I came to Bob Ross fairly late in life. To me, due to a particular mix of circumstance and indifference, he was just that dude with the hair in the painting meme. All that changed in 2015, when Twitch had the brilliant idea to marathon The Joy of Painting, the half-hour happy trees show on PBS that Ross hosted from 1983 to 1994. It was a revelation: I discovered the sublime beauty of Ross' ASMR-like approach to art, and a lively Twitch chat that wasn't a complete sewer. It was one of the most wholesome experiences I've ever had on the internet.
Now Wizards of the Coast is looking to bring a bit of the Bob Ross magic to Magic: The Gathering. As reported by Vice, it's partnered with the Ross estate for a limited edition set of Magic cards called Happy Little Gathering. Each of Magic's five basic land types—plains, swamps, forests, islands, and mountains—will be represented by two of Ross' landscapes, and there will also be one for the Evolving Wilds card, which can transform into any other land type.
“You can do anything here — the only prerequisite is that it makes you happy.”This Bob Ross quote is applicable to painting, AND building your next Magic deck. ❤️https://t.co/xwmjoQu3Q9 pic.twitter.com/SP8404P8xhNovember 24, 2020
"While there weren’t a lot of options for swamps, there were some obvious choices. The island, mountain, and forest choices were plentiful," Wizards of the Coast senior creative art director Tom Jenkot said. "But the biggest achievement was finding a Bob Ross painting that worked for Evolving Wilds! The painting has a forest, mountain, water, plains, plus an unearthly glow on the underside of the wave to hit on the evolving aspect."
Bob Ross has enjoyed something of a low-key resurgence among gamers since his initial triumphant Twitch appearance. XCOM 2 mod maker MacReady created an unofficial (but very good) Bob Ross voice pack, another mod maker brought him into Fire Pro Wrestling World, Blizzard got in on the action earlier this year with a "Bob Ross or Diablo" quiz, and he even got his own Humble Bundle in 2018. But this may be the first time that his work, rather than the man himself, is the focus.
The Vice report, as far as I can tell, refers strictly to the physical version of Magic: The Gathering, but based on leaks out of Reddit earlier this month (which is where the image above comes from) it looks like it'll be released for Magic: The Gathering Arena as well. I've reached out to Wizards of the Coast to clarify and will update if I receive a reply.
The Happy Little Gathering set will be part of a limited run of Magic: The Gathering cards that will be available through the Secret Lair website from November 30 to December 14. The site itself will go live on November 25.