What I like about Lo Scarabeo
March 2, 2009 § 7 Comments
This week, I’ve had the great pleasure of perusing the new Lo Scarabeo Tarot Gallery, which is a lovely big hardback book featuring full colour samples of all their decks. To a tarot geek, it’s a thing of beauty; even though I know of all these decks, and even though I have – at one time or another – stocked most of them, I still get a thrill at every page turn. Decks that I thought I didn’t like somehow come to life when viewed in a double page glossy spread. Even – and this shocked the hell out of me – the Tarot of Reincarnation, which still may not look much like a tarot deck but does look extremely attractive.
I’m guessing the Tarot Gallery has been produced to create desire in retail stores. Browse these pages and dare to resist our wares! However, this is much much more than a superficial selling tool. They’ve clearly invested a lot of time and effort in making it. The cards are actual size, which is great, and for those decks that feature gold and silver impressions, LS have glued a copy of the card to the page. Also, the sheer number of decks is mind-boggling. I counted 96! And these are in-print decks mind you, not discontinued ones (and it doesn’t even include any of the upcoming 2009 releases)!
Sometimes a lot of Lo Scarabeo bashing goes on at certain forums. Certain people seem to get personally offended that LS “churn out” so many decks with different themes every year, as if being prolific was a sign of low standards or even worse…gasp…commercialism.
But being prolific is just what I like about Lo Scarabeo: you never quite know what they’re going to do next. You may groan at the thought of a UFO Tarot or roll your eyes at the latest “Tarot of the Little Pink Pixies” (I made that up), but there’s no denying they always give you something to talk about. And there’s also no denying that they produce some very good and very beautiful decks: the Universal Fantasy, the Classic Tarot, the Nefertari, the Tarot of the Secret Forest, the Samurai Tarot…I could go on. Sometimes a deck is a “miss” but often their decks are resounding hits.
What’s more, they have an energy and enthusiasm that you just don’t get from US Games/Llewellyn/AGMuller/etc. Lo Scarabeo constantly dare to try new things. Why not have a UFO Tarot? Why not a Manga Tarot or Tarot of the Robots? It’s important I think to remember that LS make playing cards as well. Some people like playing cards with cats on. Some like playing cards with cheeses of the world. LS seem to extend the same vision to tarot. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tarot deck featuring mermaids?” Does it need to be justifiable in some serious, studious tarot way? Of course not – and anyway, who gets to decide what can or can’t be a tarot deck? Sometimes all a deck needs to be is pretty, or interesting. To a collector, all a deck needs is the word “tarot” in its name. 😉
They’re also willing to experiment with the format. They’ve brought out no end of mini tarots, and the lovely – and under-appreciated – grand trumps. They produce bags to match their decks. Last year they added spread cloths; this year they’re trying their hand at rune sets and some shiny chakra thingies. Last year they published a gorgeous book about their first 20 years. And this year they’ve produced this Tarot Gallery.
That’s why I like Lo Scarabeo, and why I think they’re still probably one of the most exciting – and hardest working – tarot publishers around. So there. 🙂