Thursday, April 2, 2009

We Need More Erol Otus

If anyone ever asks you about the enduring appeal of Erol Otus, show him this illustration from 1981's Expert Rulebook. It remains, hands down, one of the best depictions of any undead creature in any edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

Seriously.

31 comments:

  1. We need more Erol Otus!

    - Zulgyan

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  2. Ah, the spectre. Gave me the creeps all throughout my childhood.

    I think that my tastes in RPG art are pretty ecumenical, but there is something about many of the artists of the past: Dee, Willingham, Tramp Sutherland, Otis, etc. They really hit that spot in my brain that fills me with wonder.

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  3. Otus' style screams D&D to me. I love it. I remember the cover to Castle Amber leaving quite an impression on me.

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  4. In the latest issue of HackJournal (#29), there is a full color ad for HackMaster Basic that features an Otus illustration. Pretty neat and very retro.

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  5. Otus and DAT were the kings of their trade!

    Although I think that the Darlene sketches in the DMG, 'There is No Honor Among Thieves', and that horseman standing on the shore watching the longship come in, were incredibly inspiring to me.

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  6. Amen, Brother! Preach it!

    Erol Otus, along with Trampier and Sutherland, were the biggest influences on my early fantasy drawings.

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  7. I love Otus, but in all honesty that may be the best undead pic in D&D, but to me it doesn't seem any more inspired than the wrapping on cheap Halloween items at the 99 cent store in October. Especially so the Jack O Lantern face, which I don't think complements the rest of the creature. Is it just me?

    The arms get points for looking like Blackwolf's arms in Bakshi's Wizards, though...

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  8. Gave me the creeps all throughout my childhood.

    Same. I think it's the surreality to it that really packs a powerful punch. On first glance, it looks cartoony and amateurish and then you look at it again and it starts to unnerve you.

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  9. In the latest issue of HackJournal (#29), there is a full color ad for HackMaster Basic that features an Otus illustration. Pretty neat and very retro.

    I'm very curious about HM Basic. I have no idea if I'll like it, but I certainly hope I will.

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  10. Is it just me?

    Probably not. Otus is a bit of a Rorschach Test in my experience. Lots of people don't like his work for a variety of reasons, while others see his style as emblematic of what old school gaming was all about -- imaginative, off-kilter, and occasionally psychedelic.

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  11. I couldn't agree more. Otus' work has style and imagination. It's inspirational. It's fun. If his work hadn't been on the cover of the basic set, I probably wouldn't have been as interested in D&D.

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  12. While Otus's Cthulhu Mythos stuff in DDG are my favorite A/D&D drawings of all time, I don't care for this undead drawing.

    My favorite undead drawings are Russ Nicholson's in the Fiend Folio, particularly the sons of Kyuss.

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  13. Otus's rendering of Yog-Sothoth in Deities & Demigods will melt your face off. I'm seriously considering getting a tattoo of it, right above my tattoo of Trampier's Altar of Mammon from the PHB cover.

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  14. Not only we need more Erol Otus, we need adventures that match the Otus aesthetics.

    - Zulgyan

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  15. Excellently put, Santiago.

    Reading through one of the Arduin Grimoire's I found a Erol Otus cyclops I'd never seen before. It was terribly exciting.

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  16. Otus's rendering of Yog-Sothoth in Deities & Demigods will melt your face off. I'm seriously considering getting a tattoo of it...

    Great googly-moogly! I gotta say, when I was a young 'un (like ~10) I was more freaked out by that DDG Cthulhu art than anything in my life. I literally didn't want my fingers to touch those pages. I trained myself to flip through the DDG and manage flip over that section every time to avoid the taint.

    I salute you.

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  17. Hell yes. Otus's images are still the first that jump to mind when I think about D&D.

    -Rob D.

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  18. I'm very curious about HM Basic. I have no idea if I'll like it, but I certainly hope I will.

    I'm hoping I will too. From the preview information that I have seen, it is a VERY different game in many ways. That scares me a little bit, but I am content to wait and see before I pass judgement.

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  19. I saw the Cthulhu illustrations by Otus before I ever read Lovecraft or ran COC. Right away I think of his art when I hear "Yog Sothoth."

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  20. Not only we need more Erol Otus, we need adventures that match the Otus aesthetics.

    Spot on, Zulgyan! :D

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  21. Exactly how should we go about doing that? Use unnerving writting?

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  22. I never liked Otus' depiction of Mythos creatures since I felt they looked more silly than scary.

    But the spectre is an example of his better art.

    Although I can't help but wonder if Erol Otus was influenced by the Phantom Shadows from Scooby Doo for this drawing.

    http://www.scoobyaddicts.com/villains.aspx?PageNo=3&StartRowIndex=21&Series=1

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  23. Best old-school TSR artist. I could look at his work all day.

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  24. Otus is good, but best? Are you forgetting Tramp?

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  25. That's a decent piece of art, but I've seen Scooby-doo villains that look similar. To say that it's the best piece of undead art ever to grace a D&D product is... wow, overstating.

    In general, I liked Otus's interior pen and ink art better than his color covers, though.

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  26. To say that it's the best piece of undead art ever to grace a D&D product is... wow, overstating.

    "One of the best," but, like all things, it's a matter of taste. I find that spectre almost unbearably creepy.

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  27. Indeed, a matter of taste. My favorite Otus pics from the B/X line was the fight between the fire and frost salamanders, if I remember correctly.

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  28. I really dig that piece myself.
    Otus definately made his own of every creature style. His monster card Ghoul is really great.I love his "Palace of the Silver Princess" cover. Pure Otus! :}

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