Origins of Elmer

Elmer has been around for a while now, but some of the more recent listeners of the show may not be familiar with everyone’s favorite elk. Former LR co-host Ryan Spain took a minute to explain. Thanks Ryan!

The Origin of Elmer

Nothing kills an inside joke quite like explaining it, but enough questions have come up about the ongoing “Elmer” joke on Limited Resources that some details are clearly required for newer listeners.

First, some context: besides being a creature type on several Magic cards, elk serve an interesting purpose in a lot of non-elk card art. Have you ever heard of “scale birds?” This is when an artist includes some birds in creature-card artwork to give a sense of the size of the creature, particularly when there is nothing else in the environment to provide that context.

In a similar vein, prey animals like elk are often shown in peril in Magic artwork to give a sense of the scale of danger happening on the card—a “peril elk” if you will. At the 1:04 mark of the M13 set review (Episode #139), when discussing the card Downpour, Marshall notes that the peril elk in the artwork is pretty sad-looking, and is in deep trouble.

In the next episode (#141 “Speaking with Sadin”), the first card in the second crack-a-pack on the show is Downpour (at 0:43:10). Marshall reaffirms the sadness of the elk’s plight, and says, “Poor guy, we should name him.” Marshall ultimately grants naming rights to the guest on the show, Steve Sadin. Steve comes up with “Elmer” (at 0:43:55).

Once named for his appearance in the Downpour art, it became amusing for Jon and Marshall to assume that the many peril elk in Magic artwork are not a series of different elk, but are actually all Elmer, whose life of adventure and danger is being chronicled in the ongoing art of Magic: The Gathering cards. Marshall, Jon, and listeners now look for (and root for) Elmer on Magic cards as he faces the trials and tribulations of living in the multiverse. Elmer has his moments of glory, too!

Brian, for some reason, thinks the Elmer joke is dumb. He’s probably swimming upstream on this one…

(It’s worth noting that Elmer must be a Planeswalker for him to show up in all of the planes like he does. Hmmmm…what would the planeswalker card Elmer, Peril Elk do?)

(It’s also worth noting that at the 0:42:12 mark of episode #141, right before Steve names Elmer, Marshall dubs Deadly Recluse the “Green Doom Blade,” which has since become widely-adopted slang for the 1/2 spider. Two Limited Resources slang origin stories within a minute of each other on the same podcast episode!)

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