Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wizards Getting Equal Time

Last year I did a piece about WITCH iconography and costumes for Halloween which you can find HERE.  This time I want to give equal time to WIZAAARRDDSSSSS!!!
Rincewind, a wizzard
What do wizards have to do with Halloween?
Well, they are fantasy characters and there are plenty of wizard costume options for your Halloween pleasure and nothing says that you have to be scary on Halloween.  Also wizards can summon demons and other spooky things.  Thus I say that you can certainly be a wizard for Halloween.
How do we spot a wizard?
Handy chart; clip and save for your files!
The above illustration shows 3 solid examples of what we can expect when we see a wizard in the wild.  Figure A is reminiscent of Merlin as he appears in the John Boorman classic Excalibur, while figure B is a classic example of a dungeon delving "action wizard".  Figure C stands out as a powerful example of the wizard that feels no need to carry a staff or weapon of any kind.
Be warned, a wizard in the wild is unpredictable at best.  Do not assume that because you are not visible to the wizard the wizard is unaware of your presence.  Wizards are territorial by nature and can attack seemingly without provocation, especially if you look like you might have some powerful magical items or a bit of forgotten lore about your person.  In such cases it is best to throw down any written materials or bits of animal parts you may have and flee the scene with all speed.  Do not look back to see if the wizard is following you.

Seriously though, the term wizard is functionally synonymous with sorcerer, necromancer, warlock, mage and magus.  The only people that care enough to differentiate between these terms are going to nitpick anything you say anyway, so don't worry too much about it.
The current image of the wizard varies depending upon setting and expectations.  Readers of fantasy novels and players of fantasy games have a different expectation than the majority of the population.  The key elements to any wizard look are not too different than the key elements to a good Halloween witch costume in the public consciousness: 1) a hat, usually pointy, 2) robes, with or without astrological/occult symbols, 3) staff or wand, 4) beard, 5) a familiar.  If you have any three off the list you will easily be identified as a wizard.
Beard, robe, hat, large pouch...wait a damn minute...He's a Wizard?
You could probably make a wizard costume, if not with ease, certainly with style, but you could just as easily purchase a costume from any of the fine vendors in your local area or on the internet.  You must be careful, however, lest you get too stylistic or esoteric and end up spending all night having to explain your costume to people...again.
"No, see I am Harry Dresden.  From the Dresden Files?  A wizard.  No, why would I have a Hogwarts robe?"
Since the astounding success of the Harry Potter franchise the discerning costumer (and not so discerning to be honest) has had a plethora of licensed and knock-off HP costume choices.  I don't want to discuss those (although some nice wands have been made-dammitall, I just did).  I want to look at the "other" choices.
Here we see three options, similar in design, for being a wizard this Halloween.  As a wise man once said, (okay, it was me) the costume acts a visual shorthand; if you are not recognized as being what you are and must explain it to people your attempt has failed.  As such, we rely upon a few simple visual cues to tell us that we are looking at a wizard and not a hobo.  The robe (with or without stars), the hat, the staff, and the beard all say "Wizard" to the common individual.  Truth be told, I hate all three of the offerings above.  Expand the picture to see the details, such as they are.  The first one has too much beard and I don't like the robe.  The second one has a nice enough robe, but the pose just doesn't sell the item.  That third guy?  Sheesh, he looks like a candle.  He looks like an ear candle.
Can we do better?
The devil may wear Prada, but these tossers could sure take a lesson.
Another three to inspect.  The first two have some truly crappy choices in footwear.  I'm not completely downing the pointy toe shoe look (hey, I wear cowboy boots on a regular basis) but unless you are going to rub a lamp and try to outsmart Aladdin, leave the pointy shoes in the closet.  And they are silver.  That is so last year.  Again with the blue robes?  I get it.  I do.  Blue is a celestial color and wizards are certainly astrologically minded fellows.  Also blue is a more of an upper class color (purple being the color of royalty).  Indeed in the old Norse sagas we find that blue is the color most often associated with revenge killings.  Logically this is because when a saga hero is setting out to do his deeds he wants to look his best, and that often meant blue, as opposed to the browns used to work the fields.  Being a wizard takes money for towers and spell research materials and familiar food.  I actually like the two layer effect of inner robe and outer robe.  I hate that second guy's hat.
The third fellow is, of course, Gandalf.  Before Harry sodding Potter Gandalf was THE fantasy wizard everybody who was anybody knew.  Gandalf set the standard for fantasy wizards to follow.  That is not a great Gandalf costume, by the way.  1 layer?  Just an under-robe.  Belt pouch and hat are a nice touch, but what about a staff there buddy?  And where is Glamdring, his magic sword. (No, I don't feel geeky for knowing his sword is called Glamdring.  Geeky would be knowing that Glamdring is Sindarin for Foe-Hammer; Sindarin being the Elvish tongue.  Now I feel geeky.)
Gandalf is more wizardy, so I will give points to that.

This is getting long.  I think we will have to have a Part 2 to finish up.

Keep your pumpkins lit (with wizard's fire!).


  1. Rincewind is a wizard.
    But only just...

  2. And the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography among other things. He does "look" like one though; I'm sure that counts for something.