Bis­ley vs the devil

Bis­ley does Bl­iz­zard The 2000 AD and Heavy Metal leg­end joins forces with the com­pany be­hind Di­ablo III and World of War­craft

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Simon Bis­ley tells about his time with Bl­iz­zard to paint char­ac­ters from its game Di­ablo III. Find out why it felt like familiar ter­ri­tory for the comic art leg­end.

Simon Bis­ley is a weightlift­ing, bass­play­ing artist whose dis­tinc­tive style – es­sen­tially mus­cles, boobs and demons – has made him a leg­end in the world of comic books. Yet his lat­est project is a side-step from graphic nov­els: cre­at­ing art­work for Bl­iz­zard’s game Di­ablo III.

“Bl­iz­zard ap­proached me about a year ago to do some pro­mo­tional art­work on its main char­ac­ters,” says Simon. “It’s taken what I’ve done, which was hand-painted, and then digitised and an­i­mated it so it looks three-di­men­sional. Nor­mally that would be a bit corny, but th­ese are done very ef­fec­tively. It re­ally en­hances my ge­nius.”

De­spite games be­ing largely un­fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, he found him­self at home with Bl­iz­zard. “It’s ex­actly my style. I saw stuff there that was mine any­way,” he says. “It’s funny when com­pa­nies get you to cre­ate stuff, and your in­flu­ence is in their work al­ready. It comes back to you in a weird way, and it’s a huge com­pli­ment. I was prob­a­bly one of the grand­fa­thers of that style... Lis­ten to me and my ego!”

While hand-painted work was com­mon­place among the pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial of games 15 to 20 years ago, more re­cent ti­tles have re­lied heav­ily on com­put­er­gen­er­ated and dig­i­tal art. It makes sense given the vir­tual na­ture of games, but Simon be­lieves there’s a dan­ger that old-school skills will be buried by dig­i­tal art.

“You can put more of your soul into a paint­ing when you’re do­ing it hands-on,” he says. “Do­ing art­work dig­i­tally is a bit like hav­ing sex with a con­dom on – the plea­sure’s not there, but at least you get there in the end. Not us­ing a con­dom is greater plea­sure. It’s more ag­gres­sive, more or­ganic... just way bet­ter.”

Simon sees an im­por­tant role for his un­pro­tected ap­proach to art in the fu­ture, too. “It doesn’t mat­ter what medium you use, or how you get to it – it all ends up on a screen any­way,” he says. “I think the main thing is there’s a resur­gence of comic book artists. Peo­ple in the games in­dus­try have re­alised that we’re quite good at designing as well as il­lus­trat­ing stuff, and we come up with our own con­cepts. So yeah, there’s a great fu­ture for it.”

See more of Simon’s art and le­gacy

I was prob­a­bly one of the grand­fa­thers of that style... Lis­ten to me and my ego!

Di­ablo III's King Le­oric gets Bis­ley­fied. You can prac­ti­cally hear the

squeal­ing elec­tric licks... Malthael's goth-rock hy­per­bolic look is rather a good match for Simon's art style.

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