Kutalik, Hydra, and Art

This post is a tribute to Chris Kutalik of the Hill Cantons Blog. I have never met Chris in person, but I consider him a friend, and one of the most fun writers and game masters I have met.

It was late 2014 when Chris Kutalik approached me about illustrating the Misty Isles of the Eld, the third book in his Slumbering Ursine Dunes series.

I was flattered and a bit astonished.

I had only begun sharing my drawings under my own name in 2013, on Google+. For a long time, I had felt that my ideas and my art and my writing were a bit of a dead end. A trivial, childish pursuit that I should get over. Five years of the great recession right after entering the job market, an adolescence spent in a rural town, and other tribulations will do that to a person.

With its private circles, it felt a safe space to do so.

The reaction kept me going, encouraging me through dreary office days and doodles drawn on post-it notes.

I still have a box full of those notes.

So, along comes Chris, asking me if I would like to illustrate the Misty Isles. He said that my art was perfect for the acid punk Bowie aesthetic he envisioned for the Isles.

This is a review of the Misty Isles of the Eld by the Questing Beast. It’s a good OSR-review YouTube channel and Ben Milton is good people.

It was my first big commission in a couple of years, and I frankly inundated Chris with art. The sums weren’t that large in the grand scheme of things, but for me, there and then, they were affirmation that my art mattered.

That Chris—a real person, publishing a real book—liked it enough to commission more and pay for it to go into his book.

When I got my slim print-on-demand volume I didn’t cry, but I felt something move within me.

For that, Chris and the Hill Cantons will always have pride of place in my links and in my memory.

Quite aside from that, the Hill Cantons Blog is a zany, fun romp of a blog. It’s D&D as a wonderful mix of kitsch and chaos, of low humour and high ideals, of talking animals and dark dungeons. With every post it rekindled my respect and love for the campy and cute and its place in creating the space for that unique pastiche that can only come about through actual play by fun people in a vivid, living group.

This is a blog always worth following and I look forward to reading new posts.

The Hill Cantons is a part of the Hydra Cooperative, and you can find the lot on the Hydra Facebook page.

Classical patreon plug: if you like my art and writing, the best way to support me is to either commission something directly, or to become my supporter on the Stratometaship patreon where I write and illustrate cool, metal-inspired rpg  adventures and settings.