Art of the Genre

When you go back this far, back to September 1982, it is nearly impossible as a lifelong gamer not to review the entire magazine and just stick to the artwork.  In this case, I’m going to have to give some more detail on the issue, because it is absolutely too good to pass up.

It begins with an incredible article tag on the front cover called ‘Fantasy Football’!  I kid you not, 1982 and someone at TSR had trademarked the name before it spilled from the lips of every beer swilling NFL fan or bored office staffer in America. 

But let’s not get past the fact that Gygax himself was the Guest Editor, and he began the issue with an editorial treatise on GEN CON [apropos for this week, don’t you think?] and the role TSR took in its creation, the ‘battleground’ that Avalon Hill chose to use in its Origins convention in Baltimore, and how by 1982 TSR was the ruling super-power of both the gaming convention scene and RPG field.  Really, if you like gaming history, this is an excellent read by the old DM himself.

After this, Gary goes on to discusses some new characters in ‘Character Classes to Consider’ in which he gives us insights into some ‘failed’ classes [Savant, Mystic, Jester and Montebank] while also providing intros to those later seen in Unearthed Arcana [Thief Acrobat, Cavalier, and the upper levels of Druid]. 

Then comes Rob Kuntz’s ‘Greyhawk’s World’ which helps define the events of eastern and southern Flanaess.  Then we have Len Lakofka’s Leomund’s Tiny Hut on keeping track of quantity, a new proficiency system by Christopher M. Townsend, ‘Featured Creatures’, again by Gygax, that would later be included in the MM2, and finally less than 27 pages in we hit ‘The Missing Dragons’ by Richard Alan Lloyd.

Missing Dragons is a very nice piece that takes the color wheel into account and describes the Yellow Dragon, Orange Dragon, and Purple Dragon.  Now, getting into the art of this, both the Yellow and Orange dragons were done by Larry Elmore, who in 1982 had just come into TSR and to this point doesn’t seem to have worked out what a dragon really is.  Seriously, his renditions of these two creatures look more like winged dinosaurs than actual dragons, while Easley hits a nice home run with his Purple Dragon that shows exactly what he is capable of doing with b/w illustration.

Then, we are brought the ‘Timelords’ NPC class by Lewis Pulsipher, which is fairly awesome, and ‘Tuatha De Danann’ by Robin Emrys Atkinson concerning the revised Celtic mythos!  But wait, we’ve only just begun as Ed Greenwood then entertains us with a discussion of fantasy crime and punishment in ‘Law of the land’, Lewis Pulsipher contributes again with ‘WAR!’ a piece concerning how conflict provides characters with a reason to live.

Top Secret then makes an appearance with ‘That’s no pizza – it’s the Pong papers!’ before we tap out with the Dragon’s Augury that takes a look at new computers games, and the primary topic is a review of Wizardry!  Seriously?!  Wizardry?  Yep, this Dragon has it all, and I’ve not even gone into the ten page ‘Monsters of the Midway’ fantasy football mini-game that resides in the magazine’s heart.

After all that, what can really be said about the art other than Clyde Caldwell does an extremely nice cover that includes both his standard spear-faced dragon as well as a woman with large boobs, although she only appears in the background.  Throw in art by Jim Holloway, Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Roger Raupp and comics by Phil Foglio and Dave Trampier and we have the very first 5 rating I’ve ever given, because I just can think of a thing wrong with this issue.

Artistic Rating: 5 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — August 14, 2013

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