#brothers majere
therealkrynnsub · 4 months ago
"Look here, my dear friends./
Raistlin sent my letter back/
It wasn't read... It wasn't even opened
And there it says, 'I have no brother...'
No brother..."
On March 28th, 2021 we realized something at Krynnsub that led to last minute changes in how we saw the word "brother" in the English Adaptation.
Raistlin writes on the returned letter, "I have no brother." We wondered: does he stay true to that sentiment? Does he refuse to call Caramon "brother" in Russian?
After a quick word search, we found that Raistlin DOES avoid the word when addressing Caramon. Instead, Raistlin diminutively addresses him as "братец." He does it when Crysania says, "Your brother was a good guide" and when he accuses Caramon in "Gladiator" of having become fat.
In fact, the ONLY time that Raistin calls him "брат" to his face in the regular show is in "Brother's Reconciliation" when he says (raw translation), "I NEED you, brother, to lead the army." This is important because him using the word is part of their "reconciliation"--Raistlin is winning Caramon over by telling his brother what he needs to hear after having disowned him at the start of the show.
One might argue that Raistlin says "брат" again in "Concerning Love"--but the line it appears in actually serves to expose the previous mentioning of it as the manipulation it was, such that the two instances essentially cancel each other out.
The raw translation reads, "I DON'T NEED anyone--neither love, nor my brother."
Raistlin also calls out for his brother in "Nightmares" but his mind is lost in the past.
In the Alternate Finale's "Battle of the Twins," Raistlin says "брат" as a weapon against Caramon. He tells Caramon that he is acting nothing like his REAL brother.
Finally, the only time Raistlin says "брат" with sincerity is in "Flee, My Brother" of the Alternate Finale. We realize the significance subconsciously, being moved when hearing Raistlin acknowledge Caramon as his brother. "Brother" is IN the title. Thankfully, we noticed its significance early and our line in the English Adaptation reads "Get out of here! My brother, it's not too late."
After this epiphany, we made sure to include "brother" in the English Adaptation of "Brother's Reconciliation":
"That's a real shame. Brother, I thought you'd stay here to help me..."
And in Gladiator, "You've become so bloated and flabby, brother" became the disgusted "Look at you-- so flabby and fat, dear brother!"
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nidzi-ink · 4 years ago
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I don`t want to draw Raistlin with gold skin..
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zarinfix · 2 years ago
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gracie-bird · 2 years ago
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RARE!! Grace Kelly´s mother - Margaret Majer (1898-1990) - was her class president. This is her school yearbook. Fine Brothers School of Philadelphia, 1917.
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meldelen · a year ago
The Raistlin Chronicles - A (kinda) brief review
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"El joven mago hizo su ronda, administrando jarabe de adormideras a aquellos que tenían dolores, humedeciendo las frentes de los que tenían fiebre, poniendo más mantas a los que tiritaban. Su tacto era delicado y su voz tenía un timbre compasivo que llegaba a los enfermos, que les resultaba creíble. No como la voz de las personas sanas, las robustas, por muy buena intención que tuviesen. "Sé lo que es sufrir - parecía decir Raistlin -. Sé lo que es sentir dolor."
Hard to believe this character will become a heartless arcane monster willing to crush everything and everyone to become a god, but that’s how it went.
After finishing The Raistlin Chronicles, a full volume which actually includes two books (The Soulforge and Brothers In Arms), I would read, without exaggeration, two, three, ten, twenty more volumes about the Majere brothers, and when I’d be finished I’d get down on my knees and say thank you (and then ask for more). I had hardly any memories of this story and I enjoyed it like it was the first time.
The Raistlin Chronicles is the prequel that Margaret Weis - with the collaboration of her husband, Don Perrin - has dedicated to who is her best character in the Dragonlance universe, the mage Raistlin Majere, going back to the origins of his life and the main events of his childhood and youth, which until now had been merely hinted in both the Chronicles and the Legends. Although, as I said, it is a prequel and could be read as a standalone book, it really works best if you have read the end - or near end - of the character’s arc first, i.e. the Chronicles and Legends, at least (and yes I'm talking about six books). It’s much more enjoyable once you know what the character will become, going back to the origins of evil, to invite you to reflect on how someone with so many gifts could be lost in such a way, and what caused it.
