For our current mini-series “The Devil in Whitechapel,” we wanted to create new promotional artwork more in keeping with its horror-themed atmosphere. So we commissioned an artist particularly well-known for his mastery of the sinister, the strange, and the macabre, Anson Maddocks.
Maddocks created a huge number of original art for cards in the early days of Magic: the Gathering (1993-1996, then intermittently until about 2004), several becoming perennial fan favorites, including the Hurloon Minotaur, Fallen Angel, Animate Dead, Llanowars Elves, Cyclopean Tomb, Serendib Efreet, Drop of Honey and Sengir Vampire.
His work stands out thanks to the originality of vision he brings to somewhat overly-familiar themes. The Hurloon Minotaur, with tattooed face and horns, is not like any bull-man you’ve ever seen, with a particular shagginess and an extra air of intelligence.
Other of his works, like Animate Dead, highlight not just a fine eye for composition but a uniquely dark imagination. “I tend to react to concepts impulsively at first, and then pull back and try to be objective about them in order to find something new. This applies to everything, so I think my appreciation for the fact that I may have wandered into uncomfortable territory is sometimes lost.”
Maddocks’ illustration for Whitechapel is another example. There are hundreds of images on the internet of a Ripper-like figures hiding in the shadows on London streets. But there’s a particular quality of inky menace here, the only details visible being two eerie mechanical hands unsheathing the business part of a swordcane, that makes it undeniably his work.
Since his last pieces for Magic back in 2004, Maddocks admits to having been something of a recluse, and relocated to small-town Nevada two years ago after over 20 years in Seattle. These days he tries to keep in touch with his Magic fans through appearances at conventions—though due to the amount of travel and preparation, he limits his trips to only three or four a year.
There’s much more interaction with collectors and enthusiasts via his website, where he offers a range of services “from the affordable to extravagant,” including signatures, custom card alterations, small card-sized drawings and paintings, and even full-scale painting commissions. “I want people to know that I am accessible and how easily they can commission their own original art from me.”
In addition to a new card game coming in the next couple of years (details still top secret), he and his partner and business manager Brenda are working on a photo book of his art, complete with back stories on the various pieces and additional notes on his creative process. His social media is newly active as Anson Maddocks Art on Facebook and Instagram—and fortunately for him, Brenda takes the lead in keeping these up to date and engaging. “Honestly I tend to get a bit overwhelmed by keeping up with social media and messages,” he admits—which is a particular difficulty for an independent artist. All of this new activity means this is a great time to be following Anson’s work, whether you’re an original fan of Magic or someone who’s seeing it for the first time.