I once took a trip to Wisconsin to spend a few days with artist Jeff Easley at his home. It was a great trip, and I got to see lots of outstanding artwork, but one thing that always stood out to me was when Jeff would discuss other artists he’d worked with over the years. As we talked about them, Jeff always seemed to come up with an interesting anecdote or nickname, but of all these, his nonchalant utterance concerning Clyde Caldwell was my favorite. He affectionately referred to Clyde as ‘The Thigh Master’.
To this day, I still get an incredible kick out of that name, especially when I see a Caldwell painting because 9 times out of 10 he’s going to have a naked thigh in there. Now, that’s not to say that Clyde isn’t a breast man as well, as surely he is, but given how many thighs are exposed in his work, I think that particular female body part has to indeed be his favorite.
Recently I couldn’t help looking at various Caldwell galleries on Google, and I honestly got to laughing as I grabbed image after image, be they TSR work or elsewhere. Knowing what I know concerning TSR artwork, I was drawn almost instantly to Clyde’s interpretation of Goldmoon, the plainsman beauty priestess from the original Dragonlance trilogy.
You see, Goldmoon appears in perhaps my all-time favorite book cover, that being Larry Elmore’s rendition of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. [By the way, isn’t that just a fantastic name for a book?] Anyway, I was always impressed that Elmore went so conservative on Goldmoon for that cover, and I’ve even blogged before about her buckskin pants, but it wasn’t until I was searching Cladwell’s art that the cover for the D&D module DL 1 Dragons of Despair struck me as incredibly odd.
Here, Goldmoon is wearing basically the same iconic outfit as appears on the cover of Dragons of Autumn Twilight but instead of thigh covering buckskins, her legs are exposed from boot-tops to buckskin bikini.
Now was this a TSR art direction choice? Did someone say ‘well, we can get away with a little more flesh on a module cover rather than a novel cover at Waldenbooks’? Maybe, or maybe Clyde just couldn’t help himself. Perhaps the ‘Thigh Master’ had to come out to play, and I certainly don’t fault him for it as who really can resist a good thigh? I mean, when Goth Chick sports a far too high cut black skirt at Black Gate LA, am I one to judge her choice? NEVER!
Anyway, back to the point at hand, that being thighs. There were so many thigh shots that there is absolutely no way I can ‘expose’ them all here, but I will provide a few just so you all can enjoy just what Caldwell brought to the table over the past 35 years of fantasy art.
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