Archive for the 'Ken Kelly' Category

Ken Kelly Iron-On Transfer (Roach Studios, 1976)

Ken Kelly 1976

Ken Kelly 1976-2

The piece is from Kelly’s Eerie Visions portfolio and Eerie #80 (cover), both from 1977.

(Images via eBay)

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Role Playing Dioramas (NSI, 1983)

AD&D Dioramas 1983

AD&D Dioramas 1983-2

From the makers of the AD&D Cool, Cool Candles and the AD&D Woodburning Set (!). The diorama set includes “semi-precious stones and foil for decorating”! Looks like the same art used for the LJN action figure cards. The backgrounds are very well done and might be the work of Ken Kelly.

Crossbows and Catapults: Battling Giant Minotaur (Lakeside, 1984)

Crossbows Giant 1984

Crossbows Giant 1984-2

Crossbows Giant 1984-3

I had Crossbows and Catapults, but I forgot about all the expansion sets. It’s obvious now that the game, while revolutionary in its way, was a simplified, physical expression of D&D. The problem with pen and paper role-playing is that you need time to play and people to play with. Toy companies began to exploit this limitation early on. Still, Lakeside’s “the fun is only limited by your imagination” is a crude mockery of TSR’s “products of your imagination” motto. You don’t need imagination to play Crossbows and Catapults. You just need what’s in the box.

There was apparently a set that included both the Cyclops and the Minotaur, and the sprawling box art (below) was scanned by some kind soul at Board Game Geek. The artist is Ken Kelly, who was illustrating LJN’s AD&D toy line at the same time. Kelly also did the art for the Crossbows and Catapults: Trojan Horse (1984) expansion set.

I wrote a piece on how Kelly changed the toy industry here.

Crossbows Box 1983

(Images via eBay)

LJN’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Toys: Dragonne – Half Dragon/Half Lion, Good Destrier – Mighty Battle Horse (1983)

Dragonne-1

Dragonne-2

Dragonne-3

Dragonne-4

Dragonne-5

Destrier-1

Destrier-2

Destrier-3

Destrier-4

More sensational Ken Kelly art. I wish I could see the originals for the whole line.

These are French boxes. Universal Toys owned both LJN and the Matchbox name at the time, and the AD&D toys were distributed in Europe by Matchbox.

(Images via eBay)

The 1975 Warren Awards: Ken Kelly, Berni Wrightson, Alex Toth, and More

Warren 1975-1

Warren 1975-2

They’re all legends. In fact, I just wrote a piece on Kelly for Warpo Toys called Ken Kelly and the Golden Age of Toy Art. Please check it out. If you share the post on Facebook and/or Twitter with the hashtag #CthulhuIsComing, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win an autographed (by Kelly!) Legends of Cthulhu coloring book. Kelly, if you didn’t know, did the spectacular art for Warpo’s Legends of Cthulhu line.

(Images via Booksteve’s Library)

Micronauts: Centaurus and Kronos (Mego, 1979)

Micronauts Centaurus

Micronauts Kronos

Micronauts Kronos-2

Carded Antron, Membros, and Repto are here. That’s all the aliens except for Lobros. Ken Kelly changed the nature of toy art, and arguably the nature of action figures, with these paintings.

Eerie Visions Art Portfolio by Ken Kelly (Earth Art Graphics, 1977)

Eerie Kelly 1977-1

Eerie Kelly 1977-2

Eerie Kelly 1977-3

Eerie Kelly 1977-4

Eerie Kelly 1977-5

Eerie Kelly 1977-6

Limited edition (1100 copies) ten plate portfolio signed by the artist. All of the pieces here originally appeared on Creepy and Eerie covers except plates one (“Lucy”) and eight (“All Hallow’s Eve”), which I believe are original to this portfolio. Earth Art subsequently released posters featuring the original works (seen below). Interestingly, according to the seller, the posters were given away as carnival prizes.

Kelly Poster-2

Kelly Poster-1

(Images via eBay, Etsy, and Etsy)

Eerie Jigsaw Puzzle (Milton Bradley, 1977)

Eerie Puzzle

Eerie Puzzle-2

There were six puzzles in the series, per the entry below from the 1979 Milton Bradley catalog*. I’ve got a close-up of another puzzle here.

The brilliant art on the one above is from Ken Kelly for Eerie #64. Kelly’s cover work is featured on four of the six puzzles.

MB Cat 1979

*The blurb reads

This spine-chilling puzzle assortment has long been wanted by all our fans of the macabre and grotesque. From Warren Publications “Eerie” and “Creepy” comic series, we present in puzzle form, six cover illustrations that are considered to be classics by comic book collectors…

“Considered to be classics by comic collectors” is a backhanded compliment, isn’t it?

(Images via eBay)

LJN’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Toys: Tiamat – Five Headed Evil Dragon (1984)

Tiamat LJN 1983-1

Tiamat LJN 1983-2

Tiamat LJN 1983-3

Tiamat LJN 1983-4

Tiamat LJN 1983-5

Saying the toy didn’t live up to the spectacular Ken Kelly box art is a bit of an understatement.

Ken Kelly Cover Art for Richard Avery’s The Expendables (1975 – 1976)

Deathworms Kelly 1975

Tantalus Kelly 1975

Zelos Ken Kelly 1975

Argus Ken Kelly 1975

Ken Kelly and Frank Frazetta are family, and Kelly grew up admiring the work of his “Uncle Frank.” The Frazetta style—the overwhelmingly imperiled Romantic hero set against a backdrop of otherworldly colors and atmosphere—is obvious here.

Kelly would never completely escape his mentor’s shadow, but a lot of his sci-fi work is wonderfully unique. These are some of his earliest covers.


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