Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Art for Unproduced Stormbringer Animated Movie

Image: Wendy Pini via Boing Boing (click pick to visit book online)
So this is pretty cool--apparently, Wendy Pini, the artist behind the Elfquest series attempted to get Michael Moorcock's Stormbringer made into an animated feature back in the 80s. While the movie didn't happen (obviously) Richard Pini, (her husband and Elfquest's co-writer) brought the book to the web and you can click through the illustrations. While I can't say I've counted myself an Elfquest fan, the artwork is quite wonderful. Huge props to Boing Boing for the story. Pini also recounts the effort to get the film made.

A word to the wise, the book's website may take a moment to load (it did for me anyway) as a little timer pops up in lower right corner between pictures, so be patient!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

From the Vault: Green Dragon Lurker

Just a quick post to show off my all-time favorite dragon figure. It's just a plain, green dragon with an old school feel because, well, it's old! It was included in the Forest of Doom playset made by Dimensions for Children (DFC) in '81.

It was part of the Dragon Riders of the Styx series (so I'm told). Reis over at Geek Orthodox did a lengthy post on the whole series a while back, so I'll let him fill you in on the details. Some of the photos over there weren't holding up when I checked, but here's hoping they are back up. Here's an alternate set of photos just in case (scroll down a bit).

Anyway, who can resist this little guy? What a great pose!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What constitutes a new edition of a game?

Specifically: a board game. I have a reason for my rant, which I'll get to in a second. First, let's ponder the question. What makes a new edition of game "new"? Is it new box art? Different playing pieces? A new set of rules? Is it the fact that a game manufacturer says it's new?

What if just the box is different? I'm looking for input here people.

Here's why: I was noodling around on Board Game Geek and saw a gap in the database--that is, I saw a game that didn't have an fairly prominent edition listed. I won't go into specifics in this post, but sufficed to say that the game is very well known, and considered a family type board game.

I submitted the game (three actually) for entry into the BGG database--even had dozens of photos of my copies at home ready to upload. The answer was swift, it took less than 24 hours: Denied!

Denied? The reason? Why it's elementary--there's really no reason to have multiple entries for these was the response I got back. I did my best to present a rational argument that several games have different pages for each edition--including the ones I'm proposing--why what's up with the denial bro?

So, what say you gentle readers? Am I off base here? Is an edition an edition an edition? Or should a game get one entry no matter how many times it's been reprinted....in the last 65 years?

*Photos: Board Game Geek; and no, these were not the ones I was proposing.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Legendary Encounter (Painted!) Minis

It's not the size of the mace, it's the size of the guy who swings it!

So Reaper Miniatures has released a new slew of Legendary Encounter minis (their pre-painted/plastics line) and I picked up a few at the Source last weekend.

I'm a big fan of these as I'm artistically challenged (this is familiar territory) and these little guys look better than the Wizards of the Coast line. In fact, it appears that Reaper has improved the quality of their paint applications making these a great value. My only problem is the selection of figs. It's not too many and we waited more than a year for this wave to be shipped. A wave of FIVE figures mind you. Also, Reaper chose one of the figures for this wave to be...a giant spider.

Yeah, it's got a nice sculpt and the paint job's pretty good--but seriously? Anyone could find a stupid plastic spider in just about any toy isle in Walgreens. (That's where I found mine.) I'd much would have rather had my hands on any number of nasties. This was just a poor choice on Reaper's part.
But I'm professionally painted!
(This pic isn't mine because I didn't pick it up. And I won't. Out of principle!

The rest of the rogues gallery fills out quite nicely, including:

A werewolf...
A mean lookin' bugbear....

And some much needed goblins!
Not a bad selection overall. I really hope Reaper continues this line, though I'd be much obliged if they'd be smarter about which monsters/characters would be most appealing. I already have several of these and I'm quite happy with them overall.

"You don't look like you're from around here."


