Con Artists: Brian Colin, Featured Artist

Con Artists Travel
Brian Colin poses with one of the many creatures from Revilo
Brian Colin poses with one of the many creatures from Revilo

Many fathers dream of giving their children the world, Brian Colin took it one step further. He created an entire world for and with his son. When I passed Brian’s work at MegaCon Orlando, I was struck by the lifelike fantasy creatures and had to stop to meet the man behind them. I didn’t expect to find a fully developed open world for RPG gamers, but that is exactly what Revilo turned out to be.

Brian was great about giving us a little insight into his journey to sculpture. He started doing conventions in 1999 as a comic artist. He debuted a three-issue crime comic series that was entirely black and white and a forty-page comic anthology at his first show, the Small Press Expo, which was held outside of DC.

While comics were Brian’s first love of storytelling, and he even had distribution through Diamond, by 2007, he realized his efforts weren’t really going the direction that he wanted. He began customizing toys.

It didn’t take long for Brian to realize that he truly loved sculpting. It would be this realization that would take Brian from comics to sculpting. This paved the way for the birth of Brian’s creatures and, eventually, Revilo.

My toys started to look more lifelike, and as such, I felt they needed to grow in size. It was in the fall of 2009 that I started working on larger beasts and conceptualized the world Revilo where all of my critters live.

Wyatt having fun while helping his father on develop the world of Revilo
Wyatt having fun while helping his father develop the world of Revilo

Just before the birth of his son Wyatt, Brian realized that he wanted to build a world that his son could enjoy and eventually collaborate with him in the building process. So he began to conceptualize Revilo, which is named for his son. Wyatt’s middle name is Oliver. Revilo is Oliver spelled backward.

After meeting Brian at MegaCon, and learning a bit about how his world came to be, I knew I had to share the story of his world. I invited him to be a part of Con Artists and through that communication, I learned so much about this incredible world, its creation, and its creatures.

You’ve done some amazing sculpts of your creatures, are all of the creatures from you or Wyatt’s concepts? Is there a creative process that helps inspire these or is it just when an idea hits you create?

The process usually just starts with me sketching, and then seeing where it takes me. Now that I have created so many species, I have been trying to focus on which regions of Revilo need a little more population. Wyatt recently had a concept for a new species that resides in the desert region that I’m very excited about developing. Many concepts of creatures have also been highly influenced by my wife Kerry’s input. She’s been a huge part of the writing and world development, and her ideas find their way into my sculpting constantly. There’s a new species, the Barigarn, which was a collaboration with Morgan Hazel. He backed the Kickstarter of my Revilo: Creature Collection Volume 1 at the Creature Collab level, and had some great ideas. I’ve also made other creature sculptures, like dragons and other traditional fantasy beasts, on commission.

We’ve discussed that Wyatt, your son, has had a lot of input in Revilo including the Fiery Pits region. You mentioned he’s even added to the pantheon of gods. Can you tell us a bit about the pantheon in general and some of the gods Wyatt has influenced the creation of?

The pantheon of gods started with the original god Creedona and her sister Ghyrma. After Creedona created the world, she grew lonely and created her six children: Anaxygosal, Solleel, the Embreson, Scintilliam, Viredith, and Corsuvine. Ghyrma, who always tried to follow behind her sister, found it impossible to be in so many places at once, and so she sired her own child, the Veil.

Wyatt had the idea for the Embreson, god of fire and passion, to have volcanoes on his back. He also had the idea for him to be hibernating beneath the Fiery Pits. He was playing a lot of Skylanders at the time that we were coming up with the gods, and wanted all of the different elements represented within the pantheon. Corsuvine the god of air and Anaxygosal the god of water were his direct ideas.The rest of the gods were highly inspired by Wyatt’s ideas to include all of the elements.

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I was eyeballing your map of Revilo, and I wanted to ask about the Forest of the Dead that surrounds the Valley of Despair. That sounds like Monday at the office for most people, but can you tell me a bit about them? How they came about and any specific dangers in those regions?

There was a large battle among the gods as the world became more inhabited by intelligent species. When the battle was over, Creedona forced all of the gods into hibernation, including her niece the Veil. The Veil is the god of darkness, shadows, and night. After being magically confined to the forest, the Veil became a large gaping mouth on the forest floor. She has used her powers to create Unliving servants. They bring any who wander into the Forest of the Dead directly to her.

