by Gary Hall.
Gary Hall describes himself as a Magick enthusiast interested in Tarot imagery, as well as animation and having a career in art.
Publisher: Sterling Ethos
Recommended retail price: £18.16 to £20.43
Date of publication: 2021
Country of origin: United States
Theme: 1930s Animation
Art style/medium: Vintage Rubber hose cartoons
Tarot system: Waite-Smith plus two extra cards
The packaging is original and has a good “vibe”. The box opens at the bottom like a box of matches, revealing another box with the deck inside. Both boxes are colourfully decorated with the cartoons used in the cards, the sun in the inner box and the star inside the outer box.
The guidebook is a sturdy hardcover with a foreword by Leah Moore. Each Major Arcana card has a separate page, with a small representation of the card; for the Minor Arcana several cards share one page with a few lines per card. The explanation on each card is presented as a short story, where the author gives you the main ideas of the meaning for each card. Even the “darker” cards are given a positive inspiring meaning. Cards like the Nine of Swords, for example, include a lit candle and the character has its eyes open; all the swords are there, the black background too, but that candle brings hope and light into its meaning as well. As a contrast, the Three of Cups was a bit of a shock for me, because the figures holding the cups are skeletons, are they laughing? The sublime decoration of the skull faces could link it with the Mexican “Día de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead Ones), which is seen by Mexicans as a happy, festive occasion. The book does not mention reversals. The book also includes two pages about how to read Tarot and provides four spreads.
The cards are made of “heavy duty” stock, which is a plus if used frequently; however, the deck is wider than a regular Tarot deck which may make it difficult for people with smaller hands to shuffle and handle. The deck is bulky on its own and much more so within its box, making it not a top option to carry in your handbag.
The deck has 78 cards plus two extra cards that the author calls Exclusive cards: Happy Squirrel and Sad Squirrel. They are placed between the Major and Minor Arcana and no explanation is given about how to use them or why the author created them. In readings I excluded these cards while using the Celtic Cross but included them when I had to aspect or open another card in the spread.
The artist gets as close as possible to the same colours and iconography as the Waite-Smith deck, which helps the reader connect with the cards’ images and meanings.
Although Gary Hall uses an old theme, 1930s animation, I find the deck very original and extremely friendly. In my opinion, this deck can be used when reading for very young people, teenagers or people that might be sensitive to the representation of more traditional decks. However, some clients that have experience with other Tarot decks may feel that the reading is not serious enough when inquiring about serious topics. One of my clients mentioned that seeing a reading with these cards was like watching an old Disney animation film about your life—nothing is too serious, nor too dramatic.
If a person wants to read the cards for him or herself and does not have previous knowledge about Tarot, this deck could be a very light introduction to Tarot, but I would not recommend that someone who is serious about learning start with this deck and its guidebook only because the guidebook is very limited.
Because this deck’s theme comes across as a cartoon that regular people can relate to, this deck is great to go “incognito”, like when reading in a public place and not wanting to attract the wrong type of attention. I have read in a semi-public place, and people came to look at the “cartoons”; when they realised it was something else, someone mentioned she was afraid of Tarot cards but these she would not mind.
One aspect of this deck that was initially an issue with one of my clients is that part of their “vintage” look is to make them look like someone with dirty fingers has handled the cards. Luckily, these smudges are in the same spots in all the cards so I was able to show my client that it was part of the look and not someone else’s marks. I now explain beforehand that it is part of the look and it hasn’t been an issue since.
In general, I had good feedback about this deck from my clients.
Reviewed by: Enay Enaytzadah