Magic's Moxes: Artist Dan Frazier talks about his most famous MTG cards

There are a number of well-known Magic: The Gathering cards, but few are better regarded than the game's five original moxes.

They're cards that were illustrated by Dan Frazier, one of the collectible card game's original artists.

"I was working for Wizards of the Coast before Magic," he tells.  "So, when they called me up to do a thing for Magic...and I had no idea what the hell it was."

Frazier would soon find out thanks to a conversation with the game's then-art director, Jesper Myfors, whom then assigned him a handful of cards to do for the game's debut set; eighteen cards at the time.  And, for his work these cards, Frazier was paid $100 per card -- $50 in case (to be paid later) and $50 in WotC stock.

"So I said, what the hell," says Frazier.  "If I can help them out, then okay."


He continues: "They mentioned these pieces of jewelry; something about a ruby and something about an emerald and something about a pearl and a jet -- that kind of stuff -- sapphire, whatever.  So I said okay jewelry, I'll do these five pieces of jewelry.  No sweat."

But, not knowing exactly what these pieces of jewelry -- things that were called "moxes" -- are, Frazier asked Myfors for some details to better assist him in coming up with the cards' illustrations.  Unfortunately, Myfors wasn't much help.

"I asked him what are these mox things and he says well, we don't know," recalls Frazier.  "So we had no idea what moxes are, where it came from and no background to it or anything like that."

So, knowing at the very least that moxes are pieces of jewelry, Frazier just winged it.

He swung by a local art supply store, purchased some marbled paper to act as each picture's background, and went to work.

"And then I have a Xerox of the drawing that I did for the shape of the ruby (or whatever it was)...and I just glued it down with polymer and painted over that," explains the artist.  "Quick as possible."

After all, this was a gig that was only paying him $100 per piece.

Little did he know at the time that the cards would go on to become some of the most famous and valuable cards in the game of all time.

Not that it bothers him.

As he says about himself, "You're looking at the luckiest damn guy you've ever seen."

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.