Hmmm.  I’ll confess up front this feels a bit weird.  I feel that perhaps pieces like the one I’m about to write should have been made for Magnum Opus Press, since they were kind enough to pay for the creation of the existing covers.  But then I can perhaps assuage that guilt with a hearty cry to go buy the MOP DW books whilst they are on sale.  Don’t wait for us to take over. Get them whilst the goodly folks who brought DW back from the dead can make their justly reward.

You’ll be buying the new books we do anyway.  Seriously, the things we have been discussing are extremely exciting.  I know you want to know more, but all in good time.

Anyway. This is all preamble.

So making the covers for the MOP edition was a pleasure. James Wallis is a fantastic art director, and certainly one of the people I seek to emulate when I’m doing my art direction duties for Cubicle 7.  Whilst he always brought something to the table he was as interested in my ideas as his own. Which is very rare, but absolutely brings out the best in a freelance artist. Well this one at least.  Sometimes you get hired as what a few of us call a “rentapen”.  The client directs you so tightly that you may as well be a robot arm.  But that was not the way of it on these pieces.

So up there is the cover we did for the Elven Crystals, along with a couple of the sketches.  We thought it was important to show something from the scenarios themselves, much as we loved the old cover. No we didn’t I’m completely lying but you know, it’s nice to be nice.

The demon Rimfax seemed particularly ripe for a starring role, which if I remember rightly was James’ idea.  I was pretty keen on doing Ned the Hobgoblin, but with the benefit of hindsight he would have been a harder sell.  And what’s not to love about a skeletal horse (horse skulls are the business – qv: Sauron’s helmet in the LOTR movies) with a body made of writhing black snakes made of smoke?

Bit of a challenge that though.  There are some things which sound awesome in text.  Black fire is one.  Things made out of smoke is another.  These things can be extremely challenging to paint.  But I said I’d have a go, and I think it worked out ok.

At the time I was painting this I was discovering very late in life, the joys of Led Zeppelin. And there’s something very fitting in listening to the Zep whilst painting DW stuff.  It’s British, it’s riffing (excuse the pun) off an American idea but bringing the folk angle.  It is kind of dirty.  There’s the whole Spinal Tap thing too if we’re honest.  Whilst I think many of us into fantasy and folklore are in it for the serious stuff there’s a whole gonzo side full of ludicrous overblown gestures, pomp and pretension, which I really enjoy.  And all of that is in Led Zep too.

So anyhow, when I sketched and painted this one I had Immigrant Song on repeat, and I still think there’s something of the rhythm of that song in the image, and I imagine the ensuing fight to play out to that music.  To name drop I mentioned synesthesia the other day to Dave Morris, and it turns out we both have a bit of that going on.

So there we go.  No really moral to this tale, but a load of anecdotey stuff for your hopeful enjoyment.