Russ Nicholson is an illustrator best known over the years for his black and white fantasy art. He has contributed to such notable game related titles such as as 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain', first in the illustrated series of Fighting Fantasy game books by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. He also illustrated many creatures in the original UK contribution to the first edition of the 'The Fiend Folio', and the six original published "episodes" of 'The Fabled Lands', and numerous Games Workshop products, and to their magazine White Dwarf. He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Scotland. Russ moved to England in the 1970's and, save for a brief sojourn in Papua New Guinea, has lived and worked in England ever since. For over fifty years Russ has produced work for a wide range of companies and publishers, including Puffin, Pan, Collins, Hodder and Stoughton, TSR, Games Workshop, Hoggshead Publishing, DC Thomson, and Le Grimoire Publications. His work has been reproduced in over twenty countries.Deconstructing this a little...
Nicholson was educated at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, part of Dundee University. He came to the attention of fantasy fans through his work for fanzines in the 1970s. His early work appeared in girls' comics and annuals. He has revealed: "I was introduced to the world of drawing comics through a comic artist, Ken Houghton, who ran a comic artist evening class at a school where I taught Art & Design."
Nicholson contributing to Bunty, Diana, Jinty, Misty and Tracy and he also produced cartoons for Mayfair in around 1980. His career really took off in the early 1980s with his association with the Fighting Fantasy games books. Nicholson had been the illustrator of Dicing With Dragons: An Introduction to Role-Playing Games (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982) written by Ian Livingstone. The book included an adventure game, 'Eye of the Dragon'.
In the mid-1970s, Livingstone was the co-founder, with Steve Jackson, of Games Workshop, who were importers of Dungeons & Dragons and publishers of White Dwarf. Nicholson has been a prolific illustrator for the magazine and the company.
Nicholson also created creatures for the Fiend Folio Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game book (TSR, 1981). The six episodes of the 'Fabled Land' series, co-written by Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson, were (1) The War-Torn Kingdom (1995); (2) Cities of Gold and Glory (1995); (3) Over the Blood-Dark Sea (1995); (4) The Plains of Howling Darkness (1995); (5) The Court of Hidden Faces (1996); and (6) Lords of the Rising Sun (1996).
Other stories illustrated by Nicholson have included numerous titles by Dave Morris, including The Lands of Legend (Corgi, 1986), The Battlepits of Krath (Knight, 1987), The Kingdom of Weird (Knight, 1987), The Walls of Spyte by Morris & Oliver Johnson (Knight, 1988), Necklace of Skulls (Mammoth, 1993), Knightmare: Lord Fear's Domain (Yearling, 1994), Heart of Ice (Mammoth, 1994), Twist of Fate (Mammoth, 1994). He was also the illustrator for the Richard Carpenter's Robin of Sherwood Gamebooks: The King's Demon by Graham Staplehurst, 1987; The Sword of the Templar by Paul Mason, 1987.
Examples of Russ Nicholson's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.