Today, Brom is known for his dark, macabre, post-apocalyptic style. So it’s a bit hard to believe that his early influences include such classic and mainstream illustrators as N.C. Wyeth and Normal Rockwell. But if you look closely at Brom’s palette and technique, you can definitely detect more than a hint of Brandywine influence in the self-taught artist. As Brom himself said, “Rockwell isn’t the kind of inspiration most people expect from me, but he just painted things so well. To me it’s not so much the genre but the way it’s done, and you have to admire his technique.”
Brom got his start illustrating for companies like Coca-Cola and CNN, but in ’89 he got a full-time job with TSR, the company that D&D made. This was a heyday for new worlds and campaign settings for D&D. Not only was TSR actively supporting both Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms, but they also gave us more off-the-wall settings like Planescape and Spelljammer.
One of Brom’s first projects for TSR was creating art for the new Dark Sun campaign setting. Instead of your traditional western European look-alike, TSR wanted something that would really stand out for this setting. They looked to the literary genres of planetary romance and Dying Earth to give them something new. And that’s exactly what Brom gave them in his dark and moody post-apocalypse-in-a-fantasy-world illustrations:
I pretty much designed the look and feel of the Dark Sun campaign. I was doing paintings before they were even writing about the setting. I’d do a painting or a sketch, and the designers wrote those characters and ideas into the story.
Since leaving TSR in 1993, he has illustrated book covers, created concept art for games and movies, and, of course, illustrated more games and comics. He also tackled other art forms. As a novelist, he made a splash in 2009 with The Child Thief, a very macabre retelling of the Peter Pan story.
Gerald Brom will be at Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy® in Austin on Monday, October 31st. You can RSVP for the event here.