Art of the Genre

Now you might be thinking, 'Top 10, really?  How many did he do?'  Well, the answer to that is 12.  And, considering how iconic each one is, how much they meant to D&D players in the 1980s, and how many folks still use these book 30 years later, it is little wonder that this was a much harder list to trim down than one might think.  But, I'm going to give it a shot nonetheless!

#10: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide: Jeff told me once he had painted this one before he even came to TSR but they decided to buy it and use it for this cover.  Therefore, for all of you who have tried endlessly to figure out what each creature on the cover is, should realize they don't necessarily ascribe to ANY D&D type monster or race.

#9 Greyhawk Adventures: I believe this was the final book in the 'Orange Spine' series, but I've always been a fan.  I mean, who doesn't like a ultra-demon looking thing and a griffon rider with a magic sword?

#8 Monster Manual: Classic!  Red Dragon fighting Pegasi in an air duel?  What isn't to love about this one?

#7 Legends & Lore: Well, it is hard to recover an Erol Otus, but this image of Odin is probably one of the best you will ever see.  Jeff truly knocked this one out of the park in my opinion.

#6 Oriental Adventures: I'm guessing that if there is one book on this list a lot of folks don't own, it is this one, but that doesn't mean this kind of epic 'in the clouds' duel between a samurai and a ninja isn't worth every penny!

#5: Players Handbook: Sure, you aren't going to top Trampier's version, but nonetheless, for many players who didn't start D&D in the 1980s, THIS is their Players Handbook, and many of us have imagined this fantastic fight as we sat around a gaming table.

#4 Manual of the Planes: Astral Dreadnaught... enough said.

#3 Unearthed Arcana: Truly one of the most iconic wizard images EVER!  How many times has this been ripped off?  Probably about half as many as the Trampier PHB, but still, it just never gets old.

#2 Dungeon Masters Guide: Now there might be some controversy with this one coming in at #2, but that is where I'm putting it.  Not taking anything away from EVERYTHING THAT THE DM IS and how well Jeff represents it here, but I still believe when many folks think about an 'orange spine', they are going to remember #1 first, because at the end of the day, this a a re-cover, and half the folks out there are going to be about the Sutherland III edition.

#1 Monster Manual II: Jeff's first 'Orange Spine' and first hardcover AD&D work, and it absolutely takes it to the church.  If you haven't sat around wondering A: if this a a hill giant or and ogre lord and B: if this poor bastard fighter is going to live, then you aren't a D&D player.  Truly, one of the greatest masterworks to ever grace a gaming product.

And don't forget, if you like Jeff's covers on 'orange spine' books, I hope you'll have a look at The Complete Roslof Keep Campaign Kickstarter which will mirror these great books so after 30 years you can add another to your collection!  You can find it here:

Written by Scott Taylor — September 12, 2016


Josh Lease:

Interesting list. Easley certainly did a terrific run of paintings for the “orange spine” editions of AD&D.

I actually like the Wilderness Survival Guide cover quite a lot (love the shadowed image of the guy falling off the cliff, a classic Easley background detail) and would definitely rank it here.

The “re-covers” are really impressive, I think. It’s hard to follow someone’s work like that, especially something well established but I really think Easley didn’t just meet the challenge but cleared it in remarkable fashion. The Legends & Lore cover is tremendous, just an epic cover; it’s one I wish I had.

I’m also a big fan of the Greyhawk cover, and the Unearthed Arcana was a terrific piece of work. (that’s the one I asked Jeff to sign at GaryCon. Easy choice.)

September 16 2016 at 07:09 PM

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