Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Russ Nicholson's Blog

As many of you know, I'm not a big fan of the Fiend Folio, for reasons I needn't mention again. However, I am a big fan of the artwork of Russ Nicholson, whose work on the FF is uniformly excellent and that I strongly associate in my mind with "British fantasy" -- a cynical and darkly humorous brand of swords-and-sorcery that's a perfect antidote to the squeaky clean, All-American look of Silver Age D&D artwork.

Anyway, Coopdevil over at the Fighting Fantasist has noted that Mr Nicholson recently started a blog of his own. You may find it here. Enjoy!


  1. James, did you ever do a formal review of Fiend Folio for this blog? My Google-fu is weak this evening.

  2. Oh FANTASTIC. I am a massive fan of Russ Nicholson and I've scoured the internet for his work, but without this post I probably would never have found his blog.

    As an offering of my own, I came across recently, which seems to the beginnings of some stock artwork by Mr Nicholson. Hopefully we'll be seeing his artwork in old school publications in the near future!

  3. Hummm, that's the kind of artist I would like to see do the illustrations for Swords & Wizardry.
    Would fit perfectly.

  4. That's awesome. I love the art and remember it well but never knew who the artist was.

  5. I never actually owned the Fiend Folio, so I just knew him as "that incredibly distinctive, cool, and somewhat creepy artist from White Dwarf and Fiend Folio, who forever defines such creatures as the Githyanki".

    Now I know his name.

    And his blog.

    Thank you so much sir.

  6. Ah, good old Russ Nicholson. The Fighting Fantasy series, specifically The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, was my introduction to D&D-style fantasy. Nicholson's illustrations there left a big impression on me, to the point where he's my definitive D&D artist.

  7. Though I haven't familiarized myself in any meaningful way with his blog as of yet--- and I am certain that doing so may well contextualize his art qua art for me--- I am almost certain that I am intrigued by the opportunity of doing so at some point. While Fiend Folio enjoys a mixed reception in the opinions of some, I would have to say, I suppose, that his art in the FF has certain qualities worthy of publication, and some might say that this is not always the case with artwork associated with early RPG publications, which would perhaps seem to be a contradiction in terms, since one cannot easily deny that such art was indeed published.

    I have sometimes wondered if Fiend Folio's title is perhaps an illustration of that sly British humor— perhaps a reference to the "Bard,"as some scholars style William Shakespeare)?

  8. Anthony,

    No, I've never formally reviewed Fiend Folio or even talked much about it, honestly. It was a book I didn't much use back in the day and I personally find its contents very uneven, with the vast majority of them being too weird, too silly, or too just plain bad for me to ever imagine using in a D&D game.

    I realize that this opinion is heresy in many quarters, but, if so, it just goes to show that even someone as supposedly hidebound and dogmatic as I am bucks a trend here and there.

  9. No, I've never formally reviewed Fiend Folio or even talked much about it, honestly.

    Ah, ok. I'd be interested to read it, should you ever do one. Fiend Folio was never one of my favorites, but I have to admit that the book that gave me waste-of-ink monsters such as the Adherer or the Flumph also gave me great ones like the Githyanki or the Githzerai.

    I tend to look at the D&D "critter books" as one long catalog meant to be picked over and chosen from. And, rather like a catalog, I'll find things I want to use in a campaign and other that make me think "Why bother?" (e.g., xvarts, aka "smurf goblins.")

    security word: "Ditylari." An obscure ritual of the Tsolyani empire.