Art of the Genre

I was never one to be overly familiar with Dungeon Magazine. Sure, I’d seen my first Dragon at age 13, but Dungeon never made its way into my teenage life and so an early infatuation or understanding wasn’t there for me.

Still, being a hardcore gamer, there had to be a point where I finally discovered that Dungeon was the cousin of Dragon, only instead of having articles it was filled with adventures. By the time this became known to me I’d pretty much given up on adventures and designed all my gaming sessions myself, but nonetheless a particular fondness for the Planescape setting [and the artwork of Tony DiTerlizzi] did prompt me to purchase my first Dungeon in October of 1995.

Now maybe I was late to the party, but even so, that first issue of Dungeon was a very cool purchase and I still hold it as another milestone for me in my gaming career.

Produced by TSR in September/October of 1995, Dungeon #55 was edited by none other than my good friend Dave Gross and art directed by Larry Smith. They managed to put together a rather fine product that features four adventures: Savage Beast by Ron Poirier for AD&D for levels 1-3, Umbra by Chris Perkins for Planescape levels 6-9, Tulips of the Silver Moon for AD&D levels 5-7, and finally Sea Wolf by Lisa Smedman for Ravenloft level 4-6.

The cover, which was my primary purpose for buying this issue was done by Tony DiTerlizzi and at the time was one of the only full color and ‘finished’ images I’d ever seen him do for D&D. It is a nice piece, complete with four well-rendered character images and a central ‘bubble’ that depicts a fifth. He sticks to his usual Planescape style and if you like that setting then this cover is for you.

Interiors are done by Terry Dykstra who I have no particular interest in, DiTerlizzi who does some base pen work for Umbra, Steven Schwartz who reminds me a bit of Russ Nicholson, and finally Mark Nelson who does a complete and utter divergence from the style I’m used to and frankly I’m not really sure what he was going for as it looks more like the work of FASA’s Rick Harris than the Nelson I’m used to.

In all, DiTerlizzi is the only standout here, the rest falling far short of the norm I’d become used to with Dragon.

Artistic Rating: 2.5 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — October 16, 2013

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