Magic Removes Dong From Secret Lair Stonecoil Serpent
Stonecoil Serpent by Danilo Laynes
The Case of the Missing Dong
Late in January, a new Secret Lair was announced called "Ssssssnakessssss" (that's 12 Ss if you're counting). In that Secret Lair, five serpentine selections are included: Hexdrinker, Lotus Cobra, Seshiro the Anointed, Ice-Fang Coatl and Stonecoil Serpent. Artists responsible for the illustrations are Boneface, CROM, NIARK1, Crocodile Jackson and Laynes, respectively. It's that last one behind what I will now dub "The Case of the Missing Dong."
Is it a goblin? A human? Whatever it is, the figure seems to be enjoying the predicament it's in given the hand gestures. Perhaps it's a curated experience some pay money for. We don't judge here at Commander's Herald, we only discuss the facts. Putting aside the fact that this particular Secret Lair preorders for $29.99 USD for nonfoil (and $39.99 in foil) and contains cards that can be had for around $17 if you bought the non-SL versions individually, the original announcement featured a peculiar detail in the art of Stonecoil Serpent:
We're a family website, so we made sure to prevent your fragile eyes from seeing the truly horrifying bit (the stem-to-stern impalement is fine). You can use your imagination to determine the part that's missing. And if you can't, I'll give you a hint.
The initial image for Stonecoil Serpent in the Ssssssnakessssss' drop had an error that is not reflective of the final product. This has been updated on our website to correct this. Customers who purchased the drop will be notified directly as well.https://t.co/QJYn2Td2HK pic.twitter.com/hjqmBA4IC3
— MTG Secret Lair (@MTGSecretLair) February 3, 2023
It was announced on Twitter only days later that the original art, called an "initial image," was uploaded into the ether "in error." The wedding tackle flopping in the breeze was "not reflective of the final product." The offending snake was excised from the snake Secret Lair and today, the art looks like this:
Those purchasing the Secret Lair will be getting a card with the above version, and those who already put down money for the five cards will "be notified directly." It can be assumed that a non-zero contingent of those who have preordered did so for one reason, and that reason is gone. Perhaps the Argentinian artist Danilo Laynes, who created the art, will be available at future events to alter the little fella back in.
There's been plenty of controversy regarding Magic: the Gathering art over the years. Sometimes, that controversy is warranted, in the case of certain cards painted by certain artists with certain views. Sometimes those views are, uh, less than savory. Other times, however, the views of the individual artist creating the illustration that causes the controversy are irrelevant. Those times, it seems today, center around sausage.
There have been discussions among fans for decades regarding the overt sexualizing of characters depicted in art, usually in terms of the dichotomy of appearance between male and female characters. And obviously that discussion isn't limited to Magic -- for as long as there's been a fantasy genre, people have debated on what exactly that fantasy entails, and whose fantasy it really is. In other words, medieval fantasy blacksmiths make a lot more money outfitting male characters than they do female ones.
Will future illustrators have to go further to conceal rogue peters in their art? It's not unheard of. Following the initial reveal of the "erroneous" art, discussion led to players online sharing some other artworks that border on innapropriate, including Nearheath Stalker's menagerie of curing meats, the "suggestive" anatomy of Gluttonous Cyclops or the perceived hypocracy of allowing an illustration like Essence Vortex (or the even more intentional Red-Hot Hottie from Unhinged) continue to appear in search results while other artworks are hidden from view. Cards from the beginning of Magic, like Earthbind, did not see a reprint in the recent 30th Anniversary Edition release. Who knows why.
Former Magic artist Robert Bliss, the illustrator behind Binding Agony (once you see it you'll never un-see it), was renowned for clandestinely endowing his art.
At the end of the day, Magic is a game for everyone, and not everyone wants to see flopping members, just like they might not want to see depictions of scantily-clad characters regardless of gender. While there's been a vocal outcry online rallying against the "censorship" of the Stonecoil Serpent art, business decisions must be made. And dongs are bad for business. Changing a product after people have preordered it is also bad for business, but that's another topic entirely.
Are there any other "offensive" arts not already mentioned? Should there be a change.org petition to force Wizards of the Coast to return the Stonecoil Serpent illustration to its former glory? Where do you weigh in?