Karnival Earthtone9 and Z-Ray DecksWe’re tackling two decks at once today. Although on the face of it they are very different, they do have one thing in common. You could almost describe them as ‘vanity publishing’ projects. But please don’t let that put you off – I mention it only because in that respect they are unlike any other decks we’ve looked at.

Let’s get to some details.  We’ll start with the

Karnival Earthtone9 Deck

The blurb on the advertising card explains my earlier statement: “The Karnival Earthtone9 Deck was created to celebrate the career of post-metal act earthtone9.”   It goes on to give details of a free download of a special compilation album by this band.

Earthtone Deck SpreadThis may or may not be your thing, but the point is, in the cards they have produced a thing of beauty!    Although there is a lot going on in the back design, there is something highly organic and pleasing about it. It produces some pleasing effects in fans and spreads.

I rarely appreciate cards with an ‘inverse’ face, but the solid black faces on these cards work well.  The tones of the reds and blacks are pleasing and the light cream border somehow works.  It’s actually very hard to capture the subtlety of the colour in a photo, but Sam Hayles certainly knows what he is doing.

Earthtone Court CardsEarthtone Aces
Earthtone Jokers

Earthone9 and Z-Ray backs
There is a boldness to all the aces (not just the ace of spades) which is very pleasing.  Although Sam has snuck a few of his trademark skulls into these and the Jokers, they are very subtle.

Handling is first rate – usual USPCC Bicycle standard.  You also get a useful double backer whch will fit in to many routines.  All in all there is a lot to like about the Earthtones.
And now for something completely different as a rather posh snake once put it.


Z-Ray Deck

is an entirely different beast.

Z-Ray JokersAgain an advertising card describes the background – an “unholy alliance of comedic conjuror PAUL ZENON and cult cartoonist VINCE RAY conspired to spawn this illustrious incarnation of the Devil’s pasteboards”  The ‘vanity pubishing’ title is even more appropriate here since messers Zenon and Ray make it on to the Jokers in cartoon form.

The ‘face’ cards are regulation Bicycle faces – all the innovation is on the Aces and Court Cards. On the principle that a picture speaks a thousand words we have included photos of these ratheer than tried to describe them.  As you will see there are various pop-culture allusions  many oof which also lend themselves to mentalism/reading presentations.

Z-Ray Aces

The back design is ‘hypnotic’ and a blank-faced card is provided which also has some card reveals hidden on its back design.  There is another reveal on the card case too.  The ‘hypnotic’ effect of the back design is enhanced in a fan or spread which looks very effective.

Handling comments are as above – USPCC have done a good job.  I can see how in lots of contexts this deck would go down a storm.  It doesn’t quite float my aesthetic boat but it is a lot of fun  and the court cards could be the basis of a load of routines.

Both Earthtone9 and  Z-Ray decks will be available from BBM (£4.99 per deck) but the release date is not until December 10th.  They are doing a special pre-order deal – if you order 6 or more of either kind of deck in one order they will throw in a free Karnival Death Heads Carnage Deck.  Can’t say fairer than that…

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