Friday, March 28, 2014

Thank You, Dave Tampier; An Unfortunate Lateness 1954-2014

The "Thank You" series was inspired by my post to the late Aaron Allston, as well as the passing of industry greats Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. There were many things I needed to say to these men and never got the chance. I don't intend to let that happen again.

Unfortunately, it did.


AD&D artist, Dave Tampier died March 24th of this year. It's a sad turn of events that it's taken 4 days for many of us to find out. Dave Tampier's art is the definition of iconic and bookmarks a unique place in many of our childhoods. His artwork was the first many of us saw of the game that would change our lives; the cover of the 1st edition Player's Handbook has been parodied ad nauseum for it's place in pop culture history. Many of the most famous illustrations from the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide were drawn by Dave, not to mention the panoramic action scene that graced the first DM's screen—an image thousands of us starred at game night after game night.

The first AD&D Dungeon Master's Screen

Unfortunately, Dave dropped out of the gaming industry, art field, and public life for somewhat confusing reasons. In the end, he apparently wanted to return, selling some of his art pieces to pay for medical bills. He was even scheduled as a guest of honor at a gaming convention in April. He died 2 weeks before his return to public life--a moment I would have loved to see.

It was for these reasons that many of us didn't find out about his passing until 4 days too late, and even then, the 'obituary' posted in his local paper is a sad testament to a man whose art evokes such happy memories for so many.

I will say my own "thank you" to a man whose art is a symbol of my childhood, but I also want to point you to a few others in the industry saying their peace tonight:

The rakshasa

Thank you, David Tampier, for all the joy and inspiration. I'm sorry that, for whatever reason, your career in our beloved industry didn't carry you to the end.

Artwork from the first scifi RPG, Star Frontiers

Addendum 3/29/2014: Artist Jacob Blackmon brought this memorial event to my attention. Gamer, artist, wannabe artist, check it out:


  1. Dave Trampier's art was such an evocative part of TSR's early games, particularly AD&D and the first edition of Gamma World (my first RPG). While he left the industry decades before his passing, he left a legacy that will not be forgotten.

    1. It's always great to hear other people in the industry paying homage to the greats. I think it has to do with the shared experience we all had. I think it was Mike Mearls on the Wizard's podcast who was talking about how he and his wife used to move a lot, but no matter where they moved, they would have a dozen new friends within a week. All, of course, geeks. I had the same experience moving from small town Kentucky to Orange County, California.

      I love this industry.