|In search of Forever|
Anyway, yes, I was browsing this weighty tome when I came across Rodneys cover artwork for Imagine #12 (one of the few issues I don't have) in the section of work he did for TSR -
|Rodney Matthews | 1984|
The version in In Search of Forever doesn't have the masthead or other type on it, it's just the art. It's interesting that TSR UK were commissioning original artwork for their Imagine covers, whereas GW with the arguably better distributed White Dwarf had developed the habit of using images from the morguefile of the Young Artists illustration agency, reproducing art originally destined for SF&F books, often with zero relevance to the content of the issue. Incidentally there is a pencil sketch from Rodney of what looks like a proto Eldar Farseer done for a TSR catalogue in the section for all you Oldhammererers as well.
Anyway, daydreaming about that dragon, One of those eerie feeling of familiarity hit me, and rather than considering it the usual bout of indigestion, actually recalled what it reminded me of. Rodneys cover is an almost precise mirror image of Chris 'Fangorn' Bakers illustration from the Fiend Folio, albeit rendered in Matthews unique style.
|Chris 'Fangorn' Baker | 1981 | via|
|Dave Sutherland | D&D | 1977|
Again we see these same distinct elements, but in a radically different composition in the 1977 UK edition by John Blanche, which we can see establishes the dragon on the left, wizard nearest the dragon and the fighter on the right. Mr Zenopus, speculates that the Fangorn art in the Fiend Folio may have been originally intended for the UK D&D cover - for which he did all the interior illustrations.
|John Blanche | D&D | 1977 via|
It's interesting to see John has returned to a similar mark-making technique in his recent personal work as the sublime chaos of the Voodoo Forest documents, although the underlying drawing is stronger in his newer work. Again all the hallmark elements are there - the treasure, Magic User, carrying the light, the archway, the fighter and Dragon. These same elements appear again in a composition closer to Fangorns on the 1981 Basic Set, by Erol Otus:
|Erol Otus | D&D | 1981| via|
Fangorns Fiend Folio image does also carry strong compositional resemblance to Erol Otus' 1981 cover, which makes me question whether Fangorns peice was composed for the 1977 UK D&D cover, or a re-drawing of the Otus. Otus' cover is notable not only for his stunning stylisation and use of colour, but the only one approaching gender equality in terms of representation, although through the traditional gender role of the female magic user. The image also seems to be laden with acid soaked psychosexual Freudian undertones which give such a mythical richness and phantasmagorical depth to the work.
I'm not sure if Fangorn, Blanche or Otus had line of sight of each others work (the horns on the warriors helmet suggests that perhaps they did), rolled for initiative or were working from the same brief, but the details of motifs and compositional similarities are interesting.
Saint George and the Dragon | Paolo Uccello | 1470