Friday 7 December 2018

Scorpion Swamp artist Duncan Smith to attend Fighting Fantasy Fest 3

What do the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Scorpion Swamp (written by the US Steve Jackson) and Fighting Fantasy - The Introductory Role-playing Game (written by the UK Steve Jackson) have in common? Well, apart from sharing their 35th anniversary in 2019, they were also both illustrated by artist Duncan Smith.

What some Fighting Fantasy fans may not realise is that Duncan also provided the pictures for the first iteration of Ian Livingstone's legendary Caverns of the Snow Witch that appeared in Warlock Magazine.

Mammoth and Snow Witch, by Duncan Smith (c) 1984 and 2018.

Duncan is now based in London, having moved there after graduating from the Glasgow School Of Art.

Duncan Smith: Luckily I had some good friends who'd moved down the year before, Iain McCaig and Joe Graham. (You've probably heard of Iain, does a bit of drawing for films, writes, directs, film maker and educator, all round renaissance man! Joe Graham is a designer, writer, singer and used to make a great man-mountain pizza!) Anyway, after dragging my portfolio around all the Publishers I started to get lots of work. Iain was working on the FF books and they were looking for new artists and I ended up doing a whole bunch of fantasy work for Puffin Books and White Dwarf. They were really enjoyable books to do, and Iain and I would have great fun, taking turns posing, for each others drawings for some of the more outlandish characters in our respective books, from Lizard men, centaurs, wizards and the occasional giant! The rest as they say, is history, as that was over thirty years ago.

The Warlock: So what have you been working on since illustrating Fighting Fantasy gamebooks?

DS: My work is quite varied now, I work for a variety of publishing houses producing illustrations and some concept work for film, I write and illustrate children's books and how to draw books. I'm also an avid photographer and educator.

TW: Many of your original FF illustrations are now for sale. What prompted you to give fans the opportunity to own a piece of classic '80s fantasy art?

DS: One of the reasons that I'm selling this artwork is a chat I had recently with my old friend Tim Olsen. (Tim stayed in the flat below us and was then the manager of Games Workshop. Tim is another multi-talented guy - writer, artist and humanitarian - and has the biggest heart!). When I mentioned I still had all the artwork for the books tucked away in my plan chest, he said that I should put them up for sale as there was a lot of interest from fans and collectors for FF art. So, Tim put out the word that I was selling some work and remarkably there was a lot of interest! So, here for the first time, all in one place, the artwork finally sees the light of day!

Pool Beast and Fenmarge Tavern, by Duncan Smith (c) 1984 and 2018.

Some of Duncan's original pieces for Scorpion Swamp and Fighting Fantasy - The Introductory Role-Playing Game are still available to buy, direct from the artist himself here.

The exciting news is that Duncan is going to be one of the guests attending Fighting Fantasy Fest 3, on Saturday 31st August 2019. To find out more about the event, click this link. Tickets go on sale in the New Year.

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