Friday 12 July 2013

Origin of the Species: Fimir II: Dawn of the Scredling

The creative genesis of the Fimir, Graeme Davis, Jes Goodwin and Tony Ackland (see part one), influenced by the artwork of Alan Lee and the morality of the Broo from Runequest.

But looking at the design we also find precursors to the design in the works of Jim Henson.

Clip starring Jim Henson puppeteering Scred from The Land of Gorch  from American show Saturday Night Live (1975), Note his hunch-backed, toothy snout and disheveled appearance.

Unfortunaely there is very little footage available from The Land of Gorch. I never broadcast in the UK as far as I know, and has never had a DVD or video release. only been released on DVD in 2006 SNL Complete First Season. Both Frank Oz and Jim Henson have gone on record saying it didn't really work, but mixing fantasy tropes with sitcom, Muppet Show-esque meta jokes and alternative comedy is certainly interesting. If you want more on The Land of Gorch see here - it's worth looking at a bit - 1975 fantasy 2 years before the D&D Monster Manual.

Scred was designed by Michael K. Frith, who did illustration and design work on much of the early Muppets and Sesame Street, an original sketch of Scred:

Lovely little drawing that, and bears more than a little resemblance to the more famous muppet Skeksis from the movie,  The Dark Crystal (1982) produced by Jim Henson with conceptual design from Brian Froud.

Skeksis concept art | Brian Froud
Brian Froud Ur-Ru

Both the Skeksis and the Ur-Ru designs seem to bare some vestigal remnants of Scred DNA, the Skeksis more so, but toothy beak-snout, the hunch-back, the dishevelled rags, the 3 fingers. An interesting element that the Ur-Ru added to the mix is the vaguely La-Tene knotwork patterning on the skin.

Quick reminder of the Alan Lee drawing

 Alan Lee had of course collaborated with Brian Froud in the late 1970s, on the best-selling fantsy art book Faeries, and I'm sure Alan would have been aware of his later feature film design work. The hunch, the snout, the mouth the ungainly arms, all hallmarks of the Scredling, even the colouration, although I think at this point Alan Lee was doing a lot of work in this palette.

Paul Bonner | Dwarves and The Mystic
Paul Bonner's Dwarf and Mystic is a personal piece from the mid 80's and used by Games Workshop as a back cover of White Dwarf, inspired by Froud, John Bauer and Finnish art. It's a wonderful piece and I could go on about it for days, another time tho'. Yes that's an Ur Ru in the centre of the picture. And finally we get to our Fimir.

Paul Bonner | Fimir | White Dwarf #102
I think at this point Paul was working from established miniature designs by Jes Goodwin and Nick Bibby, based on the initial concept art by Tony Ackland.   If we soley focus on the head-shape, the snout and the arms, I think it's fair to say there remains an inheritance of the Screds toothy beak-face, and hunch-back, probably inherited via the Skeksis and from the Ur-Ru in the La Tene style knotwork patterning on the armour.


  1. Great article, thank you.
    Very true how close the Fimir are to Brian Frouds work. When I paint my Fimir I might go for that Earth Brown look of the Ur-Ru.

    I had forgotten about the wonderful Paul Bonner picture of the Dwarves and the Mystic.
    Very apt picture for me as I have spent the evening organising my Norse Army for 3rd Edition, and it consists mainly of Norse Dwarves and a Fimir ally contingent!

  2. Great Piece. Loved the Muppets when I was a kid but I don't remember Scred or the land of Corch...thanks for the tip! I've also always loved that Paul Bonner piece from White Dwarf...there's such a wealth of detail and so many things to wonder about in it...

  3. Don't think I've heard of Gorch before, or seen the Paul Bonner picture - great stuff!

    Always thought the Fimir were a bit Skeksian though.

  4. Love that Bonner painting...just how I imagine a dwarf hold. I mentioned this picture over on Bugman's last year...and all the "modern" dwarf players derided me for being some sort of dwarf hippie....not grim dark enough for them I suppose...sigh

  5. Good read that, dark brown Fimir eh? I wonder who's painted there's that colour already ;)

  6. Super post. One of the things that drew me to the fimir in the first place was the Froud influence and the whole Henson/Dark Crystal vibe. I love Froud's work, I could roll around in it for a whole day.

  7. Norse Dwarves with Fimir Alies sounds great, tie them all together with some earth-tones.

    There is a distinct lack of imagery showing peaceful relations in Warhammer, if people aren't hitting each other, then what's the point? In that respect people deriding imagery such as Bonners as "hippy", is slightly worrying about peoples desensitivity to violent images, and expectations of violent imagery. Maybe it's just the gaming context, but something to think on. I'll look up your post on Bugmans.

    The Land of Gorch is very obscure and it's hard to work out the 1970s US TV landscape it fitted into, was "Fantasy" still a counter-culture concern? A hang-over of the stoner "Frodo for President" of the 1960s? Gorch was broadcast only a year after D&D was first published. King Ploobis looks a bit like a classic green-skinned pig faced orc...