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What a find for Witcher fans on this fateful Friday! These are the very first illustrations of Geralt of Rivia and Yennefer of Vengerberg in an issue of a Polish fantasy and science fiction magazine from the '90s, and they're not too far from their appearances in the series of games.
These are the work of artist Bogusław Polch who was instantly sold on the concept of The Witcher when he was introduced to it. "I informed Maciek Parowski [editor of the magazine Nowa Fantastyka] that in my opinion this is an absolute hit," he said in an interview. "As both a comic and a ready scenario for a movie." Polch was pretty much on the money, however the Polish film and subsequent TV show The Hexer is not thought of fondly by author Andrzej Sapkowski.
In fact, Sapkowski wasn't even sold on the idea of a video game version of his world and gave CD Projekt RED the rights to all of his novels in the early 2000s. "I was stupid enough to leave everything in their hands because I didn't believe in their success. But who could foresee their success? I couldn't," explained the author when he spoke about the collaboration in 2017. After a tussle over royalties between Sapkowski and the studio, the two "signed an agreement further solidifying their relationship" for future The Witcher games and merchandise from CD Projekt RED.
Given the explosive success of the games and the small screen adaptations, it's interesting to see the very first portrayals of the characters. In that same interview, Polch expressed how Sapkowski's writings informed Geralt of Rivia's look as well as trends in comic books at the time. For example, there was no way that Geralt was to be topless like Conan the Barbarian or wearing a leather skirt or tunic, in order to differentiate him from those heroes. Also, the density of the novels meant that some creative liberties needed to be taken to represent the moods present in the scenes so that the reader would be able to appreciate the art accompanying the story.
Though these illustrations are from 1991, there are a lot of similarities between them and the video game versions of Geralt and Yennefer. Geralt's hair is pulled into a ponytail, his expression is grim and lined, but he looks more muscular than the character that CD Projekt Red conjured up. On the other hand, Yennefer has long, flowing dark hair, large almond shaped eyes and an oval face shape. All in all, these portrayals are a testament to Polch's appreciation of the text and are an amazing insight for fans of The Witcher.
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