Arthurian Legends First Look: “Keening Banshee” by Alan Pollack

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Sorcery: Contested Realm is honored to extend the cultural fascination with the otherworldly and the unknown in its highly anticipated set: Arthurian Legends, aided by the artistry of Alan Pollack.

Arthurian Legends draws from a rich tapestry of Celtic, Welsh, and later medieval European traditions. While ghosts and banshee-like figures are not central to Arthurian lore, they certainly play a role in the broader mythos, contributing to the mystical and often foreboding atmosphere of the tales.

The Banshee's Challenge

We caught up with Alan Pollack, who shared his thoughts on the creation of “Keening Banshee,” a challenging piece to both visualize and execute - how do you bring a spirit to…ahem…life?

“With this piece, I thought it would be more fun to paint a skeleton than a dead body. If it was a newly dead body there might be some wounds but otherwise, it’d be just a person lying there. If it was a corpse, it would be in a grave. I didn’t think having a banshee kneeling over a grave would be fun to paint either.”

“Another aspect of the painting that might pose a problem would be trying to show a banshee mourning. How do you portray a ghost crying? Transparent tears on a transparent ghost? Are you kidding me? And who would see that on a card? Nobody. Or just have the banshee looking sad with her head down? Boring! These are the questions you have to ask yourself before you get started. So that’s when I decided to have the skeleton hanging in a dungeon with the banshee embracing it. I also added flowing ghostly fabric and mist to give some movement to a very still scene.”

A Master of his Craft

With yet another captivating piece amongst an already impressive body of work in Sorcery: Contested Realm, Pollack shares how he approaches making iconic fantasy art. “When creating art for a TCG,” Pollack explains, “it’s important to interpret the idea as simply as possible… I believe card art should be visible from across a table and also for passers-by This is why I zoom in a lot when I create card art. I’m not interested in a chaotic, overly detailed piece of art. There needs to be focus. The purpose or action of the card needs to be obvious at first glance. That’s why I use extreme angles as much as possible to draw the viewer in and to create tension”

A Haunting Piece

As for the existence of ghosts? “I don’t believe in ghostly apparitions floating around or becoming visual in any way and causing havoc within the house,” Pollack shares, before adding “I do believe in spiritual energy though. So I guess that could be seen as a ghost. And I know when I see ghosts in movies, they always creep me out….so there’s probably a part of me that believes in them.”

Fortunately, the Keening Banshee will be making their appearance with the release of Arthurian Legends in early Q4, so, Alan and sorcerers worldwide are safe for now…

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