Created By: JohnMountainFebruary 10, 2013 Last Edited By: GuilenOctober 15, 2013
Nuked

Blue Collar Warlock

A magic user with a blue collar background

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

YKTTW notes

Taking over this YKTTW, which languished in YKTTW and definition hell. See the change history for the old writeup.

I'm going to go from the trope name and Alan Moore's quote, not anything else.

Note also that I'm not sure how the trope should relate to witches. If one looks at eg Terry Pratchett's witches, they fit most of the criteria I've listed.

Description

" I have an idea that most of the mystics in comics are generally older people, very austere, very proper, very middle class in a lot of ways. They are not at all functional on the street. It struck me that it might be interesting for once to do an almost blue collar warlock. Somebody who was streetwise, working class, and from a different background than the standard run of comic book mystics. Constantine started to grow out of that."
Alan Moore interview about John Constantine

The Blue Collar Warlock is a magic user with a distinct working class or at least underdog bent. How this shows itself depends partly on their cultural background, but he or she should fit several of the criteria below:

  • No formal education. The blue collar warlock can be well read, but they will be self-taught or perhaps taught via an apprenticeship. If they went to a formal school (like a university or college) they didn't like it and likely quit.
  • Unschooled language. A British blue collar warlock should under no circumstances speak with Received Pronounciation in everyday speak! Similar applies to other dialects and sociolects. It need not be taken to extremes, and the character can still be quite careful in choosing their words—it has more to do with pronounciation and idioms. (Note that the character maybe knows how to do posh accents, but only use them if they must.)
  • No independent source of money. The blue collar warlock will have to bring in money regularly, either via a mundane day job, by hiring out their magical skills, or some other means. They might not be poor, but they should certainly not be rich.
  • Be a city dweller. They might live as hermits or visit the countryside, but they should call the cities home. [note: uncertain about this]
  • Focus on everyday, practical magic.
  • Comes from a blue collar family.

Other possible factors follows from this. Blue collar warlocks likely wear everyday, rugged, and practical clothes. They prefer meat and potatoes over delicacies, and beer over wine. They view magic as a craft instead of an art. Often a distrust of authority, not in the sense of disobedience, but rather in firmly believing the authorities does not have their best interests at heart.

Compare also Working Class Hero. See A Touch Of Class Ethnicity And Religion for some more on the probably backgrounds in Britain. The blue collar warlock might be a Picaresque character. They might be an Occult Detective or a Stage Magician.

Examples

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     Anime and Manga  
  • The main characters of Ghost Sweeper Mikami. The eponymous character is less blue collar because she makes a decent living out of flushing the spooks out of Japanese societies. Her down-on-his-luck assistant is a better example. [Possible, but needs a better write-up]

     Comic Books  
  • John Constantine, Hellblazer, is a Picaresque example. Occult Detective and Snark Knight. He protects his beloved London (and later the DC Universe) from hellspawns and magical whatnot.
  • Gravel. William Gravel is another example of this, growing up on a council estate and coming up in the SAS before channeling his talents into magic. His solo series starts with him coming into open conflict with the other sanctioned magicians of Britain, all of whom are upper class toffs who look down on him as a yobo with conjuring tricks. It ends badly for them.

     Literature  
  • Kim in Mairelon The Magician starts out as a small-time thief and street urchin. When she starts learning magic in Magician's Ward she likes the magic but not high society or "toffs", however she does end up not quite fitting or being at home in neither her old nor her new environment.
  • Harry Dresden is an Occult Detective, member of the White Council of wizards, and frequently has money issues. [Possible, but needs a better write-up]
  • Peter Grant, from Rivers of London. On top of being a working-class guy (and, by his own admission, a bit of a nerd), he started out as a police officer before getting promoted to a detective constable and apprentice wizard. For good measure, his boss and mentor is a very old-fashioned Gentleman Wizard.
  • Monster Dionysus in Monster. Down on his luck, trapped in a dead-end job as a magical pest control operative, and stuck with a girlfriend from hell; the only advantages he has on his side are a very spotty degree in rune-based magic, a sidekick in the form of an interdimensional entity inhabiting a body made of shapeshifting origami (currently wanted by Immigration), and a supernatural condition that provides him with a different superpower a day - which usually turns out to be something only vaguely useful. Very, very blue-collar.
  • Matthew Swift. Quite apart from being essentially homeless and clad mainly in thrift-store clothing as of the first book, he's actually a practioner of urban magic, drawing upon the energy of the city around him to cast spells.