You might also think that if you don't like Raistlin - clearly I don't include myself there - then this book is of no interest to you. But the wonderful thing is that even so we are facing a fascinating, moving and engaging story despite everything. There comes a time, sooner or later, when you forget that you are in a world like Dungeons & Dragons reconstructing the story of a mage and his warrior brother and it could really be the story of any orphan, rejected by society, who among poverty and loneliness tries to make his way to survive. Very daily topics are treated with the utmost love and respect, where the quality of the author is seen. Poverty, loneliness, disease, love, jealousy, hate, are elaborated in a way that would serve us for any other scenario in real life.
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The Soulforge - cover art by Larry Elmore.
The first part (The Soulforge) tells us about Raistlin's life from the age of six until the moment he passed the Test of the mages in the Tower of Wayreth, when he was practically left ill and disabled for life. The author is careful to remind us that the main character has been tormented - and will always be tormented - by three inner demons: pride, jealousy, ambition; each one worse than the previous and that will be the key to his personal ruin. Therefore, far from justifying him and revealing that darkness and evil were unleashed when he nearly lost his life in the Test, Weis reminds us that the darkness was always there, and that it was fueled by a series of personal misfortunes - Test included - of which many can be blamed, but also himself. And so where darkness is there’s also light: we are reminded that he also has inner virtues; intelligence, courage, perseverance, compassion. Little lights that will play a relevant role in his final redemption.
The second part (Brothers In Arms) that she wrote together with Don Perrin is focused on the first moments of the Majere twins as mercenaries; Raistlin as a battle mage and Caramon as a soldier; after the fateful Test which was an inflection in the history of the two brothers. I have heard many readers complain: this second part is boring, why is there so much military tactics, why are they now also telling us about Kitiara and her personal military career; and finally, why so many secondary characters not fully developed. Well, because it is necessary to give consistency to the story!
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Raistlin and magic, cover art by Larry Elmore
It is appreciated that as we watch the brothers enlist as mercenaries in Baron Ivor’s army, we also follow their stepsister, Kitiara, on her ascent to dragon highlord. The second part is not boring for a moment and gives us interesting perspectives on military life and war that, again, would be worth for any other story, real or imagined. Although clearly inferior compared with the first part, this second I also enjoyed.
Flaws? Well, like everything good, it ends - and a little prematurely, since I’d have liked to continue to the starting point of the Chronicles, which would follow it chronologically. Second, that being a prequel, the author cannot escape the temptation to anticipate traits or leave hints of what will end up happening to her character, following her mantra of "the darkness was always there", only, in reality, it wasn't that much. Third, there’s also the temptation to make each event have a transcendental relevance in what will happen next, something that really rarely happens in a credible story. And fourth, there are recurring cliches, such as the need to create a character that works as a substitute for Tasslehoff (the half-kender Scrounger) in the second part, because such a character seems desperately needed to contrast with the bitter mage and his witless brother. Not that it bothers me. I've learned to appreciate this kind of characters, when I hated them before. Perhaps because I’ve not been able to write them well, even if I tried.
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Brothers In Arms - cover art by Daniel R. Horne
Anyway, a wonderful, rich, moving book, much better written than - surprise! - the Chronicles and sometimes the Legends, Weis's personal touch is noticeable here, more powerful than when she writes together with Hickman. After all, Raistlin has always been her creature. No one knows him like her.
Highly recommended for Dragonlance fans and especially for Raistlin fans; but also for all those who can identify with the socially marginalized, abandoned of the world, who fought to make their way and, in the fight, progressively lost their humanity.
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selenepersephone · 2 years ago
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So, I re-read the Dragonlance Chronicles every few years and on a much more frequent basis I re-read The Soulforge (usually about twice a year sometimes more, but always at least once a year). However, it recently came to my attention that my Mum (the person who got me hooked on this series in the first place) hasn’t read Brothers in Arms; and so since she doesn’t have a lot of time to read and because I realised its been a long time since I’ve read it myself I decided I’d read it aloud to her. So, reading every opportunity we had, before work, after work, in the car etc. we’ve finished it, and boy did I forget how much I enjoyed this book! (mum loved it too needless to say). 
