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Blog posts Unsung Artists: Jack Crane

 

 By Linda Curtin

I've always really enjoyed the art on the covers of Dragon Magazines. I was trying to decide which one was my favorite, and realized that it was whichever one is in front of me at the moment (I feel the same way about pie, some decisions are just too hard).
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Today I'd like to talk about Jack Crane. He was responsible for at least four funny or whimsical covers. These are quite different from most of the other covers, cartoon like and fun.
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According to his website:

"After exploring a broad range of dramatically different professions ... ranging from first studying as a biology major at Eastern University, then as an intelligence analyst in the USAF Security Service, and finally as a technical engineer in Westinghouse Electric's Power Generation Division ... I ultimately found my way to Philadelphia College of Art, where I majored in Illustration and finally recognized and fulfilled my love of art as a successful and accomplished book and magazine illustrator."

He's also done medical illustrations, architectural work, greeting cards and a host of other amazing kinds of art.

Before we move on to his art for TSR, I'd like to show you one of his holiday cards.

 

This is the first Dragon Cover that I am aware of, from November 1982. This is what happens when the adventuring party comes to Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner is set on a white tablecloth. A warrior wearing a horned helm has just cut a fully cooked and stuffed turkey (and platter, and table) in half with a two-handed sword while the cook, a wizard, and a green skinned horned fellow all look on with surprise at the warriors action. Remember never to ask the barbarian to carve the turkey! 


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In July of 1983 the adventuring family has gone to the beach. It seem much more quiet than Thanksgiving. There are adventurers laying on beach towels, building sand castles, a green demonic figure enjoys floating in the sea on an inner tube while a dragon like creature swims up behind him. Seagulls are above and there are two castles in the background with pennants blowing in the stiff breeze. A sign warns to "Swim at own Risk".
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In this Issue from November of 1983 A group of farmers harvest their crops in the moonlight with the help of anthropomorphic bunnies. Harvest is hard work, but these folks seem to really be enjoying the fruits of their labor. A jug of Ol' Dragon is evident.
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In this issue from July of 1984 we get a special treat. Not only do we get some great cover art, we also get an article.
 
A rogue, cleric and two fighters find themselves surrounded and attacked in the forest. Their enemies are snake-vines, ferocious tiger lillys snapping snapdragons, as well as a dandy lion.
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The article explains where all these floral beasties came from and includes  some really fine black and white botanical drawings.
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The descriptions include whether they are annual or perennial, their alignment, geographical range, their forms of attack, and how they propagate. Very amusing reading.
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I I chose to show you Jack Crane's work because it doesn't appear an any of the books, modules or accessories, so he doesn't get the credit he deserves.
Which unsung fantasy artist is your favorite?
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