Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Picture Post: The RPG Art of Bryan Talbot

In 1982, British comic book artist Bryan Talbot produced some very atmospheric illustrations for the German roleplaying game Das Schwarze Auge. It occurred to me that, since it was never translated into English, few people outside Germany, the Netherlands, Italy or France are familiar with them. So I made this post.

Talbot is best known for The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, and has provided art for Judge Dredd, Batman the Dark Knight, and Sandman, among other things. In 1982 he produced 100 illustrations for German roleplaying game Das Schwarze Auge. (As I have written HERE, DSA was my first RPG.)

For a whole generation of German and Dutch gamers, his atmospheric black-and-white illustrations were the first introduction to what a fantasy world looked like.

It looked like this:
Clicking the pictures makes them bigger.

The city of Havena has seen better days.

This is from the 2nd, censored edition. Originally, the girl's dress was torn and the goblin was touching her in an inappropriate way. 

Surprising the goblin.

There are many illustrations of rooms in this book. This is one of the more interesting.

This demon from the mirror has the same stats as the hero.

DSA's kobolds were a big inspiration for my take on gnomes in the Weird Opera world.

A family of orcs.
Talbot drew this map of the game world before there even was a setting. It informed the shape the campaign setting would take.

There's a secret door hidden in this painting. See if you can deduce how to open it.






Vampire bats.


  1. I never cared that much for DSA (Midgard, the other German fantasy role playing game, was my initiation to the hobby), but those illustrations sure are nice! Nicer, in fact, than most of those I remember from Midgard. Beautiful stuff!

    1. I don't know Midgard, it was never translated into Dutch. I like DSA's 1st edition, where these illustrations are from, very much, but later editions I don't care for.

  2. Awesome troll. Also like the take on vampire bats with little nosferatu faces. Thanks for posting these ... never saw a Schwartze Auge book, only the US version of the CRPG.

    1. I like the vampire-y faces on the bats as well: you can see immediately that these aren't normal bats!

  3. Thanks for posting these. I've always liked Talbot's art since reading Arkwright. It's not that super-polished 'commercial' look... it's a bit gritty/grungy... kinda reminds me of old 'underground' comics.

    1. Underground comics was what I was thinking as well.