STILL SMALL, STILL DEADLY
by Paul Hallas
Whether they came with foil-embossed cards, poorly ink-stamped gaffs, or holes cut through them, letters, numbers or cartoons, we loved each and every one. Didn't matter if we had to do an Elmsley Count, followed by a Jordan or an Ascanio Spread; a group of four, six or eight cards; it was irrelevant. Their appeal created interesting story possibilities, and that was their built-in feature. Easy to carry! Simple to learn! Most importantly, compact! With a huge payoff. The staple of the magic shop owner's bottom line. They were an easy sell to the casual buyer, a father or uncle wanting to entertain the kids at Thanksgiving dinner. And the buyer always came back for more. The absurd thought, the joke, the punchlines were all built into these little marvels. As creators like Peter Kane, Ed Marlo, Alex Elmsley, Bro. John Hamman, Nick Trost, Larry West, Phil Goldstein and a myriad of others, found a niche that had its own market. People wanted these little treasures in their pocket or wallet. Suddenly, they had dated themes; some political, or based on an entertainment form like cartoons or movies. The concepts too were reusable. A card trick today using bunnies and a hat becomes tomorrow's Santa and Elves effect. Completely universal and mercurial in nature. Sometimes naughty, too.
What am I rambling about? Packet tricks, of course. These ingenious gems we were able to carry in business card wallets, were usually easily reset and ready to fire at a moment's notice. COLOR MONTE and WILD CARD helped launch thousands of hobbyists into magic. In SMALL BUT DEADLY, Paul Hallas researched the early history behind packet tricks and their creators. The story of COLOR MONTE alone is a fascinating view into what a success these pasteboard creatures are and can become when let loose into the business world. Where did packet tricks start? Who thought of what concept? Paul Hallas did all the work for you, made it interesting to read. Fascinating stuff, to say the least. Each of these little monsters taught us the counts and subtleties we still use today.
When Mr. Hallas gives you the basic effect of one of these historic gems, he then offers a version/variant of his own or one from another member of our magical society. However, this is the sequel to SMALL BUT DEADLY we're talking about here - STILL SMALL, STILL DEADLY. Time has moved forward. Paul has updated it to reflect a new era and rekindling interest. Modern magical minds are picking up and carrying forth from their fore-bearers with new and even more unique entertaining creations. Here we get to see tricks by card masters like Aldo Colombini, Paul Gordon, Peter Duffie, Howard Adams, John Bannon, Cameron Francis, Dave Neighbors, Liam Montier, Dave Gemmell, Ryan Matney, Peter Pellikaan and so many others who've broken new ground, proving that this isn't a limited area of magic and that you don't always need a full deck to win an audience's attention. Quite the contrary, it has burst forth another generation of people entertaining with a minimal amount of props. Always ready. Always armed. Always ready to get a huge response and lots of applause.
This spiral-bound volume however, isn't just a historical tome. It is filled with moves, subtleties, ideas, themes, plenty of easily created wonders waiting to be adapted into your repertoire. Paul is a master of packet effects and references. Videos by Aldo Colombini, Cameron Francis, Liam Montier, Paul Gordon and others proved beyond a doubt these were made for workers. Within these pages lie the potential future of packet trick effects. This book continues the spark from the 1970s boom into a future where they once again are carried in every magician's wallet for that quick rocket reaction. Creators like Paul Gordon continue to manufacture and update them with better quality cards or a new handling with a different twist. Many of Mr. Hallas' effect are available through Meir Yedid.
Technology has caught up creating better gaffs. There are videos on printing your own special cards. At last, you can make your own TREE OF HEARTS or mispipped cards. You can also split cards and make your own double face/split-face/backs/etc. An art unto itself. The concepts within packet magic won't stop there, they'll grow with the changes of technology. We've also gone from the FAKO deck of rough printed gaffs to superbly crafted swirled faces, card insertions and inksplots available through magic shops.
SMALL BUT DEADLY's story won't end in this updated volume. The Facebook SBS PACKET TRICKS page generates creators and magicians sharing their ideas and effects with our community. They're always fun to watch and learn from. They will always find an audience, an entertaining future, and Paul Hallas will be the guy writing about it.