     Live Action TV 
  • The Winchesters of Supernatural might not identify as warlocks, but they sure do use a lot of magic—from wards and sigils to summoning rituals to hex bags and devil's traps. Their magic use is always for a practical application in their fight against monsters. They also meet the other trope criteria by being mostly uneducated (Sam dropped out of college, Dean may or may not have even finished high school), using unschooled language, and having no independent source of money except the credit cards they fraudulently obtain that allow them to live only at the poverty line as they travel the country saving people from monsters.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Mage The Awakening has a few Legacies with emphasis on the "blue collar" bit, such as the Uncrowned Kings (alchemists, both internal and external, who arise from crafters and workers) and the Tamers of Stone (architects and construction workers who use the understanding of their creations to develop an understanding over all space).
Community Feedback Replies: 65
  • February 10, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    For context: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlueCollarWarlock This trope was launched without an initial YKTTW, so it was figured on Ask The Tropers to perhaps send it over and get it settled "correctly".
  • February 10, 2013
    JohnMountain
    Really sorry BTW cause I don't know much about the policy yet...
  • February 10, 2013
    StarSword
    ^No worries. It's actually a pretty good trope IMHO.
  • February 10, 2013
    Tallens
    Well, if that's the case then the contents of that page probably ought to be copied and pasted into the draft here.
  • February 10, 2013
    Random888
    How does "blue collar" indicate a contemporary setting? Doesn't it mean working class? It makes it sounds like the primary emphasis is on class rather than time period. Also, this trope is covered by Urban Fantasy.
  • February 10, 2013
    JohnMountain
    Blue collar means working class. These are the most common position some wizards get in modern day society. Unless some of them turns politics. I used blue collar because in the contemporary setting we used this word to describe those lower than politicians. In medieval times blue collar is known as peasantry. We dont use the word peasant that much in modern day society.
  • February 11, 2013
    Frank75
    Seconding that this doesn't sound like it was about the modern world in the first place. Also, I'm pretty sure we have some trope about magic in the present world.
  • February 11, 2013
    Random888
    That's an awfully broad definition of "blue collar" you're using. You know, there is such a thing as white-collar workers. And again, this is the same thing as Urban Fantasy.
  • February 11, 2013
    Desertopa
    I'd say it's not the same thing as Urban Fantasy, in much the same way that Wizard Classic is not the same thing as Heroic Fantasy. It's a common feature of Urban Fantasy, but I could name a fair number of urban fantasy works that don't contain any sort of wizards.

    On the other hand, I don't think this is worthy of a trope page without some sort of cohesive and compelling description of the sorts of wizards that tend to feature in such a setting, any more than Wizard Classic would merit a page with a writeup like "The sort of wizards you usually see in Heroic Fantasy."
  • February 11, 2013
    StarSword
    Pasted trope page markup into the draft for ease of use and moved the previous draft to the Laconic.
  • February 11, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    I'm going to agree with Desertopia that this is definitely a trope, as being the Urban Fantasy version of Wizard Classic. And I think most of the comments so far were made without actually reading the existing description, so.

    I think I'd want to take the picture caption and make it more of a part of the actual description, describing the traits common to the Urban Wizard. And then add more context to the examples themselves to describe how they fit the bill.
  • February 12, 2013
    Cassis
    Angel and the Winchesters are not examples of this trope. Angel's a vampire, who later becomes a private eye--you might sub in Wesley as portrayed in the Angel series (not as he was in Buffy), who is generally the guy in that crew to use magic. And while the Winchesters use the occasional magic item or spell (devil's traps), they can't really be called wizards, which (IMO anyway) implies someone who is proficient with many types of magic (or is training to be).

    • Rachel Morgan of The Hollows is a witch who is first an agent of Inderland Security (self-policing of supernaturals by supernaturals in a world where the Masquerade is broken) and then a freelancer.
  • February 12, 2013
    Tallens
    • The Charmed Ones. Three women who live in a San Francisco suburb, have typical, normal jobs and just happen to be demon-fighting witches.
  • February 12, 2013
    DracMonster
    Modern Mage or Modern Era Mage might be a better title. Or Working Class Wizard if its more about spellcasting being "just a job". (Or maybe It Pays The Spells?)
  • February 12, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Oooh, I like that last one.
  • February 12, 2013
    DracMonster
    Or Spellcastin For A Livin, heh.

