Interview with Lar deSouza, Illustrator of Illuminati, Second Edition
Last week, after we all recovered from Gen Con, we were able to catch up with Lar deSouza and get the inside scoop about illustrating Illuminati, Second Edition:
Q: When did SJ Games first contact you about updating Illuminati?
At Gen Con 2017 I got to meet Steve for the first time. It was at that time during the discussion that the idea of me redrawing Illuminati got floated. My wife and I love all those crazy conspiracy theories (I favor Bigfoot and cryptids, but she's more apocalyptic theorists – we're such a pair ). The idea of redrawing this game really excited me.
Q: How did you approach modernizing the art for a classic card game?
I was initially a little daunted by the responsibility since this is a game with such a great legacy. But I'm a cartoony guy and the original art is much more "action comic". However, I realized that if Steve wanted that he probably wouldn't have offered me the chance. I decided not to 'modernize' but to go back to an era where a lot of these secret organizations spawned. The Cold War! I looked at a lot of old commercial art, some classic propaganda from the post-war years and early television animation.
Q: You're Canadian. Did this give you a different perspective on all the weird cards in the game?
I don't think so. Some of them might have been originally more USA-centric, but what's the point of a One World Order without Canada and its Polar Bear Ninjas and Mounted Police Assassins. Oh, dear...that might be a secret.
Q: What surprised you the most about this assignment?
My surprise was really how much creative freedom SJGames gave me. I was choosing such a different direction to head in, artistically, I kinda kept expecting to be reined in a bit more. After the first few cards, I honestly felt that I might be asked to go back and do the action comics look. Instead, I got full support and that just motivated me to have even more fun with the illustrations.
Q: Did you refer back to the older cards as you worked, or did you want to keep yourself uncontaminated by what went before?
Some cards the only description I got was 'look at the old card' but I ignored the layouts and just went for the heart of each. I wanted larger, bolder images. Knowing these images would only be an inch and a bit high in the final printing I tried to keep them very focused and uncluttered.
Q: Have you played Illuminati?
Alas, I have not yet.
Q: You've done a fair amount of Munchkin work. How did illustrating Illuminati compare to a Munchkin game?
Illustrating Munchkin cards I want to include more environment with the images. Really make them a window into the fantasy world. With Illuminati, it was not only stylistically different but the purpose of most cards is a piece of an eventual whole for the player. I wanted them part of the visual equation players created for their secret organizations.
Q: Where can fans find you online?
I'm all over the Internet. You can read the comics I draw, with my writing partner Ryan Sohmer, at Least I Could Do (licd.com) and Looking for Group (lfg.co) and I post a lot of random cartoons on my social media feeds. I'm most active on Twitter @lartist.