Long book-related rambling under the cut! Enter at your own risk.
One thing that really struck me was how young Raistlin is; I don’t mean in the physical sense because Brothers in Arms continues pretty much straight on from the Soulforge, but in the broader more emotional sense(?)... he still has that wide-eyed hopeful innocence of youth...well... as much wide-eyed youthful innocence as Raistlin ever had to begin with (which was never a great deal but you get my meaning). 
It’s not something I notice in the Soulforge, I think, because we grow with him, we see him from six years old to twenty one so it’s not a leap and you expect him to feel young. This book I find interesting because he’s getting used to his new post-test body and learning how to be a war wizard and he has this petulance about him (he’s especially huffy when it comes to dealing with Horkin who he considers, at least at the begining, to be beneath him) that you get a real sense of because a lot of the book we get from his point of view. 
Maybe it’s also interesting because we get to see Raistlin in the form we’re most familiar with but he’s less knowledgeable and I hesitate to say... more vulnerable and slightly less jaded? Don’t get me wrong he’s still the the snarky, pithy, cynical, power hungry, ambitious bastard we know and love but the tenor of it is different his attitude is coming from a different place and he’s looking to accomplish different ends. It’s also wonderful having another opportunity to see him experience magic for the first time and learning and growing and the joy that he revels in his craft with.
Put it this way I don’t really know what I’m trying to accomplish with this rambling... thing; but, re-reading this book just really put me in mind of his whole character arc and everything he’s been through and where he came from to where he arrived at. I’ll stop myself here otherwise I never will.
Long story short I wanted to squeak about this book and my favourite character and my feelings on the subject to someone other than my mother and this seemed like the platform to do it on, so if even one remotely interested person reads this; mission accomplished!
Expect a part 2 of whatever-the-hell-this-is and probably some book quotes because I can’t help myself and I could go on and on until I’m blue in the face! 
Also Horkin is fantastic and makes me laugh! 
If anyone has any thoughts on this subject I’d love to hear them. At least to know that someone besides me can decipher my womblings.
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beijingnoodle · 3 years ago
I would like to remind everyone that in Brother in Arms when a dragon disguised as a mage took the Staff of Magius from Raistlin he proceeded to wrestle said dragon into submission for the staff
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noiralei · 3 years ago
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Save my soul
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acidmanticore · 10 months ago
I'm curious if Thelyss brothers were going to become someone like Majere twins before M9 decided to befriend Essek
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warlock-enthusiast · 9 months ago
Dragonlance week#3 - family
The Twins in their childhood <3
Fandom: Dragonlance
Characters: the Majere twins
Rating: T
prompts / @dragonlance-week
“Raistlin!” Caramon’s voice boomed through the house. “Where are you? We’re playing hide and seek!”
A group of boys and girls waited for them and Caramon believed that if his brother just gave them a chance that they’d finally accept him. Sure, Raistlin wasn’t as fast or as strong as him (or the rest of the Solace children), but fresh air and sunshine surely wouldn’t hurt.
Not to mention that he wouldn’t allow them to taunt his twin with icky words or push him around.
Not while his brother watched.
Raistlin didn’t chose to be so frail. Or so strange at times. The other children should know better and be much nicer.
Laughter echoed through the air and Caramon sighed heavily. “Heyyyy, they’re starting without us.”
After another five minutes, he started to worry. He’d looked beneath the beds and tables, opened their cupboards and thought about maybe checking their sparse food reserves. Raistlin did a surprisingly good job at vanishing into thin air and not answering to his brother. Not to mention him wandering off to the forest and not telling anyone, which Kitiara always answered with a light smack to his head.
The other children seemed to be gone by now, which didn’t bother him as much as it should.
Caramon bit his lip. “Raistlin? Please say something.”
“I’m here.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, he followed Raistlin’s voice. His brother sat huddled beneath a dresser and chair and faced their mother’s bedroom door. His knees rested against his chest and his hair hid most of his face. He looked sad and Caramon hated that.
He never knew how to cheer him up or make him better. With the other boys farting and burping often did the trick, but his twin rolled his eyes at such antics.
