The Art of Conan Sourcebook, review

This was originally written for The British Fantasy Society.

Art inspired by genre fiction sometimes struggles to find an audience. It generally doesn’t hang in galleries, and the artists that create it aren’t necessarily well-known. While it won’t solve those problems, The Art of Conan by Modiphius is a compilation of the art from the entire Conan: Adventure in an Age Undreamed Of series of RPG books.  

This supplemental text spans the entire game line and is a stream-lined tome full of just the good bits. It’s page after page of fantastic art, and by an array of artists. If you’ve ever stopped in a store and browsed only the covers of the books published for this game line, then you’ll have seen already that Modiphius really went for quality with the art. The interior of the book is just as good. Not only is the art eye-catching, but it is also instructive for what the writers were trying to convey for the tone of the various supplements. There’s even a page just for acknowledging all of the hard work done by ALL of the artists that worked on the game line. This is a small detail, but it’s a nice touch to see people get their due.

What’s missing is a link between the art for this game, as embodied by this book, and the larger body of art that has been inspired by Robert E. Howard’s famous barbarian. As noted on the introductory page, providing high-quality art was a top priority for this game line. Modiphius has outdone themselves in that respect, but aside from the visual aspect of this book, it felt thin. Something else that might have been helpful could have been brief interviews with the artists discussing what inspired the works that were ultimately selected for the published products. These requests might not seem like much, but they would have made the book more substantive.

If you enjoy fantasy art, this is a great book. You don’t need to have played the game to appreciate it. Between the beautifully illustrated covers, and the vibrant images within, this is just a great art compilation. For the people who have picked up the other titles in this game line, this is a no-brainer to add to your collection. However, it’s just a great art book that stands on its own and can be appreciated without any knowledge of the game.






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