Yes, well, I'm back posting again after, er, two months (really? that long?). For those who did read this blog (all 3 of you) I thank you humbly for your patronage. I've not been absent entirely though--I think many of you have seen me commenting from time to time on other blogs. Anyway, fall is here and that means more time indoors and more blogging.

A preview of a few ideas I'm working on:

Cover art encounters - BBG has a great recent post on the evolution of D&D covers and it got me thinking: have you ever picked up a book or module expecting to play the scenario on the cover only find that it's NOT in there? Have you ever scrapped the text in favor of recreating the scene on the cover? Stay tuned on that one.

Make a mini game - I've been really inspired by what's going on over at Paladin's blog about mini/micro games. (Not sure which is more correct--or maybe they should be called nano-games??) Anyway, he's got quite the collection and a great deal of knowledge/experience with the little buggers. It was his posts that inspired me to pick up Dungeoneer last week. In addition, I picked up HeroCard Orc Wars. Both are card-based games and OW actually includes beautiful tiles and some minis.

This is all leading me towards a passion project I've wanted to do in mashing up rules-lite RPGs with board games. I've been obsessed with trying to revamp the old Dungeon! game and I've started/stalled about a half-dozen times. I think I read somewhere that another blogger was doing the same and I'll be damned if I can't find his posts at the moment. Every time I think I'll lean more RPG I find some cool new board game or vice versa. And then Dungeons and Digressions had to go and post this. Which completely overloaded my circuits with joy and jealousy. :)

In any case, this is
always on my mind, so expect some updates.

Geekish encounters/musings - My nerdliness knows no bounds, and I've recently run into a few local writers and illustrators so I'll make a few posts about the folks doing great work here in the Twin Cities.

Minis, bad sketches, etc. - Don't think for a second that I won't post about the cool minis that I've been amassing. And the bad sketches will continue until morale improves. Or until my drawing ability does. (Don't bet on either.)

That's all for now, be ready for more!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pirates vs. Undead, Pt. 2

So I wanted to post close-ups of some of the pirate and skeleton characters I mentioned a while back. When I found them in the toy shop out east, I was surprised that for they were actually painted considering how cheap they were (under $10 or so). Now they're not exactly Rembrants, but considering they were like 20 to a pack plus accessories, that's a pretty good deal.

So here's a few shots of the pirates, I've given them names:
Shipwright Dooley

Hale O'Volley

Chopper Daniels

Blackpowder Billy

First Mate Collins

...and Captain Crabbacke!

Next time: Skeleton warriors!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Beware the Blue Oriental Dragon!

I had blogged earlier about the virtues of using toy figures for gaming. In a little back-and-forth on the comments at Back in '81 I mentioned posting a few pics of the Safari Ltd. blue dragon. They call it a Chinese dragon (also known as a lung dragon) but I'd like to think she'd be just as easily found in other nearby Asian regions. Here's a few choice shots:

Profile with Reaper Miniatures knight (from the Legendary Encounters collection of pre-painted minis).

Big 'ol dragon booty. Be nice, just because her back is turned doesn't mean she can't hear you.

Now where did that dragon run off to?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pirates vs. Undead, Part I


Two summers ago I picked up a couple of pirate figures while visiting family on the East Coast. I stopped in at toy shop and found these great pirate figures--about the same size as little green army men. They came with a bevy of pirate accessories: a dinghy with oars, a few sacks and crates of cargo, a ladder (!), and the requisite treasure chest with gold. The accessories are nothing to write home about (hence the lack of pics) but the figure pack has some darn decent minis and they were cheap too: about $8.99!

And that's not all! It came with a horde of scurvy, undead scoundrels! No doubt they're angry about having their sandy graves disturbed by the pirates trying to bury their treasure. The photos aren't lit so great, but you can click to enlarge and see some detail.

So of course you know this means war....
The trusty first mate leads a scrappy landing party through the wretched undead mob....

...on his way to rescue the Cap'n!

Is there anything better than pirates and skeletons duking it out??!

Enjoy landlubbers!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back At It...