Raistlin raised his head. “I’m already hiding, Caramon.”
“But, but! Come outside. The sun is nice and you’re already so pale.” He leaned forwards and offered him a hand.
“No, I’m staying here.”
Caramon followed Raistlin’s line of sight. “Is she… up?”
“No, I tried to make her eat but…” Raistlin pointed at the bread and cheese that had become even dryer. “She didn’t open the door.”
Caramon knew better than to disturb her and hoped that Kitiara returned from wherever she was right now to make them something to eat and cheer them up.
“Can I sit here?”
“Don’t know. Can you?” Raistlin offered him a rare smile.
“I do!”
“Fine, sit down then.”
Caramon pushed the chair to the side and sat down at Raistlin’s side. With their shoulders touching, not playing hide and seek seemed okay.
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therealkrynnsub · 5 months ago
Every day, we're sharing lyrics from the English Adaptation of The Last Trial!
Caramon: My brother’s not a villain but a hero!/
It’s justice he pursues not greater might!/
He fought the war against the rise of evil/
To spare the world the fate of endless night/
He may have paid a hellish price for magic/
Forever changed, his robes may now be black/
But, still, my faith in him remains unchallenged/
Through thick and thin he’s always had my back/
Believe me, bonds of blood are like no other/
There’s nothing that can break them—we are one!/
I’m sure he’ll come to free his shackled brother/
My twin will do whatever must be done!/
And everything will once again be righted:/
We’ll be a team—The warrior and the mage!/
As brothers—back to back—We’ll be united!/
I’m certain he’s already on his way/
I’m certain he’s already on his way/
I’m certain he’s already on his way!
(The subtitles of this video show the raw translation, not the lyrical translation that is shared above.)
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isolationstreet · 19 days ago
Re your post about dragon lance with no background just purely off your blog.
Mages engaging in nonsense and causing chaos. One of them is a twin with a guy named cardamon (I know that’s wrong but that’s what I always think when I see it) and there’s Dalmatian there too (again I know it’s wrong but brain is like that) and uhhh ✨fantasy✨. And raistlin (or someone) is gold for probably some chaotic reason where everyone else was like: No!!
That’s all I got
Not just mages engage in nonsense but absolutely mages engage in nonsense especially the Raistlin centric storylines like the Legends triolgy and the Raistlin Chronicles.
You're also right on the twin thing Raistlin's twin brother is a fighter named Caramon which is very similar to cardamon and their last name is Majere which is even brought up in the books that it sounds similar to marjoram so they're a very spicy family.
And Dalmation I'm assuming you're talking about Dalamar who is Raistlin's apprentice which is actually quite funny considering most of his inner conflict centers around his loyalty ex his loyalty to his homeland vs his loyalty to himself and magic, his loyalty to Raistlin vs his loyalty to the wizard conclave, etc etc.
And yeah Raistlin's skin turned gold after he made a pact with a lich named Fistandantilus that was trying to take over his body so I would say that's a fairly chaotic thing.
But thank you this was very fun to read!!
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acepalindrome · 2 months ago
I think I’m feeling a lot about the Thelyss brothers today because I watched The Last Trial and got real sad about the Majere twins. I need the himbo fighter brother and his evil genius wizard brother to have a nice loving relationship instead of this horrible tragic mess of codependency and bitterness.
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kendertales · 9 months ago
You should at least take the wizard Majere. He proved himself a real asset to us last night, my lord. Take him and his brother. Caramon Majere's a good fighter and big as a house. The two of them can't hurt, sir, and they could be a real help.
Margaret Weis and Don Perrin’s Dragonlance the Raistlin Chronicles V2: Brothers in Arms
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skyeventide · a year ago
on one hand, I want to reread Drangolance, both the chronicles and the trilogy about the twins, because I read those that I was, what, twelve? and I’m pretty sure Raistlin Majere single-handedly shaped my expectations in favourite characters (and favourite family relationships because if you don’t try killing your brother at least once what’s the point) in some pretty consistent ways
but on the other hand, those books are pretty old and like... what if when I reread I discover that actually they aren’t good
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selenepersephone · 2 years ago
I don't care about your name, Red. I don't want to know your name. If you survive your first three or so battles, then maybe I'll learn your name. Not before. I used to learn the names, but it was a goddamned waste of time. Soon as I'd get to know a puke he'd up and die on me. These days I don't bother.
