Martin Lewis has passed away at the age of 74. I've been reading comments and tributes from friends and fans. One thing is very clear; Martin Lewis is very highly respected by magicians from around the world.
Rightly so! I believe he receives this admiration because he showed so much respect for magic and magicians. It's quite remarkable to consider he is responsible for two major modern magic classics, and one more minor classic.
Cardiographic - I've performed it! The sketchpad card rise which has birthed an entire genre of magic. I've heard that Martin was regularly asked for permission to release variations on his effect, and most often declined unless it was a significant variation. I won't be surprised to see more of these insignificant versions being released soon. ?
Sidewalk Shuffle - I've performed it! His changes to “The Only Three Card Trick With Four Cards” (by Joe Riding) has become one of, if not the most popular version of this monte routine. It's a favourite among trade show performers because it's so easy to make a custom-branded set with a company logo.
Technicolor Prediction - I perform it! I'd call this a “minor” classic as I don't see it as often as the others, but it's my personal favourite. Once again (so far as I know) it's an original effect and plot invented by Martin, which has spawned many variations. Even Martin has multiple versions. The one in his book is different from the dealer's item prop, which is different from his “Pocket Technicolor Prediction” .
And right there seems to be the secret to his success as a magic creator. He didn't “stop thinking too soon.” Again, in his book “Martin's Miracles” the write-up for Sidewalk Shuffle is immediately followed by another four card monte type effect, The Very Odd Card, undoubtedly a result of thorough explorations on the concept. His new book "Making Magic" shares another variation for a non-gimmicked handling.
Cardiographic has also seen multiple upgrades over the years.
His routines for the Senor Mardo Egg Bag, or the Nankin Tamasudare (bamboo mat) have become the gold standard because he would focus on every detail before sharing his work with the magic community.
Simply put, the name Martin Lewis is a hallmark for the best magic has to offer. That is not going to change.
If you'd like to spend some time with Martin, you can watch his 2018 act from the Magic Castle Parlour.
While we get to continue performing these miracles, Martin's miracles are also a continuation of miracles as his father, Eric C. Lewis, was also a profoundly creative magician.
I wasn't in magic (and mostly not born yet) when Eric Lewis was working at his peak, so I don't have any personal sense of his reputation or fame at the time. It seems like he was mostly supporting cast for those in the spotlight, working as a creator, builder, and consultant. As such, I feel like his work is mostly ‘under the radar’ and well worth more attention. Martin's apple did not fall far from the creative and detail-oriented tree.
A couple weeks back I showed you Edward Victor's “My Rope Trick,” which was a major influence in rope magic ever-after. In my research last week I came upon Eric Lewis' Rope Routine and, well, listen to this from the introduction;
This involves a completely new way of apparently cutting the center of the rope while actually only cutting off a short piece. The most popular way of doing this has for many years been the Edward Victor move*. But one day I was showing this new move to Edward Victor himself, and as I was about to make the cut, he remarked: "But you will be cutting the center!" Upon demonstrating it to him he told me that this would be the way he did it in future. This to me is a great recommendation because Edward Victor was one of England's greatest sleight of hand men.
It certainly caught my eye, and turns out… it's not bragging if it's true.
It's a really nice adaptation of the “standard” method and, like Edward Victor, I think I just might be doing it that way in the future as well! In fact, the entire three-phase routine is extremely good for a parlor-sized show. (you can buy the booklet from Magic Inc if you're interested)
I'd be keen to learn and perform the routine as-is, except that I'm working towards a new no-audience-involvement routine right now. You will see this particular move in action once I finish my new routine… I'll share a video when it's ready.
The father-and-son Lewis magic dynasty was all too brief, but has left behind a treasure of miracles, and mysteries to study. I hope you are feeling inspired to pull a book off the shelf and pay a visit.
As we stand on the shoulders of giants, Eric and Martin Lewis have helped us see a little farther.
*For the record: What Eric Lewis calls “the Edward Victor move” is not the part that Edward Victor created. The common move to create a small loop for cutting “the middle” is credited to Mihlon Clayton in “A Rope Trick You Can Do” (1931)