|Matthew Morris RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8|
|Erik Mona Publisher, Chief Creative Officer|
|Erik Mona Publisher, Chief Creative Officer|
Rob Bastard wrote:
Erol Otus also does some great stuff for Goodman Games. AMAZING!
Also, must second the above poster's (7th Son) praise for Willingham. His art, more than any of the other 1st ed artists, was the best for me too.
No disrespect intended - but I always *hated* wormy! I hated it with a passion! Maybe I just didn't get it, but to me it wasn't funny, and had nothing to do with gaming, etc.
"Phil and Dixie" however - now that was great!
We've mentioned a few, but still left out a few.
Erol Otus: Working in the industry
Bill Willingham: Working in comics
David C. Sutherland III: Deceased
Dave Trampier: Left the industry, driving a cab
Tom Wham: ?
I met Tramp once back in the 80's. Back behind the theater in Lake Geneva there was a copy shop. I was in the shop making a few quick photo copies when I looked over an saw a bunch of Wormy B&W inks. I asked the owner if he was the artist known as DAT and he quietly said yes. He was rather raggled in appearance, smelled of stale cigarettes, and seemed like a member of the 1960's counter culture.
But he was polite and considerate to a fan, excited about his work, and offered me his hand when I left. I loved his stuff then and I love it now.
I bet he still draws... once an artist always an artist.
Jeff Dee, like Otus, is still working. He's done some Goodman Games module covers in the last year or two.
The other great Jeff, Easley, was happily sketching away at the Gen Con 2007 (a sight that made my day), so I'm assuming he's still "in the game" as well.
IIRC Roger stopped working for TSR around 2000, not long after finishing his work on the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Honestly I don't remember the exact reasons why he left (he was living in Wisconsin and telecommuting his work to WA), but I know when I saw him months later at Gen Con he was his normal friendly self.
I try to make my artwork look like Trampier's. I idolize his work.
I wold love to be able to show him some of my work one day
David Roberts wrote:
Well, it is not absolutely correct to say that the academic world was completely hostile to him. One of my lecturers when I did my MSc, Richard Wiseman did some work on the ganzfeld studies, and did speak about Carl Sargent's work quite favourably. Compared to most experimental paradigms in parapsychology and the huge problems with cheating, the problems with Sargent's work were quite minor(Apart from the fact that it invalidated their results). Both Sargent and Honorton's work has been continued, but the claims made by the researchers using the ganzfeld technique are much smaller these days.
I think Erik or James said that they were trying to get Erol Otus to do some "projects" for them. Now that the Gamemastering modules are announced my guess is that they'd like him to do some work for their modules.
Or I could be wrong.
PAIZO-GET EROL OTUS FOR SOMETHING! please.
I want him to do a Dungeon or Dragon cover, or even something more substantial besides just a cover.
Erol Otus fans may want to have a look around here
to see what he's been up to recently outside the gaming industry
Getting slightly back on topic...
I respect that we shouldn't be poking sleeping old dogs, but if anyone who lived in his area happened to find themselves in a cab with DAT, perhaps they can offer to shake his hand on behalf of all of his fans, and perhaps steer him toward this thread if he's skeptical of the appreciation that everyone has for his talent.
Every time I ride in a cab, I'm going to read the driver's name tag.
R. Butler wrote:
The pictures are all tiny. I'd love to get a look at them, as I'm an Otus superfan.
Who would buy a $10 small book of collected Otus work? I'd love to do something like that.
Has this ever been confirmed? I've also heard from people who ought to know that he just sort of flaked out and disappeared, perhaps becoming some sort of hermit.
I'd definitely pick up a copy of that.
Now that Dragon & Dungeon are being laid to rest, it would be kind of cool to have an artist homage issue, for all the great contributors from the past 30 years. Hell, maybe Tramp would even send in the last page of Wormy. :) (wishful thinking)
I might just be a sentimental fool, but I think there's something valuable about preserving and honoring these guys. They shaped the way a lot of people think about this genre as a whole.
Erik Mona wrote:
Yes! Count me in for that.
Erik Mona wrote:
Nothing like a big ol' book o' basic/expert/AD&D nostalgia...I'd buy that for $10-$20.
7th Son wrote:
I'd be all over an art homage book, being an old-time player. Now how did we get through all these posts and no one has mentioned "Fineous Fingers"?!