Horkin, Master-at-Wizardry. 
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missn11 · a year ago
Salty asks, VTM -- 5, 6, 13 (Nines), 23
@robotslenderman ohh time to be a little salty then... XD
5. Has fandom ever ruined a pairing for you?
Okay I have two pairings that got ruined for me personally due to reading one fic with them and it made me nope out hard.
The first one was Jill Valentine/Albert Wesker, I’m a big fan of hero/villain pairings and hey why wouldn’t I like this one? Well, I read a fanfic with this pairing and it wasn’t good, poor reasoning why the two should be together and demonising of Chris Redfield who rightfully has a issuse with Wesker, cause you know he had been attacked and his sister threatened by Wesker and also he kind bretrayed S.T.A.R.S! XD
I think the author could have done a better job if they acknowledged the complincations with loving someone who has donenbad things to you and your friends in the past. It could have been good but they instead put me off the pairing. I might be willing to try find fics that do a better job of writing this pairing in the future but I’m in no rush.
Now this second pairing though, I’m sorry but the author nuked Raistlin/Tika for me that I still feel icky even thinking of the pairing, which sucks cause there were some things in the canon that made me see potential.
Like Raistlin Majere is this super grumpy mage, whose plotline in the first three Dragonlance books is that he is going towards becoming evil and Tika is a sweet but no nonsense barmaid turned hero, who ends up with Raistlin’s twin brother Caramon Majere and at one point when the Dragonlance party needed money, Raistlin put on magic shows and Tika made him this bedazled red robe for him and it’s sweet ^_^
So I could have been on board but the only fic where at first Raistlin bascially sexually assults Tika for a bit until (I think?) she’s into it and they fuck but it’s so awful and unsexy and I was grossed out that the author had Tika fantasie about that moment years later when married to Caramon -_- so that ruined that pairing for me hard. If anyone knows of any fics that have this pairing and way better than this and aren’t demonising towards Caramon, please let me know.
6. Has fandom ever made you enjoy a pairing you previously hated?
I never hated LaCroix/Nines but I had a hard time seeing something in canon since they hated each other so much! XD But then I started seeing fics on the pairing and remembered ‘hey I like enemies to lovers so why shouldn’t I like this pairing?’ due to how good the fics were and was hooked on LaCroix/Nines even since and it became the building block for my eventual OTP3 LaCroix/Nines/Ming Xiao. (the other building blocks was of course LaCroix/Ming Xiao and Nine/Ming Xiao XD) Honestly there some really great fics of LaCroix/Nines on A03 that I really implore you to look at if you are interested in the pairing https://archiveofourown.org/tags/Sebastian%20LaCroix*s*Nines%20Rodriguez/works
13. Unpopular opinion about Nines?
I suppose an unpopular thing about Nines in my book is the thing I’ve seen in some fics is that I don’t think he would be sexually aggressive with his partner(s) without making sure that they are okay with it first? And I have talked about this before (maybe? or I’ve reblogged people talking about this, so I doubt this is unpopluar by this point XD) but I do find it super annoying that 15+ years later, Nines can’t decide to be actually the leader of the Anarchs or not, like it’s super tiring and kind pisses me off in LA by Night as well since he lets Annabelle (a two month Kindred) be the face of the rebellion, at least he mentors her but fucking hell!) Also I don’t love it when people have Nines as a ball of anger at times or waiting outside of Ventrue tower basically preaching the Anarch cause in fics! (that last one is funny to me tbh, I kind would love if people lampshade it!) XD
23. Unpopular character you love?
While Ming Xiao isn’t unpopular when it comes to fanart on here but I wish there were more fics of her in general, there is so much you can explore with Ming Xiao and the Kuei-jin that it makes me sad there isn’t a lot, and I know it’s because most people haven’t looked into the Kindred of the East source books but I do think you should check them out, since they add so much context to her and the Kuei-jin’s actions through out VTMB. (but you do have to take some of the stuff said in the books with a pinch of salt at times since late 90s and likely written by white men who don’t understand everything about East Asian mythology)
That’s all I can think of atm, thanks again to @robotslenderman for letting me be a little salty again! XD
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vintagerpg · a year ago
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This is Something Wild (1996). It took so long for this one to come out that I kind of fell out of Planescape and focused more on being a senior in high school (the line shifted to focusing on Blood War novels which, not the best move I think). Perhaps because of that, it doesn’t really light my fire.
