Ron Embleton art surfaces in fantasy role playing game book, Camelot, based on Arthurian legend

Role playing game company FASERIP has utilised the stunning art of Ron Embleton under license to enhance its fantasy source book, FASERIPopedia: Camelot, by Jonathan Nolan.

FASERIPopedia: Camelot, by Jonathan Nolan

Ronald Sydney Embleton (1930 – 1988) was a prolific illustrator and comic strip artist whose work remains popular to this day, and his later fine art, held by David Messum’s Studio Gallery in London, highly regarded. His many credits include Express Weekly, TV Century 21, Look and Learn, and his infamous “Wicked Wanda” strip for Penthouse.

The Camelot sourcebook, published earlier this year, uses the retroclone superhero rules in the FASERIPopedia by the much-praised RPG creator Jonathan Nolan. The book enables game runners to run a whole fantasy roleplaying game, using the world of King Arthur as source material, including one hundred of his Knights of the Round Table (Jonathan relates that some sources indicate there were 1500 knights, so you’re getting away lightly!), their enemies, their castles and keeps, abbeys, monsters, magical items and more.

The sourcebook – available in print from Lulu and Amazon, and digitally through DriveThru – includes maps, Ron Embleton artwork fully licensed from the IP owner, and countless details for adventures.

The description, of course, prompted enquiring minds to ponder the original use of the Ron Embleton art for the book’s cover, which has been amended, the final cover with extended “sky” hopefully better looking than online promotional images for its price.

Comics archivist Phil Rushton traced the cover art to Ron’s work on the story “The Magic Apples” for Once Upon a Time in 1971, a British children’s magazine published between 1969 and 1973, a property today owned by Look and Learn. The story began in in No. 110, and Steve Holland, publisher of Bear Alley Books, provided the information that the Camelot cover is the final panel from the first episode/

Look and Learn own the copyright of some 30,000 outstanding illustrations that appeared in sixteen classic children’s illustrated magazines, including Look and Learn (1962-82), excluding certain strips such as “The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire”, rights to that today owned by 2000AD publisher, Rebellion.

Some of the Look and Learn archive, including numerous artworks by Ron Embleton, are available through Bridgeman Images, including the book’s cover artwork, from Once Upon a Time, and other picture agencies. But you can also license the image, and others from the story, directly from Look and Learn.

Once Upon a Time No. 110, cover by Ron Embleton, with thanks to Phil Rushton
Once Upon a Time No. 110, cover by Ron Embleton, with thanks to Phil Rushton

Strangely, the licensed image differs from the panel of “The Magic Apples” published in Once Upon a Time, from the first episode of the story, which includes a number of swans.

“I only have scans, so I can’t speak for the original artwork,” says Steve of the differences, the swans perhaps added to the art for publication in by some unknown hand back in the 1970s, to match the issue’s beautiful Ron Embleton cover. “All I can say is that the scan of the artwork available from various picture libraries is different to the originally published panel in Once Upon a Time. It might be that the artwork was repurposed at some point and the swans removed at that time, and that is how the artwork survives today.”

Ron Embleton art for "The Magic Apples", published in Once Upon a Time in 1971. With thanks to Steve Holland
Ron Embleton art for “The Magic Apples”, published in Once Upon a Time in 1971. With thanks to Steve Holland

Phil Rushton points out that it’s worth noting that when Leonard Matthews, regarded as the founder of Look and Learn, left IPC, he started his own publishing company which specialised in repurposing original art he’d somehow managed to acquire for a variety of illustrated books for children.

“In many cases this involved a certain amount of ‘bodging’ where specific elements were painted out by hand,” Phil notes, providing an example from Look & Learn by Ruggero Giovannini, where several figures have been deliberately erased from the foreground. “It may well be that those swans suffered a similar fate at some point,” Phil suggests.

