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Joe Karson Compilation
by Joe Karson & Michael E. Rose


(1 review, 5 customer ratings) ★★★★★

Joe Karson Compilation by Joe Karson & Michael E. Rose

Joe Karson's writings cover the whole spectrum of magic, from cards and mentalism to stage illusions and everything in between. Karson was very creative and prolific. Although most readers will be interested in the secrets contained here, this compilation of his publications also serves another purpose. By bringing the material to the attention of modern magicians they become documentation of the credit due to Karson for his creations. Most magicians are aware that the Zombie Floating Ball is Karson's invention. However, there are other effects that Karson created but somehow, over the years, his name has become disassociated with the effects. For instance, in Karson's 1943 booklet, Illusion Magic, the reader will find "The Rubberneck Illusion." This is more commonly known today as the Head Twister, and it is a staple of modern comedy magic acts. But seldom is Karson's name associated with this effect and probably very few of the performers who present the trick have any idea that it was invented by the same man that gave us Zombie.

Karson was also a very entertaining and funny performer (he often stole the show when he performed at magic conventions in the 1940's). And although most of his trick writeups don't include too much in the way of scripting, there is one notable exception. In 1948 he published The World's Fastest Card Trick (also available as individual ebook). This little booklet gives the complete details for performing one of Karson's signature effects. Although it is pretty much just a framework for a simple card revelation, the booklet includes all the nuances and scripting Karson used to turn this simple card trick into a comedy blockbuster. This trick alone could be "worth the price of admission" to a comedy performer.

You can now own all of Joe Karson's publications on one disc. The ebook is organized into three main sections: books, magazine and instruction sheets. (See below in Table of Contents a list of all publications.)

1st edition 2006, 268 pages.

  1. The Books
  2. Chan Lin Chinese Magic Mystery Series
  3. Complete Club Act
  4. Complete Mental Club Act
  5. Famous Magic Release No. 1
  6. Famous Magic Release No. 2
  7. Hypnotricks (first edition)
  8. Hypnotricks (second edition)
  9. Illusion Magic (first edition)
  10. Illusion Magic (second edition)
  11. Karson's Rope Thru Body
  12. Magic A La Mode
  13. Mentalia Superba
  14. Miniature Mysteries
  15. On the House
  16. Sensational Poison Swallowing Act
  17. The World's Fastest Card Trick
  18. Tips on Zombie
  19. Trix with Round Cards
  20. The Magazine
  21. No. 1
  22. No. 2
  23. No. 3
  24. No. 4
  25. No. 5
  26. No. 6
  27. The Instruction Sheets
  28. Allay Oop
  29. Hand Thru Body Illusion
  30. Crystal Card Rise
  31. Karson's 50-50 Rope Miracle
  32. Karson's Flash
  33. Karson's Jewel of a Case
  34. Karson's Magic Milk Can
  35. Karson's Oriental Butterfly
  36. Karson's Rice Trick
  37. Karson's Rubberneck Illusion
  38. Karson's Servette
  39. Karson's Tray and Eggs
  40. Karson's Triple Triumph
  41. Karson's 20th Century Suspension
  42. Karson's X-Change-O
  43. Phantasia
  44. Poker Chip Monte
  45. Strange Interlude
  46. Voodoo

word count: 78625 which is equivalent to 314 standard pages of text

Reviewed by Christopher M. Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★   Date Added: Monday 17 July, 2023

Magic historians may know that Joe Karson invented the Zombie Floating Ball, but few magicians associate his name with it. When Karson first advertised Zombie in 1943, it was a sensation.

However, due to alcoholism, he slipped into obscurity and disappeared from the magic community, dying in 1980 at age 67.

The Joe Karson Compilation is a collection of books, magazines, and instruction sheets created by magician Joe Karson. Author and magician Michael E. Rose has compiled these long-lost materials to introduce modern performers to this forgotten icon and his creations.

Joseph Alexander Chrzanowski, also known as Joe Karson, was born on November 12th, 1912, in Providence, Rhode Island. As a child, he became interested in magic after seeing a local magician, and by the age of sixteen was working behind the counter at a magic shop in Springfield, Massachusetts, and performing his Asian-themed magic act around New England.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Karson became a popular comedic performer, frequently stealing the show at magic conventions.

He made a name for himself as a magic dealer by founding the Magic Dealers' Association, inventing and building much of the illusions he sold in his Springfield, Massachusetts shop named Karson's Xclusives.

Karson's Xclusives published booklets on various types of magic, including Illusion Magic in 1943, featuring "The Rubberneck Illusion." This gadget, now known as the Head Twister, is still used in many Las Vegas comedy magic acts.

Get all of Joe Karson's publications in one PDF for only $24.00. Discover the secrets behind his original card tricks, hypnotism, stage illusions, and more in 268 pages.

Most of Karson's published tricks lack patter, but his signature effect, The World's Fastest Card Trick, is explained in an eight-page pamphlet, including the scripting and subtleties that Karson used. The trick is simple, but it can become a comedy masterpiece with the right performer.

Two-person codes are always a winner with me, and the Karson Kard Kode is an easy, practical addition to any telepathy act.

Other highlights include a two-part work on hypnotrix, which are pseudo-scientific body tricks made to resemble genuine hypnotism.

My favorite thing about the Karson collection is his disregard for safety, as he published the secret methods for performing a dangerous bullet catch and the controversial pseudo-hypnosis trick, "The Subject Sleeps in One Minute." This "trick" involves applying pressure to a spectator's neck that can cause the subject to blackout or even die.

A 1934 booklet called "Sensational Poison Swallowing Act" teaches how to perform an entire act, making the audience believe the performer resists poisons.

Please don't try this one at home (or at all!)

Another favorite but less dangerous trick is a simple levitation using only a sheet and an assistant, reducing a typically cumbersome stage illusion to the bare bones.

As a magic book collector, I found the Joe Karson compilation to be a glimpse into the mind of a creative and prolific writer. Still, there's plenty of material that modern performers can use.

About the author:

Michael Rose has been a professional magician since he was young, starting his interest in magic at the age of eight when he received an Adams magic set. He has performed his comedy magic all over the United States and Canada in various settings, including dinner theaters, corporate events, street performing, and even at a Presidential Inauguration. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Society of American Magicians, and the Magic Collectors' Association.