The Trapdoor, Volume 1
Issues [1-25] of Trapdoor magazine
520 pages. Hardbacked. Published and edited by Steve Beam
Overlooked by Al Smith
Trapdoor existed from 1983/98. This first collection runs from 1983/88.
Currently only available from Steve Beam at
This is the first of what will eventually be a three-volume set. It really is a massive effort and like most collections of this sort shows what a humongous amount of stuff there is in magazines. This volume also contains 56 pages of new material; comment, corrections, context (whatever that means) and cross references by title, contributor, and issue. There’s also an index.
Because of this wealth of material, any thought of itemising the contents is a non-starter. It’s mostly cards, but there are other items; coins, calculators, ropes, keys, watches and even one rather barmy item called A Trick With A Borrowed Dog.
Note that not all the card stuff is Mister Beam’s trademark Semi-Automatic. Such things are present, but there are also plenty of moves and move-related tricks and more than several flourishes. There are gags—verbal and prop related. I particularly liked a groan-laden take on the ancient 1089 prediction.
For a mostly card-orientated magazine/book, it’s perhaps a bit strange that a non-card item gets the magazine under way. Issue  kicks off with a variation of the venerable Chinese Compass. Sometimes called the M1 Traffic, or Road-Sign routine, Mister Beam says “It’s based on Bev Bergeron’s handling of Milbourne Christopher’s Traffic Sign.” Complete with patter, this is the kind of thing that any number of 21st Century revolutionary creators would bung onto a DVD and peddle for substantial sums. They might yet.
Contributors include Jeff White, Wayne Keyzer, John Riggs, Tom Craven, Harvey Rosenthal, Chris Ball, Aldo Colombini, Tom Gagnon, Gary Plants. Oh yes, and Steve Beam. This short list contains its share of familiar names, but one of the noticeable things is the absence of what might be termed the usual suspects. And a refreshing change that is. It’s continuing proof, for those who need it, that it’s not merely the “stars” who come with decent ideas. Perhaps the stars turn up in later volumes. If they do they’ll be hard put to improve the overall quality.
Although there is an abundance of tricks, like all decent magic publications, Trapdoor contains a variety of non-trick essays and articles. And these help to round out a rattling good collection.
© A.E. Smith, April 2011