There was a compilation, which I sold to a good friend at the time. He was nice enough to then get color photocopies of the entire compilation for me. Those I still have :)
I stumbled on your Trampier discussion and, as someone who recognizes your hunger for news Tramp, have decided to contribute some information. Essentially this comes from my own experience with Tramp from about five or so years ago.
I do respect those of you who believe in letting sleeping dogs lie, respecting Mr. Trampier's privacy, etc. In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have done this, and I am deeply sorry if I did cause Mr. Trampier any agitation.
Here's what I can tell you. I managed to track Trampier down and got in contact with him. At the time I was collecting original fantasy art and I really wanted to buy some original Wormy pages from him. The good news is that he wasn't selling any because he still is attached to them and still has the dream of publishing them all someday. So if any publishers are reading this, I know Trampier has a rocky past history with TSR, but in all likelihood a publishing deal could be worked out to reprint Wormy and he still has all the originals to print from (save 3, see below). At least as of five years ago he still held out that dream. While I don't know if he truly finished the second story arc (there were two - the first ended with the Wizard Gremorly and Solomoriah the winged panther's failed attack), he does have finished pages that were never published (which I never saw but he told me about). Even an incomplete trade edition would be a classic.
Trampier said he does own the rights to Wormy, completely. He said his self-published compilation never happened because he couldn't raise enough money to make it happen.
Trampier's voice is exactly how you might imagine it to be - gravely and warm with the smoky flavor of someone who prefers to "roll his own". At the time that I called Trampier was involved in trying to set up a tobacco shop, but I have no idea if that ever panned out.
Trampier is a big Pogo fan. He cited Walt Kelley's classic strip as the primary influence for Wormy. This isn't entirely surprising, given the art style and political subtext of several Wormy strips. In a way the Wormy material is a classic American retelling of slavery - just read the episode where Rudy has a long conversation with a caged troll if you don't believe me. Wormy isn't as heavily political as Pogo, but it's there.
I noted that there were no female characters in the strip and asked him why (although this isn't unheard of in many boy's adventure comics - women are kept at a bare minimum, say, in Tintin). He said it was because an early strip with Irving dreaming of a bare breasted female centaur made TSR uneasy about offending readership, so as a joke he decided to remove women altogether. I don't own that issue of Dragon myself, but I've seen it online and it does seem to be the only episode with a female character.
The only pages of Wormy that Trampier does not own, so far as I am aware, I own. I purchased these from a former TSR employee. When I called Trampier I told him about the pages and offered to return them, since I wasn't sure of their provenance (i.e., purchase history.) Trampier graciously allowed me to keep them, which I am grateful for. The three pages in question feature Otis and Rudy looking in a river cave mouth for trolls, then getting spooked at the thought that a kraken might be lurking. Afterwards Catfish and Bender (the Salamander) pole through on the back of a belly-up, dead Long-bellied Mudsucker fish. If anyone ever does want to publish the run of Wormy and needs these pages to reproduce (with Trampier's permission, naturally), I am entirely willing to lend them to the cause.
I'm bringing up the art because, frankly, it's gorgeous. Trampier used a special kind of magic marker to color his work (I can't remember the name he told me, but apparently that brand is no longer made), but the way he used them made his work look like it had been painted with watercolors. If you've ever looked at original comic art, even the big names will "cheat" using white-out, etc., so that often the final printed product looks more perfect than the original. Not so with Trampier. Every line is perfect, every color vibrant and nary a corrected mistake visible. I've seen a fair amount of original comic pages and I haven't seen anything to rival Trampier's sheer craftsmanship and painstaking labor. The pages practically glow like stained-glass windows.
Trampier confirmed to me that he had had a falling out with Mohan and company at TSR, and was surprised to learn the company had been purchased by Wizards of the Coast. He was entirely unaware of the interest expressed in his work on the internet, as he didn't have a computer or an internet connection at the time. He was happy to hear that the interest was there. Incidentally, at the time someone was posting Wormy pages and had stirred up controversy for doing so since they are Trampier's intellectual property and this person (not me, no relation, etc.) had not obtained permission. By the time I called Tramp they had capitulated and taken the images down. Trampier's words to me were that "I WANT people to see Wormy" and that this internet posting sounded fine. For the record.
The first call was really magical. Trampier was good humored, informative, and appreciated my compliments, and there I was, talking to a legend who had really impacted my childhood. Frankly I pretty much subscribed to Dragon back in the day just for the Wormy strips.
