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Back to BasiX (2021)

Back to BasiX was a fanzine dedicated to B/X Dungeons & Dragons that ran for ten quarterly issues from 2017 to 2019 (and I believe issue 11 is in the works and maybe out at this point). This hardcover (2021) collects all ten issues and sticks them behind a fantastic new cover illustration by Matthew Ray.

Ray is, honestly, what attracted me to BasiX. He handled the art for every cover and I just adore it. He really embodies not just the feel of old school D&D illustration, but also old school fantasy and sci fi fanzines (the sort that gave folks like Stephen Fabian and Jeff Easley their starts) — they’re similar, but distinct, vibes and Ray marries them nicely. His work also has a sculpted, three dimensional sense that I appreciate. Peter Mullen pulls of a similar effect with his hatching, but in a different style. Ray’s greatest legacy for me is that he makes giants super interesting. They’re usually so boring!

Anyway, the zine itself is basically the work of Thom Wilson, pretty much every word. Each issue contains an adventure, an interview with an old school creator (its an all-star list including Jennell Jaquays, Erol Otus and more), some reviews and other musings, all topped off with a comic by Travis Hanson. The layout is utilitarian (especially compared to something like Knock, see tomorrow’s post) and clean, something that really harkens back to the old school zine and APA scene. Mostly I am impressed that this is (mostly) the work of just one guy. I’ve been publishing digitally for like decade, but I have lots of writers and support staff. That Wilson pulled this off for a year and a half all by his lonesome is an impressive achievement on its own. But then it is also really good, too!

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