS AND KITTENS! LAUGH at the antics of our inexhaustible supply of CLOWNS! Test your STRENGTH, try your LUCK, win fantastic PRIZES, yesSIR the world is YOURS at the CIRCUS!" Any pulp or fantasy game can benefit from a travelling circus which may or may not be (it will be) involved in sinister plots. For fantasy, you've got bards, wizards, knife-throwing rogues, beasts, illusionists, and diviners to contend with; and the circus as cultural institution probably peaked during the pulp era and the formative years of midcentury science-fiction/weird/horror authors. Ray Bradbury, for one, is almost obsessed with circus themes, and you'll find them in Leiber, Lafferty, Simak, and (perhaps a bit on the nose here,) Barker. In more recent times, our most circus-intense artist is easily Tim Burton, and the Bartons from Marvel Comics (Clint and Barney) are also deeply tied to the circus. Hence the names I picked for this latest project: the Chronoscope carnival, the Magic Circus. Here's the Ringmaster, Clive. (50277). A magnificently theatrical and over-the-top figure, stout and boastful. The elephant was, I think, a Schleich elephant calf which I modified with some paper accessories and paint. And here are some CLOWNS! Kosmo, the Killer Clown (02216, Dark Heaven Legends, needs to be tagged with the Circus tag btw.), is a scary little fellow. Horrible grin, horrible face, that giant lollipop can't be sanitary. Every circus needs a clown with a Fear aura (to keep the children in line). Zonkers (50247), comes with two heads and multiple accessories. Instead of the horrible scarecrow head I elected to use the friendlier one. He's the happy clown. The mallet is for the Test your Strength! High-Striker game. Mostly. And here's a shot including a Pulp Miniatures Drunk (from the Gangland Justice: 16th Precinct set) doubling as a sad-hobo clown. More to come!
  3. Clown noses, to be precise. They aren’t really clown noses. They are in fact 1.5†spherical foam rubber balls, made of a very light airy red sponge rubber, available inexpensively at any magician’s supply store. However, calling them “sponge balls†for a roomful of third graders does not have the galvanic effect of calling them “clown noses.†And if you ask any of my kids what Doc has in his pocket at any given time, clown noses will be among the first items you hear, along with pirate gold and Dwarven treasure coins. Y’see, I have found that when a child is melting down, going psychobilly, or simply having a tough time focusing, there is no better way to redirect, misdirect, confuse, baffle, and refocus his or her little attention span than a magic trick. It works. Ice cream works, too, but coins and clown noses are cheaper, more portable, and don’t trigger food allergies. NOT card tricks. Show a kid a card trick, and he will IMMEDIATELY want to show you one of his own, drag it out over five minutes, and then screw it up, and your impetus, energy, and refocusing effort fizzles. No, coins out of the ears or sponge balls out of thin air are the way to go, although they are not my only tools. Teaching’s a performing art, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The trouble began today, when one of the little moppets asked me where I got the clown noses. Well, naturally, I didn’t want to give a straight answer; the phrase “At the Wizard’s Chest, down off Cherry Creek Shopping Center,†seemed a bit dull. So I simply replied, “You don’t REALLY wanna know,†and went on with the math lesson. “Did you get it from a clown?†he persisted. I dodged the question by redirecting him to his work; you really don’t last long in this biz if you let a stray question get you off topic. I only work with this bunch in short segments of the day, and time is limited, which is a good thing; I honestly don’t know how anyone actually teaches third grade. I have found that my time limit is about two hours before I start feeling like strangling anyone; let us all take a moment to honor Mrs. Limekiller, their regular ed teacher, who works with them ALL day, EVERY day, and every year sacrifices chunks of her sanity so that your anklebiters may proceed to a later, less frenetic, state of childhood and education. But I digress. I cocked an eye to the clock; five minutes before moving on to the sixth grade wing, and most everyone was done with their assignment, and Mrs. Limekiller was working with the last couple who couldn’t quite wrap their heads around this “multiplication†thing; the rest of the class was getting restless. Time to run interference. So I brought out the clown noses, two in each hand, and began to twirl them, stopping only to make one disappear and then juggle the other three in slow motion; sponge balls don’t fall very fast, being feather light, and the trick is much easier than it looks. The effect, as usual, was galvanic; all speech was silenced, all fiddling and fidgeting ceased. It is well known among the third graders that “Pay attention when Mr. Doc is there; he might do a trick.†As long as it keeps things quiet, rewards the worthy, and prevents things from getting too out of hand. It helps that the class knows damn good and well that if every single person isn’t behaving, the clown noses and magical treasure coins will disappear, quite possibly for the rest of the day, while the problem is dealt with. Up front, little Patty marveled. Patty is a dear little thing, who I think is representative of a form of evolution in action; she’s so stinkin’ cute that any predator who attacked her would immediately keel over with diabetes. And she ooooohhed at the fountain of clown noses that went perpetually whirling through the air. Duncan, on the other hand, is an ancient, overcommon, and well known breed: the li’l turd. You get one in every class. “I know how you do that trick,†he said. “The clown noses are hollow. You make one disappear by sticking it into another one.†Did I mention that Duncan was the pesky little fellow who wanted to know if I mugged a clown to obtain my tools? With some irritation, I flicked one of the sponge balls at him. “Do tell,†I said. “Is there a hole in it where I could stuff another one?†He caught it in midair, and examined it... and noted with some dismay that it was neither hollow, nor had a hole. Regrettably, this also reactivated his previous line of thought. “So did you kill a clown and then saw his nose off with a knife or something?†he asked. Such a delightful child. Little Patty, on the other hand, looked horrified. “MISTER BEDLAM DID NOT KILL A CLOWN WITH A KNIFE!†she screamed, loud enough that little heads popped up all OVER the room. It occurred to me that little Duncan’s speculations could wind up bein’ deleterious to my career. Sure, MOST parents would just laugh if their kid came home tellin’ stories about how their teacher hacked up circus performers by night, but it’d be just my luck that ONE of these kids would have a mom who’d call up my boss and demand an investigation... I reached out and snared the errant sponge ball. “No one is killing anyone,†I growled at Duncan, with perhaps a bit more venom than I intended. “Now, what should we be doing right now...?†Duncan took the hint and began looking for some way to look busy. The other children decided the incident was over, and went back to what they were doing. And little Patty hugged my leg. SHE, at least, seemed to feel I wasn’t a serial killer. I’d forgotten about the incident when I came back in for checkout and rounds, the last half hour of the day. Mrs. Limekiller was herding the kids around encouraging them to clean up and pick up their school supplies and not forget their backpacks and homework and suchlike. And little Patty bounced up and hugged my leg again. “I drawed you a picture!†she chirped. “I made sure I spelled the words right and everything!†And when I looked at it, I decided that I wanted to take it home and put it up on the fridge. To hide the evidence, if nothing else...
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