Dragon #147: An issue that falls flat on most accounts

Clyde Caldwell Dragon Magazine TSR

To be honest, I’m not completely ‘taken’ with Dragon Magazine #147.  Sure, it provides one of artist Clyde Caldwell’s trademark half-naked women, and she’s as lovely as can be expected, but somewhere along the way the issue tends to get lost and never recovers.

Brought out in July 1989, I’m initially caught by the fact that for me the advertising seems ‘off’.  Now granted, my memory of the events of 1989 are a tad foggy by this point, but to feature an advertisement on the inside cover for the ‘All new 2nd Edition DMG’ that is available in June confuses me.  First, I will be reviewing a copy of that particular DMG this week right here, and second it is in terrible shape, as I must have used it religiously as a DM over the course of a decade.  Still, by 1989 my primary games would have been Robotech and Shadowrun, so I’m confused by the fact that so much wear and tear would have gone into my 2nd Edition DMG, and for some reason I’d have placed the release of this book in 1988 at the latest.  Ah well, I’m sure I’m wrong, but it just doesn’t add up to my internal clock.

But back to artwork!

Caldwell’s piece is fine, but it even states inside the front cover that ‘White Magic’, as it was titled, was completed very quickly by Clyde and that he’d grown tired of doing evil sorceresses and I have to wonder if he might have just been tired in general.  There is very little anima in this image, and although technically sound, it never captured me like some of his other work from that era.

Moving to the interior, the issue focuses on magic, and artist Lucy Synk has a very nice piece for ‘Sorcerous secrets’, while articles on magic items, props, and even familiars fill the pages.  Having used a Wand of Wonder on several occasions in my campaigns, there is a nice article by Richard Hunt on both the Wand of Wonder and the Wand of Wonder II entitled ‘WOW your players!’ that is worth reading, although the artwork for it by Kirk Botero falls completely flat.

There is also an included mini-board game called Magus, but no artwork is really included other than some very base comic sketches on the chits.

Fiction includes the tale ‘Lord of the Keep’ by Brenda K. Ward, and the intro art for this, by artist Ned Dameron is probably my favorite in the entire book.  It reflects not only Arthurian legend, but also has that touch of Euro-art that sometimes filtered into American fantasy products. 

In all, I’m not taken with this issue of Dragon, and for that reason I’m not giving it very high marks.

Artistic Rating: 2.5 [out of 5]

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  • Scott on

    Interesting information David. I knew Elmore and Holloway both loved the ladies, wasn’t privy to that info on Caldwell and Parkinson, but it makes sense.

  • David Edward Martin on

    Lucy A. Synk’s piece was a print commonly available at SF artshows in the 80s and 90s.
    Caldwell and Parkinson used to hire the dancers from Clown’s Lounge, the local strip joint, as their models.

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