    • In Shadowrun, some mages dress in flamboyant Robe And Wizard Hat style, but most wear modern street clothes, though with a Sharp Dressed Man predilection. Magic has integrated into working class jobs, and magic users employed by the big corporations are known as "wage mages".
  • February 12, 2013
    lexicon
    The title would need to reflect that it's a modern setting and not wizards who do manual labor. Maybe Urban Wizard. The examples need to say how they apply. Currently I'm getting a lot of Zero Context Example.
  • February 13, 2013
    Tallens
  • February 13, 2013
    DracMonster
    Well, y'know, we could have two different pages, one about modern or "urban" wizards and another about magic being a working class job. It seems like the description incorporates both but they might warrant separate YKTT Ws. Blue Collar Warlock would work as a title for the second concept.
  • February 13, 2013
    Tuomas
    "Blue collar warlock" is a very misleading title, as some of the examples are clearly upper class (Dr. Strange, Jason Blood), or just rich in general (Zatanna). You cannot use a term that refers to the working class to describe any modern magic-user. Urban Wizard or something like that would be much better.
  • February 13, 2013
    CobraPrime
    ^ Agreed
  • February 13, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    ^^ Doctor Strange doesn't fit the trope anyway, from what I know of him. He's basically styled as still a Wizard Classic but just in the modern day, rather than an actual Urban Wizard.

    The concept of magic as a working class job would be a different trope altogether, since there's Classic Fantasy stories where that exists, too.
  • February 13, 2013
    Khantalas
    I think there might be a page idea here, but it needs to be refined more than "magical creature in modern day" or even "magician in modern day". As Trenchcoat Brigade defines an archetype, so too should this. I just don't know if we can find something that isn't already covered.
  • February 14, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In The Magicians the post-graduation magical people just hang around in present day, not really doing much magic (or anything else). They even get jobs at businesses which have been bewitched to not notice that they don't do anything at the job.
  • February 14, 2013
    Arivne

  • February 14, 2013
    Frank75
    Good thing someone added the Trope Namer, this clarifies things up.

    Some thoughts: Wizards are indeed reminding of what Alan Moore would call "upper or middle class". Either they get their magic from a deity (thus reminding of priests); or they study big tomes, maybe even in foreign, let alone dead languages, like professors; or they research the principles of how nature works, like scientists.

    How exactly did Constantine become a wizard anyway? I don't know the stories.
  • February 14, 2013
    StormKensho
    Perhaps "Noir Wizard" or some variant would fit better?
  • February 14, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^From what I've gleaned on the wiki, Constantine made pacts with half a dozen different supernatural beings (to the point where he's immortal because none of them can agree on who gets his soul).
  • February 14, 2013
    acrobox
  • February 20, 2013
    JohnMountain
    Sorry if the title is disagreeing with some of you. The thing is, is that this is what Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman call these types of people.
  • February 20, 2013
    Hodor
    I'm confused by all of the different, zero context examples on the page- its hard to consider Harry Potter, Dr Strange, and the characters of Grimm as having many commonalities, and I think Urban Fantasy would already cover this pretty well.

    Blue Collar suggests to me a "for hire" implication, which is true of some of these characters, but not all.

    I'm not sure if there is a more specific trope already, but things like Grimm, Supernatural, Buffy/ Angel are about characters who are generally monster hunters of some stripe, and while they may encounter magic, they aren't usually regular spellcasters.

    Is this just an excuse to make another page about John Constantine?
  • February 20, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    ^ Urban Fantasy is a genre, not a character type.
  • February 20, 2013
    Random888
    Yes, but the description, as it currently exists anyway, basically reads, "character from Urban Fantasy." Well gee, there's so much urban fantasy without characters.
  • February 20, 2013
    Hodor
    Yes, to clarify, my sense is that these characters don't always have much commonalities other than the fact they are in Urban Fantasy works (note, for a broad definition of Urban Fantasy- the genre does sometimes mean more "noir" flavored works).

    Broadly, I think this "trope" is indicating any non-Wizard Classic magic user, which is problematic. Also a problem is that as I noted (and others have mentioned), some of these characters- like Angel, the hero of Grimm or the heroes of Supernatural- are like detectives/monster hunters in fantasy settings, but don't do spells.
  • February 21, 2013
    lexicon
    This is not launchable until it gets rid of each Zero Context Example but I'm wondering if there's something here. Take HP for example, "Harry Potter is one when he's in the Muggle world (specifically the UK)." All of Harry Potter is Urban Fantasy because it's in a modern setting but when he's in the muggle world he is among non-magic users and they don't know who he is. The same applies to the other couple of examples I recognize.

