Big Friday sale

Hugard's Magic Monthly Volumes XI, XII AND XIII by Jean Hugard, Editor and Publisher

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii March, 1996)


The fourth installment in Magico's continuing project of reprinting the famed monthly brings another set of thrills to this enthusiastic reader. This is, at least by a handful of pages, the biggest volume yet. Collectors will wish to take particular note, especially those few who may possess original copies of the magazine, since William Broecker has provided a new index for these formerly never-indexed volumes. These will continue in future volumes until the project is completed, and the final volume will include a new master index of the entire journal from start to finish.

Along with contributions from Fred Braue, Stuart Cramer, Cliff Green, Clayton Rawson, Paul Rosini, George Sands, Peter Warlock and so many others we may have previously met, we also find entries from then newcomers Ken Krenzel, Harry Lorayne, Frank Garcia and Albert Goshman. The careful searcher will comb through these pages, the better to rediscover tricks, methods, finesse, presentations and advice that is still relevant today.

A multipart series by Victor Farelli on the use of stripper decks concludes with a lengthy bibliography on the subject, invaluable to interested researchers. (Farelli's "London Letter" column ceases in these pages with his sudden death.) There is a series of "Simplicity Magic" from Irv Weiner filled with numerous little prizes that the esteemed Mr. Weiner would later charge worthy prices for in his many lecture notes and manuscripts. Martin Gardner's Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic continues throughout; in October 1954, I notice that Karrell Fox contributes the first appearance of his transformation of a card while propped up in a matchbook easel, which later appeared in his booklet, Comedy a la Card. (In a sloppily constructed sentence in last month's column, I noted that a credit to Mr. Fox for this trick was overlooked in Michael Skinner's Classic Sampler [page 271]; however, my wording may have muddied for some readers the fact that while the trick is the creation of Mr. Fox, the fabulous presentation is of course original with Mr. Skinner. My apologies for any unintended confusion.)

"Many magicians have lost their lives with the bullet-catching trick and various escape feats. Now the rope through the neck must be added to the list of death-dealing deceptions. A press dispatch dated November 16 (1955) from Kingston, Jamaica tells of a tragedy in Clarendon. 'Ronald Frank placed a rope around his neck, gave the ends to 12 men and told them to pull. They pulled—apparently before he was ready for them. He died before the startled crowd."'—Backstage with Frank Joglar, Hugard's Magic Monthly

There is much magic and advice and commentary from Jean Hugard himself; there is a steady supply of magic ideas in Milbourne Christopher's column, and commentary and news in Frank Joglar's column. "Frank Joglar" was the pseudonym of Milbourne Christopher, a wellkept secret during the period, and in it Mr. Christopher did some of his best writing, as he commented freely from this safe distance on the magic community he was so much a part of. Unlike in the earlier days of the column, by this time—circa 1953 to 1956—Christopher became more prone to using the protection of anonymity to frequently promote his own increasingly successful career; knowledge of his identity combined with paragraphs of self-promotion may now occasionally set the reader's teeth on edge. But Christopher's commentary is often interesting, and he assured his readers that his anonymity was to enable "candid" commentary, and not as an "outlet for animosity." Some readers no doubt complained otherwise at times, since in November 1953, the column began to run with a boxed insert that assured the reader that "The opinions, criticisms and approvals which appear in this column have the full endorsement... of the editor and publisher, Jean Hugard." Under his own byline, in November 1955, Christopher contributes a column of lengthy excerpts from his collection of press accounts of Max Malini's performances, an enjoyable resource for the little mountebank's legion of fans. Here and there are accounts of shows and audiences and conventions with lists of names that may make readers gasp in recognition. If you have yet to try on one of these volumes for size, purchase just one and set it by your bedside, read it nightly, and see if you don't soon find yourself thoroughly charmed.

(You can read reviews of previous volumes in Genii , April 1995 and Genii , November 1995 , and Genii , August 1996.)

8 - 1/2" X 11" cloth-bound; 440 pages; many illustrations; 1996; Publisher: Magico