Pepper is a mad genius who painted art on the heart of the world.
(Image via Øyvind/Flickr)
Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek
A sequel to my first post on Milton Bradley’s Dragonmaster. Click to make big. We owe the scans to Tom Beiter, champion of pop culture posterity and author of Garage Sale Finds, a detailed profile of “garage sale treasures and sometimes trash.” (You will not believe the amazing stuff that Tom finds—and often restores.)
It’s clear that Pepper had a deep understanding of Medieval, Renaissance, and Pre-Raphaelite art, and his method—mixing charcoal and watercolors—produced some incredibly vivid colors and textures. His impeccable imagination did the rest. Each card is a work of art, and the originals, if they still exist, belong in a museum. (Is there a fantasy art museum? A commercial art museum?)
I’m betting that one or more of you can come up with a game that does Pepper’s work some justice. From what I’ve heard, the original version is not very compelling.
Dragonmaster is a straightforward, trick-taking card game with a sword and sorcery theme. What makes it interesting is the spectacular art, which resembles that of another, better known Milton Bradley game from the same year, Dark Tower. Here’s a shot of the different screens in Dark Tower for comparison:
The same talented gent, Bob Pepper, illustrated both games. Pepper is probably most famous for his kaleidoscopic cover art for Forever Changes (1967), one of the greatest rock albums of all time. He also did numerous, ultra-stylized sci-fi/fantasy paperback covers from the late 1960s until the early 1980s, including a series of unforgettable Philip K. Dick covers for DAW. Less well known are his beautiful classical album covers—for Bartok, Schubert, Puccini, Bach. I’ll feature more from Pepper soon.
Once again we see the influence of the psychedelic movement of the 1960s on the fantasy renaissance of 1975 – 1985.
You can read a short interview with Pepper at Well of Souls, a Dark Tower fan site.
UPDATE: See a complete set of Pepper’s Dragonmaster cards here.
(Images via Board Game Geek)