Russ Nicholson Interview (Remastered)

We lost a real legend in Russ Nicholson this year. I can honestly say that Russ and his work sneak into my mind in short order whenever I talk about fantasy art at length, no matter the period. When we recorded this interview back in 2019, it was apparently his first appearance on a podcast, which seems bizarre considering how large his work looms over the hobby, then and now. I’ll never not be bummed about a lack of Russ Nicholson in the world. Anyway, we couldn’t record last week, so we thought it would be cool to bring this one out from the vault, a little in memoriam for his passing earlier this year.

Original Show Notes: 

This week, we talk to the incomparable artist Russ Nicholson. Russ has created countless iconic illustrations for tabletop RPGs – you probably best know his work from the original Dungeons & Dragons Fiend Folio or from countless fantasy gamebooks, like the Fighting Fantasy series. We chat about his work, his career, Ouija boards, Scottish accents and more in what, as far as Russ can recall, is his first podcast interview ever!

A few notes directly from Russ after the fact:

“Sorry about my memory and going off at side tangents so often but I enjoyed that…funny I have never talked in regards to the source of my artwork about the ‘happenings’ at our old house when I was growing up before. At least as I age, these awarenesses are rare and our present bungalow is so new there is nothing directly ‘there.’

Now artists – there are a few I especially rate (although I made a point of never copying) – Albrecht Durer, the Brueghals, Rembrandt, El Greco, Hals, Velazquez, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Mucha, Klimt, Toulouse Lautrec, Doré, Beardsley and Rackham, to name a few. Also pulps – Sax Rohmer, Howard, The Shadow, Weird Tales, Black Mask stories, Poe, Edgar Wallace, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Merrit, Hamilton, Jules Verne, Rider Haggard and the old pulp serials I saw at Saturday morning children’s cinema – loved it all. From age ten on, when I left the countryside life for life in the city, I read a lot (up until then my mother thought I didn’t read anything except comics).

And that silent film I was trying to talk about – it had something similar, where a man is sitting by a rock pool (?) and these squidgy tentacled things (similar to the Grell toy Stu sent me) come out of the water and drag him to his doom. Scared me as a lad but I was in my teens so no screaming attacks (laf) and am still not fond.”

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