    Another thing, just because this is what Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman call these types of people doesn't mean that it's a good name for the idea on this wiki. Naming A Trope says to Check for pre-established terms ...but don't use just any pre-existing term.
  • February 21, 2013
    Tuomas
    ^ Agreed. Regardless of what Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman say, it's a misleading name. Also, I'm pretty sure that even Moore and Gaiman wouldn't call characters like Dr. Fate or Dr. Strange blue collar warlocks, since they have nothing "blue collar" about them.
  • February 21, 2013
    Hodor
    ^^ Re Harry Potter, I think that the stories do a bit of shifting between fantasy types. They are school stories WITH MAGIC, but go more in the direction of High Fantasy as things get more serious, and in the rare scenes in the muggle world, they feel more like Urban Fantasy.

    They also dip into some other genres, including but not limited to comic novel, adventure story, and mystery.
  • February 21, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    I think there's a trope here, where we have a magic user who looks and acts like an average modern day working class or maybe middle class joe at most, combined with Post Modern Magik and contrasted with the Wizard Classic Robe And Wizard Hat type.

    Which is both why saying this is just Urban Fantasy doesn't feel right, and why folks like Strange and Harry Potter don't fit this trope. Since Strange and Harry are essentially Wizard Classic In the Present Day, so not all Urban Fantasy magic users are this trope.
  • March 4, 2013
    JohnMountain
    Hey guys listen, if the title is inappropriate, i think we can change it to like Modern Day Wizards, or Post Modern Wizards or something like that. But the idea stays, a modern day sorcerer wearing modern day clothes lived with modern day culture in a modern day place and era and fighting occult foes with a modern twist.
  • October 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    As noted above, taking over this abandoned YKTTW. Please remember that I forcefully evict the "modern-day magic user" here - that's a trope for another troper to make.
  • October 2, 2013
    AgProv
    Literature
    • In the Discworld story Unseen Academicals, the back-story given to Arch-Chancellor Mustrum Ridcully is that on one side of his family, he is the son of butchers and manual labourers in the city of Ankh-Morpork. (The only way to make this fit with the previously given back-story, that he is an affluent rural squire and landowner, is that there was either a sudden change in family fortune, or the artisan side of the family married well above itself).
  • October 2, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    @^^&^: Umm, this has been launched already (Blue Collar Warlock)?
  • October 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    No, it was never launched. It was created directly, had a short stint in TRS where it was referred to YKTTW, but that stalled as evidenced above.
  • October 2, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Oh, okay. I just though they took it down already until it was actually ready to be launched.
  • October 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    @Ag Prov: Not sure Ridcully counts at all. He's far more a wizard coupled with the mind set of a gentleman hunter or officer. Being the head boss of a university pretty much any hope of being regarded as blue collar.
  • October 2, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    Matthew Swift isn't a Blue Collar Warlock. Yes, he's homeless and thrift store clad but being a sorcerer, he's pretty much magical royalty, especially considering the social power of his apprentice master. And he wasn't raised working class either. I think including him is really missing the point of "blue collar".
  • October 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^ Thanks. I only had the short summary to go on, and didn't check out the character closely.
  • October 2, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ No problem. And as an aside, it's not a book/series I'd really recommend. He's only homeless because he died and came back and by the time he came back his estate was settled and his former teacher had turned out to be the Big Bad. He's very much still at the top of the magical heap though socially. Plus he doesn't work at all, just uses magic on AT Ms for money.

    Also, I don't think that the "lives in a city" thing is relevant. It happens a lot because this is a classic Urban Fantasy trope, but that doesn't mean that a hard-working cowboy with magic or a small town mechanic with magic couldn't both be Blue Collar Warlock|s.
  • October 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    The criteria I put up there are basically elective all - if a magician lives outside a city it's an indication that the trope isn't in effect, but as long as they fit under the rest of them it should be fair going. But yes, I was unsure if it should be included, and it's a good thing to discuss.
  • October 2, 2013
    hbi2k
    How would this trope relate to the tradition of the "hedge wizard" or "woods witch"?
  • October 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    Very much, I think. Pratchett's witches was one of the things I was thinking about while writing up the proposed trope.

    I'm not sure they should be part of the trope, but they are definitely part of the tradition that shaped the modern-day version.
  • October 2, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    I think the Discworld witches are the classic hedgewitch/herb-women (do we seriously not have that one? Surely I'm just missing it?) based on their type of magic - it is nature based and deals with living things - people and animals and plants. But I don't think the distinction between the hedgewitch and the Blue Collar Warlock is urban/rural. I think its that hedgewitches' magic works through living things specifically, as the key to that archetype. The hedgewitch can overlap with this one, like when an herbwoman does her magic out of a shop with normal business hours, or a Blue Collar Warlock can use their magic through traditional blue collar things like machines or their magic type can have nothing to do with their social class. The type of magic isn't as important to the Blue Collar Warlock archetype though. I think the reason this is an archetype is that traditionally magic is something restricted to the leisure classes either because there's a barrier in cost or time spent learning it or because doing magic makes you wealthier and socially higher. This also means that magic often ends up being used in different ways by a Blue Collar Warlock - as in less pretty illusion magic or enormous, battle-changing war spells and more keep my car working until my next paycheck, catch this criminal before he kills again, keep the wolves from finding my sheep types of magic - direct, practical types of applications.

