January 12, 2017

"Ancient Red" by Larry Elmore

I went to Wizard World Con in Richmond last September and Larry Elmore, the famous Dungeons and Dragons artist, was a guest there. He was selling prints. I picked up a copy of his "Ancient Red," a painting that adorns the 1983 version of the Basic Dungeons and Dragons boxed set. I love this painting. The way I imagine dragons has been shaped by this painting. I find so many details of this painting appealing: the rictus snarl on the dragon's face, the scintillant hoard of gold it seems to guard, and the warrior wearing a horned helm holding up his sword to defend himself against the dragon's oncoming claw. If you look closely at the treasure hoard you will see fine details: a few chests, several vases, a bejeweled crown, an overflowing sack of gold. Elmore's illustrations are some of my favorites, right up there with Franz Frazetta. I chatted with Elmore very briefly at Wizard World and he told me that when he worked at TSR the employees often played Dungeons and Dragons. He said that his character was a red-haired dwarf warrior who had the sore fate of always dying. When he died he would have his follow adventurers resurrect him, but they would make him pay them back for this service, and this annoyed him. He also said he knew Gary Gygax. We didn't get a chance to talk too much about this interesting topic.