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My First Larry Elmore Dragonlance Prints

To say that Larry Elmore is my favorite Dragonlance artist would probably be an understatement. To say that he is THE definitive such artist would be muuuuuch more accurate.

At least to me.

dragonlance_prints_framed

Way back in 1995, I was at a used books store with Mom. We were visiting my grandparents, and it was a shop that Grandpa frequented…and that I remember Mom liking to visit when we were there.

I’d then-recently been introduced to Magic: The Gathering and Netrunner through other guys in my Boy Scouts Troop. I was also aware of D&D, I think. And I came across a Greyhawk book–I believe it was a vol. 2, by Rose Estes (amazing that I remember that name after all these years, especially for a book I did NOT get!). [OK, apparently it was a #3, as 1 & 2 were written by Gygax. And it was Greyhawk Adventures.]

Near, or next to the Greyhawk book(s) were a couple other books, for something called "Dragonlance." Where the other did not have a volume 1 present, these had books 1 & 2. And whatever other context…I got to leave that store with two new books, set in some fantasy setting that perhaps I thought would "impress" the other guys, or give me more "insight" or even let me introduce them to something…who knows.

The books were Dragons of Autumn Twilight and Dragons of Winter Night.

dragonlance_prints_autumn

Autumn Twilight began my journeys through Krynn, and over 25 years later still holds a key spot in my heart/nostalgia. It introduced me to Tanis Half-Elvin, Flint Fireforge, Sturm Brightblade, Goldmoon, Riverwind, Tasselhoff Burrfoot, Caramon and Raistlin Majere…Kitiara, Tika, Laurana, and so on.

This group of friends that came back together after five years apart. At 14, that was more than a third of my lifetime, and I barely had any conscious reference point for it. (Now as of this typing, 5 years goes back to early-2016, and I’m farrrr more consciously aware of the block of time 5 years is, as well as how it’s both a long time and yet also not all that long, especially when it comes to bonds of friendship).

dragonlance_prints_winter

I went pretty much right from Autumn Twilight into Winter Night as I recall. But I did not have Spring Dawning right away. So for a chunk of time, I only experienced 2/3rds of the original, core story.

Of course, it wasn’t that long til I was able to read it; along with the Legends trilogy (the first three making up the Chronicles trilogy). And using Christmas money from my grandmother, I got a "collector’s edition" volume that collected all 3 of the Legends books into a single book, with another iconic, favorite piece of art.

And somewhere in those "early days" of my Dragonlance experience, one of the guys from scouts shared some images with me that he had. I recognized some of them then–from these books, as well as from various cards in the TSR ccg Spellfire. But one in particular stood out to me: with zero prep and a single glance, with no captions or anything, I immediately recognized exactly who the character was, and full context of the scene…the very moment it represented. A rather iconic scene from Winter Night with Laurana, Sturm, and Kitiara.


Which is all just scratching the surface of my thoughts and memories.

But the art from those book covers? Larry Elmore.

That image that conveyed that specific moment from the book, that fit description and imagination in the same way I later heard tell of why scenes in The Lord of the Rings were done as they were?

Also Larry Elmore.

And for years now, I’ve been aware of the artist’s website and that one could order prints of some of these key pieces of art. Hardly like owning "original art," but still a way to own large versions without book/publisher trade dress and such…and certainly suitable for framing and hanging. "Actual art," not just some generic poster or some such.

But after procrastinating and never quite pulling the trigger…earlier this year I decided to go for it. Wasn’t about to order all the prints I’d want, but had realized that was part of my issue…so much of my favorite Dragonlance art is his…and since I couldn’t order it all at once, I ended up not ordering any.

And while the Test of the Twins is absolutely another I’d love to have, I’d decided I was going to be able to get two prints for present.

So it went back to the very beginning for me.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight and Dragons of Winter Night.

The prints themselves are a bit "lighter" than I expected, "brighter" in a way and not as "dark" as I had in my mind’s eye…but that’s likely largely due to having a white border rather than the dark red fading into black, or dark blue into black. Also a fact of being larger, and being mass "prints" that may or may not be directly from the original art in a way the 1980s’ editions of the novels were.

The prints are something like 18" by 19 3/4" and it does not seem that any standard frame sizes include those exact dimensions nor even slightly larger for 18"x20". While on the one hand, I shouldn’t be concerned with frame price for what I paid for these two prints–even "on sale"–I knew I was not intending to go the "custom frame" route nor looking for anything big or expensive at present, period.

Then after seeing a photo someone posted in a Facebook group I’m in showing one of these prints in a larger frame, I realized it wouldn’t look as "off" as I’d thought…and snagged these poster frames and got my prints framed.

Next step is to actually get them hung or mounted…though I also have a couple of TMNT posters to pick up from a friend and get framed that will also need a home, so we’ll see where stuff winds up!

dragonlance_prints_blogtrailer

Dragonlance: Chronicles #8 [Review]

Quick Rating: Above Average
Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

The Companions battle Verminaard and his minions in Pax Tharkas with many lives hanging in the balance…

dragonlancechronicles008Story: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Adaptation Script: Andrew Dabb
Pencils: Steve Kurth
Colors: Djoko Santiko of IFS
Letters: Brian J. Crowley
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: A: Steve Kurth and IFS, B: Tyler Walpole
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This is the final issue of this particular Dragonlance mini-series, and as such, things can be generalized a bit more than in previous issues.

