Thursday, July 01, 2010

My favorite Magic: The Gathering creatures

The collectible fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering ate up a huge chunk of my later childhood. I got into it when it was relatively new, had a massive collection of cards and kept my favorites - many of the game's most obscure and bizarre creatures and spells - lovingly organized in a box which I somehow managed to leave behind during a move in 2007, in a building that collapsed and had to be bulldozed. Twelve years of collecting, trading and spending, gone just like that.

Fortunately, I did keep a few scans of some of my favorite creature cards specifically to showcase them on the site someday. It's almost impossible to find large images of Magic artwork online, which is a shame, because literally thousands of beautiful paintings have been made for the game. I'm going to go over one of my favorite monster designs every day for the coming week or two, and we're going to start off with the very, very first Magic card I ever saw - the Thorn Thallid!

Introduced in the "Fallen Empires" expansion, the Thallids were/are (they've made more of them, now) a race of mobile fungi capable of rapid growth and reproduction, supposedly exterminating an entire empire of elves. GOOD. Screw those guys.

There were actually four different illustrations of the Thorn Thallid and they were all pretty cool, but this was my introduction to the thallid race and still my favorite. I regrettably failed to scan two of the other variations, but I do have this one, which is actually quite a bit freakier:

These were the days when Magic card artwork really looked hand painted. Their current standards push for near photo-realism, and style guides are used to keep monster races consistent with a base design. These two Thorn Thallids hearken back to when the artists were encouraged to go all willy-nilly with their own interpretations, so you would end up with the same exact monster painted as both a hump-backed armadillo bug and a multi-faced brain devil squid, both of which were supposed to be fungi.

NEXT TIME: The Krovikan Horror!