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Monstrous Manual Annual, Volume Three (1996)

Though the trade dress changed, TSR stuck with Jeff Easley covers for the previous annuals. For Monstrous Compendium Annual, Volume Three (published in 1996, but containing monsters that appeared over the course of 1995), they chose violence. That cover is a horrific collage of monster illustrations from the interior, photoshopped over a generic cave background. I loathe it.

The proportion of good monsters to bad is starting to tip pretty dramatically to bad here. Or at least curious. There is a lot of environmental variants, like the arctic owl bear. The art is all over the place, too. None of it is bad, really, but the artists don’t fit together well, so things start to stick out like sore thumbs. OK, no, I lied, the illustration for the Wood Man is bad. And disturbing. Jesus, why?

On the other hand, that Jabberwocky is magnificent. No clear credits again, so I am not entirely sure who this is, but I am willing to guess it is Arnie Swekel? Jeff Easley is listed as an interior artist as well, and maybe, but I dunno, it doesn’t quite seem like Easley.

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