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Blue-Collar Warlock

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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
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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 and use magical artifacts that look like mundane items. 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.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kairi from Fate/Apocrypha is a burly, cigarette-smoking, shotgun-wielding, leather-clad necromancer who looks like he'd be more at home in a biker gang than fighting in a Holy Grail War.
    • And Waver is basically this trope but upwardly-mobile. According to Fate/Grand Order, he has a noticeably working-class accent. In Lord El-Melloi II Case Files, he's apparently flat broke, lives in a cheap, cramped apartment in a crumbling old building, and still cherishes the shoes he bought with his first paycheck eight years ago. But he got adopted by a noble family that needed an adult heir quickly, so now he's called Lord El-Melloi II and goes around wearing cravats.
  • The Garden of Sinners: Touko Aozaki is a supernatural detective masquerading as an architect and toy designer, dresses up in modern work clothes and a trenchcoat, smokes cigarettes, and always flat broke that she accepts odd jobs that would pay for her charge's paycheck and/or her spending habits. Yet she is known to be one of the most powerful magi in the Nasuverse.
  • The eponymous Hell Teacher Nube, teacher first and onmyouji second. He's a teacher that uses supernatural powers to beat down on monsters.
  • The main characters of Modern Magic Made Simple. One spell is "call a cell phone that's turned off".
  • 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.
    • Luna Inverse is the Knight of Cephied, the local God of Good and she works as a waitress because she likes it.

