Asian Alternate Art Cards
Magic has been available around the world since the mid-90's, but it has only been available in Mainland China recently. Communist China has state-run media, and for whatever reson, they found certain images in MTG objectionable - mostly images of Religious, Sexual, or Violent acts, and images of Skeletons. To meet the needs of mainland China, Wizards commissioned new or altered artwork for many cards that depict Skeletons, scantily clad women, or people kneedling in prayer.
There may be other resons that they alter some of the artwork that I am not aware of, but many seemingly innocent images (like basic lands) have unique artwork in Mainland (Simplified) Chinese Magic.
The resulting new artwork varies from the (IMHO) very poor (PO Hulking Cyclops) to the humerous (PO Horned Turtle), to the stunningly beautiful (PO Starlit Angel, above). There are two kinds of Chinese Magic cards - Simplified (Mainland), which are featured here, and Traditional (Taiwan) Chinese. The T-Chinese cards featured here are uniquely collectable, as they are ONLY available in Communist China - not Taiwan, not Singapore, not Japan. The Chinese cards most commonly available through Magic retailers are Traditional Chinese cards. The only way I have found to tell the difference is that the script on the S-Chinese cards appears to be slightly thicker than T-Chinese. Also, S-Chinese portal cards have their expansion symbol colored by rarity (Gold, Silver, Black), while T-Chinese cards do not.
I have also listed below all T-Chinese and Japanese alternate art cards I know of, with an explanation of their origins.
To my knowlege, I have listed every S-Chinese alternate art card that has been printed. If you have info about any that are not listed, here, please contact me at Squt@earthlink.net. Enjoy the list! Thanks!
S-Chinese Portal Alternate Art cards
Below is a list of cards that have altered art in S-Chinese Portal 1. Click on the name to see a larger view of the cards:
Black is the most commonly altered color in Chinese Magic, for obvious reasons. There are 4 Black Portal 1 cards with new art:
- Wicked Pact
- The clearly religious image of a man kneedling in prayer was most likely objectionable enough to get new artwork on this card. Note the gold expansion symbol, showing it to be rare.
- Raise Dead
- I'm guessing that it is the religious connotations of the dancing that was objectionable for this, but I'm not certain.
- Vampiric Feast
- My guess is that the sleeping women was too scantily clad for China.
- Assasin's Blade
- The new image conveys the same act, but is less realistic, and appears to be against some kind of monster instead of an innocent monkey.
- Horned Turtle
- Maybe the naked native behind the turtle was objectionable? The resulting new artwork is really goofy, showing a blond, jean-shorts wearin' beach bum (American tourist?) being bitten by the turtle!
- I'm really not sure what if anything was objectionable in Foglio's work - the bare-chested ogre? Who knows. The new artwork has some very unusual animals wielding weapons, attacking a monk!
- Again, I'm not sure what was objectionable in this pic. Maybe the smoking? At any rate, the monkeys with plates of food on their heads are pretty silly.
- It's likely the religious overtones of meditation that made this objectionable.
- Elven Cache
- The semi-nude elf is most likely the culprit here. The new artwork is pleasantly absurd - a giant-headed anime baby!
- Hulking Cyclops
- Perhaps the English version was just too graphic - the Chinese image is the same, only watered-down.
- Starlit Angel
- It's not clear to me why they issued new artwork for this card, but I'm glad they did. The S-Chinese version is beautiful.
- Basic Lands
- All portal S-Chinese basic lands have new and unique artwork for all 4 images, except (for no apparent reason) swamps. Swamps have the same 4 images by Romas that are on the English version. Shown here are examples of the new artwork - all four images in each basic land type are similar, and are done by the same artist. I'm especially fond of the bamboo forest and new mountain pics.
- Urza's Saga was the first stand-alone set to be printed in S-Chinese. Three cards had to be altered because they featured images of skeletons:
- Diabolic Servitude
- The background image was fine, but the Zombie in the foreground was just too gruesome for China. So, they zoomed in on the monster in the background, and re-painted over the Zombie. They didn't do a very good job though - it looks like the monster's right arm ends in a stump now!
- Unworthy Dead
- This is an unusual choice - they took the same image of the skeletons on Unworthy Dead, and drew flesh on them! They used this same image on the 6th edition "Drudge Skeletons", but unfortnately that's all they changed. The card is still called "Druge Skeletons", and Ian Miller is (incorrectly) listed as the artist!
- Fire Ants
- You can't get much more of a graphic image of a skeleton than in Fire Ants. So, entirely new artwork was commissioned from Tom Fleming.
Two Black cards have changes from Invasion:
- Soul Burn
- The breasted drider on Soul Burn was modified to cover up her breasts, and the spider's eyes were also painted black instead of red.
- Urborg Skeleton
- This guy had to get entirely new artwork done...funny how the Chinese skeleton isn't a skeleton at all? (Thanks Tinxuan)
Four Black cards have altered artwork in OD:
- Famished Ghoul
- The skulls floating above the Ghouls head have been brushed out.
- Zombie Cannibal
- The crap coming out of this guy's mouth is gone.
- This guy now has eyes, and his cloak has been repaired!
- Whispering Shade
- This one is hard to see, but there is just a tad more flesh on this guy's chest to cover up the bones.
Thanks to Jack Bowers for spotting these!
- S-Chinese 5th
- While there are no truly 'new' pictures on S-Chinese 5th edition cards, many cards which had multiple pictures available were given less-graphic pictures than their English counterparts. Cards affected are: Necrite, Bog Wraith, Initates of the Ebon Hand, Mindstab Thrull, Ashes to Ashes, and Boomerang. Note the 'V' expansion symbol - found ONLY on S-Chinese cards!
4 cards have new or altered art in Chinese 7th:
- Druge Skeletons
- These guys always seem to be the victems of reworked art in China. This time around, it is all new artwork (do you see any skeletons?).
- Raise Dead
- Another new piece.
- Scathe Zombies
- More new and strange artwork, from John Howe.
- Charcoal Diamond
- This is pretty goofy - they just zoomed the image in and painted flesh on the hand!.
Non-S-Chinese Alt Art
- Here are two more Asian Alternate Art cards that are out there:
- Coffin Puppets
- This artwork must have been just too gruesome for any Asian country. The T-Chinese AND Japanese versions of this card have new artwork. Contrary to common belief, there is no S-Chinese version of this card - Prophecy was not printed in S-Chinese.
- Glossy Archangel
- In Japan, glossy versions of 1 card from each recent set have been created as promo cards to announce each new set. To date, I know of 5: Archangel Classic, Thorn Elemental for Destiny, Ascendant Evincar for Nemesis, Parrallax Dementia for Prophecy, and Shivan Dragon for 7th - there may be others! They are all white bordered and have a unique green back. Only one card has unique artwork, and that is Archangel, which features nice new art from Donoto Giancola. I wouldn't be surprised to see this artwork pop up in 7th!
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