No relation to either the trope or the band.Muse Magazine is a monthly publication put out by the Smithsonian Institution. While the magazine is targeted at kids in the 10-13 age range, its intelligence and clever writing make it appealing to people of many age groups. It's best described as a "general knowledge" magazine—if you can think of it, they've probably run an article on it. ...Yep. ...But of course. ...They've done that. ...Don't act so surprised. ...That's generally how "everything" works. In addition to articles, they run excepts from books, lists of interesting Web links, and lots of reader-submitted content.But the magazine's wittiness isn't its only draw. You see, every page of the magazine is inhabited by the Muses. Not the classical Greek muses you may have heard about—worldwide muses, for a more "modern" era. Did the Greeks have muses of "bad poetry" and "software"? In addition to one full-page, full-color comic each issue (drawn by Larry Gonick, who also wrote Cartoon History of the Universe), they litter the margins of all the articles, providing additional information... and snarky commentary. Anything can happen in their world, and frequently does. In fact, they've got a history and mythos all their own within the bounds of the magazine.The Muses are:
Kokopelli: The "leader" (sort of), Kokopelli is the Muse of Tricks. An insufferable jokester, he, in his own words, "likes making life interesting for his friends." Despite his Arizonan origins, he likes nothing so much as the classic "Pie in the Face" gag.
Urania: The only Muse to also be an actual, historicalGreek muse, she retains her Greecian status as the Muse of Astronomy. She often plays "straight woman" as opposed to the manic Kokopelli. She enjoys staring off into the night sky (of course).
Feather: Although he's lazy and gluttonous, this South American muse nonetheless has a killer green thumb. He's the Muse of Plants. When he's not tending his garden, he's probably out lounging about somewhere... or eating his Trademark Favorite Food, donuts.
Chad: A Gadgeteer Genius, he's the Muse of Hardware. No matter the situation, he's always coming up with a new invention. They're prone to working about as often as they're prone to catastrophic failure. But he dauntlessly continues work on his inventions. Rarely seen without his wrench.
Aeiou: The Muse of Software, so she's often seen with Chad. She doesn't speak—instead, she expresses her feelings by waving around her huge, noodly arms. Crraw is her interpreter. And before you ask: No, we don't know how to pronounce her name either.
Pwt: Although Pwt is the Muse of Animals, Pwt seems to be more obsessed with catching them than actually looking after them! Crraw is a favorite target. Frequently manic. Pwt is also a source of much confusion—both because it's hard to pronounce "Pwt" if you're not Welsh, and because Pwt's gender is about as clear as mud.
Bo: The most laid-back of all the Muses, Bo is the Muse of Trivia. She even has her own section in the magazine devoted to interesting snippets of facts. She's also a cow. But then again, nobody seems to mind... or, for that matter, even notice.
Crraw: Pwt's favorite least favorite person, Crraw the crow is the Muse of Bad Poetry and a frequent writer of it. He's got a snarky attitude and a love of being annoying. He does, however, serve a purpose: He's the one who interprets Aeiou's hand gestures.
Bunnies for Cuteness: At an indeterminate point in the magazine's history (a few years before its 10th anniversary), there was a massive fight between readers in the Muse Mail section about whether cats or dogs were better. To quell the battle, the editors decreed that any passages advocating the debate would be replaced by "cheerful little hot-pink bunnies."
Mr. Seahorse: When the Muses are trying to bake a birthday cake for Kokopelli, Crraw donates some eggs.
Nice Headdress: Mimi's is so cool that, in a marginal in one issue, a few of the Muses copy it.
No Fourth Wall: In one comic, Urania and Pwt realize that they're surrounded by white frames. Urania also discovers perspective at one point. All of the muses seem to realize that they're in a magazine, and not just in the mail room. In "A Surfeit of Coneys," for example, Paul Baker notes how the Muses discuss reader reaction to the Hot Pink Bunnies. Various other examples of wall breakage occur from time to time.
Non-Standard Character Design: All the Muses' designs are different, to reflect their different cultures. In particular, Kokopelli, who seems to be black all over.
Noodle People: Aeiou's arms are as long as her body, and seem to bend at random. They're how she "speaks".
Serious Business: The March 1997 issue featured a vaguely pro-vegetarianism article, and had a photo of a calf on the front cover with the caption "Please Don't Eat Me!" The cattle industry and some politicians threw a fit, and the following issue's Muse Mail had about three pages of angry letters.
Sure, Why Not?: Pwt's gender, though never stated, wasn't initially an issue. When several early readers wrote in asking whether he/she was a boy or girl, the writers apparently decided it was a good gag, to the point where even the other Muses get confused as to his/her gender.