Remembering Ralph Niese 1983-Infinity

Last week the Art World and the Indy Toy Scene suffered a huge loss. Ralph Niese passed away, and judging by the outpouring of love for dude he touched a LOT of lives. Seriously so so so many Indy Toy cats had Ralph do work for them at some point. Add in the artists and art fans his incredible style touched over the years, and the world as a whole suffered a massive blow. I was lucky enough to have talked to Ralph many times over the years. Whether it was on FB, October Toys, or any number of message boards across the web. I was even luckier to have commissioned Ralph to do two pieces for me in the near decade I knew the guy. So I really wanted to open the archives, and get some of that stuff on here for the world to see, and to stay as a monument to this man’s genius…

The first piece I ever had Ralph do was way back in 2013 for the 1 year anniversary of Doomkick (back when this was a simple toy review blog..ancient history. Simpler times.) I didn’t even know what I wanted, but I knew after seeing Ralph’s killer Glyos art that I wanted a piece of this guy’s art for my own. We had struck up a friendship over on the OT Glyos forums, and I hit him up seeing what it would cost. Ralph being the guy he was traded me this piece for some American Mass Market toys…the only one I really remember was a Mattel Zur-En-Arrh Batman figure…probably because that figure was so ridiculous…Anyway shipping a box of toys from the store to Germany from the US is certainly worth some good art…much less art from a true talent like Ralph. Not knowing what I wanted Ralph and I kicked back and forth a few ideas, until he asked me to name a few of my favorite toys and characters, and disappeared for a few days. When he came back he dropped this absolute beauty on me, and it has remained the DK FB Banner to this day…despite no longer having ANYTHING to do with the site.

The second piece Ralph did was the Algor v Cultists picture done earlier this year. I had long wanted to get Ralph on some TEWOJ Art, but working on so many projects didn’t leave a ton of budget to pay Ralph’s (totally justified and amazing value) prices. However early in 2020 I had a little extra gas in that TEWOJ Budget tank , and I hit Ralph up with a request for the cover of TEWOJ Comics Issue #3. Algor fighting some Cultists in a castle as direction. Once again a few days later Ralph came back with the above sketch. It blew my mind. Exactly the vibe I was looking for which is why I wanted Ralph to begin with…dude was a expert at nailing the vibe of a project… I told him as much, and how it was about damn time I got him on some TEWOJ shit. His response? ” All you had to do was ask”, and that was the thing about Ralph, this man didn’t see himself as the god among men he clearly was…he was just Ralph, and no matter how long had passed or what the topic was he always that good old boy you loved talking to. We talked about how we now both wanted some cultists figs, and how hard it would be to get him one of the upcoming ROTU Algor with Mount sets, and I told him for him not at all hard…hell id trade him a few sets for some more art, and that was it. Never in a million years would I have thought that would be the last conversation I’d have with a dude who was a couple years younger than myself, but I guess that’s 2020 for you. Had I known it would be the last time we talked there is a lot more I’d of said to him (A recurring feeling this year unfortunately), but we can never know so I’ll have to settle for celebrating the amazing talent dude had any chance I can get, and I know if there is anything after this life Ralph sits at the table with Kirby, Frazetta, Moebius, and the rest of history’s best artists. Enjoy some WIP shots of the Amazing TEWOJ piece below, and the finished cover to issue #3. Do yourself a favor, and go find any of this man’s art you can, and soak your eyeballs in the glory of it. While the world lost a bright talent we’re all better for having witnessed it. Ralph Niese 1983-Infinty a true legend.

The Butcher of Karnok

 

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The moons cast their soft glow upon the streets of Karnok as Thulf walked down the uneven cobblestone road weaving through the market district. It had been a quiet Knight for the Cityguard, and he was eagerly awaiting passing by the taverns to grab a flask of Grog. He barely heard the soft rustle of fabric in the alley to his left, but he couldn’t miss the unmistakable death rattle of some unfortunate soul he heard from a few stalls down. Thulf spun around, drawing his sword as he ran back towards the alley. As he made his way between the stacked crates and barrels he heard a light tapping on the roof above, but he was too distracted by what his lantern had revealed! Slumped against the alley wall was a corpse, a corpse that appeared to have been there quite some time based on how incredibly dried out it looked. Thulf pulled his bell from his belt and started ringing it to alert the rest of the Cityguard to his position as he wondered if this would get him a bonus from his superiors. Unfortunately for Thulf he wouldn’t be doing much of anything after what felt like a sack of bricks landed on top of him. Thulf’s last thought in this world was just how dry he felt… Continue reading “The Butcher of Karnok”

Chapter 1: The Search For Algor.

It was a beautiful day in the Emerald Caverns, but a dark cloud hung over the entire Slime Kingdom. No one had seen Prince Algor or Toron in months, King Valdar had sent scouts across the entire planet looking for the two. Most of the scouts had made it back with no leads to the whereabouts of the Prince, however one scout had an interesting story to tell. While searching the vast graveyard on the edge of Barrwood Forrest this scout had stopped at a crossroads tavern to rest. While he enjoyed a warm meal and some ale he overheard two hunters talking about some kind of commotion deep in Barrwood. He bought the men a few drinks and asked what happened. They told him there had been a monster attack near a Grogglin village, and the Grogglins had a gravely injured Slime they were nursing back to health. As soon as possible the scout had secured a carriage back to the Royal Castle to inform the King. Upon hearing the story King Valdar assembled a party to venture into the Forrest. As the group was preparing to leave Princess Ikari arrived ready to go, but Valdar,fearing any more harm befall his family did not want the Princess to accompany him. Princess Ikari being more than capable of fending for herself assured her father that not only would she certainly be going with them, but also she would not rest until they had found her brother.  Continue reading “Chapter 1: The Search For Algor.”

Lore: The Monastery at the center of the World

The Snow whipped around Prince Algor’s head as he pulled his fur vest closer to his (near frozen) body while ahead Toron was peering off in the distance through his spyglass. The old slime turned around “Well Al, it looks like we’re on the right track to the northern pass if we can chart this mountain trail …in a blizzard…with a squadron of Shocktroopers on our tai…” Algor cut Toron off mid sentence “ So basically easy breezy right buddy?” the Prince said with a smile as he blew into his cupped hands.

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Lore: The Search for Algor Chapter 6:

Continued from Part 5

Toron and his party after four days travel had finally reached the edge of the Desert of Morose. The party consisted of Toron, Princess Ikari, Leera the Human Warrior, Grar a Gatonian Thief, Hepzibar a Reptalos Mage, and Montirk a Dwarvinian Paladin. The group stood in the shade provided by the trees of the Vallorian Jungle (which bordered the desert) getting ready to start their journey through the sand. Continue reading “Lore: The Search for Algor Chapter 6:”

Lore: Evils of the past

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The sun was shining above Hawkstorm Keep, and the creatures of Frogmire Marsh buzzed all around as the Slime Knights trained in the walled off courtyard, but inside the small castle, the air itself seemed to be somber as Prince Algor and Toron prepared for a journey to the Lair of the Slime Elder Magi. After their encounter with Quazarec in Bakurados Bay, the two Slimes had plenty of time to talk on the return trip, and Toron had told Algor EVERYTHING…The darkness inside Algor, his questions about the Magi, and the strange Skeleton Idols. Algor had a lot of questions, but Toron had little answers so they decided to pay a visit to Magi.

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