Archive for the 'D&D Art' Category

Erol Otus Illustration for the Advanced D&D Dungeon Masters Adventure Log (TSR, 1980)

D&D Adventure 1980

D&D Adventure 1980 Detail

The product is absolute nonsense, a flagrant money-grab; the illustration, however, is a definitive representation of the dungeon crawl. The main figures prepare to battle in three dimensions, while the bordering monsters, pitched in darkness, await the survivors in two (torches first, heroes; you can’t fight if you can’t see). Otus distills, in a single monochrome image, the suspense, danger, and otherworldliness of the fantasy RPG. See more early illustrations of role-playing here.

The Adventure Log is billed as the second “playing aid” produced by TSR for AD&D. The first was the AD&D Rogues Gallery (below), also from 1980, also illustrated by Otus.

D&D RG 1980

D&D RG 1980-4


Products of Your (Sexist) Imagination: TSR’s Heart Quest Books, 1983 – 1984

Heart Quest 1984

Heart Quest 1984-2

Following the immediate success of the Endless Quest books (1982), TSR released a new series directed at girls. The “Pick a Path to Adventure” tagline was changed to “Pick a Path to Romance and Adventure,” and endless quest became heart quest, because, ladies, your life’s journey ends in the kitchen, seeing as how “you want his love to fulfill your life.” I haven’t actually read any of the books, to be honest, because they’re so rare, but I can’t imagine the quality is high enough to make up for the shameful product. The books are obviously designed to resemble the Harlequin romances of the time, and each volume had “stepback” art, meaning the cover illustration is framed by a cut-out front cover. Turning the cover reveals the full page illustration.

Larry Elmore and Jim Holloway did the cover and interior art, respectively, for the first four volumes, and children’s author Linda Lowery wrote volumes three and five. You can find more information on the series here.

Illustrating the Act of Fantasy Role-Playing, 1981 – 1985

D&D Basic Set 1981

D&D GW 1981

D&D Basic 1982 French

Dicing with Dragons Book Club Poyser 1982

Dragon Warriors Bob Harvey 1985

The illustrations are from (top to bottom) the 1981 D&D Basic Set (Moldvay edition; art by David S. LaForce), a 1981 Games Workshop ad (artist unknown), and the 1982 French edition of the D&D Basic Set (Moldvay edition; art by Jim Holloway). I find it fascinating that the concept of role-playing was once so alien that it had to be explained with thought balloons. And I still can’t get over how awesomely bloody the GW sketch is.

If anybody knows of similar illustrations, please let me know.

UPDATE (2/11/2016): Thanks to Kai S. and Steve Wall, I’ve added two more illustrations. The first one (fourth image down) is the book club edition cover of Dicing with Dragons (1982), with art by Victoria Poyser. The second is from Dragon Warriors: Book One (1985), and the artist is Bob Harvey (see here and here). Brilliant stuff.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Metal Miniatures: Monster Tribes (TSR, 1984)

Monster 1984

Monster 1984-2

Close-ups here. Box art looks like Easley again. I think he did cover art for the whole 1983-1984 series, and one of his module covers was used for the the Dragonlance miniatures.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Metal Miniatures: Monks, Bards, & Thieves (TSR, 1983)

AD&D Minis-4

AD&D Minis-5

Close-ups here. The cover artist is uncredited. Looks like Jeff Easley to me.

Last Push for the Complete Reprint of AD&D Fanzine The Oracle (1982 – 1983)


Since my last post about The Oracle reprint, Tim Hutchings has sent me a review copy of the reprint, and it does not disappoint. When Tim says that the zine was “almost single-handedly” created and published by teenager Christopher Bigelow, it’s not an exaggeration. Bigelow, who wrote a comprehensive introduction to the reprint, put the zine together with a word processor on loan from his dad’s secretary, served as the entire editorial staff, contracted all the contributing talent, and wrote many of the articles (under pseudonyms)—while still in high school!

The Kickstarter has 8 days to go and was fully funded many moons ago. However, there’s an incredible new stretch goal promising to recreate the sixth issue of The Oracle promised—but never delivered—at the end of 1983’s issue #5. Who will contribute the articles mentioned in that more than 30-year-old teaser? Here’s Tim:

The Dungeon of Kroom Level III, Sarah Richardson of the Ennie award winning Contessa blog.

The Medieval Town in Literature, Timothy Connelly, frequent contributor Gygax Magazine among others.

New AD&D Character Class…  This is the one which makes me so invested in a sixth issue.  A sadly departed gamer who wrote up a proposal for an Oracle article on the Empath character class will have his article finished by his son.

