originally posted on July 19, 2017
One of my favourite Instagram accounts is the frequently updated page of illustrator, graphic designer, zinester, dungeon master and all around good dude Bodie Hartley. Unlike most of the art accounts I follow, the text in Bodie’s posts is essential when it comes to character drawings, as each character is accompanied by a delightful description or micro narrative.
CW: Hi Bodie! A while ago I overheard you say that it was much harder to gather likes from posts that are not populated by characters. I apologize for being part of the character focused part of your audience, always waiting for new wizards and creatures to appear on my feed – even though the wonderful aesthetics of your dungeons or landscapes are definitely not lost on me. The way that each new character comes with a short description appeals to me greatly. There is a hint of story every time, a potential for a greater narrative. As somebody who has been playing D&D for a long time and draws their inspiration from the high fantasy genre, is this something that just automatically happens in your head with each character you draw?
BH: I don’t usually plan a story out or any kind of background info for a creature or character before drawing. As I’m drawing I usually form a bit of an idea of where they are and what they’re doing, they’re not usually just floating in space even if I haven’t drawn a background (unless it’s some sort of magical void beast). So when I get to the end and am posting the drawing, I’ll have a bit of a situation or a placement for the character in my mind which I draw upon to come up with a silly little mini story. The meat of the stories is definitely an after-thought.
Has any character or creature you’ve created like this ever found their way into any of your RPG adventures?
Not too often, it has happened before when I take a real liking to a character and want to explore them more. One of these was Magic Strauss, the wizard with a bookshelf on his back, I just really enjoyed the concept and thought it’d be fun to have the players in my D&D game come across him, he was taking some wizards in training on an excursion to a giant eagle’s nest. I found it really easy to present him in the game, I think because I’d spent a decent amount of time drawing him and thinking about who he is.
Your characters can sometimes easily be placed in the high fantasy genre, but sometimes they go beyond that. What are your main influences when it comes to character building?
The biggest influence other than D&D and fantasy novels would be video games. Games like Diablo, Minecraft, Fallout, Zelda. Horror to a lesser degree but I definitely draw on ideas and themes from the Lovecraft Mythos. I’m also pretty into podcasts about folklore and old stories, Myths and Legends and Lore are the two main ones, they definitely influence my creativity.
Is gaming your main outlet for storytelling or have you ever dedicated more time to a character in the form of writing or maybe a comic?
I have tried to write more typical stories before, there are a few things I come back to and work on every now and then, it’s just not my main passion or focus. My preference is presenting worlds and platforms for people to find their own stories in. My love for this kind of work came from the Dinotopia books (I think), the big ones which were presented kind of like a travel journal of a guy who washed up on an island inhabited by ancient civilisations and dinosaurs.
Which reminds me: I haven’t yet mentioned Slowquest, your Choose Your Own Adventure zine, in which of course the reader self-inserts as the main character. Are you working on Quest 2 yet?
Yes! I was about to press print on it this weekend actually but I decided to re-write the ending. So I just need to have it proof-read and I’ll be setting up the old zine production line (comprised of my family and friends). And Quest 3 is written as well actually. I’m headed off to a zine-fair over east next month (ZICS in Brisbane), it’d be super cool to have the third finished for that but it’ll be quite a feat to have it done that quickly.
I’m very much looking forward to these upcoming quests! Do you have any other projects in mind/in production that you would like to mention?
Probably just BO-MART, a zine vending machine currently located at Paper Mountain in Perth. It’s been going really well so far, I’m just sourcing a bunch of new zines after selling out of the current lineup. I’m really excited to get more locally made work in there.
Top 5 artists at the moment?
Top 5 songs/albums/podcasts to listen to while working?
- Harmontown (podcast)
- My Favourite Murder (podcast)
- Lore (podcast)
- Clipping – Midcity (album)
- Electric Wizard – Dopethrone (album)
Another Top 5 of your own choice?
Top 5 currently running or recent TV shows according to me: