Blue-Collar Warlock

The common blue-collar warlock. His castle is an apartment flat. His magical staff is a cigarette. His Shadowfax is a taxi cab. His elixir is beer. His magical robe is a trenchcoat. His damsel in distress is a cocky gothic gun-toting girl.

"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

Whenever we think of wizards, sorcerers, or mages, the first thing that pops in our minds are old wise men, long staffs, magical wands, pointy hats, and long beards. The blue collar warlock is a different kind of magic-user. He lives in no medieval fantasy setting, but instead lives in something more contemporary. They are sorcerers who modernized and you may cross paths with one on the streets. They might live among us. Unlike contemporary warriors, they fight with the use of old-fashioned magic and the occult. Streetwise in the face of danger, some may be good, while others are sinister. Sometimes they are Occult Detectives or Stage Magicians. See also Trenchcoat Brigade. Contrast Gentleman Wizard.

Examples

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     Anime and Manga  
  • Slayers' Lina Inverse was born to small shop owners and is constantly traveling. The jobs she picks up in the anime and movies tend to be blue collar; kill that monster, guard this person, find a treasure or two, etc.
    • Her sister even more so. Luna Inverse is literally a Physical God as she is one of four people who embody the Lord of Nightmares, the creator god in the series.... She works as a waitress because she likes it.

     Comic Books  
  • Madame Xanadu, also a professional fortune teller who operates out of a shopfront in Greenwich Village taking walk-in clients.
  • The young Timothy Hunter from The Books of Magic, who grew up poor in a rundown house where his unemployed, one-armed father spent all day slumped in front of the television watching old movies.
  • 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.

     Film  

     Literature  
  • Harry Potter is one when he's in the Muggle world (specifically the UK) but his parents were wealthy and left him a great deal of money. A straight example would be his friends, the Weasley family; family breadwinner Arthur is a low-ranking civil servant of extremely modest means, rendered even more modest by trying to bring up seven kids on it. This causes a serious falling-out with middle child Percy, who grows up to be an aspiring social mountaineer and gets led into wrongdoing by some of the more unsavoury elements in the Ministry of Magic as a result.
  • Harry Dresden alternates between working as an Occult Detective and as a run-of-the-mill Muggle private investigator, and like all fictional private investigators he's frequently broke. Which is admittedly partly his own fault for refusing to accept a very generous retainer from "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone, because he's too stubbornly law-abiding to work for the Mob, and because he sinks most of his disposable income into new magical gizmos.
  • Wizards in Shaman of the Undead may have fancy councils and academies, but they use modern-day appliances and the police work of WON is just like normal police work, only with Demonic Possessions instead of regular criminals.
  • This is apparently not unusual for warlocks in general in The Mortal Instruments. They typically cast spells for a living.
    • Magnus Bane lives in a warehouse loft, throws wild house parties, generally behaves like a New York hipster and otherwise seems entrenched in modern urban culture despite his great age. Also does spellcasting for a fee as his primary source of income.
    • Catarina Loss is shown to work in a hospital as a nurse.
  • Alex Verus. In sharp contrast to the rich and powerful members of the Light Council that often employ him, Alex is a small business-owner who lives above his magic shop in Camden. For good measure, as a Probability Mage, he often finds himself getting bullied and belittled by practitioners of the much more obviously powerful schools of magic.
  • 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. 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.
    • In fact, many of the wizards, warlocks and sorcerers encountered throughout the series count - hero or villain - though some are a bit closer to the street than others.
  • Quite a few major characters in Magic, Inc. are this, providing services ranging from mass-produced construction goods to fortune-telling.
  • Dragons of the Cuyahoga has the criminal mage Bone Daddy, covered in tattoos and making a dodgy living selling illegal things. He's actually an undercover cop, but still counts.
  • Blake Thorburn, the protagonist of Pact, is a formerly homeless Handyman whose main associates are a group of Starving Artists who have helped one another out, living in Toronto. Blake is so poor that he can't even afford a cell phone, and his sole nonessential purchase was a motorcycle, for transportation purposes. He's also the heir to an ancient legacy of diabolists, which gets him a lot of enemies-all of whom are middle-class or more, as magic in Pact tends to be passed down through family lines.
  • Many of the occult practitioners in China Miéville's Kraken are working-class. The novel even features an attempt to unionise familiars.
  • Mr. Tarzack Mazzeeck in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's 1966 novel Black and Blue Magic is this. He's also an absent-minded, harrassed, klutzy Traveling Salesman for the A.A. Comus Company, selling magick tools and supplies.
  • In Wizard of the Pigeons, Wizard lives on the fringes of society amongst the street people, and was soldier (implictly serving in Vietnam) before becoming a wizard.

