Sunday, 18 May 2014

Origin of the Fimir III: Alan Lee's Formorian

Returning to the creative genesis of the Fimir, or perhaps 'long evolutionary development' would be nearer the mark...

Today (I know, Sunday, since when do Amazon do their own deliveries, not like I ordered it next-day or anying, just standard free, whatever, with a bunch of other stuff...) I received  Michael Scotts Irish Folk and Fairy Tales Volume 2 - long rumoured, suspected, suggested (thanks Robin) and indeed  confirmed (thanks Graeme) to be the source material Graeme Davis discussed on usenet in 1998 which he had feed to the the Citadel Design Team, during the early stages of developing the Fimir,  back in what must have been 1985 / 86.

Original Fimir - Alan Lee
Alan lees Back cover for "Irish Folk-tales" (1983)

The back cover features this odd cycloptic denizen of the mist-srhouded forest to be clearly what we now consider to be a Fimir. The head perhaps a little more bulbous, the cape slightly more Draculaesque and the armour a little less decorative, but non-the-less, the one-yellow-eyed fellas thick prehensile tail, toothed beaky maw, stooped pose, sinewey arms and the suchlike firmly show traces of the same dna.

Just to put it in context...

Origin of the Fimir part II, where we gaze upon some potential influences on Alan Lee's depiction of the Formorians - mostly focussing on his good friend, one time collaborator and studio mate, Brian Froud, through his work with  Jim Henson on the Dark Crystal (1982) encompassing both the Mystics and the Skeksis to designer and illustrator Michael K. Frith. On refelction Lees formorians do look like a more earthly and rational UrSkek, perhaps a 'working out' of what could have been. Friths works include much Muppet character design including the proto-muppet Scred from Land of Gorch / SNL (1975). Frith worked with Dr Seuss early in his career, so who knows, there might be some ur-proto-fimm dna lurking between the Green Eggs and Ham.

...and Origin of the Fimir part I, where Alan Lee revisits Formorians in Castles (1984), and the Games Workshop design team get the brief, in time for WFRP (1986) and 2nd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles Ravening Hordes (1987).


  1. Thanks for the elusive picture! Been wondering what the original picture looks like after reading your and numerous articles on Fimir. I managed to order the Forgeworld set today. Love the mythology of these creatures apart for their darker side of their background, though I'm sure creative writing can eradicate that if Fimir are made mainstream again.

    1. I've no problem with the darker side, in fact I'd rather see games encroaching on difficult subject matter, rather than whitewashing over the very real issues, be it historical or modern context, so long as it's done in a seriously minded way, and imho Graeme did with his writing on the Fimir, it's not overly dwelt upon, and certainly isn't salacious.

  2. Funnily enough that is the first time I've seen that particular picture. When Graeme Davies was tasked with creating a new race for Warhammer it was a different Alan Lee picture that he showed me a s a basis for the look of the Fimir. It was a paperback and it was about Celtic myths but that is all I can remember.

    Now if you can work out the origin of the Zoats?

    By the way did yiu get the latest version of the warrior?

    1. And there was me thinking I'd got to the bottom of it! The picture is a back cover of a paperback of celtic myths, well, it says "Irish Folklore", but it contains myths along with some other stories. Perhaps my cropping makes it a bit difficult to remember.

      Zoats? Oh, I don't know. Lizard-centaur-like creatures abound, Tekumel (Empire of the Petal Throne) - Nick Bibby's Dragon Lizards for Asgard,(weren't these based on something?) Robert Heinlens Star Beast all spring to mind.

      Aha, warrior update... I'll check my FB pms...

  3. Great stuff. Never heard this before, apart from the obvious fimir/fomor connection.