Art from "Famous Cities of the Past: The City of Diana", first published in Look & Learn by Ruggero Giovannini, which was later amended under instruction by Leonard Matthews. Several figures have been deliberately erased from the foreground
Art from “Famous Cities of the Past: The City of Diana”, first published in Look & Learn by Ruggero Giovannini, which was later amended under instruction by Leonard Matthews. Several figures have been deliberately erased from the foreground. With thanks to Phil Rushton

The FASERIPopedia: Camelot sourcebook is devoted to giving you a fantasy roleplaying game campaign ready to roll, either using one of the King Arthur variants – youthful, heroic, old and silly – or just using the fantasy gaming elements minus the Arthuriana – or any mix you want to use.

The source book writer, Jonathan Nolan, is a writer, artist, poet and published author and game designer. He is the originator of the FASERIPopedia retroclone OSR superhero game and its licensed spinoff “FASERIP Tidal Wave Comics sourcebook” range, created in cooperation with American publisher Tidal Wave Comics.

FASERIP are online at

• Buy the print edition of FASERIPopedia: Camelot from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link) | | DriveThru

Look and Learn

Ron Embleton

Ron Embleton aka Ronald Sydney Embleton (1930 – 1988)
Ron Embleton aka Ronald Sydney Embleton (1930 – 1988)

Ronald Sydney Embleton (6th October 1930 – 13th February 1988) was a British illustrator who gained fame as a comics artist. Born in London, he submitted his first cartoon at the age of nine and, aged 12, won a national poster competition.  After training at the South East Essex Technical College and School of Art he worked in a commercial studio for six months during which time he began freelancing comic strips to independent publishers.

When Embleton turned 18, he was called up for his National Service and served in Malaya, returning to Britain to set up a studio with his friend, Terence Patrick.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Embleton also pursued a career as an oil painter, and he exhibited his works widely in Britain, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.

Regarded as one of the best known comic and historical illustrators at work in this country, with a reputation that stretched far beyond these shores. His obituary in The Times justly described him as “a grand master of his art” following his death in 1988.

Less well known, however, was his equally energetic career as a painter. In fact, being a painter had been his life’s ambition – his “driving force”, according to his daughter Gillian. It was only his remarkable success as an illustrator that in the end permanently diverted him from the painter’s path.

• David Messum’s Studio Gallery – Ron Embleton fine art

“Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons: Artwork board No. 1 For The End Title Sequence”, by Ron Embleton

In addition to his work on TV Century 21, Ron Embleton was the artist on the end credits of the Gerry Anderson show, Captain Scarlet, and painted the poster of the Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons bubble gum cards, which were released in 1968

Lambiek: Ron Embleton

Ron Embleton Art at the Illustration Art Gallery

Bridgeman Images – Ron Embleton Gallery

Ron Embleton art on Comic Art Fans – please note, art featured includes the adult strip, “Wicked Wanda”

Illustration Art Gallery Presents "Charles Dickens: Drawings and Paintings" by Ron Embleton

Book featuring the work of Ron Embleton on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Comic Tracker – Ron Embleton work for sale

Ron Embleton Illustrators Special - Cover

The Art of Ron Embleton (illustrators Special) – Online Edition (Print Edition Sold Out)

A 144-page in-depth exploration of the life and work of the artist whose output was as formidable in quality as it was in quantity, the maestro Ron Embleton.  

He remains one of the greatest creators of action themed historical illustration.  

The Very Best of British Boys’ Comics (illustrators Special) – Online Edition (Print Edition Sold Out)

With thanks to David Roach for finding the source book and Steve Holland and Phil Rushton for Once Upon a Time images

Once Upon a Time © Look and Learn

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1 reply

  1. Lucky enough to meet Ron at a few comic art exhibitions in late 1970s & early 80s truly a wonderful, passionate and charming man. Had an original “Oh Wicked Wanda” page spread, along with two pieces of his amazing “Wrath of the Gods“ for boys world, unfortunately had to sell them for a deposit on a house.

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