Sunday, September 2, 2012

Monster Manual 1E artwork trivia

Chimeras - 1st print MM (left) vs 2nd print MM (right) - click for larger view

     Over on the Acaeum, misterspock has documented several artwork changes that were made to the Monster Manual. The first is the Chimera; the original drawing by David C. Sutherland III (aka DCS III or just DCS) from the first print MM (Dec '77) is missing its wings, despite having an 18"/round flying move. The later drawing, also by DCS, from the 2nd print MM (May '78) has the wings added as well as other changes. Also altered were the Type III Demon and Nightmare.

     An older post on Dragonsfoot by Paul Stormberg of the Collector's Trove provides some context for these changes:
Dave (DCSIII) told me he didn't like some of the creatures he drew (Type III Demon, Chimera, Dinosaurs, and some others) as they had to be hastily done. DCS was a fast artist but it made his quality suffer. The Monster Manual was supposed to be done by Dave Trampier but he worked slowly and often quit and went home or to the local bar to blow off steam regardless of deadlines. Not so for DCS. He labored long into the night to get things done and sacrificed quality for speed when ordered to do so. Tramp was different, he was the golden boy for Gary and Gary did not push him on deadlines. Instead Dave was asked to pick up the slack.

When Dave got the Monster Manual blue lines from the printer he saw "this huge hole" in the document. There were no dinosaur illustrations, at all, just many blank pages. So that night Dave did all of the dinosaur drawings. He was supposed to be working on other things but crammed and speed drew things to pick up the slack. So a few pictures that had been hastily drawn by DCS, and that always bugged Dave were redrawn by him for later editions of the MM. It is the only book where he does this because it was never meant to be his project and the hastily drawn stuff bugged him so he just had to fix some things.

In the end, DCS was selected to be the Art Director for his work ethic and he slowly moved away from having time to create art. Ultimately he directed cartography at the company which you begin to see in fantastic maps like those in I6 Ravenloft.

     Tom Wham is also listed in the credits, and contributed both classic "bestiary" drawings that blend well with the others (Beholder, Blink Dog, Herd Animal, Gynosphinx) as well as his signature cartoons (Giant Lynx, Mind Flayer, Giant Pike).

     In addition to the altered artwork, later MM prints also added new art. Buried on the Acaeum's Monster Manual errata page is a list of the missing artwork in earlier printings:
First:  Ape (Gorilla), Centaur, Doppleganger, Dryad, Eye of the Deep, Fungi, Gar, Ghost, Hobgoblin, Intellect Devourer, Kobold, Men (Berserker), Merman, Mummy, Otyugh, Pegasus, Pixie, Purple Worm, Rat (Giant, Sumatran), Skeleton, Slug, Sprite
Second:  Ape (Gorilla), Eye of the Deep, Fungi, Otyugh, Rat (Giant, Sumatran)
Third:  Eye of the Deep, Fungi, Otyugh, Rat (Giant, Sumatran)
Fourth:  All pictures present.  Note that some monsters still do not have an accompanying illustration, but the Fourth print is as good as it gets.
[Note: the Ape (Gorilla) here should actually read Ape (Carnivorous)]

     Most of these added artworks are by DCS or Trampier, but the ones added to the fourth print are by Jean Wells (by herself or with DCS), whose name was also added to the credits on the title page.

     Unpublished drawings also exist for several monsters that never received an illustration in the Monster Manual, including a Slithering Tracker and Giant Skunk by Bill Willingham, a Masher by Erol Otus, and an unattributed Shadow.

Update: Here's a screenshot of the DCS Chimera in the Blackmoor Supplement (Sep '75) that paleologos pointed out below:


  1. Very interesting!

    Note, however, that DCS III's wingless chimera first appeared in the Blackmoor supplement a couple of years earlier, even though the creature is described with dragon wings in OD&D

  2. Aha! I didn't remember that. It fits with the story about hastily assembling the volume. Looking at the Blackmoor Chimera, while the pose is identical some of the details are different - he may have traced it to redraw the one in the Monster Manual.