So, yesterday I took a break from working on my paper and sorted out some more rpg magazines down in the box room, putting more on the pile to throw away. This time it was old issues of INQUEST and CONJURE, my thinking being that I cd do without price guides for ccgs some twenty years ago.*
I was glad that I skimmed through them first, though, because in the process I found two of the old TSR routing lists, which list all the designers and editors in the creative department at a particular time (mid and late 1995, respectively).
You see, back in the day, a bunch of rpg magazines (WHITE WOLF, SHADIS, &c) circulated through the design & editorial department, along with a box of comics (leftovers from the days when TSR had the Marvel license) and some misc. journals relevant to the industry (LOCUS, SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE), et al. And at one point I volunteered to keep track of them, starting them on their journey through the department desk by desk, for skimming or reading or ignoring, as each person saw fit.
All that's now moot, but the listing is interesting, to me at least, in and of itself for its snapshot of everyone who was in the department back then. For some reason that department has always been surprisingly opaque to those outside it, and most fans (and industry professionals), I've found, have no idea who does what on which projects, who was in-house and who was not, and the like. So here's a little contribution to the historical record.
THE FIRST LIST dates from June 1995, after what had been a remarkably stable department began to change, with the rate of change ever-increasing right up to the December 1996 smash. Zeb Cook (1994) and Jeff Grubb (Jan 1995) had left the department, Rob King has transferred over to Books, and the big influx of people hired away from West End had just gotten underway (with Ed Stark being its harbinger). It's alphabetical and thus plays no favorites. A few names (Mike Nystul, Bill Olmesdahl, David Gross, Michael Huebbe) were added in while the list was in circulation (i.e., while the particular magazine this list was attached to made its way through the department), so I've gone ahead and included them as representative of a department in flux. A few are struck out, but I've left them in because I can't tell which left TSR and which just wanted not to be on the circulating-journals list. This makes the 'snapshot' a slightly blurry one, but it seemed good to err on the side of inclusiveness.
THE SECOND LIST is from a few months later, October 1995. I was experimenting at the time with different arrangements of the list: alphabetical, reverse alphabetical, by seniority, by reverse seniority, by degree of interest, to see what might work best. This one has added interest, to me at any rate, because it gives members of the department in order of seniority, from stalwarts like Jon Pickens and Steve Winter (who went all the way back to circa 1980-81)** to the newest hire, the now-legendary Bruce Cordell (I was happy to have gotten to edit both Jeff Grubb's final design before his departure and Bruce Cordell's first upon his arrival). Comparing it with the first list, I see that Wolf Baur and apparently also Tim Beach had already departed for Wizards and that the hiring binge had stopped, with Steve Brown (aka 'Stan!') the last of the West End hires and Bruce Cordell the last r&d hire for quite a while, or at least that's how I remember it.
One caveat: I shd point out that some of the names on this second list had been at TSR far longer than their ranking here wd indicate, like Harold Johnson (circa 1980?) and Skip Williams, Kim Mohan and Dale Donovan, who transferred in from other departments; they're given here in the order in which they joined r&d. Also, I've inserted myself into the appropriate spot in the lists.
A lot of talent. A lot of memories. A lot of unpaid overtime. Enjoy!
FIRST LIST (alphabetical, June 1995)
Dori Hein (previously Dori Watry)
SECOND LIST ("Seniority Has Its Privileges", October 1995)
William W. Connors
Dori Hein (formerly Dori Watry)
John D. Rateliff (Oct. 7th 1991)
Steve Brown (aka Stan)
current reading: WILLIAMS AND THE ARTHURIAD by C. S. Lewis (re-reading)
current music: old cassettes (Boiled in Lead, Blondie)
*a stack of CASUS BELLI are next up on the chopping block, being a good magazine in a language I only read haltingly and with difficulty.
**the true antediluvian at TSR back then was Dave Sutherland, employee number six (1976?), who has long since transferred into the mapping department, from which he had produced such masterpieces as the castle map for I6.Ravenloft.