Art of the Genre

In 1980 TSR had already started to expand its role-playing brand with the addition of Gamma World, but they didn’t stop at the post-apocalyptic market.

Enter the espionage role-playing game Top Secret.  Written by Merle M. Rasmussn [probably a fictitious character] and edited by Allen Hammack, this boxed set featured a full game book and adventure that would become the standard arms for most TSR boxed games until the mid-1980s.

I played the game only once, but would have loved to give it a nice campaign shot if the DM was right for it [someone who could run a Bond-like style].  I can’t speak to the mechanics, but I can attest to the art, which is what drives this post.

The cover never truly captured me as I’m a fan of ink and painting, not photography, but I have to say the random ‘leg’ of the woman in the shot has intrigued me for nearly 30 years.  The composition for this piece was put together by photographer Stu Ferguson, and it serves its purpose to introduce you to a spy dossier.

Inside, however, we see the full force of the 1980 TSR pit.  Artists Jeff Dee, Greg Fleming, David Laforce [before his was Diesel], Erol Otus, Darlene Pekul, Jim Roslof, David C. Sutherland III, and Bill Willingham all take part in bringing this game to life.

Dee’s work is the most prolific and inspiring, his style here perfectly ready to capture the fashion of the late 1970s and translate it to spy chic.  His inside cover piece has to be one of my favorite from any supplement he ever did, and certainly isn’t as widely known as his standard D&D work.

Willingham falls a bit flat with this game, and I have to wonder if he was phoning it in or just refining his craft.  He does, however, give you one of his ‘women in jeopardy’ shots that I got so accustomed to in his D&D portfolio.

Otus is hit and miss, one of his pieces perhaps the worst I’ve seen on any work for TSR, but he brings respect back with a nice ACME raid piece that I’ve provided here in this article.

Otherwise the last standout piece is probably from Darlene who brings us a ‘ripped’ shot of Diana Rigg from her Avengers days.  The piece only fits because of the reference, but I have to say it is as good as anything Tim Bradstreet would crank out a decade later for his early FASA work.

In all, Top Secret hits the spot, and I don’t have too much to complain about artistically, especially with all the names involved.

Artistic Rating: 3 [our of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — June 19, 2013

Comments

casey:

Merle is real, he did a signing recently at an FLGS in SE Wisconsin.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merle_M._Rasmussen

June 19 2013 at 11:06 AM

Scott Taylor:

Awesome! Thanks for the info on Merle, I really wasn’t sure!

June 19 2013 at 10:06 PM

ThaQur:

Unfortunately Bill has an exclusive with DC. I’d asked him if he had thguhot of getting back into illustrating games there are a number of game companies out there , such as Goodman Games and their Dungeon Drawl Classics, that look for work from the classic game illustrators like Bill. But alas, he can’t even work in the game industry

March 09 2015 at 08:03 AM

Nelson:

Comment’s author: Holy08/13/07 04:21:00 AM老實說….我不知道是處男為什麼會讓人笑倒在地上

我沒跟台灣的留學生玩過真心話大冒險, 不過跟外國學生玩過類似的
他們也是問我類似的問題(看來全世界的人感興趣的事都一樣 XD , 我也
是回答我是處男
沒有人笑, 倒是有一個人說了一句話, 讓我們每個人都舉杯致敬….
有些東西是你曾經擁有, 而一旦失去的就永遠拿不回來, 處男女就是其
中之一….

台灣的夏天真的是又濕又熱….
我一直覺得男生適合活在在冬天, 而女生適合活在在夏天
男生要穿的好看, 有時要襯衫和外套….夏天完全不行
喔….還有要注意鞋子….因為女生 至少外國女生 會注意男生的鞋子
我曾經穿過一雙鞋子….前十個稱讚的裡面有九個是女的….剩的那一個
是gay….

March 10 2015 at 08:03 AM

Gerry:

Comment’s author: Holy08/13/07 04:21:00 AM老實說….我不知道是處男為什麼會讓人笑倒在地上

我沒跟台灣的留學生玩過真心話大冒險, 不過跟外國學生玩過類似的
他們也是問我類似的問題(看來全世界的人感興趣的事都一樣 XD , 我也
是回答我是處男
沒有人笑, 倒是有一個人說了一句話, 讓我們每個人都舉杯致敬….
有些東西是你曾經擁有, 而一旦失去的就永遠拿不回來, 處男女就是其
中之一….

台灣的夏天真的是又濕又熱….
我一直覺得男生適合活在在冬天, 而女生適合活在在夏天
男生要穿的好看, 有時要襯衫和外套….夏天完全不行
喔….還有要注意鞋子….因為女生 至少外國女生 會注意男生的鞋子
我曾經穿過一雙鞋子….前十個稱讚的裡面有九個是女的….剩的那一個
是gay….

March 14 2015 at 10:03 AM

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