Oct 102013
 

You’re probably all too aware by now that this year is Magic’s 20th anniversary. Well, today is my own little Magic-related 20th anniversary:

On Oct 10th, 1993, at Philadelphia Comicfest, I first met Magic art director Jesper Myrfors. I’d actually been trying to catch up with Richard Thomas, art director of White Wolf Games, and when I finally tracked him down he was with Jesper and both of them were happy to take a look through my portfolio.

It’s fair to say that little piece of happenstance was the biggest career-changing event in my life… thus far. Both of the art directors liked my art but it was Jesper who followed through with work. Two weeks later I was painting my first Magic card, by April 94 I was making my second-ever trip to the U.S. to visit Wizards of the Coast. In June 95 I moved to Seattle and worked full time at Wizards on the Magic backstory and met a great deal of new friends (many of whom I still know today), and my lovely Jilli who became my wife in Oct 97.

And all because of my timing at Comicfest 93.

Ah, it all makes me a bit melancholy thinking back on those crazy early days of Magic. There was that crazy rush of something new and unprecedented. Magic tournaments are still fun to attend but the electric buzz of those first few years can’t be beat.

I’ll leave you for now with a look at a couple of the sketch cards I produced for The Gathering Kickstarter.

Sketches20th

Minotaurs! No BS.

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Aug 272013
 

From The Maze…
I wrapped the artwork on Maze of Games a little over a week ago. The project became something much more intense, convoluted and altogether grander than we’d initially conceived. This is all for the good as the book’s author, Mike Selinker, has created a thoroughly fiendish puzzle-book (and novel).

I sat down with Mike for a quick chat about the artwork, and you can read all about it in one of the Kickstarter updates. I’ve posted my favorite piece – a rather gentlemanly minotaur – but if you’d like to see more art, just follow the link above.

Minotaur

…To The Grave
Next up, have you ever heard of Magic: The Gathering‘s graveyard?

No, not the one that’s in the game (or does it go by a different name now? I can’t keep up), but the art graveyard. This is where images that weren’t used on a card are placed in the hope of finding them a new home in another set. Usually these images find themselves without a home because the cards change a lot during development (which occurs at the same time as the art commissioning cycle) and sometimes the card they were created for is so radically changed that it needs entirely new artwork.

The worst fate for a card is to be “graveyarded” in the final set of a block while featuring a visual element that can’t be used outside that block. I have a Nezumi (rat creature) card meant for Saviors of Kamigawa that shared just that fate and will probably never see print.

Still, the biggest graveyard incident I can recall is when Unglued 2 was postponed after most of the art was already commissioned (no, I don’t remember why) and when it finally rose again as Unhinged, a large percentage of the art in the set couldn’t find a new home in the radically re-jiggered card selection. I had three Unglued 2 cards suffer that fate.

Usually, being stuck in the art graveyard means I’ll never be able to share that imagery with you unless it’s printed on a card some time in the future: The contracts are pretty firm on not showing unreleased art. However, something must have changed because recently Wizards ran an article on, coincidentally, minotaurs and they showed one of my unseen Unglued 2 pieces called “Fake I.D.”-

Fake ID

Bit of a surprise, but I’m happy to finally share this with you after… *peers at date on painting* …fourteen years! Good grief.

Oh, and I take full responsibility for the dumb jokes and continuity nods in the details of the “Udder Club” membership card.

Digging Deeper
Well, as you probably know, 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of Magic: The Gathering, and in the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing with you some art that was the next thing I did for M:TG after I wrapped up the combined commissions of Antiquities, Legends and The Dark. These pieces have never been seen on the internet before and frankly very few people have ever seen the art. They’ve also never been in the Magic art graveyard because… well, that’s all part of the story that I’ll share with you in the very near future.

A Tale of Two Kickstarters

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Mar 052013
 

Gatekeeper-thinSo, in an effort to be ridonkulously busy, I’m involved in TWO ongoing (and rather successful) Kickstarter projects!

Now, that’s not to say I’m running two Kickstarter projects simultaneously, they have rules against that…

In the first project – The Maze of Games – I’m the sole illustrator. Apart from handing in artwork I have no direct involvement with the Kickstarter page. That is all in the hands of puzzle-maestro, evil-genius and utter lunatic, Mike Selinker, who is the author of the book and all its fiendish puzzles.

