Blue Collar Warlock
A magic user with a blue collar background
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(permanent link) added: 2013-02-10 16:37:54 sponsor: JohnMountain edited by: Guilen (last reply: 2013-10-15 03:41:30)

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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).
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