It has some cool stuff. One of my favorite Dragonlance novels is the very weird Brothers Majere, which doesn’t feel very Dragonlance-y and features the Cat Lord and, while it is a different Cat Lord, she features prominently in this adventure. Something Wild is also the only adventure I can think of that uses gehreleths/demodands, which is pretty cool too. The Beastlands and Carceri are the main settings and I like them a lot.
Other stuff leaves me cold. Its another political plotting to return an ancient evil story. It feels rather over-plotted, even for a Planescape scenario. The culmination of the story takes place in dreams. Finally, it heralds the fact that the line’s focus is about to shift to the Blood War which, not my bag. I like the Blood War strictly as background material and don’t really thrill at it being the subject of the full blown Planescape meta.
Some very nice art, though. Surprise, Tony DiTerlizzi finally has original art in a Planescape module! What took so long?
Odd note: Harbinger House was the final Planescape module to have a custom screen. This and the last, Doors to the Unknown, feature an odd cover that is also a folder with a couple handouts tucked in. I was real surprised by this when I finally saw it couple years ago – I don’t think any other TSR products use this configuration.
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goingoverthegardenwall · 2 years ago
Chapter 4: Songs of the Dark Lantern
In 1883, a boy named Majer was born in Krakow. The son of a successful tailor, Majer’s family moved to New York City when he was just shy of four. As was common for new immigrants, particularly Jewish immigrants looking to avoid the oppression of the Old Country (antisemitism sadly survived the journey the New World), his family took new names. His father Aaron became William, his mother Malka became Amelia, and Majer became Maximilian. Like just about anyone named Maximilian, he went by Max.
Max lived well off his father’s business in his childhood, but the Industrial Revolution was not kind to traditional clothing professions. By his teens, Max’s family was scraping by in Brooklyn, and the double whammy of poverty and the expectations placed upon any first-generation child created a work ethic that would last the rest of his life. While his natural gift for drawing led him to study at both commercial and traditional art school, the pragmatic side of him enrolled in a tradesman school as well.
Max got hired at a local newspaper, where he worked through a variety of jobs (including several in the photography department, another of his many interests) before settling in as a cartoonist. While he wouldn’t stay long, moving onto better-paying commercial work, his time in comics led him to befriend fellow cartoonist John Randolph Bray, who caught the animation bug in the 1910s and soon infected Max.
In the nineteenteens, large studios couldn’t compete with the much slower but far smoother techniques of a lone animator when it came to quality. But Max found a solution for that: combining his passion for art and photography with practical mechanical skills honed in tradesman school, he invented a specialized easel that made tracing over live-action footage frame by frame a breeze. Joined by his younger brother Dave, whose background in vaudeville and film production complemented Max perfectly, the pair soon found success with speedy, impossibly smooth animations made available by Max’s revolutionary invention: the rotoscope.
The brothers officially went into business together in 1921 after leaving Bray’s animation company, creating the Out of the Inkwell studio in New York. Their success continued through the 1920s, but a series of poor business decisions led to bankruptcy in January of 1929. This restructuring would be swift, and by March of that same year, they would found a new studio that would reach even higher heights through the 1930s, a company that finally bore their names: Fleischer Studios.
One of the stars of Fleischer Cartoons was a male dog named, uh, Bimbo. Max wanted to give Bimbo a girlfriend, and worked with Myron “Grim” Natwick—the same Grim Natwick who would later lead animation for the titular heroine of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves—to create a flapper poodle character. It made sense to give a dog a dog for a girlfriend, but it only took a year for her to transform into a human, one who for some reason was still dating the dog long enough for the Hays Code to get involved. Even censorship couldn’t stop her incredible rise to fame: Bimbo might have faded into obscurity by today, but despite her last cartoon airing in 1939, the world still remembers Betty Boop.
