Art of the Genre

In my continuing series of posts on old Dragon Magazine art, I’m going to be going over Dragon #136. 

I’ve owned two copies of this Dragon, not because I particularly loved it, but because fate decided I should have two.  However, that isn’t to say there aren’t some very cool things in #136, as I found when rereading it for this article.  So before I get into the artwork, let me just give gamers a quick rundown of what resources they might enjoy inside.

First, you get a great look at gaming cities, with a fantasy city builder by Thomas Kane [among the four fantasy city articles] and another great piece on Gamma World cities by Dan Kretzer.

Second, there is a throw-away piece on the merchant class, a nice bit on golems and their creation, but the really cool gem in my opinion was a redux of the martial arts styles from the Oriental Adventures Hardcover.  Now having played Oriental Adventures in the past year, and struggling with just how powerful the martial arts can be, this piece is a HUGE help to any DM wanting to place martial arts in their AD&D 1E campaign.  Seriously, the article is entitled ‘New Kicks in Martial Arts’ by Len Carpenter and I suggest you check it out.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s take a quick look at the art. 

The cover features a Naga queen in her court, and although I was never particularly captured by this piece, that isn’t to say it doesn’t have merit.  Artist Ken Widling’s work here is well rendered and although the ‘look’ of the orcs might be truer to the actual beast they might be, I’m less taken with them than most.

Inside, I was heartened to find by this point in Dragon’s history the editors had begun placing artist credits beneath all artwork.  Not only does this provide me a much easier way to tell who did what, but I’m sure at the time also increased the freelance work of those contributing.

Artist Valerie Valusek [who was a heavy freelancer for TSR in the late 1980s] contributed a couple of pieces, and one in particular in the article ‘Rooms for the Knight’ reminded me of a more varied Elmore, which I think is a nice complement.  I was also taken by the power of a piece for the short story ‘The Curse of the Magus’ by artist George Barr.  Barr seemingly takes a page from Stephen Fabian and the effect is outstanding! 

Last, but certainly not least, artist Janet Aulisio brings a very cool green-tone piece to the article on Gamma World cities that once again reminds us all of her brilliant pen work, even if this particular image is somewhat hard to see because of the tight composition.

In all, I was very pleasantly surprised on this revisit, and I hope you will be to!

Artistic Rating: 3 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — June 26, 2013

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