     Live Action TV  
  • Several characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Giles, for instance, is a school librarian and the local supernatural expert. Later seasons revealed that this is an Exploited Trope; Giles is only pretending to be a school librarian as part of his Watcher duties. When his father makes an appearance, it's clear that he's more like the 'proper, austere, middle class or higher' lineage.
  • In the episode "Still Valley" from The Twilight Zone, a confederate solider encounters a cankerous old man who calls himself a witch-man, who gives the soldier a book of black magic.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In general, the wealth in a character's background isn't permitted to grant unbalancing resources, especially in the beginning — and in a less well-balanced chargen, what the game rules give the GM can take away. It's easier to justify this, and the choice of adventuring career, by defining a mage character as a peasant-born poor apprentice.
  • In both Mage: The Ascension and Mage: The Awakening, your player character is assumed to be one. Your mage tower is a penthouse and your magic library is a Magical Computer.
    • Ascension also has a couple of books focused on the "street-level mage" experience, Destiny's Price and The Orphans Survival Guide. The introductory cabal in the 20th anniversary edition quickstart, the Bridge Trolls, are a group of street-dwelling mages.
    • 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).
    • The Ascension group that epitomised "blue collar" were the Craftmasons, the founders of the Order of Reason, who valued hard work above all else. Unfortunately, they got wiped out by their own creation in the 17th century.
  • In Geist: The Sin-Eaters, your character is a Blue Collar Necromancer. Emphasis on blue collar: you have to experience non-old-age death before you can become a Sin-Eater, and non-old-age deaths are more common amongst the blue collars.
  • Many rogue psykers from Warhammer 40,000 tend to be of this stamp, as psychic powers tend to manifest in all kinds of people, irrespective of social class. Given that being a non-sanctioned psyker is a capital crime in the Imperium - and one pursued with extreme prejudice - most of the ones who aren't rounded up by the Inquisition and put on the black ships tend to be part of a criminal underclass. Actual battlefield psykers in the main tabletop game tend not to be this though - they're either military professionals or classic fantasy mystic types.
  • While The Dresden Files makes no inherent assumption either way, it treats Resources as a skill like any other. It therefore competes with other skills, both mundane and magical, for slots in the game's column scheme, making it just that bit more likely that this sort of wizard will be more competent at magic (or something else non-money-related of more mundane utility) than a wealthy Gentleman Wizard who would have had to "pay" for their high rank in Resources by lowering some other skill accordingly.
  • Many a character in Shadowrun if he lives outside of the Megacorp lifestyle. And some on the inside as well.

     Video Games  

     Webcomics 
  • Many of the wizards seen in Widdershins fit, particularly Jack O'Malley (despite not being a trained wizard, he can see more of the unseen world than any wizard). If Sidney Malik could hold down a job, he'd be a perfect fit for the trope. Ben Thackerey is well educated, but does purely ordinary magic (mainly cleaning up buildups of spirits).
  • The cast of morphE all fit, having recently stepped into the world of magic from their mundane ordinary lives.

     Western Animation  
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: Fu Dog works in a video repair shop as a day job and helps Jake with magic spells after hours or when necessary.