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“...and don’t believe his lies.”
Schooltown Follies is about the essence of Greg. He’s goofy, so the story is goofy. He’s easily distracted, so none of the songs end. He’s confident and capable, so everything works out without him evolving. And he has bravery that largely stems from not understanding the dangers of the world, so the dangers are a mean old man who turns out to be nice and a scary gorilla who turns out to be a circus performer.
Songs of the Dark Lantern is about the essence of Wirt. He’s obedient to a fault, so the story is about asking for direction. He's figuring out who he is, so he’s surrounded by conflicting identities. He has virtually no confidence, so he needs a boost from a cheering crowd to become capable. And he misjudges situations constantly, so the dangerous Beast is introduced just to prove him wrong yet again about the Woodsman.
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The mere threat of the Beast is enough to spur the carriage driver in our opening scene to veer his stowaways wildly off course, because spoiler alert the Beast is fear of the unknown personified. The episode continues without mention of the Beast for a good while from there, but after a whistling song and the Highwayman’s song (more on that soon, don’t worry), Beatrice hears a third song from the woods while waiting in the rain. In the moment, it’s just one more weird thing about the Unknown, and it’s a cheery operatic number, literally beginning with “La la la la.”
As Wirt is emboldened by the jolly crowd, he mentions the Beast for the first time since the carriage scene, and the merriment flits out of the room. Again, this monster’s reputation precedes him, but we still don’t know much about him. From the Woodsman’s description in The Old Grist Mill we know that he’s a he, that he sings like the four winds (uh oh!), and that he steals children. But his name is animalistic, and we’re primed by the cursed hound to see him as a creature of some sort, until one line from Tavern Keeper’s song changes everything: suddenly, almost off-handedly, we learn that the Beast is a liar.
No longer is the Beast a mysterious monster in the woods; we now know that he’s not only intelligent enough to speak, but that his danger comes from deception rather than sheer force. And immediately the Tavern Keeper continues to sing about the Beast’s connection to oil trees and lanterns, deceiving Wirt into suspecting the Woodsman. This isn’t to say the Tavern Keeper intends to mislead him, but deception shrouds every element of the Beast.
However, if we think the Woodsman is the Beast, it lessens our understanding of this deception. The point isn’t to fool us, but to show us the impact of the Beast’s aura of lies, so that we expect more subterfuge from him and his allies for the rest of the series. If the Woodsman’s innocence was presented as a twist at the end of the series, we not only would lose the more significant threat looming over the following episodes, but we wouldn’t understand until rewatch that our wanderers are going off faulty information. So instead of holding onto this card for later, we end the episode by meeting our villain, voiced magnificently by Grammy-winning operatic bass Samuel Ramey. As the Tavern Keeper implied, he certainly does talk, and his brief conversation confirms that while the Woodsman wasn’t telling us everything, he at least is on the side of the children.
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But the Beast isn’t our only singer today, which shouldn’t come as a shock in an episode called Songs of the Dark Lantern. While the influence of past cartoons and children’s literature is felt throughout the series, this is one of the two episodes where the sensation is most apparent: the musicality evokes 30s-era animated classics, but the cast and setting entrench us firmly in the Fleischer camp instead of the Silly Symphonies of Disney or the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes of Warner. There are plenty of distinctions between the three studios, but they’re best summarized by their mascots: Disney’s is a mouse, and Warner’s shuffled between a pig and a duck before settling on a rabbit, but Fleischer’s was a human flapper. Animation was never an exclusive children’s market, and Fleischer cartoons tended to lean a bit older.
So it’s not just that the Tavern Keeper looks and sounds like Betty Boop, or that the raindrops resemble film grain to evoke poor picture quality of the olden days, or that that the Highwayman’s song shifts the animation to an impossibly smooth dance reminiscent of Cab Calloway’s spectral walrus in Minnie the Moocher (funny how both this episode and Hard Times at the Huskin’ Bee specifically reference spooky old cartoons instead of regular old cartoons). It’s that we’re in a tavern in the first place, an adult location that contrasts with the grade school of our last episode, and we trade a class full of funny animals with a pub that’s so human-exclusive that Beatrice is forbidden. This is a love letter to a bygone age, and it’s the episode that made me go from liking this miniseries to loving it.
