Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Grognardia, Gargantuas & Goblins

Illustrations for two Classes for James Maliszewski's Grognards Grimoire series, set in, around and under the Monastery of Urheim.


The Gargantua stands with his trusty felling axe, shifting his iron-buckled belt. He wears a self-made black bearskin jerkin over a woollen tunic, decorated with traditional hillfolk patterns. His linen breeches are tied at the calf with leather straps, as are the deer-leather shoes.

Along with André The Giant's portrayal of Fezzik in Rob Reiners 1987 film Princess Bride as suggested by James as the direction,  the idea of a demi-giant character class conjured images Little John from the Robin Hood oeuvre, Clive Mansell's Little John in Richard Carpenters 1984 TV series Robin of Sherwood, and Howard Hew Lewis's Rabies in Tony Robinsons 1989 BBC childrens comedy Maid Marian and her Merry Men, but also of Bernard Breslaw's Gort in Terry Marcels 1981 movie Hawk the Slayer, Dudly Watkins cartoon creation Desparate Dan, himself probably influenced by characters such as Paul Bunyan  the massive lumberjack and John Henry the enormous railway worker from American Folklore and the oversized, overstrong hero of Edwardian folk song My Brother Sylveste.  and childhood memories of the giant smuggler at Black Gang Chine and the image of since vanished 1970s saturday morning sporting heroes of the British Wrestling Foundation such as Giant Haystacks and Worlds Strongest Man Geoff Capes. The mythic archetype of the 'big man' probably traceable back to Thor

Goblin Adventurer

The Goblin holds aloft a pitch and rag torch as he creeps forward, holding a bronze leaf-bladed knife. He wears a stiffened leather jerkin fastened at the sides with hemp string over a simple woolen tunic. A small leather pouch hangs from his tanned and oiled leather belt, fastened with bronze buckle and he carries a dark leather shoulder-slung bag. Footware consists of lengths of leather wrapped around a linen sock.

James supplied a couple of goblin images that emerged from the OSR, unfortunately I don't know their exact origins, but they were quite good. Alongside these I had in mind the miniature sculptor Kevin Adams  Goblins and especially his mid-1980s  C12 Goblin range for Citadel Miniatures, along with something of Bil Sedgwicks anarchic comic strip goblin Anti-hero Gobbeldigook from White Dwarf Magazine, undoubtedly influenced by Arthur Rackhams goblins managerie. My original drawing was considered a little too evil, and James wanted a more neutral character suitable for a wider range of Player Characters, so I softened the expression and rounded the features a little, perhaps one or two of Joe Johnstons early concept art for Yoda from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, alongside Dave Trampiers comic cast of trolls from the classic Wormy comic strip from Dragon Magazine. 

There are exits here to: 

Basic / Expert Dungeons & Dragons and Old-School Essentials
The Gargantua  and Goblin Character Classes of the Grognards Grimoire at Grognardia.
The Urheim at Grognardia.

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