Expanded Crossbreed System, Erol Otus.  Yes, THE Erol Otus.  The man whose artwork defined D&D for me and maybe most of a generation.  I grow giddy at the prospect.  The Erol contribution will be based on his crossbreed rules for the Island Town game scenario.

Right. And all we need is “$100 of monthly contributions lined up” to keep the PlaGMaDA archive going. It’s a good cause, and you can go here to back and donate. A PDF copy of the reprint is only 5 bucks!

If you’re on the fence, here’s one more interesting note. As I was perusing my review copy, I ran across the below ad (phone number edited out) in the last two Oracle issues.

Laird 1983

Laird is also credited with the cover of issue #5 (first image above), published in Autumn 1983. The name struck a chord, and I realized that Peter A. Laird is the co-creator (writer and artist) of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The original black & white comic was published in May 1984, less than a year after his Oracle work. As if the project weren’t historical enough already…

Dungeons & Dragons Ad, 1980

D&D Ad 1980-1

D&D Ad 1980-2

D&D Ad 1980-3

D&D Ad 1980-4

The ad is from the Spokane Daily Chronicle, December 5, 1980. The D&D books appear with the high-ticket electronic handhelds and consoles, including the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision.

Take a closer look at the pictures in the ad, which are actually an artist’s illustrations of the original Basic Set (David Sutherland) and Players Handbook (David Trampier) covers. The Basic Set is pretty straightforward, the only noticeable difference being the lack of gold. But for the Players Handbook, we see dark, hooded figures seemingly worshiping a demon idol, as opposed to a party of post-battle dungeon raiders, two of whom are attempting to chip the jewels out of the demon idol’s eyes (see below).

The “Satanic Panic” wouldn’t blow up until 1982-1983, but already the game had touched a nerve, and, consciously or not, people saw things in it that weren’t there. Fantasy role-playing was almost impossible for adults of a certain religious temperament to accept. In Trampier’s cover, probably the most distinctive and resonant image in all of D&D, all they could see was their greatest fear: not the reality of the devil, but the reality that their children might not believe what they believed.

D&D PH 1978

Star Frontiers Metal Miniatures: Robots (TSR, 1984)

SF 1984

SF 1984-2

The minis are great, but it’s the brilliant cover piece by Trampier that caught my eye. I believe it’s original to this product. I did an image search to see if I could find the piece anywhere else and thought it really interesting that Jim Steranko’s cover for the Blade Runner Marvel Super Special repeatedly popped up in “visually similar images.” Notwithstanding the somewhat similar color schemes, I think Tramp’s work does have quite a bit in common with Steranko’s renegade sensibilities.

Tramp is rightly famous for his early AD&D work, but in my opinion his interior art for the Star Frontiers modules Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes (1984) and The War Machine (1985) is just as good or better. You can see a few examples below courtesy of, an excellent resource and history site. Go there to browse the whole modules.





Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance Miniatures (Set 1) (TSR, 1984)



I first talked about Dragonlance way back here. I was obsessed with the books when they came out, although I reread Dragons of Autumn Twilight a couple of years ago and it didn’t really hold up. Not all that surprising.

I never got into the minis. I always found them interesting and would have liked to try my hand at painting a few, but they were too expensive. Making the sculpts is certainly an art form. The art on the box cover is by Jeff Easley from the Dragons of Flame module (1984).

Somebody give Toede a flame-throwing guitar!

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Book: The Crown of Rulership (1983) (Part One)















A new adventure begins, this time with the creative team of David Anthony Kraft (writer) and Pablo Marcos (artist). The cover is by Earl Norem.

Kraft started at Marvel as the editor of FOOM in 1978 and had a memorable run on The Defenders. Throughout the ’80s he worked on promotional materials, coloring/activity books, and the Marvel Books imprint. He went on to found the influential Comics Interview, which ran from 1983 to 1995.

Peruvian Pablo Marcos emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1970s and got his first American comics work with Warren and Skywald publications before moving to Marvel. He is best known for penciling Tales of the Zombie and inking John Buscema’s Conan the Barbarian.

As for the story thus far in The Crown of Rulership, my only question is, why the hell is the map to the all-powerful Crown shoved in willy-nilly with all the other scrolls, and very much out in the open? Better yet, why hasn’t someone of lawful good alignment already secured the Crown, to prevent evildoers from doing the same?

More to come. The AD&D Characters Coloring Book, if you haven’t seen it, is here.




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