Friday, July 27, 2012

Obscure Art Friday: "Chainmail" by Gary Gygax



     Today is Gary Gygax Day (his birthday), so here's an extremely obscure artwork by the Dungeon Master himself. It's his (signed) version of the cover of Chainmail (first published in 1971), which was illustrated by Don Lowry. Gygax's art is from his Diplomacy variant "Crusadomacy"; a link to this was recently posted on the Acaeum by Lurker Below. The date of this article is not clear. The document is a scan of a photocopy, and is annotated as being from "PZFST 5.7" (Panzerfaust). The text of article indicates it was originally published in Domesday Book #5 (~July 1970), which is confirmed by the Acaeum's description of its contents. The map in the Crusdomacy scan is also drawn by Gygax and is dated 1970. 

10/24/12 Update: Per the Jon at Playing at the World, "The original appeared on page 114 of Jack Coggins's self-illustrated The Fighting Man (1966), at the start of the chapter "Crescent and Cross" about the Crusades."

     Bonus Gygax: Wizards still has available a page to download a four-page pdf of Gygax's Appendix A: Random Dungeon Generation from the reprint of the original Dungeon Master's Guide. This is essentially a stand-alone section that could be used with any version of D&D. The reprints were released last week, and purchase supports the Gygax Memorial Fund. I haven't purchased them since I have 2+ copies of each of the originals, but at least two members of my gaming group have each bought the full set. Since Wizards spent so much time retyping the entire the text, I'm hoping they will make the full pdfs of each book available for purchase in the future.

8 comments:

  1. I was browsing eBay not long after you posted this. I found this. http://www.ebay.com/itm/300749369031. This is being sold by tmf, one of the conservators at the Tome of Treasures. In fact I believe that it is the same copy that is shown in their listing. See here http://tomeoftreasures.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1529. Tell me if you think this looks familiar. Is there some broader cultural reference that I am missing here? Who is copying whom? I believe it was Picasso that said, "Bad artists plagiarize, great artists steal".

    LB

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    1. I hadn't noticed that similarity before, thanks for posting. The composition is too similar to be a coincidence. Perhaps there's a similar picture in an older book that was well known to wargamers?

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  2. FGU's Destrier (published 1978) states "Cover art and illustrations are copyright 1978 by Edward E. Simbalist". And of course Chainmail says "Illustrated by Don Lowry".

    Ed's Destrier cover was clearly inspired by the much earlier Chainmail picture, but did Gary do a rough copy of Don's drawing, or did Don draw a better version of Gary's sketch?

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    1. Good question. Gary's appears to have been published first (Domesday #5, April 1970 vs Chainmail, 1971), but this doesn't tell us which was composed first.

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  3. In reflection to what is being discussed here, as a trained graphic artist, I believe this to be a traced image. If you'll carefully analyze the line-work of the image, it's congruent to an image that has been traced. This means nothing of course; all artists trace images...it's part of the game. It could be a tracing of his own drawing, or any other possibility. Just wanted to contribute from my field of knowledge if it's of any assistance.

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  4. ....and I love this blog by the way! I'm glad somebody is focusing on the Holmes version of D&D! Thanks for your work.

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    1. You're welcome, I'm glad you are enjoying it. And thank you for the comment re: tracing. It occurred to me that it might be a tracing of something, but I wasn't really sure. If Gygax could draw that, we'd probably have seen more artwork of his own.

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  5. Agreed. As Lurker Above has pointed out, "great artists steal" (quoted Picasso)...there's an exaggerated but valid grain of truth there. It's all appropriated, since it's all been done to one degree or another. Tracing is another tool in the creative arsenal, and it can sometimes serve a really good purpose. I'd like to point out that this is no "slag" on Gary Gygax, as artists agree there is nothing "wrong" with tracing...its just another way to achieve an image, and sometimes a useful one. Comic book artists...tattoo artists: They all use tracing.
    Copying poses from other sources is another, and you see this in a lot of old gaming materials. The original OD&D books had images and poses that were borrowed from old superhero comic books in my estimation.

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