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Dungeons and Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History

Wandering Mage

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Seems the best year for Dungeons & Dragons will only get better.

Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History is a big, comprehensive book about D&D's art history that's coming on October 23rd 2018.

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The publication will feature more than 700 pieces of the art created for Dungeons & Dragons during its over 44 years long existence. Among the authors there are two RPG historians and writers (Michael Witwer, Jon Peterson), a director of the 2009's movie Fanboy (Kyle Newman), and a person who was the voice of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Maul in Star Wars' iconic productions, Star Wars: Rebels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Sam Witwer).

Inside the book that will come in various cover designs, including Special Edition similar to the new Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks, we'll find a visual story of D&D starting from its very roots. It includes the most legendary pieces of art ever done for D&D, some less known artworks, and even the works of Gary Gygax's and Dave Arneson's first concept artists, who weren't professionals at that time (Greg Bell, Kenan Powell, Tracey Lesh):

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"It was really a set of local people, some relatives, they were doing these pieces of art," Mike Witwer told SYFY WIRE during a conference call with all four writers. "Nobody knew what a Mind Flayer looked like or [what] a Beholder looked like. Gary had described them in various places, and somebody was tasked with doing the first Mind Flayer or the first Beholder. These are exciting things, and again, these were not professional artists, they were usually whoever was available around. So it was really, really gratifying to be able to discover these things, and really give some credit to some of these early artists, and a couple really come to mind: Greg Bell, Kenan Powell, Tracey Lesh. A few people that really laid the foundation for this game before it really kind of was a game, before it was a thing. That was hugely gratifying." ~ SyFy Wire

Dungeons & Dragons: Art & Arcana is a 448-page book that covers art from all 5 Editions of the game, its supplements, adventures, Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance novels, material accumulated from decades long publication of Dragon and Dungeon magazines, classic advertisements and merchandise. Plus concept sketches, large-format canvases, rare photographs and one of a kind drafts from revered D&D illustrators, including lots of material that was never published before.

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According to sources, this product may end up as the most comprehensive compilation about the art of D&D ever created, reaching from early Gygax years through TSR, Fiend Folio and Games Workshop periods (yes, GW was actually publishing D&D before they created Warhammer) and then using the best of what Wizards of the Coast gathered in their libraries and allowed to dabble with.

So yes, we can safely expect a lot of classic Jeff Eesley, Tony DiTerlizzi, Larry Elmore and other big names. But probably the most thrilling could be the possibility of learning about the creative process and ideas, the whys and hows that shaped the form in which we visualize and imagine D&D from the very beginning to our present days.

Where to buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition | Penguin Random House Canada | Walmart

More information: LINK | LINK

Some interesting editorial reviews:

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“This book is an exotic, magical, and fun trip into the world of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS whether you’ve ever held a twelve-sided die or not.” 
—James Gunn, writer-director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie series
 
“This tome invites the reader through every stage of the evolution of this wonderful game, engaging with incredible art, enlightening photos, and insightful anecdotes that both inform and inspire. Whether you got to experience the birth of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and want to relive that origin spark, or are new to the community and would love to adventure through the visual chronicle of its past, present, and future... I cannot recommend this book enough.” 
—Matthew Mercer, Dungeon Master of Critical Role
 
“This is the most comprehensive, mind-blowing visual history ever created about DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. Beyond the iconic artwork featured on nearly every page, the book actually serves as a complete history of the entire D&D universe. Both fans of the game and newcomers will be completely blown away by the countless hours of research and passion put into this book. There’s truly nothing else out there like it.” 
—Adam F. Goldberg, creator of The Goldbergs
 
“This is the definitive collection of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS artwork we’ve been waiting for all of our lives! The images contained in this book will instantly transport you back to your childhood, and conjure up memories of long forgotten adventures shared with old friends around the gaming table. This tome is an essential addition to every lifelong D&D fan's home library. Buy a copy right now—or make me a saving throw versus Death Magic!” 
—Ernie Cline, author of Ready Player One
 
“DUNGEONS & DRAGONS has shaped the imaginations of millions around the world since its conception. This visual exploration delving into where it all began is a must-read for both dedicated veterans and new enthusiasts alike. A passionate homage from the biggest fans in the industry!” 
—Maude Garrett, TV, radio, and online host and founder of Geek Bomb

“I grew up during the early days of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, and it’s been decades since I’ve seen the wonders that enthralled me during that magical time. At last, familiar treasures from the depths of the vault are here. They can make you cry depending on how deep you went. This is an incredible tome of power." 
—John Romero, co-creator of DOOM
 
“This is a time machine. Poring over these images forty years after I first held the Basic Set in my hands, I’m overwhelmed by the same ineffable feelings I had back in 1977.  DUNGEONS & DRAGONS unlocked something in my twelve year old brain—an exhilarating sense of possibility—that set my future course as a game designer and writer. This book inspires me all over again" 
—Amy Hennig, creator of the Uncharted series

“This fascinating deep dive into the world of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS will thrill both the connoisseur of role-playing games, as well as anyone interested in visual histories. I found so much information to inspire daydreams for months. I can’t wait to add this to my library of all things geeky.” 
—Deborah Ann Woll, actor and D&D enthusiast

"This tome of awesomeness [...] You can only begin to imagine the amounts of hours that this team of top notch authors poured into this. They gained unparalleled access to the archives of Wizards of the Coast and the personal collection of some of the top collectors. Needless to say this book will detail and illustrate the long and wonderful journey of Dungeons and Dragons from its humble beginnings to the cult status it obtained to this day. This has never been achieved in a book before making it the must-have D&D collectible."
 —Fabienne Payet, Outright Geekery

“In the early 1980s, I spent lots of time working and gaming with D&D co-creator Gary Gygax during his ‘lost Los Angeles period;’ I went on to work closely with TSR until its end. For me, this is more than a book.  It’s a time machine back to a fantastic, fabulous time when anything was possible. For anyone who wants to understand the pure magic of D&D and where it came from, get this book at all costs.”
 —Flint Dille, Screenwriter/Game Designer

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