It’s time for the first of the Carcosa interviews. This actually took place (after some hard work researching the man) in January, with every intention of publishing it in February. But February sort of ran away with my schedule due to Zine Quest and projects on and off the blog and before I knew it we were into March and wow where does the time go. Anyway, the Carcosa review is up now, so the interviews go up too! Mr. Rich Longmore is the artist behind the very alien works of Carcosa and it was very interesting to find him and learn more about his trip through the industry!
Thanks for taking the time to answer a bunch of questions today! I like to start off most of the interviews with questions about how folks got into RPGs in the first place. Do you have a history with role-playing games, and how did you end up involved in working on them professionally?
I started playing AD&D in high school, though now I don’t play as often. I worked as an artist at a software company and as a novelty designer before I decided to try freelancing for game companies about 12 years ago. I pretty much just sent samples to every company I could think of until I started getting work.
You worked on Carcosa for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. What was production of that project like? Were there any challenges or memorable events from its production?
It was quite a few years ago, and I don’t really remember anything, so I don’t think there were any difficulties with production. Probably it took me longer to get the artwork done than I had anticipated.
You captured the sense of the bizarre or grotesque in every image in Carcosa without losing sight of the sword-and-planet origins behind some of the book. What influences did you have in mind for the art in that book?
Thanks! I remember James asking for a bit of a Kirbyish ‘weird space’ atmosphere, so I tried to bring just a hint of that in without being too literal. Also maybe a bit of Mignola and Booth
Carcosa is inspired in many respects by Bierce, Chambers, and Lovecraft. Chambers and Lovecraft wrote much of the cosmic horror that tied into Carcosa – are you a fan of their brand of strange fiction and horror, or did you come into the project without that background?
I am a fan of that stuff, I was totally creeped out as a kid by “the Colour out of Space” in a collection of Lovecraft’s stories that I got in one of those school book sales.
Was it challenging to create such strange scenes? Some of the art is necessarily very alien and surely difficult to find references for!
In a way it was very liberating because it didn’t have to look accurate or make sense, the way historically based fantasy work does. I could make up whatever crazy stuff I wanted.
Carcosa has remained one of the most talked-about releases from Lamentations of the Flame Princess even after all these years, and continues to sell at shows. What do you think your contribution to that longevity is?
I would like to be able to think that my art made some contribution to its longevity, but I imagine it has more to do with what a great job they did with the book design and the fact that it’s one of those legendary early RPG touchstones.
Are you aware of the controversies surrounding the book in some circles? Were you aware of the book being a hot topic during production?
I was blissfully unaware of the controversy when the book first came out, and didn’t realize it was a hot topic during production. It was only after I started reading some of the reviews that I found out that it had a certain reputation in some circles.
Looking around the internet’s easiest RPG research corners (RPGGeek, Drivethrurpg, etc) your name doesn’t come up on a ton of titles. Have you worked on more RPG projects since? Would you like to do more?
I have, I did the art for Pelgrane Press’ Timewatch, as well as quite a few other jobs for them. I’ve been doing work for the Space 1889 game for a while now as well as work for a bunch of other publishers, but I would always love to do more.
Where can we see more of your work? What would you like to bring attention to out there in the world – in any field or medium – that you worked on, are proud of, or just plain enjoy?
You can see a project that I am having a lot of fun with – cryptids in a vintage naturalist style on my website and Etsy store; https://www.etsy.com/shop/BogelbearArt
Huge thanks to Rich for taking the time to go through this with me. Carcosa was a long time ago and he was still friendly and excited to discuss it for this interview. I found this illuminating; I’d never seen him interviewed anywhere else and his body of work is almost reclusive in how it sticks to the corners of very interesting niche segments of the hobby – I actually learned about a lot of game products from reading his answers and looking up those titles. I never would have found them otherwise, I think.
If you haven’t, go see his Etsy store. I had no idea what to expect when he said “cryptids in a vintage naturalist style” until I went and saw a terrifying wendigo looking straight out of a Victorian journal. I loved it and my wife was immediately planning to buy some of the Pokemon. My kids went nuts. I suspect they will make good gifts.
Anyway, thank you so much again to Rich Longmore for his kindness, time, and enthusiasm. I can’t wait to see more of his work in games!