Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Inspirations, Part 1: Larry Elmore

Well, here's the first of (hopefully) many Inspirations posts. The first is, well, the first. My introduction to fantasy came when I saw a friend of mine with a binder with one of those clear covers you stick things into. I always stuck pictures into them. So did he. A wizard stared back at me, like Merlyn promising a lifetime of wonder to a little Wart.

'What's that?' I asked.
'That's my D&D binder, man.'

From there history was made. And so was my mind made up to follow a particular path that would challenge me and give me so much in return for my devotion.

'Dragon Slayers and Proud of It!'
Larry Elmore
'That wizard led me to the book store to the AD&D 2nd Edition Player's Handbook. I opened the pages right there in the store and stumbled upon another image of a group of faithful, fateful adventurers whose stories were mine to wonder about for as long as I wished. I wanted so badly to be a part of their troupe; to be the great, jovial fighter; the warrior priest with his war hammer hung leisurely over his shoulder, resting after a hard won battle; the stranger hovering in the background, shrouded in the folds of his crimson cloak, a worker of mysteries, enigmas; to know the elf woman with the bow (who I imagined began with the priest on some special errand); and to batter steel against steel in mock combat against the warrioress (whom I always imagined as a sellsword, or a rogue of some kind, a companion to the giant man and the wizard).

Even though I have many influences now, Larry Elmore was the first. From that day in the book store to the days I spent traveling the lands of Krynn, he made me wonder with nothing more than coloured mud and brushes... I wanted to do that, too.

Little did I know that the wizard on the cover of my friend's D&D binder was me...

Much as Merlyn reached from the future back to Arthur's youth to guide him into the shoes he would eventually fill as a man, it seems to me now the wizard was familiar. His task, to teach me to wield the wand of graphite and smear the coloured mud in many patterns and signs to make visions to enchant the world, to show it beauty and magic, to help
 it dream.

If you ever get the chance, go to an old used bookstore and rummage through the early D&D stuff there. Chances are you'll find old copies of 'The Dragonlance Chronicles', back issues of Dragon or Dungeon magazines featuring Elmore's art. And make sure you stop by Mr. Elmore's website and pick up a print, or two, or three. Stop by his booth at the various conventions he frequents. I had the opportunity to meet him two or three times; each was a blessing and a treat. It was very important to me that my earliest hero turned out to be a big kid and a friendly face.

Elmore's still an active artist. My eyes are always peeled for updates of new commissions, personal work, and another opportunity to meet such an inspiring fellow.

So, my thanks, Larry. You were the first to set me down this path, and you are the first here. Thank you...

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