Well I've had a very busy last few months, and I thought it was time to get my act together and get back to posting. I'll be posting some more mini photos soon, but I thought perhaps a preview might be in order....
See you soon!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thrifty Gaming Doesn't Have to Look Cheap!

I just commented over at Grognardia about using figures for gaming. I'm re-posting some of that material here.

Okay, so most RPGs use metal minis, which I love and I have far too many of. As a result, I'm big on being thrifty when it comes to stocking the monster lair--at least in comparison to what you typically pay for figures. For instance, an unpainted metal miniature of a dragon can be pretty steep.

So about a year ago, I began finding "bargains" by looking for toy figures that could double as miniatures in games. This is not new--I'm certainly not the first to do this. But I have founds some that suit my tastes and instead of plopping down $40 for an unpainted dragon, I found nice $12-$20 ones that are nicely sculpted, usually really well painted, and are way cheaper.

There are two toy companies that I've found to meet those three criteria: Papo and Safari Toys. (Papo is a French company from what I can tell that has no proper website, sorry.) *UPDATE: Papo DOES have a website!

Figures range from $3 and up. Apart from monsters, I found some reasonably-priced figures for around $4 or $5.

Now most of the figures in both lines are in the 3 and 3/4 range--your typical action figure (Star Wars, GI Joes, etc.) scale. But with some creativity you can use some creatures to great effect by making them look larger in comparison with most 1:25 or 1:28 gaming miniatures.

I have figures from both Papo and Safari and they each offer products adaptable to gaming. The downside is Papo isn't sold in the Twin Cities as much as it used to be. In fact, the two places I used to get them from have dropped them from their inventories in favor of Schleigh figures.

Schleigh is another company that's been taking over the medieval knight market. They have highly detailed figures with even better paint jobs, but their cost per figure-is much higher -$8-$15!!--and they don't offer a really diverse selection of beasties. Schleighs are becoming like a bad penny, turning up at every Target and crafty-kids toy store. While they deserve props for their animals, dinosaurs, and wild west lines (of which Papo and Safari have similar themes) they also hold the Smurf license. Admirable, yes, but that's another story for another time.

For my money, the Papo figures are much more imaginative because they offer many more fantasy monsters. Case in point: the Papo dwarf makes a great Fire Giant!

(That's a Reaper pre-painted plastic next to him for scale.)

Schilling* makes quite the dapper cyclops...

Papo makes the dragon at the beginning of this post. Safari Toys makes a plucky hydra.

Safari is nice because they make the Carnegie Collection which is their line of realistically detailed dinos and animals. Named for the famous entrepreneur and philanthropist who funded libraries and museums, no doubt.

So the reason that I love using these in games because even if they get up to to $20, their paint jobs are usually equal to or better than D&D minis, which often look blotchy to me, and the sculpts are still very detailed without getting bent or misshapen (a common occurrence with D&D figs). Metal minis, as I said before, cannot realistically compete. Painting and preparing metal miniatures is an entirely different pursuit that can become a hobby in, and of itself.

Other options for highly detailed baddies include Spawn creator Todd McFarlane's dragons series. However, some of those are hit or miss as far as durability or they are a little cheesy. Plus it's the guy who created Spawn and I'm not about to reward him for that. As a result I only have one or two of these guys. The rest are too over-the-top for my tastes with dragons clutching crystal balls and shit.

Anyway, just a little insight into keeping some extra cash in your pocket while getting some really great figures for your games. Ultimately, the cheapest option is to not buy anything--but who wants to do that?!

Note: Since the lighting is not great, I linked all pics to full-sized versions via Imageshack so you can at least see details. Your browser should give you a magnifying glass with a "+" so you can zoom in.

*UPDATE: Shout out to Back in '81, for catching that the cyclops is not a Papo figure. I didn't do my homework apparently! He's actually called "cyclopes" and is part of Schilling's Greek mythology line. I also made a few tweaks throughout this post, including adding some links and tidying up a bit. :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Box Set RPG Idea!