The Valley of Despair got its unfortunate name from being surrounded by the evil Forest of the Dead. Its inhabitants were trapped for so long that their natural resources were depleted, and despair was rampant throughout the valley. It wasn’t until a very imaginative Groblynn invented a way to tunnel under the Forest that the Valley began to thrive again. They kept the name as a reminder to always be thankful for what they have.

At MegaCon, I was so taken with Brian’s world and his upcoming project that I made some purchases for my son. I will be making my own purchases as well because this project is going to be incredible. Brian explains it best.

I have partnered with Norse Foundry to create a series of dungeon crawl modules in a deck of cards. They are meant to be used with existing RPGs like FATE and D&D 5th edition. Each one is set in a different region of my fantasy world Revilo and will easily introduce roleplayers old and new to my creatures. We just recently printed the first two decks and are looking to Kickstart three new ones. You can take a look at what they are like here:

Part of how I discovered Brian’s upcoming project was that I noticed some of the cool looking coins that are a part of the currency in Revilo and asked about them at MegaCon. Naturally, I asked Brian to elaborate on it further on the monetary system in Revilo for Con Artists.

At the convention, I purchased some coins for my oldest. I noticed that the coins of Revilo are available, specifically the coins for Cree and Murk’s Hollow. Care to tell me a bit about them? How they play in to the world & how you came up with their design?

The main currency in Revilo is Cree. The symbol on the back of most of the coins represents Creedona, the mother of the other gods. The different creatures on the front and the textures behind them are representative of the regions in which those coins originate. The coins with the MH on the back stand for Murk’s Hollow. Baron Murk Von Horvath recently overthrew the reigning government and renamed the capital city Murk’s Hollow. He minted his own coins as currency for the city. These coins are not recognized as tender throughout most of Revilo, although they are popping up more frequently.

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I did a bit of digging around Brian’s website and discovered the world is rich not just with lore, but with unique creatures as well. Many of these have already been brought to life through Brian’s sculpting. There is even a Creature Club that runs through Patreon but doesn’t look like any Patreon I’ve ever seen. It has the look and feel of something more personal.

I noticed you have a creature club membership, which is awesome since they get first shot at your incredible sculpts. How did you come up with that and was there a specific impetus for this club? It’s an incredible way to present a Patreon account vs just a link

Thank you! I watch a weekly web show, One Fantastic Week, almost religiously. There’s always some great information to gleam off of the fantasy artists they interview. I can’t remember who said it, but someone had mentioned treating Patreon more like a fan club from their youth. Something more exclusive for the folks who believe enough in you to support you every month. I really took that to heart and wanted to open up and share more with my patrons to make them feel like they are part of my exclusive Creature Club.

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I sincerely encourage those of you into tabletop RPGs to take a peek—from one gamer to another. I’ll be doing another article on the specifics of this game including pictures of the cards. I’ll definitely be supporting the Kickstarter but I had to ask Brian about the age range of his world.

Given that Wyatt had a lot of input in to your world, I wanted to ask about the age ranges you intended to target. I know with RPGs the DM/GM can alter the world to accommodate their specific group but when you began building Revilo, what range roughly were you envisioning?

I really wanted the world to have a mass appeal for all age ranges. There are certainly some darker tones to some of the world’s history and to some of the species, but I think that anyone can enjoy Revilo and then add their own tone to it. The stories and themes aren’t simplified, but for the most part, Revilo is an all-ages product. Even kids like my daughter Ruby, who is 4, can enjoy the sculptures and make up their own stories to go along with them. The Cardography RPG modules I would leave up to the discretion of the parent, because of the violence that is usually in those adventures. I’ve run it for a few 8 year olds, and they have had a blast!

As a GeekMom, this is exactly what I was hoping to hear. There’s a real bonding that happens when you run a tabletop campaign for your kids. We have a traditional A D&D Sunday session in our house, but I can see us switching to Revilo when we wrap our current adventure.

In the meantime, I am keeping up with Brian’s work and watching Revilo grow. You can do the same by following him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can get updates about his creations by signing up for his mailing list and get first dibs on some of his amazing creations via his Patreon. Also, be on the lookout for him at these upcoming conventions:

  • GenCon 2018 (Artist table 57)
  • DragonCon 2018 (In Norse Foundry’s booth)
  • Illuxcon
  • PAXUnplugged  (In Norse Foundry’s booth)
  • PAX South  (In Norse Foundry’s booth)
  • GAMA

For more information on events Brian will be attending, keep an eye on his events page.

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