The blog’s background image is an homage not just to my favorite D&D monsters, but also to my favorite old school artists. The images of early D&D products really captured my imagination as a child, so part of my love for them is pure nostalgia. When I picture a purple worm, in my head it has eyes (the memory is also wrapped up in playing the Dungeon! boardgame while listening to Prince’s Purple Rain as well, but that’s another story), even though the new-style, more alien looking purple worm looks a lot cooler. Now I’m not slagging the art used in rpgs now, without question it is of a much higher technical standard (and some old school art is abysmal, take a look at the crabman from the original Fiend Folio). Wayne Reynolds, for example, is an incredible artist (I especially dig his ‘wall of action’ stuff, like the 3.5 DM screen Paizo put out), but there’s no way in hell I can emulate the style of Wayne Reynolds, I’m just not that good (in fact I’m not really an artist at all). But that’s also part of the attraction of old school art. Looking at an early Erol Otus or Bill Willingham picture I get the impression that with enough practice and a little luck I could draw like them. In a hobby that emphasizes do-it-yourself and fan-created material this kind of realistic goalpost gives the pieces special meaning. Even though I’ve never met them, it created a special kind of bond between me and the D&D artists of my childhood. In the end it’s probably just a fancy way of justifying my nostalgic over attachment to these images and my poor art skills, but hey isn’t that what blogging’s all about?
My favorite things from left to right:
Eye of the Deep: Beholders are one of D&D’s most iconic monsters, and I’ve always felt that its undersea cousin needed a bit more love. Before I knew any better I thought the eye of the deep was more powerful than the beholder – it had pincers and eye rays! (Inspired by Jean Wells’ illo. from the Monster Manual).
Red Dragon: They’re in the game’s name, you can’t do a picture featuring D&D monsters and not include them… plus, I really like dragons. (Inspired by any Jeff Easley dragon – including Jeff Easley in here kind of busts my whole ‘I could draw like them’ idea. There’s no way I could really emulate his style but I absolutely adore his paintings so I at least tried to capture the form of his dragons).
Water Dragon (silhouette): I’m actually not sure what kind of dragon this was. It could just as easily been a green dragon, but it’s hard to tell. (Inspired by Erol Otus’ cover for the Basic Dungeons and Dragons rulebook).
Umber Hulk: Once upon a time umber hulks were hulking. And for the record the color scheme is not inspired by (awesome) Olympic mascot Quatchi, I was going more for the rubber umber hulk made by LJN Toys in the 80’s. (Inspired by Jeff Dee’s illo. from the module The Ghost Tower of Inverness).
Jubilex: The dungeons of D&D are teeming with a cornucopia of oozes and slimes. If I’m going to draw a picture of one why not go for the granddaddy of them all. (Inspired by David A. Trampier’s illo. from the Monster Manual).
Stirge (silhouette): As a kid I spent a lot of summers in mosquito infested northern Ontario, so these bloodsuckers hold a certain resonance with me. (Inspired by David Sutherland III’s illo. from the Monster Manual).
Violet Fungi: With so many fungal based monsters in the game, I blame D&D for giving me the paranoid belief that eating mushrooms will infect me with their spores. (Inspired by Erol Otus’ illo. from the module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks).
Astral Dreadnought: This behemoth (not really to scale), never got a set of official stats until 2nd Edition even though it graced the cover of the Manual of the Planes. (Inspired by another great Jeff Easley painting).
Bugbears: While I was DMing The Temple of Elemental Evil in high school, the rules for reinforcing the forces of evil combined with the long healing times of the PC’s to create a population explosion of these critters. Ever since bugbears and I have had a bad reputation. (Inspired by Erol Otus’ illo. from Hackmaster).
Purple Worm: Better than a Shai-Hulud. (Inspired by David Sutherland III’s illo. from the Monster Manual).
Mind Flayer: Saved the best for last. Brain eating, mind controlling, tentacle creatures from the bowels of the earth. What’s not to love? (Inspired by the Bill Willingham illo. from the module Descent into the Depths of the Earth).