Okay, so I was commenting over at Grognardia one of my favorite Internet haunts in the retro-clone/old-school gaming community about a box set for Swords and Wizardry. S&W is a free RPG that sort of simplifies D&D and makes it accessible to everyone:
  • It's license free
  • The artwork is all by gamers for gamers
  • They even supply an MS Word file of the rules so you could hack your own ruleset--how cool is that!
I'll go into the specifics of my fascination with retro-clones some other time, but just know that I'm a big fan of anything you own is yours to pick apart and play with as you choose. This goes for gadgets as well.

In any case, it came up that one of the commentors had the happy dilemma of trying to figure out what type of bare-bones RPG to give to a nephew: a box set or a booklet. The box set has the distinct advantage of being this cool little kit of goodies. And I'm all about the goodies!

So here was my idea:

STEP 1: Get a box! I'm thinking about 9.5" x 6.5" x 1.25".

STEP 2: Make a top and back cover for it using free fantasy art. Try also Library of Congress using "monster" as your keyword.

STEP 3: Download the free PDF of Swords and Wizardry box set (or which ever version you prefer). Don't forget to get some character sheets!

STEP 4: Bookletize the PDFs; customize the cover with some more free art.*

STEP 5: Throw in some gaming dice, some nice inexpensive minis, and voila! You have a nice little gift set for your favorite little eye-gouger!

Now you could do all kinds of things to dress up the box set. If it's a gift, you likely could take artwork from anywhere like Deviant Art, etc. Just DON'T sell it--since it belongs to someone who worked hard to create it. Or better yet, make your own artwork (if you're more talented than say, me...)

You could also go nuts on minis (Reaper or D&D), dice, etc. Personally, I'd like an "advanced" set to have some dungeon tiles and maybe treasure/item cards, just to make it fun.

Variation: Superhero RPG
I learned to play RPGs on the old TSR Marvel Super Heroes game. A few tweaks with the art using free comics covers and some supers (via ebay if it's Heroclix, cause they went under). There are plenty of other hero minis too. Ostensibly you could do this with any theme, but the idea of a vintage comic cover as a 'game' is just extremely awesome in every way possible.

...now if only they still made the dice you had to color in with crayons like in the old days...

They DO! They DO SELL THEM!!

*Props to Eiglophian Press for the booklet idea.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Normally I eschew "my life is busy right now" posts, but in this case that's accurate. I'm leaving for Seattle next week for a business trip that goes more than a week. I've never been to the Emerald City, so I'm pretty excited. The downside is I'm doing triple-duty on work to get ready. In the last few months I've been taking over another job from not one but two ladies who were out on maternity leave.

Now that one of them is back, I thought the flurry of work would subside a bit (notice I said "a bit"). But in fact, it's not slowed at all. On the contrary, I'm still doing that work, plus my own "real" job, plus additional duties.

In any case, expect regular posts to resume when I get back. The downside is I think I'll miss out on the contest, but I will continue to improve my skills and possibly even still submit my art at some point.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


This drawing by Jeff Dee comes real close to capturing the essence of my EOC idea. I just saw this posted over at Back in '81 (props!) and remembered Dee's work on the "Queen of the Demonweb Pits adventure module. I'd sort of gotten down on myself about how I was going to solve some composition issues in my idea, and this is such a great pose--that I was inspired to think about it in a different way. I really love the facial expression too--perfectly exhibits his dilemma dontcha' think?

Now, my idea was to have a wizard with one last charge--so he's not quite at 'fizzle' but I imagine he would have a similar expression. Also, I like his proximity to the viewer.

Assuming my skills can be improved upon--given the time constraints--I'd love to pay homage to Mr. Dee's whimsical work!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Random Sketch 04: Egyptian Wizard

Now this guy has something happening! I'm not sure what I was doing here--it wasn't Marvelesque--but I do think that I sort of captured the spirit of the character on his own. To be honest, I'm not thrilled with his caricature-like features (big shoulders, tiny legs, etc.) but I do like his face and I dig the hat. When it comes to drawing, I'm much more a fan of stylized realism ala Alex Raymond. Something a little more straight-laced and less cartoony (e.g., super-deformed). Though, I admit there are exeptions.

