Bert Phillips inspired this post with the following comment on a Power and Toughness article, “Early request for Arting Around: please critique and rate all pieces of Thallid artwork from Fallen Empires. Please?!?” This is exactly what I intend to do.

Dom Neitz suggested the title (and Hunter “Rolex” Slaton favorited his Tweet so it’s a must do).


Every Thallid illustration from Fallen Empires rated and critiqued

#11  Trevor Claxton’s Thallid from Modern Masters 2013.


I know I said Fallen Empires, but this one’s an exception to my own rule. It perfectly illustrates a point I will probably make consistently throughout future non-interview Arting Around articles: Modern Magic art is very different from old school Magic art. Not better or worse, different, very different. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Claxton’s Thallid. It looks like a character in a contemporary video game or a Miyazaki film. It’s quite beautiful. I like the illustration a lot. The world it inhabits is bright and clean and smooth. Literally none of the illustrations from the original Thallid set, Fallen Empires, has anything to do with light and clean and smooth. Every single image is gnarly and weird. Even the ones with pretty colors are drawn in a childlike-psychotic fashion. There are very bright moments in contemporary Magic art that have the originality of early Magic art, but it’s much less common today than in years past. Overall the diversity and originality of Magic illustration has kind of leveled off as the game has professionalized and Wizards of the Coast tightened up Magic’s image identity and corporatized. Again, not bad, just different.

Still, I’m happy to play Thallid MMA style or FE style.

All of the thallid art from Fallen Empires is super sweet. This was the main set that was out when I was a kid and starting MTG. The soft spot I’ve got for this thing is enormous and mushy. Let’s get into the rankings and critique.


#10 Rob Alexander’s Feral Thallid


Rob Alexander has made some of the most amazing landscape art in the history of Magic. He’s brilliant. It’s hard to be critical of old Feral Thallid here. The landscape is weird and fantasy-y but man oh man, and this will be a theme with thallid related art, I have no idea what the hell the Feral Thallid is. Is it a swampthing? A man catfish? A cat manfish? What does it have to do with spores? Definitely more fish than fungus.

#9 Edward Beard, Jr’s Thallid



I hate monsters covered in hair. That eyeball is super gross.

#8 Mark Tedin’s Thorn Thallid



Mark Tedin rules. He’s got a great painty style. His Thorn Thallid has absolutely no thorns and is more like a quadropus than a thallid. Feel free to use “quadropus” as often as you like. I give it to you.

#7 Heather Hudson’s Thorn Thallid



Great children’s book illustration. Seriously, a really good children’s book illustration.

#6 Daniel Gelon’s Thallid

When I was 13 and saw this I thought, “How is that gross-eyed sextopus gonna lead stationary fungus into battle?” and now I feel stupid because the answer is so clear: with a wizard’s staff!

#5 Daniel Gelon’s Thorn Thallid



Has anyone read Sarpadian Empires, vol. III (or any other volumes)? No? Hrm. Well, this illustration is awesome and weird and I honestly don’t know what else to say about it other than plant brains are gross when combined with tongue-limbs and blue spikes.

#4 Ron Spencer’s Thallid Devourer


I copied this drawing a hundred times when I was a kid. It defined my teenage drawing style along with Stephen Platt comic illustrations and HR Giger.

#3 Ron Spencer’s Thallid


It’s so clear what this thing is. It’s a slimy dangerous plant thing that can make more plant things and would be super shitty to ever have touch you. We’re getting into Tool music video territory here.

#2 Jesper Myrfors’s Thallid


Maybe it was a thing in the early 90s to stop motion animate small scary defenseless things and feed them to teenager’s eyeballs. It looks like Jesper took a deleted scene from Tool’s Sober music video and printed it on a Magic card. I mean, sure, he made a mushroom background, blurred it with a brush, and painted those super dimensional looking funguys on it, but I like Tool a lot so I wanted to include a link to Sober. Here it is.

and the #1 best Thallid is Jesper Myrfors’s Thorn Thallid


This illustration gave me nightmares. It is perfect. It is the best.


Matt Jones (born on at the beginning of the 8th decade of the 2oth century) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Matt’s played Magic since Revised. Lately Matt’s game has become more about hanging out with friends and shooting the shit and less about competitive tournament play. He writes the weekly Arting Around column on Hipsters of the Coast, interviewing Magic illustrators and occasionally adding his thoughts on the art of various cards and sets. You can see Matt’s artwork on his website.


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