Dragon #101: Interesting for gaming history, not so much for content
Again, I bring you my weekly Dragon review, this time with number 101. The issue in question is one of those magazines I actually owned first-hand as a teen, and so I know it rather well, even if it doesn’t resonate with me.
First, let me go a bit into content, but it came out in September 1985 and had an editorial note from Gary Gygax that has some incredibly interesting things in it. Gary speaks first about a D&D movie that would come from DDEC, the entertainment arm of TSR that he’d been spearheading in Hollywood for a couple of years to this point [and produced the D&D cartoon]. As you all know, this one never happened, at least in the 1980s, and soon after this publication [October!], both Gary and DDEC would be gone from TSR entirely. This seems odd to me, as the tone of the editorial is upbeat with the newly released Unearthed Arcana selling out, Oriental Adventures on the way, Gary himself penning the second Greyhawk adventure novel while the first, Saga of the Old City, is to be released in November of that year. Also, Temple of Elemental Evil is slated for release as well, with Frank Mentzer helming its production.
Gygax also says he’s been ‘recalled to perform the duties of Chief Executive Officer of TSR, Inc.' and knowing now that in October 1985 [one month after this issue] he’d be removed from TSR by the Lorraine Williams when she gained full control from the Blume Brothers selling her their shares, it really, really saddens me to know that he had a direct vision of where the company was headed, but instead Williams took the company into a slow crawling oblivion. I’m not saying Gygax could have saved TSR, but I will say it would have been a much different journey in getting there.
After this article, the issue becomes much more mundane with a piece by Roger E. Moore on Kender entitled, ‘All about Kender’, and Creature Catalog III that does feature a good number of new creatures that would have made a nice addition to MM3 if one had ever been produced.
Otherwise, just the Ares section, that has a nice transformable robot for Gamma World, is the only thing worth mentioning between covers.
In the artwork department, Larry Elmore does a splendid, and really packed, image of Kender. Roger Raupp also does a pretty incredible Lake Geneva stripper turned fighter on the cover of the Creature Catalog, but he truly excels on the full color Ares section cover which has been included in this article as well.
The issue cover is done by David Martin, who does hold the honor of having one of my favorite Dragon covers, although it isn’t this one. Still, this Swords & Sorcery piece does have great muscle work and action, which makes me wonder why Martin didn’t get more work because he could very clearly paint.
Overall, only the Gygax piece holds up, and this is for simple historical nostalgia.
Artistic Rating: 3 [out of 5]