I recently picked up a War Gods miniature that's kind of in the same vein. I dig the idea of an wizard from an ancient land like Egypt where the magic is truly arcane and probably a little bit scary!

I gave this guy a familiar in the form of a sacred ibis, an Egyptian crane that was worshiped and highly revered. It seemed to make an ideal partner for a desert conjurer. Sort of like an owl playing the wingman to the European wizard template.

I also gave the wiz an Egyptian ceremonial staff instead of the traditional magic wand or rod, again to lend a more conscious allusion to his creed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Random Sketch 03: Meet Bruno Knickerbocker!

This was another attempted Marvel pose. Better than the previous Marvel-inspired ninja figure. I have this weird problem with feet and legs. Sometimes they turn out, other times their just mis-shapen. In any case, Bruno deserves better!

I picture him as a sort of pulp-action hero, who can throw haymaker punches and....sports a nice scarf. (Apparently).


Friday, February 27, 2009

Random Sketch 02: Scourge of the Skies!


Half-man, half-vulture, Vultax hungers for heroes--dead or alive. He may be balding, but he sports wings and bad beak breath. Plus he works out.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Who is Erol Otus?

You mean you don't know? Erol Otus is one of the most unique and beloved fantasy artists from the early days of the genre! He's also my all-time favorite fantasy illustrator. He designed many product covers for TSR hobbies in the 70s and 80s and took things in a more psychedelic direction.

Some of Otus' work has graced the early Dungeons and Dragons basic books and game sets. Below is one my favorites.
Click for a big, detailed looksee.

I love his artwork because it's colorful, it's expressive, and it's evocative. Much of the fantasy art that's prevalent today is almost photo-realistic, or trying to emulate a sustained, conventional approach. The result can be a muting of imagination. But not Otus--his stuff is wild and very personal. It's definitely his own persona showing through. In my mind, that's true art.

Otus' contemporary Jim Roslof did illustrations in a similar vein. Roslof is credited with creating the box top of my favorite board game, a fact I wasn't aware of until this year! Imagine going decades believing the art was Otus'!

You can see many similarities between the two. Both employ an almost surreal effect in portraying monsters. The adventurers also have a lot in common, including the way they're drawn and in terms of color and adornments. But if you look closely, the artists don't use light the same way. Both pieces are quite colorful, but Otus' D&D cover is moodier. He won't let his light travel too far--just a few reflections off the dragon's snout (from the torch) and off the sorceress' arm (the green glowing ball). I'm still not entirely sure where the room light is coming from--which gives it an eerie, unsettling feeling. It's quite clear in the Roslof piece that the light is coming from three different sources--behind the monster (what the hell is that thing?!), the wizard's staff, and the treasure. Much brighter all around, and yet these two pieces seem to use similar color palettes.

I was surprised and delighted to learn of Roslof's work this year and now I count him among my favorites. Kind of a nice surprise--now there's another artist who's work I wasn't aware that I loved!

Anyway, when I saw the notice for the contest I thought this would be a great opportunity to practice my own decidedly pathetic art skills. While there are prizes, I really just wanted to be able to improve my drawing abilities (ha!) and have fun.

Learn more about Erol Otus and his work. Props to fellow Otus enthusiast and avid gamer Jeff Reints for his wonderful efforts to document Erol's work.

Contest Practice: Appetizer!

So I've been practicing with my EOC drawing pieces a little at a time. I spent some time on the wizard, now I'm working on the hapless victims.
If you look at the concept I quickly sketched out this would be hapless victim number 1 (going from right to left). This character is prone and bleeding in the concept image. But I was really focusing on getting the pose down in this sketch. I had extra space and thought it would be good to give the victim something which to be afraid. So I added a happy little dragon.

