Ian Miller is one of the most prolific, successful and widely-published illustrators of the late 20th century. In my mind his oeuvre sits beside that of the amazing John Blanche as, perhaps, a cackling two-headed crow might sit beside a robotic floating skull. They have both contributed heavily to illustrative aspect of RPG and tabletop games and were teamed briefly in their dual-monograph Ratspike.
Miller was born in 1946 but the post-war austerity of his childhood was eased by his mother's involvement in theatre. Her dressing-up box was an endless source of entertainment. As a child he would draw scenes populated by Apaches, Egyptians and so forth, which culminated in him going on to study at Central St Martin's School of Art (arguably Britain's foremost art college). His trademark style of tightly woven, mesh-like pen-and-ink lines evokes memories of the great engravers like Durer while the stark tones hark back to German Expressionism.
His body of work is huge and has been a defining voice in late 20th century science fiction and fantasy visual culture. It is now impossible to think of Gormenghast without remembering Miller's depictions of the rotting edifice or to read Lovecraft and not see his bulbous, amorphous, vegetable forms. It was Miller who was key to defining the bleak aspects of Warhammer 40,000. While some of the illustrations in the original Rogue Trader rulebook are straight out of the pages of a happy-go-lucky 80s sci-fi comic, Miller's plates for the tome are populated with broken, sallow-faced infantrymen, half-starved and shivering from shell shock. In the two original Realm of Chaos bibles (which were a landmark in quality and volume) Miller's contribution stands proud. His illustrations are rightly given pride-of-place opening chapters and they nail the surreal, terrifying and demoniac world that is described. His rendering of the Chaos icons are canon and still used to this day.
I shall leave you with a small selection of Miller's work. This post is the first in a series on Miller and in the future I will write more about his publications, examine specific works and tell you about the severed leg wrapped in string he gave me.