Thursday, April 23, 2009

Only Erol Otus ,,,

... could make a mushroom man this creepy.

29 comments:

  1. His dark, yet cartoony style is really amazing. His work has brought so many of us such pleasure.

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  2. I agree that Erol Otus is a superb artist. His style reminds me a bit of Hannes Bok, sometimes really weird, but strangely believable.

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  3. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Hannes Bok was in fact an influence on Otus, but I may be misremembering.

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  4. You are so right. I believe that this illustration was from one of the A series of Modules. Maybe I'm wrong about that. Nevertheless, I spent much time staring at it when I was a kid. It's just so compelling.

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  5. So agressively and unmistakably stylized, and with such a feel for the uncanny.

    Much as I love his line art I wish he'd had opportunities to work with a wider range of techniques. The deep blacks and the shading on this are outstanding (charcoal, maybe?).

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  6. "I believe that this illustration was from one of the A series of Modules."

    Yup, it's one of the Myconids from A4:In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords.

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  7. wow, this seriously rocks. This is my favorite of the Otus drawings you have been posting.

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  8. Excellent use of light and shadow. A lot of gaming artists could learn from this piece.

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  9. His style reminds me a bit of Hannes Bok, sometimes really weird, but strangely believable.Wow! The moment I look up Bok on wikipedia one of the pictures just grabs me with that similar Otus aesthetic. I can easily see EO being inspired by this guy.

    I also can't pass up the opportunity to agree with Will, the myconid shows a great use of chiaroscuro*.

    *As a word-lover, I had to use it.

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  10. While I have been more than happy to leave most of Old School D&D behind, I do intensely regret the "loss" of Erol Otus. Thanks for showing me this image, James.

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  11. Whoa ... I wonder if I was subconsciously remembering that picture when I wrote Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom. What's weird is I don't think I ever owned A4. But that's the sinister shroom, right there.

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  12. Really, Matt? I have for so long thought that your adventure was some kind of homage to A4!

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  13. One of my favs. I try to include myconids in every campaign I do, and this pic is one of the reasons why.

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  14. Otus has always been the iconic D&D artist for me. Though Jeff Dee is also great.

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  15. That same module has many more really well rendered Erol Otus pictures, from the cover to the giant crab defeating the warrior to the mushroom ritual circle to the items of the Slave Lords to this one. A lot of classic Erol Otus here.

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  16. I don't know. Trampier could have done a pretty creepy one too. But A4 was practically a showcase of Erol Otis weirdness.

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  17. One of my faves as well.

    I'm thinking its white on a black substrate instead of vice versa.

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  18. I mean this in nothing but a complimentary way... but Otus' art bears some superficial similarities to Dr. Seuss'. In fact, I'd say the sheer amount of Seuss I was read as a kid had a ton to do with my attraction to D&D in the first place. (What would YOU do, if you met a Jibboo?)

    I recall, vividly, standing in front of the magazine rack in the local grocery store staring at the cover of S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (by Erol Otus... and yes, they used to sell D&D on the magazine rack of the local grocery store) and being completely captivated by the art. My dad came home with the Basic set not more than a week later (cover also by Erol Otus).

    Incidentally, that's also probably one of the reasons I have much less of an issue mixing the sci-fi and fantasy (to the extent that such a thing isn't a false distinction in the first place).

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  19. Spooky! I'm working on a cavern adventure, he might need to make an appearance!

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  20. You've gotta love this line from the forward to the Arduin Grimoire:

    Special Note: the artwork for this supplement is the sole doing of one fine young artist: Erol Otus. I'm only glad I'll be able to say ten years from now, "I knew him when..."

    Wow.

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  21. But that's the sinister shroom, right there.That was my thought as well. I'd always assumed the Shroom was in fact an homage to the myconids, which, let's face it, should have been evil.

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  22. Trampier could have done a pretty creepy one too.True! But Tramp's art always has a "heavier," more grounded feel to it that works better for some subjects than others. He and Otus are nice artistic book ends for how I view D&D -- equal parts trippy, weird fantasy and gritty, dark fantasy.

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  23. Great stuff as always. It would be great if someone could post some Arduin Grimoire Otus work.

    Thanks for the tip to Hannes Bok! I'd never heard of him before and found this:

    http://www.americanartarchives.com/bok.htm

    It's true!

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  24. Hannes Bok was also a decent writer. Some years ago I picked up The Sorcerer's Ship and Beyond the Golden Stair, which can be quirky, yet fun reads.

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  25. Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom was done from the ground up, although I think I did have in mind the (cover?) of A4 as an underlying inspiration. I also had in the mental hopper the concept of myconids from the old books. But from there the starting point was the concept of the big magic-using mushroom man being evil - and it built up from there. I probably have read A4 at some point, but it was providing subconcious material into the creative cauldron, not foreground material. If that makes sense. Which is why it's weird and a bit disturbing to see that EO visualized exactly the same being - I don't know if I saw that picture at some point in the distant past, or whether it was a matter of two imaginations coming up with a very similar image.

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  26. I just reread The Sorcerer's Ship the other day and I was not terribly impressed, I'm afraid (no wonder I had completely forgotten it since the last time I read it!). However, I vaguely recall that I liked the Golden Stair so I plan on rereading that one, too. As far as his art goes, however, he was great.

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  27. Great illustration!I always loved A4's Artwork. And Otis himself created the mysterious & creepy Myconid character,to flesh out the simple AD&D stats. that is now etched in players minds.Have you ever noticed how the great old D&D artists really brought all the monsters to life with their animated drawing styles!This piece in particular really takes me back, I remember running around that dungeon in my undergarments with a piece of driftwood as a weapon! :)

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