    Actually that reminds me of another example that both plays this trope straight and discusses it. In Circle Of Magic, many magic users in the world have a type of magic which is expressed through tradecraft leading to many Blue Collar Warlock|s engaged in trades like cooking, metalwork, ship-building, and farming. The trope is also discussed specifically in Briar's Book. The plague the story revolves around was caused by a poor witch trying to come up with a magical weight loss cure to raise herself out of poverty - she couldn't afford to dispose of her failed magical experiments safely so she dumped them down the drain and the magic-powered wasting fever they caused got into the city water supply. When the child mages who star in the story learn about this they are faced with the fact that their particular magics give them privilege but this is not a blessing that all magic users share.
  • October 2, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • The Eberron setting of D&D has the "Magewright" NPC class, literal working class mages. The few spells they know are useless in combat (light, mending, arcane lock, explosive runes...) but one can make a living off them.
  • October 2, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized some work titles. De-Pot Holed several work titles as per How To Write An Example - State the source.
  • October 3, 2013
    nitrokitty
    More on Harry Dresden: Despite being one of the most powerful wizards in the world, he only has a GED, while many of the White Council members have so many doctorates their stoles have become stretched from the markers.
  • October 3, 2013
    DAN004
    Dunno, Blue Collar Warlock as a trope page seems already solid. At least we can take examples from there. :P
  • October 3, 2013
    kjnoren
    No, it's a mess. It took a very specific name (blue collar is a long established term in American society), and then switched around it to mean simply "modern". The page lacks a real definition, and were never properly created. Just witness the way the discussion went earlier in this YKTTW.
  • October 3, 2013
    hbi2k
    I think the description needs to be clearer about whether this is about characters who are blue collar by background or by trade or both.

    Is this about magic-users who have blue collar tastes and lifestyles, or about magic-users for whom magic is a trade or craft (a "wizard-for-hire") as opposed to an art, religious calling, or academic discipline?
  • October 3, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Or, maybe, just going by the original definition of "Modern Warlocks" as kjnoren said?

    Though that'll be a lot of overlap with Post Modern Magik.
  • October 3, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^^ Both, really, but especially the latter. But they tend to go hand n hand - values very much influence how you view what you are doing, so can't easily be separated. That's also partly why I've written the definition the way I did, the concept is nebulous and fuzzy around the edges, like all real-world social constructs, so I don't think it's possible to put up hard lines here.

    ^ In that case the trope can NOT be named Blue Collar Warlock for modern-day magic users. I'd recommend a new and separate YKTTW for that. (Though I suspect such a trope would be pretty vague and uninteresting, with little in common between the various magic users.)
  • October 3, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    I know the Winchesters from Supernatural were mentioned above and removed, but I think they do fit this trope. They're archetypal blue collar (though they steal the money they live on, they still only steal enough to be living at the poverty line) and while they wouldn't identify as magic-users, they do use an awful lot of magic. They regularly use wards, summoning spells, banishing sigils, devil's traps, hex bags, and magical potions/herbal preparations (like the dream root tea). They have done things like walk the astral plane, complete ritual tasks for their magical effect, mix up a potion to reverse a vampire bite, go through a complicated ritual to reverse the process that turns someone into a demon... I mean, I could go on, but then I start to wonder why it is again that they have to hunt witches.
  • October 4, 2013
    kjnoren
    They were removed because they were a Zero Content Example, and I don't know enough about the show to write anything about it (despite my wife being a huge fan).

    Ie, write up a decent example text and they can be added.
  • October 7, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    • The Winchesters of Supernatural might not identify as warlocks, but they sure do use a lot of magic - from wards and sigils to summoning rituals to hex bags and devil's traps. Their magic use is always for a practical application in their fight against monsters. They also meet the other trope criteria by being mostly uneducated (Sam dropped out of college, Dean may or may not have even finished high school), using unschooled language, and having no independent source of money except the credit cards they fraudulently obtain that allow them to live only at the poverty line as they travel the country saving people from monsters.
  • October 7, 2013
    kjnoren
    Thanks!
  • October 14, 2013
    kjnoren
    Bump.

    Now that I think of it, Alan Moore's British origin probably shows here, since I imagine he put a different spin on the phrase blue collar than an American would.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable