Friday, July 31, 2009

St. Cuthbert to the Rescue

Here's one of many gorgeous illustrations from the The Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Book, published in 1979 by Troubadour Press.

29 comments:

  1. Wow, I remember that.
    --Thanks! :D

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  2. I don't want to be too disrespectful here, because I think you put it up, because you like it. A coloring book is aimed for children. So is an animated television show.

    Now people probably hate William Dear's "The Dungeon Master" about the Dallas Egbert, Jr. case, but I found it very compelling. I've read it twice as it's in Robarts Library (here in Toronto).

    If you want a picture of first gen gamers, that has something to offer: it was all university students. I started when I was 11 in 1980. I was fascinated that this was something older people played.

    So, to see stuff like this, which I think is clearly about securing money from a licensing deal, does not make me feel much 11-year-old wonder.

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  3. That's interesting Brasspen. I was about 12 when I came across this book in the mid 80's and I loved it. I didn't love it because it was a colouring book, because I was too old by then for that. I loved it because I felt like it was a description of how D&D "should" be played.

    I loved the detailed Gygaxian prose (not that I recognised it as such at the time). I loved the details like the fact that the ettin was about to snatch the spear out of the ranger's hands (no-one EVER used spears in my group). I loved it that the characters wore such odd clothes and armour. The whole book was like a tin of condensed cream of D&D soup - all flavour!

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  4. "Now people probably hate William Dear's "The Dungeon Master" about the Dallas Egbert, Jr. case, but I found it very compelling. I've read it twice as it's in Robarts Library (here in Toronto)."

    Not at all, I actually really really like that book. I found it extremely interesting.

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  5. That book was illustrated by Greg Irons, who was a big name in the SF hippy/underground art scene, and thus fits squarely within the same aesthetic tradition as Trampier and Otus -- Irons was actually the real thing that they were, in some sense 2nd-generation clones/followers of. The Official AD&D Coloring Album, despite being a marketing gimmick aimed at kids, is actually (and ironically) one of D&D's strongest links to its head-shop roots. (Note also, for the historical record, that this coloring album was released in 1980 -- at a time when the D&D game itself was still pretty squarely being marketed towards adults; the kid-friendly Moldvay-edit Basic Set was still a year in the future, the "Endless Quest" books 2 years away, and the full-court-press on the kiddie set with the cartoon, the toys, the "magic ink" solo adventures, etc. not for 3-4 years; a D&D coloring book released in that era (and IIRC there were D&D coloring books, tied-in with the toys, or the cartoon, or both) would've been something much much different that this book, with text by Gygax and art by an authentic underground artist).

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  6. Slight amendment to the above. The Coloring Album was actually released in 1979, so that puts it 2 years before Moldvay, 3 years before Endless Quest, 4+ years before the cartoon and the toy line, and makes it seem like even more of a weird anomaly.

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  7. Wow, This bring back great memories. I had this book (and I even colored in it), and as an earlier poster said, it was a glorious melange of pure freaky flavor.

    Thanks for some fond memories!

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  8. Interesting info, T. Foster!

    I wish that I had a copy of this Colouring Book. *sigh*

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  9. This is awesome. Never seen this book. It seems to belong to kid's stuff written by adults to meet adults need category. Some of the best childrens lit is written like that. I am gonna look for this item on ebay!!!

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  10. I wish I still had that book. And that I hadn't colored it, back in the day.

    *sigh*

    I also had another book, in the same format, about the fantasy genre overall that I liked nearly as much. In fact, it was one of the things that first turned me on to some of the early classic authors in the genre.

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  11. I came across a site that has scans of most of the art from that coloring book. Sweet! I can print it off and let my kids color it now!

    http://monsterbrains.blogspot.com/2009/05/dungeons-and-dragons-coloring-book-1979.html

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  12. Hey, Joshua!

    I think I had that same one -- is it the one with scenes from old sci-fi and fantasy books in it?

    I think that was where I found out that the Six-Million Dollar Man was first a novel called "Cyborg."

    That takes me waaaaaaaay back.

