Feb 2, 2014

Bliary Entry #3: Amalur, Skyrim & Albion

Now that my January Sale is done and dusted, it's time to get things back to normal around here. I say 'normal,' but there really doesn't seem to be such a thing for this blog. It's always evolving. Which I kinda like.
I want to try out new ideas, new features, new adventures. That will never change.
But I want to get back to some proper blogging. Sharing ideas, art, thoughts and news.
Let's get to it then!

The topic of choice today is going to be games. Console games, trading card games, tabletop games. As I am an illustrator that gets most of his jobs in the field of gaming, I thought it might be an idea to mention what hands-on experience I have with them myself.

Firstly, I'm not a hardcore gamer. I have friends who game a lot; an old friend of mine, Kieran Turley, gets in about 3 group games a week. He's so into it that he used to regularly write for both Dungeon Magazine and its partner, Dragon Magazine.
He's done a lot in the gaming industry, writing a lot of rules and working out mechanics for companies too. This is on top of him having a regular job and a family.
As I said, he's really into it.

I met Kieran, and a lot of other serious gamers, about 12 years ago when I got a part-time job at a gaming shop here in Galway. It was a really fun job and I have very fond memories from that time. The boss, Jim Neary, is a great fellow and I still catch up with a good few of the regulars too.
Prior to working at Gamer's Realm, as it was called, I had very little experience in that world. I had friends that D&D'd and played Magic: The Gathering (Toby Rogers, where are you?!), but the closest I ever got to being a gamer was collecting Magic cards with artwork by Greg Staples and Dermot Power on them.
Apart from that, I wasn't a gamer at all. Except, I did play the odd computer game and collect comics.

The comics scene is quite similar to the gaming scene in many ways, with many aspects overlapping and a good chunk of gamers would read comics, and visa versa. I loved comics from a very early age. I was a Marvel fan from those days, with the Hulk and Spider-Man being personal favourites. I reached my comic geek peak at the ages of 14 through 17. Every Saturday morning, I would go into town to pick up comics and spend a fortune doing so. I no longer buy comics, except for the very rare one that catches my eye. I still love the artistic field of comic drawing, but I think I like the idea of creating comics more than reading them these days. But who has time to draw comics, I ask you?

Computer games are another area where I have played. Again, I'm not a huge console or computer gamer at all, but when I do find a game I like, I obsess over it. So far, there have only been a grand total of 4 games that have actually appealed to me: Medievil (1st generation Playstation), the Fable series, the Elder Scrolls series and, most recently, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
When I mean obsessed, I mean things like playing compulsively, obviously. But I've also got each of those games' soundtracks on my iPod and listen to them religiously (Kingdoms of Amalur is playing as I write this actually), and I get the Player Guide books, limited edition if possible and snatch up all of the merchandise I can.
But again, I'm not a hardcore gamer. It's just that when I find something I like, I explore every aspect of it. That's why I have a Fable keyring on my bag, a hard to find Hobbe figure on my bookshelf and a line of collector's edition games next to my consoles (original Playstation, original Xbox and a 360, all still working), to name just a few things.
But I've always been a fan of fantasy. I was a huge fan of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe when I was young, and still have a big selection of the figures to prove it. I also read Tolkien's work at an early age, and continue to read fantasy books to this day. My mind is never really far from a fantasy realm, be it Mr. Tolkien's, Mr. Sears' and especially my own Realms of Faerie.
You could say that my life revolves around fantastical worlds. So though I'm not a hardcore gamer, I AM a harcore fantasy fan.

Now, for something completely different, here's some new artwork.

I call this guy G-Gnome. Get it? Classic wordplay there.

I mentioned a while ago that my wife and I finally moved out of the dreaded mobile home and into a house with walls made from actual brick and mortar. We've been here about seven weeks now and are slowly getting into the swing of it. I still have a couple dozen very large boxes to unpack, but the process has begun, and it's great seeing some of my old books again.
It's so great in fact that I want to share some of my finds with you all in what I hope will become a regular feature of this blog, where I show off a cool book from my collection.

Here's the first one to be exhibited:



















This is the first copy of The Wind in the Willows I ever read. This edition was printed in 1984 (about the time I must have been given it) and it is copiously illustrated by Harry Hargeaves. Willows is one of my all-time favourite books. I love it to bits and have many different editions of it now. I would love to, one day, be given the opportunity to illustrate an edition of it myself.

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