A few weeks ago a reader named Ivan sent me the above image by the late artist Moebius (Jean Giraud), which is from his art book Chaos (Marvel, 1991). Ivan noted that the composition is very similar to the artwork by David C. Sutherland III from page 3 of the Basic rulebook, which you can see above in the banner for my blog. Each shows a rider with a pole arm and headgear, seated on the back of a giant lizard with spikes running down its back, which is perched on the edge of a rocky cliff. The tail of the lizard is even curving in the same direction in each. Ivan also pointed out that the white flyer is from Moebius' series Arzach. I don't know of any particular connection between Moebius and Dungeons & Dragons, although he was working on Metal Hurant, the original French version of Heavy Metal magazine, during the years the Holmes rulebook was in print (1977-1981).
It occurred to me that Sutherland's image was possibly inspired by the Dewback in Star Wars, which came out in late May 1977, just a few months before Holmes Basic in July. The dewback barely appears in Star Wars, but was eventually well-known among kids due to being a Kenner toy. However, a partial shot was featured in some publicity material accompanying the film. Note the right-handed pole being held by the stormtrooper:
|1977 publicity still for Star Wars showing dewback with "sandtrooper"|
|Cartoon version of the same image, from the bottom of the Star Wars lunchbox. Image from Jeff's Old Toys blog.|