When Trampier does it all: The Art of SFKH 2 Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes
It would be very hard to count all the words written about artist David Trampier, the bulk of which revolve around half a dozen pieces of artwork known to pretty much every old school gamer. You all know what I’m talking about, the 1E Player’s Handbook, the original DM’s Screen, the hunchback Hill Giant, Emirikol the Chaotic, Wormy, and arguably many more. Still, these are all spot illustrations or stand-alone covers as Tramp was ever sharing space with other contemporaries of his day.
I mean really, what would it have been like to have Tramp do ALL the art inside a TSR product? Well, what many folks and fans don’t realize is that Tramp actually DID have that happen, in the 1984 release of SFKH2 Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes for the Star Frontiers setting.
Sure, Larry Elmore did the cover painting, but nonetheless every last bit of interior art, and there is a good deal of it, were handled by Trampier.
There are several interesting things about this, the first being that Tramp was contracted as late as 1984 to do illustration work for TSR gaming products. Certainly by this time he was solely working on Wormy for Dragon Magazine and the days of he, Darlene the Artist, David Sutherland III, and the ‘First Four’ pit artists [Otus, Dee, Willingham, and Roslof] were well into the sunset [as of 1982]. Couple this with the product being Star Frontiers, a fringe product at best as well as the module being for the even less popular Knight Hawks line, and it’s easy to see why folks miss it. [Note: I’d credit then Art Director Jim Roslof with getting Trampier to work on this product, but as both have now passed away we’ll never really know how it went down]
The second interesting thing is that Tramp turned 30 in 1984, and I’d say that put him directly in the prime and evolution of his skillset as an artist. What folks still drool over from 1979 was really work from Tramp in his infancy as an artist, at 25 years, and as good as it is, the work he showed us in SFKH2 speaks even greater volumes about what was ‘lost’ along the way with this incredible talent.
I would contend that only one other TSR product is lovelier than this module, that being the Mentzer Red Box, and even then it’s a damn close call. Trampier absolutely outdoes himself, and every image is masterpiece of design and ink work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped these pages and marveled at the skill it took to render them.
That said, I’ll let you be the judge of just how well Trampier did on this product, but to me, it doesn’t get much better.
Artistic Rating: 6 [out of 5]