Lance Davenport Photo (1981)

Doing some random oddities this week. First up is this amazing bit of obscure D&D history. Dan Veesenmeyer found this on eBay and sent it my way (thanks!).

First off, this is a work print from a newspaper’s photo archive (I was a photo editor for the NY Daily News for many years, so this is all too familiar for me). In the pre-digital era, you’d save all your printed photos in a library for reference – if you needed to reprint it, one of those number stamps is probably a cross reference to a negative file in a climate controlled storage room.

The stamped name is the photographer – Lynn D. Howell – and thanks to that, I’ve dug up that this ran in the Milwaukee Journal. It was shot on Halloween of 1981 (spooky) and the story ran the following week – prime time for stories about the Satanic dangers of D&D. (If you’re wondering about the historicimages.com barcode – the Journal probably sold off their print archive after digitizing it)

The photo is of Dungeon Master Lance Davenport. I have no idea who that is (if you know Lance, though, put me in touch). The clip from the story text reads, “It’s all part of Dungeons & Dragons, a creative game of make-believe that has been criticized by some parents and clergymen as demon worship.” Delightful!

The details of this photo are endlessly amusing. I enjoy the fact that Lance thought to wear a sweater vest and sports coat – standard DM’s garb in the 80s, I’m sure. Not sure what is going on in the background with the paintings and stools though. And it doesn’t look like he’s sitting at a normal table, but rather something that looks like a gigantic drawer with a roll of paper laid over it to pretty it up for the photo, a sand table, perhaps? It gives the overall impression of being staged in a dingy storage room in the school basement, doesn’t it?

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