The Fantasy Showcase Tarot - Assembled By Bruce Pelz
Review by Thrysse
This out-of-print collector’s deck was put together over a period of 11 years by Bruce Pelz, and was issued in 1980. Nearly every card was designed by a different artist, and together they represent a wide range of fantasy and science fiction styles prevalent in the 1970s, ranging from the sublime (Hermit) to the ridiculous (Two of Pentacles), wonderful artwork (Ace of Swords) to the not-so-wonderful (Chariot). There is also a wide range of textures to the cards; some look as if they were drawn with fine point, others with crayon. Some cards have bright colors, and others are so pale as to be barely there. Not a little 70s influence is apparent in some cards, such as in the Star and the Three of Cups (Jimi Hendrix even appears as the Page of Swords!). Quite a bit of humor peeks out of other cards (Ten of Cups), and some are easily recognizable as forerunners of certain types of comic art or animation (Magician, Five of Wands).
The cards are printed on a thin card-stock that would probably not hold up to much use, with sharp edges that can easily give paper-cuts. The backs are reversible, and a bit eye-bending. Each card has a plain white border, and the numbers and titles, if present, are included within the artwork. Many cards don’t have numbers or titles, and this can sometimes be difficult to interpret if you are not very familiar with the deck.
There are a few differences from traditional tarot decks that should be mentioned – first is the addition of a Lady to the court cards of each suit (Lady of Cups). The Page was considered to be a child (of either sex) and it was felt that a female card was needed to balance out the Knight. In the hierarchy of court cards, the Lady falls between the Knight and the Queen. In addition, two Trumps have been added – Separation and the Farrier. The Separation card does not seem to have a strong purpose, and is certainly out of sequence at the end of the Trumps. The other new trump was a reflection of the idea that the World is no longer the end of our conceivable universe – a whole galaxy lies beyond. Why the image of the Farrier was chosen to portray this idea is not clear, but this card appears to be a Universal form of the Wheel of Fortune.
Part of what makes this deck interesting is the little white book (LWB), which discusses in some detail the events that led up to the collection of these images and the formation of the deck, as well as the rationale behind adding the extra cards. After this section, each card is listed along with an identification of the artist and the LWB meanings, which are generally quite superficial and which seem particularly shallow for the trumps. However, the true value of this deck is as a collector’s item and period piece, and therefore, it can be forgiven LWB faults. I wouldn’t try to read with this deck anywhere other than at a sci-fi convention.
Fantasy Showcase Tarot
Bruce Pelz, Editor
Morgan Press, Inc. - 1980
Thrysse has been studying tarot cards for about 25 years, and is a teacher and professional reader. She contributes articles and discussion to several tarot lists and newsletters. Her tarot-related projects currently include completing her CTC/CTM requirements with the A.T.A., compiling a book of tarot short stories, maintaining a tarot website, and developing a role-playing game for learning and experiencing the major arcana. In real life, she lives near Seattle with her husband and black cat Shadow, and is self-employed as an environmental consultant.
Review © 2001 Thrysse
Page © 2001 Diane Wilkes