Odd DD2

Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Album (1979)

This, my friends, is the Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Album (1979). I had never heard of this before a few months ago, when three separate people recommended to me in one week. It is now one of my favorite D&D books, full stop.

Let’s take a moment to examine how wonderfully strange this thing is. First off, the 1979 publication date makes it likely that this was the first D&D product produced by a third party (the fact that I never heard of it before makes me hesitant to speak in absolutes, though). The text is all written by Gary Gygax, with the main story following a group of adventurers through a dungeon where they encounter, among other things, a lich, an umber hulk, a beholder, demons and Tiamat herself. Several of the adventurers die. Tiamat is called the Queen of Hell. This is a children’s coloring book. The secondary text consists of rules for a very, very lite set of  of rules to be used in playing through the dungeon at the center of the book. Again, written by Gygax. A streamlined, minimalist dungeon combat ruleset.

Another curious thing. All the interior art is by tattooist and underground comic artist Greg Irons. His art is jaw dropping and I think he ranks as one of the very best to try their hand at D&D art at the time, though he never did any work on the actual game. The Tiamat is like something out of Durer. Massive talent. He died too young, hit by a bus in 1984.

I should also mention the publisher, Troubadour Press. Owner Malcolm Whyte used it as a way to mainstream counterculture artists and ideas in stuff like cook books, story books and coloring books. He did a lot to raise Edward Gorey’s profile and he wound up founding the Cartoon Art Museum in 1984.

What an odd and awesome nexus of outside the mainstream 70s culture. Put this on the top of your must-get list.

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