Things sadly went downhill from there. Without getting into it too much, Trampier withdrew, and stopped responding to my letters and inquiries into work that he had previously stated he was willing to sell (at the time, the pencil drafts for the Wormy pages, not the finished pages. And if anyone is curious, he doesn't have any of the classic Monster Manual drawings. Artist Tony DiTerlizzi does have the original of the Pseudodragon, but the rest are currently in oblivion. Apparently Trampier never got those drawings back from TSR, unlike the Wormy pages.) From my experience I do believe speculation that Trampier has some personal issues is likely true. I also want to stress that Trampier was never anything but polite to me when we did talk.
People can make of this what they will. I hope at least that this satisfies some curiousity about the David Trampier of five years ago. I understand why this could be read as a cautionary tale for would-be seekers, but I do hope that someone at TSR, paizo, etc will seek him out with a serious offer to collect and publish his Wormy material. He may have his quirks, but those strips are some of the most accomplished ever produced, they have a powerful base of nostalgic fans, and Trampier himself still holds the material, the copyright, and the will to have it published. He probably could use the additional monetary support too, frankly. It is certainly worth inquiring.
How to track him down? I'm sorry to say that you are on your own. I've moved, had several computer crashes, and no longer have Trampier's number or address. But I found both the old fashioned way in the first place, and so could anyone, no detective experience required. Personally, I hope that a publisher WILL contact him and at least make the attempt while it could still benefit Trampier himself - who knows what will happen to the Wormy material after Trampier does pass on. It could be lost, sold and scattered, or destroyed (Tramp's wife doesn't really seem to appreciate that part of his life). Simple fans just wanting to pay homage like I did should probably tread more lightly.
So there you go. That's my story. I hope it was helpful to you. And somebody, anybody, one way or another, please publish this classic of American pop culture.
By the way, for interests of privacy, my email address is bogus. I will try to respond to questions posted here for awhile if anyone has any, but I think I've already told you everything I know.
Interesting story Baj.
I for one would love to see a complete Wormy compilation published (by Paizo or whomever). Wormy ended about a month before I started my first Dragon subscription, but I collected a lot of back issues in the 80 and up range, which primarily held the second story arc. I'd love to see more of the Solmoriah story arc as I only caught the end of it.
Here's another bit for the Sargent fans:
While writing a review of the Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, I happened to come across a photo of a man performing a "ganzfeld experiment"--I was like, "Hey--that looks like Carl Sargent!" Sure enough, the credits confirmed that it was. See if you can find it in your library--page 129.
Baj, please email me: email@example.com
Erik Mona wrote:
And a big book of Trampier's Wormy would suit me just fine, as well.
7th Son wrote:
Willingham is actually doing Fables for DC Comics Vertigo line and has also worked on Robin and currently Shadowpact for their DC Universe line. Shadowpact is a fun read :)
Erik Mona wrote:
You know what I'd really like to buy? Classic 1st edition art, revisited by some of the gaming-art greats. Redrawing some classic scenes with the benefit of years of experience to enhance the effect.
Hell, you could probably get a few t-shirts out of the project too. I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff.
Just FYI, in case we ever need to track him down again, I'm about 90% sure that Dave Trampier has moved to Elgin, IL, and is no longer in Carbondale, IL. Predictably, his number remains unlisted, but does exist there in Elgin.
The main reason I'm posting this out here is just because that article appearing in that paper was the only shot of light in the darkness for many years, and it would be a shame for that lead to be lost. Believe it or not, this message board/chat thread is probably the most illuminating discussion of the mystery of Dave Trampier out there. Good enough to keep it current.
I started collecting The Dragon from issue #11, and was always a huge fan of Wormy (and What's New with Phil & Dixie). I've heard of Dave Trampier's withdrawal from the world, which saddens me. His talent is amazing.
I drove a cab for four years, and it's a weird life. I wish him well, and hope that someday he changes his mind and gives us more Wormy.
The Wormy strips are one of the main reasons that I've got boxes of old Dragons sitting in my basement. Actually, the comic strips are probably the strongest reason I hang on to them, aside from the cover art. Some of those covers...they were always best when they were the type giving you what seemed to be a brief frame in an ongoing story.
Thank you for sharing this information, Baj.
Baj, are you still checking this page?
Erik Mona wrote:
I would buy two copies in a heartbeat!
Ahh, Wormy. Worthy of some thread necromancy. Mr. Trampier, if you ever stumble upon this, I hope that you will consider getting your works published. IMO, your work was seminal in the RPG fantasy art field.
Also, an EO art book? Sign me up!