Gygax's vision and humor DMG featuring Will McLean
By the late 1970s RPG art was pretty comic book inspired, and although it went to realism with Elmore, Easley, and Parkinson, that didn’t mean that the people actually playing the games were losing hours of sleep wondering how the socioeconomic events of returning to their player-character villages with massive amounts of gold would actually negatively impact the lives of the citizenry from an inflationary standpoint.
No, they were sitting around a table having fun, laughing at the stupid things people, and the dice that motivate their actions, do. To this end, gaming takes on a certain degree of humor, certainly a more ‘boy centric’ kind of teen humor, but that by no means makes it any less valid.
I mean really, this brings up another interesting point, that gaming is built for laughter, and if anyone has ever played an RPG for any amount of time they’re going to have hilarity built into one liners that only perhaps five people in the world find funny, and yet those five find REALLY funny. Examples include sayings such as ‘Doors don’t attack people!’ See, not funny, but to Todd Lockwood, it’s a side splitter. How about for me, ‘Halflings are made for jumping.’ Not funny, and yet hilarious if you were sitting at a gaming table with me in 1998.
For the purpose of showing the happier side to gaming, Gygax, in all his brilliance, devoted a certain number of images in the initial release of the 1st edition D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide to the art and one liners of Will McLean.
McLean’s singular talent in both the pages of the DMG and the comic’s section of Dragon Magazine was to poke fun at role-playing situations. He was the perfect foil to the seriousness of the genre, and his ability to blend modern-day symbols and word-play with fantasy action made his comic strips sing in the minds of all players.
I challenge anyone who ever picked up a 1st edition DMG to not have smiled when they found a piece of McLean art. And for the purpose of this small and happy post, I’ll be sure to include some of my favorites from that venerable volume.
You know, back three years ago Artist Jeff Laubenstein did a comic for Wizards of the Coast called, 'The Critical Hit' that was a one panel b/w humor format and after writing this one up, I think I'll revive the format to include something funny in each The Folio module as we all need a good laugh! So, if you like this kind of stuff, be sure to check out the AotG Kickstarter link to your right, we could use your pledge, and PDFs start at $5 with physical copies at $15! Oh, and we've got free original art giveaways too!