Omni Magazine (October, 1980): L. Sprague de Camp and Dungeons & Dragons

Omni 10-80 pg. 118-119

Omni 10-80 pg. 120-121

Omni 10-80 pg. 122-123

L. Sprague de Camp (1907 – 2000) was a prolific writer and popularizer of the fantasy genre, an engineer by trade, and something of a self-taught history and Classics scholar. (I just read his excellent, still relevant debunking of the Atlantis myth, Lost Continents). He edited the very first heroic fantasy or sword and sorcery anthology called Swords & Sorcery (Pyramid, 1963), which I’ll talk about in a later post. The phrase `heroic fantasy’ was coined by de Camp in 1963 (OED citation here); ‘sword and sorcery’ was coined by Fritz Leiber in 1961 (OED citation here).

His unsentimental grounding of the genre is right on, I think—from a traditional male perspective, anyway:

Heroic fantasy is alive and flourishing. The more complex, cerebral, and restrained the civilization, the more men’s minds return to a dream of earlier times, when issues of good and evil were clear-cut and a man could venture out with his sword, conquer his enemies, and win a kingdom and a beautiful woman. The idea is compelling, even though such an age probably never existed.

Here’s de Camp’s slightly less sexist description from the 1967 Ace edition of Conan:

Such a story combines the color and dash of the historical costume romance with the atavistic supernatural thrills of the weird, occult, or ghost story. When well done, it provides the purest fun of fiction of any kind. It is escape fiction wherein one escapes clear out of the real world into one where all men are strong, all women beautiful, all life adventurous, and all problems simple, and nobody even mentions the income tax or the dropout problem or socialized medicine.

He doesn’t mention D&D, but, to prove the point of his short piece, there’s an ad near the back of the same issue (page 153 of 194).

Omni 10-80 pg. 153 of 194

What’s interesting is that the ad itself wants to be complex and cerebral, and tries to appeal to a more “sophisticated” audience. (The translation is “Play Dungeons & Dragons… Always ahead of the game.”) I’ve been going through a long run of Omni and will post all the D&D ads (and other interesting material). has a large catalog of Omni for viewing, but the ads have been left out. That’s to be expected, considering the length of the magazine.

8 Responses to “<em>Omni</em> Magazine (October, 1980): L. Sprague de Camp and <em>Dungeons & Dragons</em>”

  1. 1 Ricardo April 23, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing !
    I love those illustrations by masters like Frazetta, Norem and Valejo…

  2. 2 Ricardo April 23, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I would like some help… I am from Brazil and I remember in 1983 after the huge success of ‘Return of the Jedi’ movie , a brazilian company released a sticker álbum named ‘S.P.A.C.E.’.
    It was about a space war and included one of the best illustrations I had seen…
    Unfortunately the álbum didn’t bring the names of the artists behind the pictures…
    It seens the álbum was released first in Italy ( Piero Dami Editore ) but I can not confirm that.

    Look at this:

    Do you know from which italian publication it belonged ?
    Do you the name of the artists behind the stickers ?

    Thanks so much

    • 3 2W2N April 23, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      From what I can tell, it was a book of trading cards, and it was first released in Italy. I think your best bet is to contact one of the people who posted the pictures and see if one of them can look up the name of the artist inside the book.

      Looks like a great book! Wish I had a copy.

      • 4 Ricardo April 23, 2014 at 11:56 pm

        Thanks for your reply !
        I have the sticker album and there is nothing about the names of the artists…
        Do you know the name of the italian version ?

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