The art has maintained a pretty solid level of quality–though I’m not sure we’ve had the same artist for the entire series. We do have Kurth on art chores for this issue, which is a plus, regardless of previous issues. Kurth‘s art is definitely a departure from a lot of the "classic" Dragonlance art from the 1980s, and even a lot of what I recall from the 90s. And while it may not be definitive, exactly, it very certainly fits these characters and the story. It’s not perfect (what art is, though?) but one gets a sense that these are (physically) 3-dimensional characters interacting with each other. There’s a certain creepiness here that captures the dark nature of this part of the story–and it works well. Where it fails is in some of the details of the story, as it’s not always clear from the visuals exactly what’s going on panel-to-panel.

The story itself comes across as very choppy. Perhaps I’m too biased, having read the original Dragons of Autumn Twilight as many times as I have in the last decade. This issue feels like an extremely abridged retelling of that story, as if it has certain points that it hits on, but lacks the detail of the original–and as such, comes across choppy.

I felt like I had to keep thinking back to the book to fully "get" what was going on with these characters. While the art gives a sense that these could be real, 3-dimensional beings, the story comes off as shallow and 2-dimensional. The blame for this is shared, and it should be noted that the novel this mini is adapted from is itself possibly the weakest of the Weis/Hickman Dragonlance Chronicles volumes.

The story caps off the first volume of the trilogy as the companions battle Verminaard in Pax Tharkas, while a couple dragons tear it up in the background, and Verminaard’s slaves reunite with their families as they prepare to take their leave of the fortress–provided anyone survives the battle.

I suspect that the story on the whole comes across better if read as a whole–reading an adaptation in eight segments separated by several weeks likely takes away from the overall experience. Given that, I don’t recommend this single issue unless you have already been following the mini. However, in a few weeks when the collected volume (advertised adjacent to the final story-page in this issue) is released, consider checking it out.

On the whole, this series has been a solid jump-on point for anyone interested in the "classic" Dragonlance saga. It introduces the core/original characters, generally conveys some key aspects about them, and the art particularly gives a visual interpretation of the characters that is much more realistic and believable than earlier visual renditions.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Dragonlance: Chronicles #6 [Review]

Quick Rating: Solid
Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (chapter 6)

Having been freed by elves from captivity, the companions find themselves witness to the decline of the Qualinesti elves; they also find their next quest in their journey toward saving the world of Krynn…

dragonlancechronicles006Story: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Adaptation Script: Andrew Dabb
Pencils: Stefano Raffaele
Colors: Djoko Santiko of IFS
Letters: Steve Seeley
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: A: Steve Kurth and IFS, B: Tyler Walpole
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This is another good/standard issue of the series. It has been thankfully consistent–the story and art continue to work well together, to provide a true adaptation to the original novel (Dragons of Autumn Twilight). Perhaps in contradiction to that, this issue features art by someone other than Kurth. While a side-by-side comparison will undoubtedly reveal difference, taken by itself it works well here. In light of a certain other publisher often combining artists of late on a single issue, that the entirety of this issue is just one is refreshing.

This issue takes the story up with the companions having just been freed from Fewmaster Toede’s slave-train. Their elven rescuers lead them into Qualinost (one of the Elven homelands, but not the original Elven homeland–but that issue doesn’t rear its head til later and isn’t overly relevant here). Once in Qualinost, we view some of the past come back to haunt Tanis, and get to see Tasselhoff marvel at what must’ve been (in his eyes) quite the childhood for the half-elf. The companions then take on a task from the Speaker of the Sun and head for Pax Tharkas.

The story itself is faithful at its heart if not word-for-word to the source material. The only real gripe I have on that angle with this issue is that here we see Tanis deliberately acquire a particular sword, whereas the original novel had him fumble for a weapon, and belatedly realize what he’d acquired, which added a bit more wonder to the weapon as well as what the companions face. Ultimately it is a minor detail, one that works well in prose format, but like a movie, not every minute detail can be adapted, and it’s better that detail is cut than something more integral to the story.

This is a fantasy comic/story, and based on what Hickman himself considers the weakest of these original novels. As such, you will find aspects of the familiar here. The creature the companions face seems drastically out of place given the sort of story here (I can think of no other examples of such a creature encountered anywhere else in the Dragonlance mythos–if anyone else can, I’d be interested in having that noted). However, from a story that was based strongly on a new Dungeons & Dragons module at the time, such a creature is just another generic sort that gives an excuse for a fight. In this story, it serves to introduce a new aspect to a just-met character that will serve a much larger role later in the Chronicles saga, if not this specific arc.

We’re six issues in, and have covered a lot of ground. As I understand it, we’ve two chapters left to conclude this mini/arc. If you’ve not followed along thus far, this won’t be a particularly good point to jump in. If you’re following it, though, don’t bail now!

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

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