I know that last week I promised to take a look at Modern RPG settings, but I have to admit, it’s pretty late and I’m kinda phoning this post in, but for very good reasons! We’ve spent this weekend finally getting to spend time with our elusive 5th member of the MITC Crew, Jared the Intern, as we prepare for this week’s San Diego Comic-Con. So after two days of gaming, carousing, drinking, recording, and a whole lot of button making, I’m going to take a quick look at my favorite fantasy artist, Tony DiTerlizzi, in honor of the hard working folks camped out in Artist’s Alley down on the SDCC floor.
Seeing as tabletop roleplaying games largely take place in the minds eye of both the Players and the GM, any sort of visual aid is helpful in fleshing out a more complete visual world for the game to develop within. Back in the days of AD&D 2nd Edition, when I started playing, a lot of the art found within the rulebooks was either a) extremely dated, or b) fell far short of the epicness it was meant to convey. I used to spend hours perusing the old Monstrous Manual and often feeling let down, with the exception of one highly talented artist.
By and far, the artwork of Tony DiTerlizzi has long been my “gold standard” for fantasy artwork. I feel that while a lot of illustrators were still stuck in the rut of the comic-book styles of the 70′s and 80′s, DiTerlizzi really raised the bar for what illustrating for gaming not only could be, but what it should be. His use of color and depth were second to none, and the style was and still is so original and unique.
Not only is the artwork of DiTerlizzi incredibly expressive, every image has a haunting sort of etherealness to it which has always pulled strongly at my gaming sensibilities. Additionally, while the style has a “cartoonish” look to it, I’ve always felt it lended more to the realms of fantasy and fiction it depicts, rather than detracting from it.
While Tony has moved on to other projects, like The Spiderwick Chronicles, Kenny & the Dragon, and The Search for WondLa, he did manage to snag the lions share of art duties for the 2nd edition Planescape campaign setting, one which truly suited his talent and depth as an artist. Even today, his images of the Tarrasque, the Gnome, and especially the Leprechaun (which is tattooed on my right arm) stand out as some of the single greatest drawings I have ever seen.
**Also, be sure to catch Tony at his book signing, Saturday July 14th at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego at 3:00 pm!**