Artistic Inspiration: Virgil Finlay

Being one of the favorite artists of James M. of Grognardia means you’re probably a good artistic inspiration for old school gamers. Add in the use of a relatively rare and interesting artistic technique and being one of the last of the old school illustrators and you probably have reached “significant”.

Virgil Finlay is an odd choice for my series of inspirations. He is later than most artists I would feature and while he has some elements of movements that tend to speak to me (Pre-Raphaelite, Symbolism, and Art Nouveau) he generally does not fit. What draws me to him is his female forms (true of two of the three above, all but Symbolism) and some horrific elements (which touches on Symbolism). That said, his style is one of the archetypical one for the pulp era science fiction magazines.

First up is a picture titled Conquest of the Moon Pool which I am sure is related to the Merritt story, although Finlay was five when it was first published. Finlay did work for Merritt at The American Weekly.

Our second picture is more a direct inspiration to gaming. Get out your copy of Spelljammer and compare that image to the skeleton ship here. Which, to your mind, is more of a pulp fantasy magical flying ship. In fact, I’d love to see various people write up Finlay’s ship as a treasure or even a monster.

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