Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dave Sutherland III Thursday Appreciation

David C. Sutherland III (April 4, 1949 – June 6, 2005)  was and is for me one of the most iconic and understated early artists of  TSR and D&D. His fantasy art work has an honesty to me that that really echoes back to the early days of the hobby. Mr.Sutherland's work today seems to have a place of nostalgia among my circles of friends and players.
Iconic pieces of artwork such as this one from 
B1: Journey into the wilds in search of adventure by David Sutherland tells a story of a beginning party.

The same party much later on in their adventuring careers encountering a
a mezzodaemon and nycadaemon for the first time. (David Sutherland from AD&D module D3: Vault of the Drow, TSR, 1978.)

His artwork for me had me staring at the pages of OD&D and AD&D products for hours conjuring up all sorts of adventures of the party in my head.

"A Fire Giant and his Faithful Hell Hounds" by David C. Sutherland III - from Perpetual Role blog

His work on Empire of the Petal Throne and Metamorphosis Alpha 1st edition were key in my getting into science fiction. I came across these Empire pieces on the Tome of Treasures website last night. I forgot how awesome they are.

Last night I read up on Mr. Sutherland III and to a certain extent some of the wiki entry broke my heart;"
Sutherland's involvement in game art began in 1974. After meeting Michael Mornard, a player in Gary Gygax' "Greyhawk" and then Dave Arneson's "Blackmoor" in the SCA, he was introduced to Professor M.A.R. Barker at the University of Minnesota in 1975. Barker was designing Tékumel, an imaginary world for use with D&D, published by TSR, Inc., the Wisconsin-based company that became the dominant publisher of role-playing games.
The professor put him in touch with TSR,[2] and soon after, Sutherland was working for TSR.[when?] Sutherland worked with the D&D game's co-inventor, Gary Gygax, as part of a team of illustrators, including Erol Otus, Darlene Pekul, David Trampier, and others.[2] Sutherland also worked as TSR's artistic director, but preferred working on his own illustrations.[2] He worked at TSR until 1997 when the company was in the process of being purchased by Wizards of the Coast and he was not offered further employment.[2]
After his relationship with TSR ended, Sutherland found it difficult to find work and, according to friends, felt abandoned by the gaming industry.[citation needed] Recently divorced,[when?] Sutherland remained upset about the dissolution of his marriage,[2] became despondent and his health began to fail.[citation needed] An auction of Sutherland memorabilia—including artwork, miniature sculptures, games, and game memorabilia—was held in 2004, raising USD$22,000, used to set up a trust fund for his two daughters.[2]
He died of chronic liver failure on June 6, 2005 in his home in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan" 

Had he lived to see 2016 I think that many folks in the OSR and gaming in general would come to acknowledge not only his artwork but his contribution to the gaming industry especially those of us who grew up with his iconic images. Recently I've been coming back again and again to the Swords and Spells OD&D book. The iconic artwork really speaks volumes to me as a DM sort of demanding that I craft an adventure around it. His pig faced orcs are the standard for me as a dungeon master.

There is something very iconic and nasty about his orcs and humanoids that until much later in life I've come to appreciate as both a dungeon master and a D&D fan.

I end this post with one of my favorite monsters from the Monster Manual, the Sutherland Naga a very underutilized of the dungeon and ruins in my humble opinion.

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