Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bestiary of Fantastic Creatures: Review (long overdue)

I have known Casey Sorrow a big chunk of my life. He and I attended high school together since 1989ish, and were a part of the same click of miscreants. We even made a small movie together during a mass media class (what a hoot!). We were in High School art classes where we pretty much just screwed off, and doodled, where I am pretty sure the teacher didn't like either of us much, nor thought what came out of our ink pens and crayons was talent. 

But as things go with life, graduation happened and people drift apart. I had not heard from nor seen Casey for many years, only knowing him from a few popular social media sites.

As it turns out, both Casey and I returned to the games of childhood and at nearly the same time got involved in some way with this movement called the OSR. You all know my story, and Casey's is not much different. 

Unlike me though Casey went the self publishing route with his artwork. He as produced a Bestiary, and he sent it to me earlier in the year (maybe even last year...yikes) and asked that I give a review of it. Time flies when you're having fun and thus it slipped through the cracks. 

I apologize Casey for the tardiness of this review. 

Bestiary of Fantastic Creatures by Casey Sorrow
Copyright Casey Sorrow (Bull Cock Press)

From Casey's Website for the Bestiary: 

The Bestiary of Fantastic Creatures is a small collection of uniquely illustrated creatures produced to be compatible with the format of traditional table-top role-playing games playable with paper and pencil. Volume 1: Bizarre Monsters, features 15 unusual creatures complete with illustrations, statistics, descriptions, and campaign integrations. A Rusty Dagger supplement, illustrated and written by Casey Sorrow.

This is a digest sized supplement, of 15 creatures for use with OSR type games. Bizarre is the key word here, but what isn't bizarre in a game that deals with Dragons and Thouls in a fantasy setting with magic and mysticism. 

The artwork is of the black and white variety, with hatching techniques, and use of broad stroke dark line work. The use of his illustrations along with the text of the book are genuinely OSR in nature. There are a few images that have some grey-scale coloration, but by and large the illos are black and white. 

Here are a few examples, taken from Casey's website. I wont show all of the images, as I want you to check Casey's work out for your self, but following, I will give you my opinions of the work with in the book itself.
 
This first is posted on his website, and I will use as an overall example of what is in the inside. 

Copyright Casey Sorrow (Bull Cock Press)

Generally the images are within the body of the text and easily defines the creature that is being described. This particular drawing is awesome in my opinion, I love the 3/4 view of the "Mock Dragon" and feel for the poor bastard who fell prey to him. Thick rich lines make the image pop from the page, and his detailing work for the hide, eyes and gore are very well done. 

I love the sort of pulpy feel to Casey's artwork, something akin to what an artist might draw on a coffee shop napkin and discard it as a well done doodle, only to find it later posted to the coffee shop board with "Who drew this? Its spectacular!". We never know the impact we have on others, until we know the impact we have on others. Casey takes that style and perfects it throughout this book. It is well done. 

Copyright Casey Sorrow (Bull Cock Press)

This bird image is very good. I particularly like the shading of the eye and mouth, and love the contrasting darkness of the feathers/fur. The saliva is random, eye catching and disgusting...which is great. The pen thickness changes are well done, and I almost think (without knowing) that Casey uses brushes or calligraphy pens. 

Copyright Casey Sorrow (Bull Cock Press)

I don't know what it is about this illustration that I love so much, but I do. This thing looks as though it could tear me a new hole, but somehow I still want a stuffed animal of it so I can hug it. Crazy how it makes me feel, its not whimsical, but that fish keeps calling me to come closer, just so it can wrap its tentacles around me and then salivate over my frontal cortex. Awesome!

Overall the artwork is really good in my opinion, and the text detailing the creatures is both useful to an OSR gamer, and interesting. 

Good work Casey!

Also, check out his website, there are a ton of other interesting things posted there; including some illustrations he did for a small press publisher, some comic strips and other oddly cool things.

Thanks for looking, comments always welcome.