    Comic Books 
  • In Black Magick, Rowan Black—practising Wiccan and heir to powerful magical bloodline— is a police detective who rides a motorcycle. Her best friend Alex, who is also a witch, is a kindergarten teacher.
  • 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.
  • Gravel: William Gravel grew 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.
  • John Constantine, Hellblazer, is the Trope Codifier, as Alan Moore is the Trope Namer. He fits every description above because Alan Moore made the trope. He protects his beloved London (and later the DC Universe) from hellspawns and magical whatnot.
  • Madame Xanadu, also a professional fortune teller who operates out of a shopfront in Greenwich Village taking walk-in clients.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Night Watch: Light Mages masquerade as electrical technicians, wear coveralls and drive utility trucks, and their front organization is called "[CityLight]" (a regular Russian name for an urban power management agency). Dark Mages, by contrast, are a weird amalgamation of decadent pop-performers, blingy thugs and Nazi cosplayers. This was nowhere as pronounced in the books, but it was still a modernised setting where both Light and Dark Ones would try to pass as regular people.
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    Literature 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dragons And Dwarves: 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.
  • The Dresden Files: 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.
    • This is later subverted when we discover more about the Dresden Universe. Harry could be much wealthier if he chose a more traditional Wizarding lifestyle, he's a member of the White Council, the uber tier of human magic users. His Grandfather is one of the strongest Wizards in the world, the Blackstaff and a member of the Elder Council. His Godmother is one of the handmaidens to Queen Mab herself and a powerful Sidhe. He also bascially gets his own massive island in Lake Michigan which he's both responsible for (it's a prison for the most dangrous monsters in the world) and his home for a long stretch of time. Finally, he's now the Winter Knight, a literal noble in the Unseelie Court of the Winter Queens.
    • This is also increasingly more averted as the series has progressed and Dresden has accumulated more wealth and power. In the early books, Dresden was frequently living paycheck-to-paycheck and his inability to find regular work was a common issue. In Dead Beat, however, he lands a second job as a Warden of the White Council, the pay of which, while not especially impressive on it's own, is enough to mostly end his financial difficulties combined with his detective work. In Skin Game, he actually makes it out of the heist with a bag of diamonds worth several million dollars, though subsequent novels show he's yet to make any major adjustments to his lifestyle beyond securing his daughter's place at an expensive private school. And at the end of Battle Ground, he manages to con Marcone out of a literal castle, with the intention of living there once he can get the place fixed up a bit.
  • The wizards in Harry Potter often fall somewhere between Wizard Classic and Gentleman Wizard, but since the series portrays the wizarding community in the United Kingdom throughout The '90s, some of them inevitably fall under this:
    • Mundungus Fletcher is a negative example. A man of questionable repute, and the wizard equivalent of a mundane Con Man, who often deals in contraband and stolen goods. Rounding up the portrayal, he has a sleazy disposition, uses fairly modern slang, he is a smoker, and he is heavily implied to be a heavy drinker, as well.
    • The Weasleys, although as removed from normal urban muggle life as can be, have shades of this as well. They are a numerous, lower class family whose struggles are not unlike those of poor Muggle families. Also, the father works regulating the use of Muggle artifacts, and as such they all are more familiar with normal Muggle life than most wizards (which is not much, but still).
  • Journey to Chaos
    • All of the Dragon's Lair mages are mercenaries so their jobs tend to be skilled labor. This is especially the case with novice mages who are still learning their craft. Their gig is compared to a part-time job like bagging groceries.
    • The field agents for the International Community Dedicated to Magic Mutation do a lot of traveling in order to gather research materials and test equipment. Kallen, for instance, basically lives in a flying trailer.
  • Many of the occult practitioners in China Miéville's Kraken are working-class. The novel even features an attempt to unionise familiars.
  • Many of the magicians in the Lord Darcy stories are skilled tradesmen.
  • Quite a few major characters in Magic, Inc. are this, providing services ranging from mass-produced construction goods to fortune-telling.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Mortal Instruments: This is apparently not unusual for warlocks in general. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stephen King's Randall Flagg from The Stand and The Dark Tower, especially in the former. He's a magic user whose preferred physical appearance is that of a denim-clad drifter from the second half of the 20th century, even in the Dark Tower universe where he's capable of assuming much more high fantasy-esque personas like the wizard advisor from The Eyes of the Dragon.
  • Sunshine features a surprise stealth example of this trope, when it's heavily implied that the main character's boyfriend Mel is (or was) one of these. He currently works a day job as a cook in a neighborhood cafe/bakery, and it's unclear how retired from action he actually is.
  • Urban Dragon: Matheson is a mortician by day and a necromancer by night.
  • In Wizard of the Pigeons, Wizard lives on the fringes of society amongst the street people, and was soldier (implicitly 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, and when the Watcher's Council makes an appearance, it's clear that he's more like the 'proper, austere, middle class or higher' lineage. In the Angel spin-off, Wesley moves to this trope in appearance and methodology as he Took a Level in Badass; when he was an Upper-Class Twit in Buffy and at the start of the series he was presented as cowardly and inept.
  • In the seventies, Harlan Ellison wrote a pitch pilot for a series called The Dark Forces featuring Crusading Lawyer Lee Kraiter learning the ways of sorcerery (Ellison admitted to owing a debt to Dr. Strange).
  • Grandpa in The Munsters is a skilled magician and comes from a middle class household. Of course, he's also a vampire, a Mad Scientist and other horror tropes, but is shown in many episodes making different kinds of spells and sorcery the success of which will depend on the comedy needs of the episode.
  • In the episode "Still Valley" from The Twilight Zone (1959), a confederate soldier 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 charge, 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.
  • It's perfectly easy to make an entire campaign out of such characters in Champions, but as far as pre-made characters go, Robert Caliburn, the Magnum Mage of Vibora Bay, is probably the clearest example.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
      • The advantages related to wealth in Ascension are also of limited value to most mages due to the necessities of the strongly enforced masquerade and the mechanics of magical combat. The most powerful ability for keeping one's magical dealings secret (and protecting against sympathetic magic such as scrying and ranged strikes) is directly incompatible with essentially every wealth or status-related advantage, since it causes mortal record-keeping (including bank account numbers, deeds, and credit cards) to fail. So almost all players tend to be this by default unless they go to the other extreme and use overwhelming fame as a shield.
  • In Shadowrun, magic has existed on Earth for roughly 40 years by the first edition (70 as of sixth edition), and magic does not follow bloodlines. In other words, most mages are just regular people born with supernatural powers and tend to live lifestyles appropriate for their demand on the market. Mages with the punching power of your average Shadowrunner Player Character are one-in-a-million talents (literally) and are ruthlessly headhunted by the setting's governments and MegaCorps, but even then we're talking "skilled surgeon or engineer in a small but vital field" rather than outright aristocracy. Since being a skilled mage (requiring high Magic and Attributes/Skills) and having lots of money (high Resources) tends to collide in the Priority System, player character mages tend to down-prioritize the latter at character creation.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Despite its focus on worldwide travel to often-remote areas, The Secret World has quite a few urban-oriented mages rounding out the NPC cast.
    • Alex McCabe is a fairly obvious John Constantine Expy - a grungy, drunken, chain-smoking cynical battlemage right at home on the streets, duking it out with monsters. Quite apart from being the most overtly magical of all the Tokyo Response Team, his cinematic takes place in the most obviously urban setting, featuring him loafing around at a particularly grotty-looking pub and lighting his cigarettes with magic before getting into a fight with a demon in the bathroom.
    • Callie James is a fourteen-year-old homeless girl sleeping rough in Eldwyck Park, having been forced to run away from home after her unstable powers ended up causing a great deal of property damage. For good measure, she often spends her days serving as the "squire" to John Galahad, a homeless drunk who seems to be under the impression that he's actually an Arthurian knight stranded in the modern era - and maybe he is.
    • Wu Liang-Zhi, one of the agents in the Legends reboot, spends her time at work in various traditional Chinese medicine shops and using her powers to benefit the local community - that is when she's not being hired to use her powers in combat and espionage.

    Webcomics 
  • The cast of Morph E all fit, having recently stepped into the world of magic from their mundane ordinary lives.
  • Penny Arcade: Tycho Brahe occasionally dabbles in the occult to solve mundane problems.
    • When the Penny Arcade duo realizes their house is infested with a Deep Crow, naturally they call an Orkin pest controller, who successfully tames it and rides it to parts unknown.
  • Trailer Park Warlock is exactly what it says on the tin, a redneck who does sorcery to pay his lot fees.
  • 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).

    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.

 
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Alex McCall

A grungy, scotch-swilling, ciggy-smoking urban magician, Alex demonstrates his mastery of the magical arts by not only lighting his cigarette with magic, but also by taking out a demon assassin in a pub toilet without even bothering to zip up.

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