Trust me, I’m not kidding about fiendish. The puzzles start off merely tricky but ramp up to ‘brain-spasm difficulty’ pretty quickly. There’s even a hidden puzzle on the Kickstarter page itself and regular puzzles in the updates. See previous statement about “utter lunatic”.

If you need to take your brain out for a bracing puzzle-filled marathon (with requisuite *headdesking*) be sure to check it out as it only has a few days left in its campaign.

The second Kickstarter launched a week ago today. I’m helping run the Kickstarter page and the Facebook page for it, and I’ve done a painting for it too. It’s a very special project to me as it’s for the 20th anniversary of Magic: The Gathering…

CommemorateThe Gathering is an art book featuring new art by over 30+ of the original Magic artists who’ve contributed a new painting for the book, most of them derived from one of their favorite / popular cards.

It’s especially big news because Wizards has never done an art book with a focus on the artists. Crazy, but true!

We debuted four pieces of art at launch and are periodically revealing more. If you know anyone who used to play Magic back in its earliest days, let them know about this book. Especially let friends know if they used to play Magic but have quit, because they may get a big kick out of this book and most of our current channels are probably not reaching them!

Nothing sadder than someone missing out on a Kickstarter that was something they’ve always wanted.

Okay, I’ll catch you after the craziness! Whenever that is.

The Maze of Games Launch!

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Jan 282013
 

The Maze of Games – an interactive puzzle novel written by Mike Selinker and illustrated by me – has just launched on Kickstarter!

Click the image below to head to the Kickstarter page!

Gatekeeper-Banner

Entering the Maze…

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Jan 252013
 

A quick update today.The first of the Kickstarter projects I’m involved with will be going live on Monday, Jan 28th!

It’s a puzzle book and a novel, or as the book’s author, Mike Selinker, puts it a “solve your own adventure” book.

And it’s called The Maze of Games.

Here’s links to Preview #1 about the book and Preview #2 about the creative team.

And your first full-sized look at the Gatekeeper…

Gatekeeper-Kickstarter

See you Monday!

Jan 172013
 

Looking back at 2012… well, I haven’t been around much on the blog, have I? A technical problem with what I wanted to do with the next blog post led to me putting it aside until I had time to work out what was up. Then I got busier.

Unfortunately two projects I was involved with look to be dead. One was an app which I did some graphic design work for, and the other was a charity art book similar in vein to the Transmetropolitan one I worked on back in 2011. It required copyright clearance from a licensee before we could proceed. We got the clearance and started on gearing up a very cool book only to have the licensee rescind the permission three months later, with zero explanation. One part of me just shrugs and says “them’s the breaks”, but another part thinks the licensee can bite me. Sorry, but it’s not worth the trouble to give specifics.

There was some CCG art for an app. Unfortunately, that’s not out yet so I can’t share that with you either. Sheesh.

Shedu_EPI did a cover for a local metal band called Shedu. Portions of the cover can be seen at the top of their webpage – which you can find right here. Give them a listen.

The image on the right is a quick something I whipped together for their EP. I should mention that the monster is my doing, not the band name treatment which is a friend’s handiwork.

Looking ahead into 2013, a couple of things that have been eating up my time these past few months are almost ready for prime time. Both are Kickstarter projects and both are books…

The first of these is a puzzle book that I’m illustrating. It should be launching on Kickstarter before January is out. More news on that soon.

The second Kickstarter project is an art book celebrating the original artists of Magic: the Gathering and commemorating the 20th anniversary of the game. It includes new art from 30+ of the original artists done especially for the book, along with anecdotes and insights into their art and their experiences with the game. It’ll be on Kickstarter very soon – hopefully February. When the launch is near, you will know. Trust me.

But for now, I’ll just leave you with a couple of links –

There’s now a site dedicated to Magic original art. They interviewed me and you can find that here at the Original Magic Art site.

iO9 ran an article on their favorite Magic art of the last twenty years. Alas, no mention of any of my pieces. Humph. Pitchforks in 3… 2… 1…

Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll be back soon with more info about my first Kickstarter project.