Iain McCaig, From The Forest Of Doom To The Broadsword And The Beast

Though he illustrated only a handful of publications in the Fighting Fantasy line of roleplaying gamebooks by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, co-founders of Britain’s Games Workshop, there is no doubt that the artist Iain McCaig contributed significantly to genre’s early popularity. His “Shape Changer” cover for the 1983 edition The Forest of Doom, third in the original 1982 to 1995 series by Puffin Books, has been reproduced in many different media, from jigsaws to computer games, and remains a perennial favourite among lovers of fantasy art. Since the early 1990s the American-born artist has gone on to find far greater fame as an art designer in Hollywood, working with Industrial Light and Magic and Lucasfilm.

I have included two examples of his early works in this post. The aforementioned “Shape Changer” from the Fighting Fantasy series, which is shown below, and the sleeve illustration for the 1982 concept album The Broadsword and the Beast by prog-rock group Jethro Tull. I have a some affection for the latter artwork because I painted a rough approximation of it on the bedroom wall of a former girlfriend in the early 2000s, to her great delight. Unfortunately we were not meant to be and her next partner insisted on taking a brush and some magnolia paint to it. C’est la vie…

Forest of Doom by Ian Livingstone, cover illustration by Iain McCaig
Forest of Doom by Ian Livingstone, cover illustration by Iain McCaig
The Broadsword and the Beast by Jethro Tull, the 1982 album cover illustrated by Iain McCaig
The Broadsword and the Beast by Jethro Tull, the 1982 album cover illustrated by Iain McCaig
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