Tome and Blood, a perfect piece of artistic gaming history
I freely admit I was a huge fan of D&D 3E when it came out. I was there the first day it launched, leaving Circuit City on my lunch break to go to the mall in this little half-hidden comic shop to buy the Players Handbook. It had a couple of sample monsters in the back and I remember being completely confused by all the changes.
Still, as I started playing, the system made sense, and the more I played the more I enjoyed. This joy was extended when I discovered WotC would be releasing character class Guide Books.
Today, I’m taking a look at one of those great early supplements, Tome and Blood. With Creative Direction by Ed Stack and Art Direction by Dawn Murin the art of this book is inspired.
First and foremost I want to talk about the cover of this book, done by artist Todd Lockwood. Now Todd got the the great karmic shaft as far as I’m concerned, and although he is happy in most respects with his career and his place in the industry, his timing simply sucks.
You see, his first published piece of artwork for TSR appeared in Dragon Magazine in 1980, which means Todd was certainly good enough to have been brought into the TSR ‘pit’ in 1982 with the likes of Elmore, Easley, and Parkinson. Had he been there then, he might have defined Basic D&D with the Red Box, might have covered all the AD&D orange spine hardcovers, or helped make Dragonlance a world to remember.
Instead, he went into advertising and painted pretty cans of soup for fifteen years. By the time he turned himself around and submitted to TSR it was already in its death spiral. Low and behold, however, after Todd had refined his craft a bit alongside Easley and RK Post, WotC came in and bought the company for $43 Million on a Tuesday, and that’s all I have to say about that.
Once development on D&D 3E started, Todd and Sam Wood were on the cutting edge of defining this new system, but once again Todd was denied his place in gaming history when the creative department decided to go with non-painted covers on the new core books. For the first time in D&D history a painter wasn’t gifted with gaming immortality by defining the line. Todd, poised and ready, never got his chance, but a tiny glimpse of what could have been can still be found in supplements like Tome and Blood.
Lockwood, for his part doesn’t disappoint.
Inside, the entire interior of this fantastic little product is done with b/w illustration by Wayne Reynolds before he was really WAYNE REYNOLDS. I well remember the first time seeing his work and being absolutely captivated by it. My opinion hasn’t changed to this day, and as I have one of his pencils on my wall next to my desk I can say with conviction that his b/w work is some of the most sublime he has ever done.
In all, it is my pleasure to feature the art from this book today on AotG and I give it my highest marks.
Artistic Rating: 5 [out of 5]