There are certain issues of Dragon Magazine that resonate with me, and then there are others that have absolutely no meaning whatsoever. The latter had been the case for Issue #95 from March 1985 until I took it down from my collection to have a look for today’s AotG review.
Now I probably had never read this issue because the cover doesn’t speak to me. It was always a rather odd and far too realistic cover concerning a 1970s thrift shop feel. Still, upon taking the time to really study Dean Morrissey’s work, entitled ‘Toad’s Cloak Armorsmith Shop’, I began to feel that I’d missed something all along. Although I’m still not sure I truly ‘get’ what Morrissey was doing with this piece, he’s certainly captured a feel that hinges on modern day veiled fantasy. His colors are brilliant and his people believable in the extreme, but perhaps the greatest aspect of this piece is the Roger Raupp art direction.
Raupp, as has been established on more than one occasion, was a great art director because he took risks others weren’t willing to take and always let the artist do what inspired them, not what he thought would sell. For that reason we sometimes get extremely ‘odd’ covers like the Morrissey piece, but taken with all the other more standardized covers from Dragon, it really stands out and makes one appreciate that artistic feel of the genre.
Inside the pages of this issue, readers are provided with two wonderful things, a lifting of some level limits to Demi-humans by Gygax himself, and also the RPGA adventure ‘Into the Forgotten Realms’ by Ed Greenwood, which of course predated the release of the Forgotten Realms boxed set.
Artistically, there are some decent pieces, a couple of course by Roger Raupp who always managed to provide pieces for issues when they were needed, and another by none other than Den Beauvais who does a full color illustration for Gordon Linzner’s short story ‘Desperate Acts’. I don’t think it is one of Den’s best works, but man is it nice to see him doing something other than covers!
In all, Issue #95 is a very, very nice Dragon, and I was happy I took the time to not only review the art, but also read the great gaming content inside.
Artistic Rating: 3.5 [our of 5]