The HTDTMW is helping with some good poses. I call this one "Appetizer" since, well, you get the idea...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

No PhotoShop

Yeah, so my non-skills in drawing are dwarfed only by my non-skills in preparing images for the scanner. I don't have a current version of PhotoShop and if I did, I wouldn't know how to use it. So, what I do have is the crappy Microsoft image program that came with my computer and the scanner software.

What I've learned in the last few scans I've done is that my scanner is really light. To fix this, MS has thankfully added an 'auto-correct' button. Yup, I went there auto-correct. Now, I know what you're thinking, and you're right--it's totally bush league of me to use that button. If I cared at all about my sketches--my earnest and plucky works of art--I'd somehow acquire a decent program and learn how to use it.

But realistically, that just ain't going to happen. So, without further adieu, let me demonstrate the wonders of auto-correct:


Faint pencil lines get lost. Not a lot of contrast. It's just all-around tough to see. Okay, now check out the...


Digital bastardization is great for darkening lines. It's like night and day, right? Yeah, well, it's better than nothing. Bonus: feel free to click and enlarge those suckers to really get a sense of my "fine technical skills."

Learn to love it folks, because this is the pinnacle of image quality on this blog. Or it will, at least, until i learn to work better with the scanner. Just be glad I'm not taking photos with my phone!

Random Sketch 01: Do it the MARVEL Way!

So, I've been practice sketching a few pieces of the Erol Otus Competition (EOC) piece along with just random doodles. I think the idea of the EOC has me freaked out a bit--so it's easier just to whip out a random sketch here or there that has no bearing on the piece, but still gives me a chance to practice. My skills aren't exactly progressing the way I would like, but I have enlisted help....

Meet Mr. Stan Lee and Mr. John Buscema!

That's right, there's no easy road to perfection or greatness, but there are shortcuts to mediocrity and by Jove I've found one! "How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way" (Hereafter refered to by the ridiculous acronym HTDTMW) is actually a wonderful book if you're just learning to sketch and want to infuse your characters/human figures with dynamic poses. There's also a basic lesson on perspective that comes in handy. Now, I've read about a dozen or so sketch books in my time and they are all the same:
  • Step 1: Basic shapes
  • Step 2: Perspective
  • Step 3: Human figures - loose sketches
  • Step 4: Filling in the details
  • Step 5: Steve Buscema's drawings look nothing like the crap you just took on that piece of paper. Please re-read steps 1-4 until you get it right!
That's about the jist of it.

So I took a crack at one mimicing one of the generic figure poses. Here is Marvel's rough of a hero punching:

My exercise of same, taken to a fleshed out Bandai-like ninja character:

Apologies to Marvel Comics on the image use, but I want to illustrate how my lack of skill compared to their talented instruction.

The drawing is not great. So it's back to studying steps 1-4 again and practicing until I get it right! However, I would like to point out that I did take a few liberties, in the way of open hands, some costume elements, as well as a weapon/accessory. I even tried to make the ninja star look dynamic by making it bigger in the foreground as a way of adding perspective.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Art Contest!

Okay, so I'm not an artist. I've always WANTED to draw, I've TRIED to draw, but my talent is--in a word--lacking. But I saw this Erol Otus fantasy illustration contest (more on E.O later) and I thought I'd give it a shot. The illustrations will be used in a sort of homegrown fantasy role playing game magazine called Fight On! and so they should reflect adventuring party situations that could happen during play. Entrants are given three themes by which to create their artwork:
  • The Adventure Takes a Surprising Twist
  • One Charge Left
  • Overland
I chose "One Charge Left" because the phrase instantly gave me an idea...

Yeah, it's just AWFUL isn't it? That's because my drawing skills suck. As a matter of fact, one reason I began this blog was to document my shamefully poor skills--and hopefully--improve on them. See I have until May 2, 2009 to submit my illustration. So I figure I'll practice, work on ideas, and use the blog to track my progress. And you, poor reader, can suffer right along with me.

