November 16th, 2010


Satyr Masters From Abyss

Back in the 1990's I was one of five NYC-based cartoonists (the other four being Robbie Busch, Mark Badger, Stephen DeStefano and Kyle Baker) working on a joint anthology comic called Instant Piano. The book had a troubled history (which I'll avoid detailing in any way, shape or form here) eventually coming out as a four-issue mini-series from a very patient and slightly-confused Dark Horse Comics. Anyway, this isn't about the comic, not really. This is about the sort-of kind-of mascots of Instant Piano. 

This is about the Satyr Masters From Abyss.

What are the Satyr Masters From Abyss?

Exhibit A:

Satyr Masters From Abyss, as you may be horrified/delighted to note, was an action figure series from parts unknown, featuring the Satyr Masters (From Abyss), an unholy conglomerate of the Ninja Turtles, The Warriors and the 70's-era NYC West Side Highway rough trade element. Satyr Masters was a toy line bootlegged from Hades, a plastic abomination, a cheap trick on unsuspecting children. Satyr Masters was awesome.

We had Stephen DeStefano to thank for introducing the Satyr Master line into our lives. We were meeting up at Kyle's apartment one day, and Stephen arrived with a set of five of these wonderful off-off-off brand carded monstrosities, one for each of the Instant Pianists. Five pieces of destiny, much like the Glave, from Krull (Look, I don't know how many pieces a Glave had, so shut up, I don't care if it's six or eight or two, I only played the video game, I didn't see the movie. Krull movie: for suckers. Krull video game: for the gentry. Deal with it).

Anyway. Here's the best thing, the thing that will make your day, because your day is miserable, isn't it? It's the glorious, Saul Bass-inspired back card art  showing the entire line of Satyr Masters From Abyss.

Drink this fine expensive wine in, brothers and sisters:

As you may have noticed, Stephen color-coded the back cards for each person. And yes...I was awarded "Shyly Horniram".

Shyly Horniram. 

I'm not going to crack wise about that name, despite the temptation. Nor will I make fun of any of the Satyr Masters From Abyss. It is an insult to your intelligence, it is wholly unnecessary, it is simply not the right thing to do. Because I want you to luxuriate in that back card and enjoy it as if you came upon it in some corner bodega, a hidden Chinese market, that neighborhood deli gone to seed, hanging behind various other knock-offs, bootlegs and cheap, possibly dangerous carded playthings produced for the poor, the hapless, the damned. You've stumbled on something wonderful and terrible. Satyr Masters From Abyss.

I believe Kyle was graced with Mad Gorinka. I can't remember which others were handed out. Readers of Instant Piano may have been confused to find a reference to Mad Gorinka and Podleski in a panel or two of the comic. I believe Kyle doodled a number of Satyr Masters into the background of a panel. It doesn't matter. It isn't about the comics. It's about the Satyr Masters.

From Abyss.

Please feel free to discuss this phenomena at length in the comments section below. I know, words fail, but perhaps you can rise to the occasion. The characters, the names, the weaponry, the presentation, all beg contemplation, categorization and carping (Sample: "Cheeky Mummiah? Good heavens, man! A Mummy is not an animal, that's seemingly incongruous with the overall concept of the line. Unless...saints preserve us...unless those infernal bandages of antiquity hide the visage of some unknown beast! A cheeky beast!)

And if, as unlikely as it may seem, any of you out there have actually crossed paths with the Masters, we want to hear your story. We need to hear your story. There are still so many questions that remain unanswered -- were all the Masters produced, immortalized in plastic? Where have they been sighted other than NYC? Is there any manufacturing information at all to be had, or were these borne of factories dark and unknown to mankind, subterranean in origin, or ensconced beneath the waves within cursed R'lyeh, where dead Cthulhu waits dreaming? 

I have no friggin' idea.

I only wish Stephen nabbed more of these things. And that I could find my Shyly Horniram. He's here somewhere, this I know. And even if he wasn't, he'll always be close to my heart. Because, thankfully, he isn't Silly Cocky.

The floor is now open.