Saturday, July 21, 2012

French D&D Images

As promised, here are some scans of a few pieces of artwork from the 1982 French edition of Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay. What you'll notice is that a great many of the images below are re-imaginings of pieces that appeared in the original 1981 English language version, like this one:
The original version of this from the 1981 edition is almost identical, right down to the numbers shown on most of the dice, so why bother commissioning a new piece?

Goofy though it is, I actually really like this illustration by Jim Holloway. There is a comparable illustration in the 1981 edition, but it depicts two people (one male, one female) imagining themselves as D&D characters, not one, and neither looks anything like this fellow, who seems a truer representative of the cohort of gamers entering the hobby via the Basic Rules.
This looks to be another Jim Holloway piece, depicting what I suspect are meant to be a thief, an elf, and a dwarf. It's wholly original and has no antecedent in the 1981 edition.
This is Larry Elmore's version of the famed alignment illustration from the 1981 book. I can't be certain, but I think it had previously appeared elsewhere, perhaps in an issue of Polyhedron, but my memory is faulty after three decades.
Here's another reworking, this time of Erol Otus's wizards arguing over who gets which magic items from their latest haul. While the entirety of this piece by Larry Elmore (so far as I can recall) never appeared anywhere, the female magic-user on the left makes several appearances in the 1983 Frank Mentzer-edited Basic Set.

There are many more illustrations in the French Basic Rules I can share if there's sufficient interest in seeing them. I picked the ones above because they struck me as interesting and because the majority of them are either direct re-imaginings of things found in the 1981 English version or depict similar things. I find myself wondering why all the interior artwork is new and unique to this edition but the Erol Otus cover painting was retained. Regardless, I find it helps give the 1982 French version a flavor all its own that distinguishes it from the original work from which it was derived.

26 comments:

  1. This "rework the old art" has the flavor of a licensing/copyright issue to me (like, original licenses didn't allow for republication in a new edition). And maybe they didn't think of that when the project commenced. That would be my top hypothesis.

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  2. The second and third images look more like the art of Jim Holloway than Jeff Easley to me.

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  3. Zenopus ArchivesJuly 21, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Yes, you are correct, those are definitely by Holloway.

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  4. Zenopus ArchivesJuly 21, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Games Workshop did something similar when they first printed the earlier Holmes rulebook in the UK. The 1st two prints (rulebook alone) have all of the interior artwork redrawn by Fangorn. Strangely, they later printed the entire box set with all of the original artwork.

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  5. Zenopus ArchivesJuly 21, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Thanks for posting. Great to see contemporary artwork by those artists that I've never seen before. I, for one, would like to see more.

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  6. I enjoyed seeing these, and I'd definitely love to see more.

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  7. I really loved that Peter Parker figure who dreamed of his Conan alter-ego when I was young. D&D was not taking itself too seriously.


    I thought of this picture when I read Zak Smith's criticism of "power fantasies" in RPG theory.

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  8. What I'd really like to see, James, is some of the illustrations from the Dungeon! game you have. I recall a very weird one of a wizard by Erol Otus. Any time I can see obscure art from him I'm happy. And BTW I don't think redoing the artwork for the French ed. had anything to do with licensing: to this day, WOTC still owns every single pic every done for TSR--of course back then it was the same--TSR owned all its own stuff: it's quite another issue: by the end of 1982 the execs at TSR had decided they hated Dee and Willingham, whom they'd fired (infamous Blume brothers again...). That, and why do you suppose there was a rework of Otus's minotaur in Keep on the Borderlands? They just wanted a look that was different, maybe. They did that all the time.

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  9. More! I mean, Le More!

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  10. Thanks for sharing these!

    MORE!MORE!MORE!MORE!MORE!MORE!MORE!MORE!MORE!

    :)

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  11. These are fascinating, James. Reminds me of when I bought the four Monster Cards sets about ten years ago: lost treasures from our collective Proustian past.

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  12. My holy grail would be the Japanese version of the Rulescyclopedia. Lots of manga art and in pocketbook size. The art on the new Japanese Stormbringer is also amazing...

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  13. Put me down as another vote for MOAR.

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  14. Fun! I'm always pleased to see more Holloway artwork, and though I may be lynched for saying so, I'm happy to replace Otus artwork with Elmore stuff.

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  15. Extremely interesting they changed the artwork at all. Was this a common practice in foreign language releases? Anyway, would love to see more artwork!

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  16. Seeing more of Jim Holloway's art is always wonderful. He's definitely my favorite old school artist

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  17. A bit of a shame that they split the Cyclopedia in 3 volumes, but I think the color section and monster art makes up for it.

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  18. Sweet stuff!This French version looks like a lot of fun.

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  19. Been meaning to document this for a while

    I'm
    not a Hebrew speaker, but since I found out that the 2e PHB had been
    published in Hebrew - I've always wanted one. My fiancée tracked one
    down for me a while ago, and it's one of the greatest treasures in my
    collection of RPG stuff.



    Main differences;

    No blue ink. All black and white, except for the color plates, not all of which are present.

    The layout is difference, of course, due to pagination and reflow
    differences, but some of the images seemed to have just been scanned
    into a basic Desktop package at quite a low resolution (even for 1991/2
    standards).



    www.loscha.com/hebrew2e has a few examples for you all.

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  20. "WOTC still owns every single pic every done for TSR--of course back then it was the same--TSR owned all its own stuff"

    No, for example, there's a well-known issue preventing them from reprinting back issues of the Dragon because they don't own those art rights: see here (search for "rights")

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  21. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_%28magazine%29

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  22. Elmore's arguing wizards, with the light-fingered sorceress looks awfully familiar from somewhere ... but of course I can't think where.

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  23. DRAGON is another matter: we are talking about TSR gaming products. DRAGON was often published by other entities, except in very early days of D&D. Of course WOTC doesn't own the more recent Paizo publication of Dragon. Recently WOTC published the Red Box and in ads for it are images from original Fiend Folio. And on their website are downloads of old products: I have any number of them, including S1 (with all illos.), L1 and L2: these are free from WOTC, some of which still available. (The best one I got 10 years ago from them was original Jean Wells' Palace of the Silver Princess.) Oh, and they're republishing the 1e books. Better evidence than user-written Wiki,,,

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  24. Funny you posted that female mage from Elmore. I defined recall seeing the cropped version of that image, but I never so the original.

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  25. I think the female wizard is stealing Hitachi's Magic Wand. That would explain the smile on her face.


    Also, D&D needs more wizards with alligator-jaw hats.

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