Look at this:

I was looking at the back endpaper of my DCC RPG book (published by Goodman Games) and just feasting my eyes on this work by Peter Mullen:

I know it’s going to make me sound like a complete suck-up, but Mullen is, in my opinion, the best artist working in art for RPGs today.  His pictures just blow me away with their dark humor and the way in which Mullen manages to squeeze 100 different stories into the one panel.  It reminds me of many of Hieronymous Bosch’s paintings:

When I was a kid, we had a lot of ‘picture books’ (many of which were pretty old, dating back to the 50s or earlier).  My favorites were the ones with drawings that were like ‘panoramas,’ broad views with dozens (or more) small dramas all taking place in one picture, so your eye can wander around and take in all the different interactions taking place within the single panel.  Like a ‘Where’s Waldo,” there was no ‘central theme’ or ‘focal point’ in these darwings.  The one panel is a collection of little vignettes; the visial equivalent of a puzzle with a lot of different pieces that all add up to a whole. 

In the case of Hogarth’s “Gin Lane” (below), it’s a social critique of what happens when gin is cheaper (and safer) than water, milk or tea.  Bosch (above) painted hell — some say he was crazy or hallucinating because of the ergot fungus; others claim that his paintings were filled with secret messages for fellow mwmbers of ‘mystery cults,’ still others say that many of the scenes and symbols had meanings that would have been more obvious to his contemporaries but have become less familiar to the modern viewer.  I just know that I like them.

Whenever I look at work like Mullen’s “Into the Frying Pan,” (top), I get discouraged and jealous.  Discouraged because I like looking at Mullen’s work more than my own and jealous because I’s love to be able to say that I drew/painted something like that. I’m trying to channel those feelings of envy in a more productive direction and allow that maybe my envy means that Mullen has raised the bar for me and it’s time to shake things up and challenge myself to do better.

2 Comments on “Look at this:”

  1. Paul says:

    You and Mullen are my two favorite OSR artists.

  2. Stephan, I totally agree. Pete's work rocks and it always makes me feel like a fourth rate hack. But it is guys like you and him that inspire me to try and take my work to the next level.

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