Aug 26, 2013

Sideshow Freaks Playing Cards by Bicycle

Just about two months ago, I posted about the upcoming release of Bicycle's Sideshow Freaks playing cards. Now finally, after some weirdness with my original Amazon order,
I have them in hand!

Bicycle Sideshow Freaks playing cards tuck box card back

I was pretty excited to check these out first hand after seeing the promo images from Bicycle a couple months ago. That, and there's always been something mysterious and magical about carnivals for me. I blame it on Something Wicked This Way Comes. I recorded that from cable and played the heck out of it.

The tuck box, that's fancy-talk for card box, is a bit different from the standard mostly white design. It uses the main colors of the deck, which remind me of the circus posters you'd see on telephone poles announcing that it was coming to town soon.

Bicycle Sideshow Freaks circus playing cards card back lobster boy strong man bearded lady ringmaster fire breather

The card backs pack a lot of line work and design on them including a Big Top, Ringmaster, Lobster Boy, Fire Eater, Bearded Lady and a Strong Man holding it all together.

Bicycle Sideshow Freaks circus playing cards monkey joker ringmaster seer fortune teller crystal ball conjoined twins rat boy sword swallower tattoo lady

Here we have the two Jokers, which are monkeys, naturally!
In Spades: a Fortune Teller, Conjoined Twins and a...Rat Boy? Is that a thing? The Ace is a bit mischievous with his handlebar mustache. Representing the Clubs: a Sword Swallower, Tattooed Lady and...maybe a Lobster Boy? There is a Lobster Boy on the card back but they don't look that similar so I'm not sure what the Jack is.

Bicycle Sideshow Freaks circus playing cards

Here's a closeup so you can see the art better. It's relatively simple but again fits the circus poster motif perfectly. The characters' costumes have an exotic design to them. The traditional reds and blacks are more muted color than your average playing cards.

Bicycle Sideshow Freaks circus playing cards

It's funny, when I was arranging the cards I didn't even notice I had separated them by reds and blacks! On another side note: I don't get along well with photographing shiny things. I either need a lighting mentor or, more likely, a better studio. And by studio, I mean top of my dryer, some colored poster sheets and a pair of desk lamps. A little TMI for you!

Back to the cards! The Diamonds hold a Snake Man, Bearded Lady and the somewhat creepy Ringmaster, who seems very Jack Skellington-esque. Rounding things out, Hearts boasts a Strong Man, Contortionist and Fire Eater.

I really do like the court cards in this deck but I was secretly hoping all of them would have some sort of carnival artwork on them. Aside from the slight difference in the reds/blacks, the numeric cards look just like those of a standard deck. Other than that, I highly recommend this deck if you enjoy the circus!


  1. I got a kick out of what you wrote about the "Rat Boy" because I was going to ask you who that was on the card! Maybe a performer with trained rats? I saw someone perform with trained house cats once, so who knows. I like that Snidely Whiplash type character on the Ace of Spades.

    As far as taking photos of shiny objects, that can be a challenge! I've had some good luck by taking photos outdoors, on a non-windy day, in the late afternoon to early evening. Then the light isn't too glarey. If I remember correctly, I took those Alchemy II photos around 6:00-7:00 PM. There definitely wasn't too much sun bouncing off the cards then!

    1. I'm not sure if that's what he's supposed to be but he does have buck teeth and an elongated head!

      Ah yes, the mythic "golden hour" of shooting. I'm mostly too lazy to go outside and our yard gets the most sun midday when it's overhead due to the trees around it. Plus I have to setup a place to shoot. Doing small figures in the back yard is much easier because the yard serves as background.

  2. I've been reading some Bradbury short stories lately and these beautiful cards are now putting me in the mood to reread 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'! :)

    1. Ooh, yes. And it is getting to be about that time!

  3. Replies
    1. Yes they are, I got another deck with them that I'll be posting probably next week that has a lot more art in it.