Mike Rayahwk Etcetera
Life's a Beholder
"Beholder Beach" - 2006
desktop version (2000x1586, 821k)
My inner thirteen-year-old has a weakness for the worst kinds of fantasy nonsense, and this occasionally comes out in my work. Above, for instance, is a beachgoing beholder caught in a classic Coppertone moment while working on its tan.

I happened to pick up the October 2004 issue of Dragon Magazine, in which I discovered a "Dragon Talk" callout about my Knights Kingdom sets, profiled as the most D&D-friendly line of all time! I spent so many years trying to combine LEGO and gaming, and that was how I finally broke into Dragon.

A few pages earlier in the same issue, one of the editors responded to a reader request for a Dragon swimsuit issue with this quote:
"Believe it or not, we've discussed this at the office. Our harebrained scheme involved making the April issue the swimsuit issue. Of course, our plan called for a beholder in a bikini bottom (perhaps with a puppy pulling it down) in addition to the requisite beefcake picture of Redgar playing volleyball and Mialee catching some rays."
- Dragon Magazine #324, October 2004, page 12
Naturally I was compelled to paint it, with a slight modification to the puppy. Dragon was kind enough to print the painting in the July 2006 issue #345.
One Brick to Rule them All
"One Brick to Rule Them All" - Dragon Talk, Dragon Magaizine #324, October 2004, page 16
"Büttrøck the Deathmetal Lawn Gnome" - 2008
One of the big advantages of working at a game company is that sometimes you're ordered to play mandatory office Dungeons and Dragons. At the time, I knew that D&D4e was right around the corner, and this'd be my last chance to play either a gnome or a bard. So, naturally, I rolled up a 3.5e gnome bard and away we went.

What's the best kind of gnome? A lawn gnome, of course, and the the best kind of bard is a deathmetal bard. These facts are self-evident. But what's the best instrument for a deathmetal lawn gnome? This issue took some serious thought. Early suggestions included (in order) a bagpipe, a sitar, a zither, a gong, a keytar, a washboard, a blues harp, a kazoo, and an ocarina (lame). Finally somebody shouted out "more cowbell!" and Büttrøck was born.
"Büttrøck the Deathmetal Lawn Gnome" (detail)
Büttrøck is the kind of over-the-top deathmetal diva that makes all the other players at the table cringe. When their childhood home was put to the torch, Büttrøck kept the party up all night with cowbell dirges in the smoldering ruins, and the ashes became a permanent part of his facial decoration.
"Nelson's Blood," 2007
"Nelson's Blood" - 2007
Long hours of painting give me almost unlimited time to listen to podcasts, and one of my favorites was the now-defunct "Dragon's Landing Inn." Chupacabra Bob was the Inn's mascot, and at one point he disappeared for several weeks, casing the Dragon's Landing Secret Service agents to mobilize and start shaking down all the other podcasts in the region. Eventually Bob returned to the Inn on his own, and it was revealed that he'd simply been away on an unscheduled tropical vacation (which enemy podcasters had used to try and morally corrupt the poor creature, I feel certain).
I drank what?
"Envy" - 2006
A friend and I were discussing the bad fantasy novels of the Eighties, and their bad fantasy stereotype characters. She came up with Envy as a caricature of the goody-two-shoes sheltered Elven princesses. In fits of high-school-grade drama, Envy disguises herself as a human to escape the tedium of the Elven court, and indulges her adolescent wanderlust while engaging in peasant killing sprees.
Dante's Horses
"Dante's Horses" - 2005
In 2002 I worked on a project about E.M. Forster's story, "The Celestial Omnibus." I always liked the imagery of the final act with Dante's carriage, built up from the power of the Divine Comedy.
Dante's Horses
"Dante's Horses" (detail)
The carriage carries the story's enthusiastic young hero, who views the scene as an awe-inspiring adventure, and the highly-esteemed Mister Bons, who is terrified out of his wits and possibly aware that in three pages or so he's going fall from the sky and end up a mangled corpse in the middle of Bermondsey.
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