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DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: ART & ARCANA – A VISUAL HISTORY

Written By:

Jonathan Hicks
art-and-arcana-book

One thing that has attracted Dungeons & Dragons fans since the 1970’s is the artwork. Many broke into the hobby ogling Larry Elmore’s dynamic and energetic cover for the red box Basic D&D game, that fierce dragon looming over the lunging warrior. The art of D&D would help these roleplaying products leap from shop shelves into the hands of eager players for many years to come.

The art of D&D has a long and varied history, and this book addresses the chronology of the game and the company that produced it, through evolving styles of painting and drawing across the years. What this book offers isn’t just a stunning coffee-table tome of inspirational images and nostalgia-inducing artwork, but also a detailed written history of D&D and a look into how these artists helped define the game, the format and the hobby.

Four die-hard D&D aficionados Michael Witwer (writer, Empire of Imagination) Kyle Newman (director, Fanboys) Jon Peterson (writer, Playing at the World) and Sam Witwer (actor, Battlestar Galactica) have brought together concept sketches, maps, photographs, advertisements and other examples of D&D artwork, ranging from its initial release in the early 1970s to the modern day. They also look at the art that graced the covers of the inspirations of the original game, such as the game Chainmail. From the line art of semi-talented acquaintances of the makers of early D&D to colourful computer-enhanced imagery, every facet of the evolution of art styles is covered along with a history of the game itself, from initial struggles to its boom and rebirth under the Wizards of the Coast banner.

Art & Arcana takes us on a long and incredibly informative journey, from the game’s conception with whatever artists they could find, through to dedicated staff and commissioned artists, providing iconic visual masterpieces for D&D, novels, computer games and every other media the brand has graced. Meticulously researched, the book leaves no stone unturned and includes snippets on the reasoning behind certain pieces, what influenced and inspired the early artwork, and reactions to the not always pleasant public perceptions of the game and the art included.

This is an incredibly entertaining book, not only for the visual feast it presents but also for the gripping and informative written history of a hobby that has survived for almost half a century. Presenting some of the best examples of D&D artwork covering five decades, there’s something for everyone, no matter which edition you first rolled dice with. Dungeons & Dragons: Art & Arcana – A Visual History is an adventure, an experience, and an excellent read.

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ART AND ARCANA: A VISUAL HISTORY/ AUTHOR: MICHAEL WITWER, KYLE NEWMAN, JON PETERSON, SAM WITWER / PUBLISHER: TEN SPEED PRESS / RELEASE DATE: 23RD OCTOBER 2018

Jonathan Hicks

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