I created the concept sketch as soon as I saw the posting for the contest today (surfing at work, no less!). So let the record stand--today I had a terrible idea and put it down on paper--terribly!

Okay, so let me explain what's going on in the sketch. Those are two victims about to get squished by a giant's foot in some sort of adventure. That's a wizard in the foreground. No, that's not a baguette he's holding. It's a wand with...are you ready? One. LAST. Charge. Clever, huh?

No. It isn't. But I have some ideas on making it work. Anyway, I forgot to mention my disclaimer:

Let me just make it absolutely clear right now that I am not (obviously!) a professional or trained artist. I have zero ability. I'm as amateur as it gets. In fact, amateurs will hide their eyes in embarrassment (as you likely did) when viewing my "work."

I doodle a lot. but really, who doesn't? Nothing anyone could look at. And I break into a sweat anytime anyone looks at something I draw. Seriously, it's just mortifying!

When I got home this evening, I did a few additional sketches. This one is an attempt to flesh out some of the details in the concept:

Yes, equally full of suck as the first one. Let's pray things improve, shall we? Hopefully you can see what I'm trying to do here--both in way of skill and in the actual composition. I selected the wizard as a character exercise. See, in the original concept the wizard is really torn between spending the last 'charge' contained in his wand on saving his friends, or in using it to get out of the dungeon with treasure he has in hand. His buddies are pretty much doomed in his eyes, but they are his buddies afterall....so...yeah...awkward....

Anyway, I think there are several elements key to the success of the wizard in this piece"
  1. Wizard's dilemma simplified so one can see a wand in one hand, treasure in the other
  2. How should the wizard's body be posed? Facing friends/gory mess? Or should he already be turning his back on them and facing the viewer?
  3. Wizard's wand needs to show visually the idea of 'one charge left'
  4. Should wizard have a look of consternation/indecision on his face? Or should it be one of quiet resignation? How the @#$% do I draw quiet resignation??!
On point 3, I thought it would be neat to show this 'last charge left' as a series of magic gems embedded in the wand. Two of the three gems are dark or 'used up'. One is still 'lit,' meaning it's his last chance to do something. Get the drift?

In any case, that hand holding the wand is wretched. I need to work on that.

My New Blog!

So I've been wanting to blog about completely fantastical things for a while. I've had all of these fun ideas rattling around in my brain. I thought about doing an entire blog on 'found' wizards. (You wouldn't believe how many there are in St. Paul.) Then I had an idea to do a blog on mythology (I'm a big Joseph Campbell fan) and about ancient heroes from long dead cultures slaying impossible creatures. Then there was another idea to do one on news stories that made me think of mythology--like the recent find of 30 mummies in a giant tomb in Egypt.

This fascination for magic, myth, wizards, swords and sorcery all began when I was a kid (of course). My mom bought me D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire. The illustrations in this book are pure imagination and absolute wonder:

What probably did me in for good though was the board game Dungeon! See I was given this game for a birthday or Christmas or something...but I NEVER played it. Sadly, there wasn't anyone my age at the time (about 8) that was interested in playing. I got older, became interested in other things like music and being cool (hello ladies!) and eventually forgot about it. My mom sold it when I was in junior high school at a garage sale. It wasn't until 2 years ago that I saw one on ebay....and I fell in love all over again.

And just look at the game board!

Click on the picture to see a larger version. I love the artwork, it's so colorful and fun. Every nook and cranny is crammed full of monsters of all sorts and shiny treasure. The whole board just screams of adventure! It's also damn-near primitive by today's fantasy art standards, which just makes me love it even more.

Now if there's one thing that epitomizes my love for this game, it's the wizard's spell card. The artwork on this version of the game (there were at least 3) is whimsical without being overly artsy. Every time I look at it, I think about when I first got the game, and how I so wanted to play it.

So it's fitting to christen the blog with the name...

Okay, I couldn't think of anything else. But at least I won't have to create some art for the masthead!