    JC

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  13. Doh! Joshua beat me to it! I was going to mention Monster Brains as well.
    I've got a somewhat ratty copy of this I picked up at half-price years ago.
    I remembered it from early on, but lost my original. Just a couple of days ago, I ran across an art blog with a group of Greg Irons art posted, but darned if I can't find it now.

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  14. No, no sci-fi. It started off with mythology (Atlantis, Odysseus, Siegfried, Merlin, etc.) and then went on to fantasy published up to that point (Howard, Tolkien, Dunsany, Lovecraft, Burroughs, etc.) It was called Tales of Fantasy. I've got some pictures kicking around on an old blog entry: http://darkheritage.blogspot.com/2008/01/joys-of-coloring-books.html

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  15. I still have that book. What I remember most was the "D&Dness" it captured. I noticed it as a kid. This is no Sinbad voyage, the party meets at a tavern and plans their assault on the dungeon. Party members are lost to beholders and ettins. The dungeon is a weird underworldish place, with elemental beings. I remember one room shows a never ending battle between an army of gnolls and and one of hobgoblins (?). And in the end the remnants of the party stumble upon a door leading to a room full of treasure. The echoes of the dungeon as an abstract set of challenges drawn on graph paper is in each drawing and my ~10 year old self could sense it and was intrigued. In essence it was a new genre. I realize that, just now, in writing this, neither S&S, nor high fantasy had anything like this gang of armed men exploring hazardous, semi-random rooms.

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  16. Wow, what a cool thing. I wish they'd had this book around in my childhood. I never even knew this existed.

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  17. That bizarre hand right in the middle of the page messes it up for me. Otherwise, it's not bad.

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  18. Most adults would be hard pressed to render a drawing as well as this 'coloring book' page. Myself included.

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  19. I used to have this book, but I'm hard pressed to find it again. I wonder why I got rid of it??

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  20. Holy moly, I love all those illustrations on the Monster Brains site! They're freaky and creepy and uniquely framed.

    Anyone notice that the "map" page is exactly the same layout as the sample dungeon in Holmes basic, with different monsters depicted?

    Wish the Gygax text was included, too...

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  21. hmm...what color is a lich-king?

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  22. I fondly remember a girlfriend and I at around 15 yrs. old playing the little dungeon game in the back of the book.

    Even then, I loved the way the one guy is holding his head from a gnarly spell effect. Really gives it some drama.

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  23. I think the other blog with the pictures is only missing two of them; the very first, where they're assembling their party at a tavern, and the very last where they find a big ole room full of treasure.

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  24. I have long wished I had picked up a copy of the coloring book, in part because of the cool rendition of the dungeon from the Basic D&D (Holmes) book. I think there are a couple simplifications of the map.

    Didn't the book even have a mini-game to play with that map?

    Frank

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  25. My older brothers purchased the D&D Coloring Book for me. I was age 4.

    It had a mini-game suitable for kids that taught you the basics of D&D, and I played the hell out of it before graduating to Basic D&D with the brothers the next year.

    The coloring book was awesome and I kept it, tattered and torn, for years.

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  26. neither S&S, nor high fantasy had anything like this gang of armed men exploring hazardous, semi-random rooms.

    thank you for reminding me of Bluebeard's Castle, which I think captures exactly this weird, anything-could-be-behind-that-door character: one room of battles, another that contains a sea of tears, etc. Except there the end is not the treasury. Maybe it's more like Tomb of Horrors.

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  27. Wow, I still have this book in pretty good shape. I remember picking it up at one of my first conventions, Michicon I think in 1970 or 80. I loved it for the art, which was very cool and stylistic.

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  28. @Delta, the text might not be there, but the general story of the book is given here: http://www.acaeum.com/library/coloring.html

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  29. This was actually the first D&D item I owned as a kid. My mom bought it for me at the university bookstore of all places. I loved it and colored every page. This truly was my gateway. I've since tracked down a couple of copies and now have them in my collection. I think the artwork is superb and I've always been fascinated by it.

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