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Greg returns to the sidelines, with a long-running and surprisingly quiet gag about sating the hunger he expresses in the carriage with dish after dish of food. And Beatrice has her moments, hanging out with a pre-verbal Fred the Horse and bristling at everyone around her: this includes laying a curse on the Tavern Keeper, which is funny at first while they discuss the luck of bluebirds but gains new meaning upon learning she actually was cursed by a bluebird.
Still, this is all about Wirt, who’s forced to be assertive when Beatrice is left out in the rain. And he tries, bless him, but the tavern’s group of weirdos cuts him off at every turn, presenting their distinct identities and forcing him to consider his own. While I appreciate his dithering from the first three episodes, a realistic portrayal of a neurotic teen who doesn’t like being on an adventure, it’s important that he grows over the course of the series. This is a big first step, because even if he doesn’t know who he really is by the end of the episode, he at least begins considering it.
In the tavern, the patrons define themselves by their roles in society, so they’re otherwise as nameless as the animals of Schooltown Follies (except Jeffrey the Opossum, and call me crazy but I think Greg might’ve made that up). And to match the old-timey aesthetic and Frank Fairfield’s old-timey singing voice for the Toymaker, the patrons have old-timey jobs. We still have butchers and bakers and tailors and such today, but none of these careers would be out of place in a nursery rhyme or fairy tale. While this works on a tonally consistent level with the environment, it also displays how outdated the notion of identifying as just one thing really is.
While the patrons aren’t as bad as the Beast by any stretch, their cheerfulness hides a self-serving element that fits right in with the duplicitous world of the Unknown. The Highwayman is a straight-up criminal, whose dark song from Blind Boy Paxton and eerie Fleischerian dance casts a long shadow over the rest of the scenes in the tavern, but when the Toymaker thrusts the role of Lover upon Wirt to sing a song about all the people he’ll have to employ for a wedding, it feels like a lighthearted con job. Even if it was healthy to let others tell you who you are, these probably aren’t the people you want doing it.
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Wirt isn’t much of a pilgrim (or a singer), as there’s a critical religious factor to pilgrimages and he’s just a kid trying to get home. But as we might expect at this point, he’s thrilled to let someone else define him so that he doesn’t have to. This is an episode where he enters a tavern because he’s told to, then rescues his friend because he’s told to. But it’s still a step up! In The Old Grist Mill he completely fails to be useful, in Hard Times at the Huskin’ Bee his floundering only succeeds because he’s not in any danger, and in Schooltown Follies he reveals the gorilla as Jimmy Brown by tripping when ordered to do something. His progress is gradual, but this time his call to action is met by stealing a horse that he doesn’t know how to ride and giving chase into the woods despite his fear that the Beast is near. He puts himself in further danger to save Beatrice from the Woodsman, and it doesn’t really matter that the Woodsman isn’t a threat, because Wirt thinks he is and acts boldly anyway.
It’ll still be a while before he acts heroically by following the compass inside his heart, so for now this “pilgrim” does need directions. He’s not quite a hero, but here he’s like a hero (and stuff), and that’s not nothing. Disinformation abounds in the Unknown, and the only way for Wirt to defeat the master of lies is to truly believe in himself. He’s on his way, but this isn’t the end of that road.
Rock Factsheet
Here’s an actual fact: I didn’t realize until this rewatch how few Rock Facts we actually hear on this show. It sticks with you in retrospect, but on an episode-by-episode basis they’re incredibly sparse.
Where have we come, and where shall we end?
This is the episode where we casually learn that Wirt and Greg are half-brothers, which is a quiet but important factor in Wirt’s growth: we take as a given that they see each other as brothers, but he never actually refers to Greg as his brother without caveats until after our flashback in The Unknown.
In the “these are modern kids” report: Wirt thinks of pilgrims in relation to American Thanksgiving, which confirms him as a citizen of the real world.
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kisuq · a year ago
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