The following is a video transcript
Todd Kenreck: The art of D&D creates a framework for the imagination. It has been such a giant part of my childhood. It allowed me to imagine greater worlds and giant monsters and amazing adventures, and it has had such an impact on so many people and on pop culture and now there is a book that really shows you the evolution of the art of D&D.
Kyle Newman: I grew up with older brothers that played Dungeons and Dragons, but I was always the Elliot in the family where I wasn't allowed to play and the older brothers were playing and I was kind of kept out, so I would flip through the books and I fell in love with the art. That's how I learned to draw. Then I started playing myself and I played throughout my childhood and teenage years, but I didn't play for a long time. I started playing fifth edition and I started looking for where's the history book? Where's the book about Dungeons and Dragons beyond the Dragon Lands Book or the Art of Dragon magazine? Where's the definitive book?
Michael Witwer: These paintings told you so much about what was happening, even with no information. Unearthed Arcana, here's a wizard that's got this book that's illuminating this light, this unspeakable knowledge upon his face, while he's surrounded by all of these beakers and creatures and elements. It's such an immersive seen, out of the mind of Jeff Easley. I'll just never forget doing that. It was really my first understanding of this world, I think, in a really different way.
Kyle Newman: It's functional, in the earliest editions, because it lets you know how the mechanics would work, what you could do, what a thief could do, or what the game was really about, because so much of it as text, but you anchor it with these key pieces of art that highlighted mechanics, or at least let you visualize something fantastic so then you could go off and tell stories about it. You need those art pieces to underpin it all. So, as the DM, and the collaborative storytelling can happen, so people can all have that idea in their head and then go tell new stories about that creature or that character or what this world looks like.
Sam Witwer: Dave Trampier, A Player's Handbook cover. It's a very instructional piece of art. It's sort of teaches you what D&D is. I mean, you're in a dungeon, there's this giant idol. So you're definitely up against some serious evil, right? You're like, well, we're, ... the odds are against us. Flying in the face of all this evil are a couple of grubby dudes who are prying a jewel out of its eye and, ... which I think is kind of hilarious considering that level of evil and these guys are not taking it terribly seriously. Then there's other people in the painting who are planning, pouring over maps, taking it more seriously. There's wounded people. There's also people that are looting this underground cavern. They clearly have had a fight with lizard men or something. It suggests what you're supposed to be doing.
Jon Peterson: I think no one is ever tried to take the story of the brand, from its inception up to the present time. And to do that in a way that isn't just focused on traditional illustration, but on things like dice, character sheets, maps, all the things that make up the visual experience of D&D. I've always loved the game. I've loved the history. I think it's obviously played a huge part in my life. The game was one of the most exciting discoveries of my life and I relished the opportunity to be able to try to piece together the story and to show how significant its impact on our culture has been.
Michael Witwer: These little illustrations that have long since been forgotten, had became the basis for the hyper iconic super famous illustrations.
Kyle Newman: I think those early images are so important and foundational and they've gone through so many incarnations, but they still always take these key elements in these little spirit of each creature. We do a sequence, a little segment of the book called evolutions, or the many faces of, and we look at the way a Beholder will evolve through all the different editions, or the way the Roper evolved, or Owlbear.
Kyle Newman: If you played it, it's cool, and if you're only familiar with fifth edition, you can kind of trace it back to its origins. Where did he come from? How did he look in third edition? And what did he look like in fourth? It's really exciting, and the deeper we dove is like ... we were learning as you're writing the book, at least for me, because I remember a lot of this stuff, but I wasn't ... I was young so I don't remember exactly who wrote which thing, or who the creator ... who the artist was on it. So, you're putting faces with names and obviously there's the iconic guys, but some of the lesser known guys. It was a real labor of love. We just took a couple of years to really put this thing together and track down all the art that we wanted to see in its native form.
Jon Peterson: The book comes out in October, October 23rd. It's about 450 pages, so it's pretty hefty. There are 700 different unique illustrations inside of it. It'll come in a couple of forms, there's a standard edition, and then a collector's edition, a special edition, which has a nice clam shell with a cover done by Hydro 74, so it'll look like a D&D special edition book. And inside there's all kinds of little treats for people that are the super fans of D&D.
Todd Kenreck: Thank you to everyone who created Art in Arcana, it is an amazing book. And also thank you for taking time to do all of those interviews. I'm Todd Kenreck. Thank you for watching.