Monday, April 4, 2011

More Western Elmore Art

Since so many people appreciated the Larry Elmore artwork I posted yesterday, I'm posting three more images from that same Boot Hill adventure. I do think they nicely show that Elmore has a much wider artistic range than he was usually allowed to show in his TSR artwork, which suggests to me once more that perhaps my beef with his D&D illustrations is more with its art direction than anything else.

17 comments:

  1. For me, Elmore means Dragonlance and Dragonlance was the last nail in the coffin of the original "old school". It's not that Elmore was a poor artist. In my mind he is forever associated with a railroad-y, superficial, market driven, creatively bankrupt "intellectual property" - the antithesis of the organic, sandbox-y old school approach.

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  2. "I do think they nicely show that Elmore has a much wider artistic range than he was usually allowed to show in his TSR artwork..."

    Indeed. One of my biggest nerd-doubletakes occurred at the alien museum in Roswell, NM, where hung a series of printings by Elmore depicting the alleged "crash" and aftermath. Wrecked curvilinear saucers, forlorn marooned Greys, and grim-faced military officers all set in extravagant desert landscapes. And not a puff-haired cleavage-baring swordbabe to be found.

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  3. It's not that Elmore was a poor artist. In my mind he is forever associated with a railroad-y, superficial, market driven, creatively bankrupt "intellectual property" - the antithesis of the organic, sandbox-y old school approach.

    I hear ya. It's an association I have too, but I'm trying to fight against it. I doubt I'll ever warm to Elmore's D&D art, which will always be representative to me of an era of TSR I don't care for, but I don't want that to color my appreciation for his obvious talent.

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  4. And not a puff-haired cleavage-baring swordbabe to be found.

    For some reason, I found this turn of phrase really amusing.

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  5. I definitely like this stuff far more than his fantasy art.

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  6. I think the artwork ETSmith mentions is linked here.

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  7. I just don't understand anyone having a beef with Elmore. His work was always filled with adventure and personality, his warriors hardy, dragons dangerous, and women beautiful. The first Elmore painting I saw was the cover of Dragon magazine 62 http://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/iss/600w/37/170371/5460391_1.jpg

    c'mon folks, that's great stuff right there! Plus, I've met him at Gen Con a few times and he's a great guy.

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  8. I concur. Yes, maybe the art direction was poor in some cases, but his ability in terms of colour theory, anatomy & composition cannot be denied. The old school art was not even close to being as refined as his worst piece (whatever that may be).

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  9. His work was always filled with adventure and personality, his warriors hardy, dragons dangerous, and women beautiful.

    For me, that's precisely what bugs me about Elmore's fantasy art: it's too predictable. There's a sameness to it that I just don't like, especially when compared earlier D&D artists or even those of his same "generation" at TSR, like Jim Holloway, whose stuff never has the kind of cookie cutter look that much of Elmore's does.

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  10. Nice artwork. It shows a lot of character and feeling. I'm commenting here since it struck more of a chord with me than the alphabetical posts so far. But you're doing great!


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  11. My comments are really directed at Dragonlance era TSR not specifically at Larry. It's just the association my brain makes. It's like Jim Holloway and Paranoia, Dave Deitrick and ST:TRPG or Bron and Dark Sun. They just go together because of the marketing around those products.

    Now Dark Sun, there was an interesting, edgy concept for a Fantasy campaign world that went downhill fast when it shoe horned into the the D&D paradigm....

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  12. For Me, Elmore was the Beginning of the D&D Rennaisance. He is the Red Boxed Set. His Western BOOT HILL art reminds me of his Pen and Pencil art from the entire BECMI collection, but its Western Awesomeness is always there and I await that Elmore Manga version of the Louis L'Amore Novels.

    But for me, most of all, he is that Animated Snarfquest film saga that is yet to happen.

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  13. Yeah, that is the Elmore Roswell stuff. It was jarring to see when I went into the UFOMRC, I had no idea he had been commissioned to do it. As I note in the captions in the linked essay, the image of Marcel, Brazel, and the debris owes a great deal to the Showtime movie Roswell, as well as taking cues from press photos from 1947. As of 2002, they sold postcards of the images in the gift shop.

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  14. By the time Elmore began illustrating for D&D, I had already moved on from the game to other RPGs. That "fantasy realism" look was for me a sign that the game was moving away from the rough-hewn, "build it yourself" nature of the original game, and towards a "we'll tell you what the game is supposed to be" approach, which I disliked. Mind you, I felt the same way about the Brothers Hildebrandt and their take on Middle Earth. I preferred the illustrations from Tim Kirk and Pauline Baynes. YMMV, of course.

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  15. Elmore illustrated the Mentzer-era boxed sets of rules that initiated me to the game. His work is far more evocative for me than, for example, the very weird Erol Otus so beloved by many of you guys who discovered this thing of ours in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

    That said, I don't dislike Otus' work. But of the "first generation" my preference runs towards Tom Wham's illustrations.

    For some reason, in my head, the game is always illustrated by a blend of Tom Wham's humorous line art illustrations and the color covers done by others: Rosloff, Easley, Elmore.

    I'm sure one could diagnose my play or DM style from that but it is what works for me.

    Really like the Hildebrandt Brothers "take" on Middle Earth, although I didn't as a child -- much more impressed with Alan Lee at the time. Since then I've come to appreciate Tolkien's own illustrations or Middle Earth. Very much a taste acquired as I have become a parent. For my own kids, the Hildebrandt Brothers illos are Middle Earth -- the only pictures they have seen of it.

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  16. I was going to mention Dragon #62 as an example of Elmore at his best. I remember staring at that cover for hours. Unfortunately, I grew rather tired of his work and eventually equated it with the worst of mid to late '80s AD&D.

    As for Middle Earth, I always enjoyed Angus McBride's work for MERP. Unfortunately, he used up all his good stuff with MERP and produced some of my least favorite cover art for Rolemaster and the Rolemaster Standard System. I loath spikey haired elves and lion men wearing t-shirts and khakis!

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  17. Mind you, I felt the same way about the Brothers Hildebrandt and their take on Middle Earth.

    FWIW, I'm not a huge fan of the Hildebrandts either when it comes to Middle-earth, though, truth be told, I'm not sure there are any artists who quite capture my own mind's eye view of what Tolkien's creation looks like.

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