One of my favorite iconic books from D&D’s early days is the AD&D Rogues Gallery, and I don’t seem to be the only one nostalgic for it. Its long tables of essentially random character stats didn’t do much at the time to excite my imagination. However, the back half of the book featured a garrison of the game’s best-known characters: the first iconics, fully fleshed out and evocatively drawn.
A young DM at the time, I devoured the stats and descriptions for Mordenkainen, Robilar, Tenser, and many others, and appreciated that each profile noted which player (Gary Gygax, Ernie Gygax, Brian Blume, Jean Wells) had created it. The tight but thorough descriptions and role-playing notes accompanying each personality captured my imagination by showing me just how wide-ranging D&D characters could be, despite a common set of tools to play with.
But a significant part of the appeal was the art. Excellent black-and-white line-art depictions of the personalities, particularly those inked by Jeff Dee, ignited entire campaigns and stories in my head. My Dice Unloaded column is essentially a tribute to the Rogues Gallery, a feeble attempt on my part to rebottle the magic.
Lately, I’ve been getting that old Rogues kick out of a series of character portraits by Joseph Garcia, a self-taught artist out of Henderson, Nevada. Garcia’s “Lunchtime Sketch” feature on Facebook has lately, and regularly, gifted viewers with an old-school parade of new characters, each based on someone’s PC. Players tell him about their characters; Garcia weaves lines to embody them.
For instance, Garcia’s action-y depiction of Andrew Schwartz’s character, Duerval, makes me wonder why the hell I haven’t had more characters riding war rhinos. To be sure, it’s a cool idea to begin with, but Garcia’s adept hand raises the idea up to serious, Drizzt levels of Holy-Hell-I-Want-One-Too.