Tuesday, September 1, 2015

old TSR Art

So, yesterday I took some time out from preparations for our upcoming trip to tackle my room and do some re-organizing there, which was badly needed. All my shelves are bursting at the seams, so earlier this week I'd already moved two shelf-fulls of copies of different editions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS to another room (which will help make room in my office for all the recent new arrivals).

This time I looked at all those rpgs I've never played like MERP (almost a full set), ARS MAGICA, JAMES BOND 007, DOCTOR WHO (the FASA version), et al -- filling half a bookcase in all -- and decided they shd go join the other non-TSR, non-D&D rpgs down in the box room. The only exceptions I kept upstairs, aside from one or two misc. items (e.g., the original EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE boxed set) and a shelf of things I worked on freelance,* are CALL OF CTHULHU (my second-favorite rpg), of which I have a large but not complete set, and PENDRAGON (my third-favorite rpg), which I think I have all of (and recently find myself itching to run again, esp. since I've now found the Beowulf adventure designed for it.

And, of course, the D&D, which fills two and a half bookcases just by itself: everything from first, second, and third edition (rulebooks, modules, sourcebooks, boxed sets), a smattering of fourth edition (not my favorite), and everything that's out so far from fifth edition.

And in the course of all this moving stuff around I found some items of interest. A photo of Janice and myself, taken at least twenty years ago. A picture of a lion carrying a pumpkin. My copies of some really early TSR releases, like the dungeon geomorphs (which I actually played on, before I had any modules), et al. I also found some interesting art: two pieces of original artwork from THE RETURN TO THE TOMB OF HORRORS (which I edited, up to the point where I got laid off, after which Steve Winter took over the task and did a bang-up job of it too). I remember a few months after things got better at TSR (i.e., it got bought out by Wizards of the Coast and I got hired back) the art director coming to me in some distress to ask if I knew what had happened to the art for the project;** they cdn't find any scans that had presumably been made of it the better part of a year before. As it turned out I cd tell them exactly where the art was, or at least where it had been: the two artists had been selling it at their booth at that summer's GenCon, where I'd bought two pieces. The art director contacted the artists, who either still had the pieces in question or were in contact with whoever had bought it, the scans were made, and All Was Well, with RETURN TO THE TOMB I think winning the Origins Award when it came out the next year.

The other old art piece I found was something I not only forgot I had, I forgot it even existed: THE ARTISTS OF TSR: A PORTFOLIO, a folder of twelve art prints by six TSR staff artists, represented by two apiece: Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Jim Holloway, Harry Quinn, James Roslof, and Tim Truman. Some of these pieces are v. familiar, like the first, the sleeping vampiric swordswoman from S4. LOST CAVERNS OF TSOJCANTH (Easley) or the Thor-vs.-Jormungandr battle from DEITIES AND DEMIGODS (Roslof), while a few were unknown to me (like Holloway's piece titled 'White Dragon Death'.  I'm surprised Parkinson isn't here, or Otus; the one must have come on a little later and the other departed a little earlier. Perhaps the most amusing part is the drawing on the inside back cover of all six artists as rpg characters; might be amusing to scan and post that sometime.

--John R.

*some of it unpublished, like the material I wrote for Decipher's ROHAN book, or the bits and pieces drafted long ago for PULP CTHULHU.

**my memory says that they didn't have scans of any of the art for the project, but I may be misremembering there and it might have been just the art for the big DM screen that was missing -- which, of course, I had a photocopy of, but that wasn't of good enough quality for them to use.

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