Saturday, March 20, 2010

Maybe Twitter IS Useful...

Two weeks ago I was idly monitoring my Twitter feed in the background as I worked on the current Projecto Disastro at work, and I saw a tweet go by from @ab_Chaosium; these are the guys who publish the Call of Cthulhu RPG, and who used to publish the RuneQuest RPG. Those two things together have taken up a tremendous amount of both my free time and free cash since sometime around 1989, so I feel I owe Chaosium a certain debt of gratitude for all the entertainment of the last two decades. The tweet was something to the effect of "We need a quick map drawn for an upcoming publication, anyone out there want to submit something?"

Now, to say I love maps is no small thing. I collect world atlases and geography books; I have a prized 1923 atlas that I use when I run Call of Cthulhu, and a very cool one from 1941 that depicts Countries Invaded by the Axis and Countries Annexed by the Soviets and so on, with obviously last-minute overlays showing changing borders... I have a full set of Carpenter's Geographical Readers, dating from 1899-1920 or so. I draw elaborate maps for the role-playing games I run, when I have time; my favorite is to put them on foamcore and use map tacks to represent player and bad guy locations. So naturally I emailed Chaosium and offered to submit a map. They responded in the affirmative, so I drew them a very quick-and-dirty map per their instructions and fired it off.

Dustin--who's been with Chaosium for ages and who I know I met at some of my 1990's Gencon forays--is a very cool guy and was quick to let me know that they might need some more maps in the near future, and would I mind sending him a few samples of my work. One thing led to another, and I ended up drawing him 3 samples: a straight-up geographic map of Tasmania, an interior map of a 1950's malt shop done entirely in Illustrator, and this:

Now, setting aside the fact that the title font's hard to read, I thought it turned out rather well for a 100% silly map. I wanted to do something illustrative (that is, something with some dimensionality/pictographic depictions of features vs. a straight overhead view.) Once I got started I just kept on adding little goofy bits to it til I finally figured that I'd better stop before I sank my chances with Chaosium completely. But--perhaps not surprisingly, Dustin was amused (by the satellite dish in particular, it seems) and responded by giving me a few small art assignments for an upcoming product. So, what do you know! Twitter led me to a gig where I'm doing something that is pure pleasure for me (drawing maps) and getting to hopefully eventually see them in print from a company whose products I love. Can't beat that with a stick!