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For Art's Sake


kafka

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Now, I want to talk about what I see is a diminishing quality of art in Call of Cthulhu game supplements. I see that the art is going the way of jokey and rather mundane art. Pagan products notwithstanding. The art in many CoC no longer scares me or unnerves as it ought to do.

I find myself turning toward Trail of Cthulhu as a torchbearer for what Cthulhu art ought to be. As I find nowhere the haunting images of the 5.6e or the creepy paintings from in 3e nor do I find the likes of Blair Reynolds nor even the person who did the bulk of Unseen Masters.

Worlds of Cthulhu did the art right (if I read German well enough - I could use the present case) and as a said, I do like much of what Trail does. Pagan still keeps the flame alive but even some of the smaller publishers are aping Chaosium's particular style.

Am I a lone voice in the wilderness here...and in that case, I will wait for the Wendigo...or do others feel the same thing. For if anything there is a glut of images that are horrifying and horrific without going for gore.

What do others think?

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I prefer serious, brooding art to the jokey variety. But I guess it's more about who wants to draw for Chaosium and what they pay (no idea), and, is the artist reliable and quick. So long as the art doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the reading, I'm not greatly worried by it.

Still its not like the bad old days of Dobyski!

Mr Jealousy has returned to reality!

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Now, I want to talk about what I see is a diminishing quality of art in Call of Cthulhu game supplements. I see that the art is going the way of jokey and rather mundane art. Pagan products notwithstanding. The art in many CoC no longer scares me or unnerves as it ought to do.

I find myself turning toward Trail of Cthulhu as a torchbearer for what Cthulhu art ought to be. As I find nowhere the haunting images of the 5.6e or the creepy paintings from in 3e nor do I find the likes of Blair Reynolds nor even the person who did the bulk of Unseen Masters.

Worlds of Cthulhu did the art right (if I read German well enough - I could use the present case) and as a said, I do like much of what Trail does. Pagan still keeps the flame alive but even some of the smaller publishers are aping Chaosium's particular style.

Am I a lone voice in the wilderness here...and in that case, I will wait for the Wendigo...or do others feel the same thing. For if anything there is a glut of images that are horrifying and horrific without going for gore.

What do others think?

You are right about Chaosium's art, but I am more interested in the quality of the writing and ideas contained therein and Chaosium has maintained excellent writing.

If you want to see some good Cthulhu art check out S. Petersen's Field Guide To Cthulhu Monsters at the following link:

http://monsterbrains.blogspot.com/search?q=S.+Petersen%27s+Field+Guide+To+Cthulhu+Monsters%2C+1988

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Yes and that is what annoys me so much. That Chaosium's writing has not suffered (well save that excursion to Bermuda Triangle) too much. They are industry standard. Which is why I think the deep brooding art or at least good horror art is not present raises my eyebrows.

As the argument of affordability - well, I could go on Deviantart or similar sites and find countless artists waiting to be discovered by Chaosium who could turn out WIN or what we are asking about not to mention China or Russia is a huge potential to keep costs down.

Yes, I loved the Peterson's guides...but if you have to B&W (to save printing costs) 5.6e and Unseen Masters is some of what I like plus TUO.

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  • 5 months later...

I have the original Creatures of the Dreamlands supplement for Cthulhu. The colour plates are on every other page! You just don't get that level of art in role playing games these days. I realise that we are an obscure hobby and costs must be constrained, but even the cover art is pretty bad these days. I want some inspiring cover art that will encourage me to pick up a book and look at it. The sort of thing that will look good on a bookcase with my fantasy art books and my collection of 1970's science fiction. The only BRP book that really stands out is The Laundry.

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I think the problem is that art costs a shitload more than words do and for a small publisher putting out a big book the art expenses can easily spiral out of control. When you consider the amount of full page pieces you typically get, plus all the smaller incidental pieces.

At least, that used to be the case but with the rise of sites like Deviant Art I'd be surprised if the cost hasn't dropped somewhat. Certainly, I see more evidence of godawful writing in books than dire art these days so it's probably still the case that more money goes on art than writing.

But even if you're spending a fortune on art, there's also the question of getting thematically appropriate art. For instance, I prefer the black and white art in the original WFRP books to the stuff in 2nd Edition. While the 2nd Ed stuff was really nice, it didn't evoke the same feel as when I look at that of the original. So it's not as easy as just finding someone who can deliver it on time and under budget. If you really want the work to look complete then the art should help reinforce whatever tone the game setting is supposed to have.

"Not gods - Englishmen. The next best thing."

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I'd much rather have no art than bad art or 'wrong' art.

The original Traveller books had what... one illustration in them? I love those things.

I recently picked up the Cruel Empire of Tsan Chan monograph and there's very little art in that... doesn't bug me one bit. At this point I'm sure the images in my head are far stranger than they would be if the book was profusely illustrated with full-color panels. I'm tempted to say CoC shouldn't have images of the monsters at all... maybe just screen captures from (public domain?) silent era films (loads of creepy images to be had there).

Edited by Simlasa
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The Field Guide set the standard for Mythos art back in the day, although technically such tomes should have required each reader to make multiple SAN checks. ;D The lurid full color plates both piqued my interest and made me avoid the game. =O

But the recent focus on monographs kind of shows where Chaosium is at. If they can't afford to hire an editor to double-check spelling and grammar in desirable submissions, they sure aren't going to be able to shell out for gorgeous color plates.

What color would you paint The Color Out of Space, anyway? :?

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What color would you paint The Color Out of Space, anyway? :?

Why, you'd want to use a very dark colour, I'd think - very, very dark ... black, even. Yes, Black. BLACK! EVERYTHING BLACK!!

Dreamscape Design: Crafters of the Finest Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Dreamscape Design: My Corner of BRP Central ... Mine, All Mine! 

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What color would you paint The Color Out of Space, anyway? :?
Munch tried to paint it in 1893:

"I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."

the-scream.jpeg

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

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  • 2 weeks later...

You are right about Chaosium's art, but I am more interested in the quality of the writing and ideas contained therein and Chaosium has maintained excellent writing.

If you want to see some good Cthulhu art check out S. Petersen's Field Guide To Cthulhu Monsters at the following link:

http://monsterbrains.blogspot.com/search?q=S.+Petersen%27s+Field+Guide+To+Cthulhu+Monsters%2C+1988

Wow. That's only slightly a copyright violation. Chaosium alerted.

Please don't contact me with Chaosium questions. I'm no longer associated with the company, and have no idea what the new management is doing.

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