Friday, March 21, 2014

Thank You, Todd Lockwood

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.


I love storytelling. Whether it's music, novels, film or poetry, I love following the emotional paths a good story will lead me down. I've spent years studying the art of storytelling. Unfortunately, the more you write, the harder it is to read. Knowing how the best stories are constructed means that when a writer, even a brilliant writer, makes a common or repetitive error, in gnaws at you. It becomes hard to enjoy the story behind the construct--the tale the writer meant to tell. I wouldn't change that for the world, but it makes enjoying the thing I love more challenging.

Luckily, there's one storytelling medium I'm still naive about, one that I can't break down or analyze, one I can enjoy for the often unknown affects it has on me.


Starless Night

I rarely know exactly why I love a piece of art. Examining my feelings about it takes time and it takes even longer to find the words to explain it. The reaction I have to certain pieces is immediate and profound, but is still very rare for me. There are only a handful of artists I know by name and they are the rare people whose work affected me emotionally long before I understood why.

One of the only pieces of original artwork I own.

My first exposure to Todd Lockwood was his work for the 3rd Edition D&D Player's Handbook. When the Monster Manual was released soon after, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. When Wizards of the Coast purchased TSR Hobbies and decided to reboot the slowly dying Dungeons and Dragons, they not only hired brilliant game designers, they looked for the most dynamic and vivid fantasy artists they could find.

Todd's depictions of creatures born a quarter century before as B&W line drawings were shocking. As a veterinary nurse, massage therapist and critical care RN I have studied human and animal anatomy for decades. Todd took some of the most bizarre mythological creatures and made them feel...real.

One of D&D's oddest creatures,
the original bulette.

Todd Lockwood's bulette.

But it didn't stop with the core rulebooks. It's rare to find a game supplement where the artwork and written word blend so perfectly it's a must-buy. In the Draconomicon, Todd did more than draw majestic dragons on mountain-tops breathing fire, he pealed back their skin and showed us their muscles, their bones, their development and the anatomy that informed their physiology. I had never seen anything like it and still haven't over a decade later.

This dragon's muscles have names drawn from both real life anatomy and Todd's imagination.
I challenge you to figure out which is which.

Whether fantasy characters, dragons, Magic cards or fan favorite Drizzt Do'Urden, Todd's artwork trips something in my storyteller's mind that makes me want to know more about the personalities I'm looking at.

His artwork tells stories.

Frustratingly enough, Todd has also crossed over into the written word and his ability to describe scenes and develop character is quickly becoming as remarkable as his artwork. I'd be jealous if he didn't also happen to be one of the nicest people in the industry.

So, thank you, Todd Lockwood, for the research and passion you put into every canvas, for the kind words you've given every artist I've seen you talk to, for inspiring my writer's imagination in ways I never see coming and for helping me remember what it's like to wonder again.


  1. Posted on behalf of Todd:
    I have tried to post my thanks on Rich's original blog post, but for some reason the comments section always resets and makes no post when I hit the "Publish" button. It might be nice if some of you could make up for that by posting on my behalf there… :o/

    1. Lol! Thanks, Anonymous. I'm not sure if that's what he meant, but I greatly appreciate it.

    2. I'm the same anonymous (one of Todd followers on F/B) :)
      Todd said (via Facebook) that your 'thank you' made his week, and your above blog prompted me to stop being a shy follower and let him know, albeit much less eloquently than you did, that I too thought that he deserved thanks and how much I love the L.E. print of his that I have.

    3. That's wonderful. I'm so glad to hear that. Thank you for sharing.