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What I would have said…

September 2, 2008

I’ve had this book for sixteen years (I think. Maybe longer). I bought it for a dime at a library book sale. It wasn’t a purchase, it was a rescue.

I’d already read it, at least two or three times. Half of the damage was more than likely due to me checking it out all the time, so I felt responsible for it. And besides, it was my favorite.

I was in sixth grade when a friend introduced me to the world of Dragonlance. We spent hours talking about the books and playing D&D knockoff games and drawing dragons and wizards and elves. We dressed up for Halloween as a dragon (her) and a wizard (me).

I spent even more hours, however, drawing and redrawing the characters. Most of my drawings were straight up copies of the covers and back then there was only one cover artist who did the characters justice: Larry Elmore.

I poured over his covers, studying every minute detail. Bottles of wizardry components dangling from belts, feathers and beads tied into hair, the way robes hung off arms, the way chainmail and dragonscale armor overlapped. My pencil drawings from that era (which as you can see I still have some of them), were shabby of course. I had no idea how to even being to construct a human figure from scratch, and they have lots of droopy eyeballs and tiny, malformed hands. But I was learning–far more sometimes than what I was learning in art class.

At the time, however, it was merely a hobby. Something I did for fun while pursing much more illustrious and worthwhile career choices like … Egyptology. English Teacher. Environmentalist. Native American Spokesperson (even though I’m about as white and European as an American comes).

Time passed. Things changed. I went to college for theater. I burnt out. My roommate gave me a wacom tablet… and I was suddenly drawing dragons again. And elves. And wizards. Over the years my skills have gotten, I hope, better, but I can still trace my fantasy illustration roots back to a series of books and a single artist who in many ways started me down the path I’m on today.

When I learned he was going to be at Dragon*Con I knew I had to get him to sign something. I would have bought a print, if I had to, but he was kind enough to sign a battered and torn and well read book that I’ve kept for sixteen years.

I was, of course, utterly unable to say any of this to him then. He was on the phone and I didn’t want to interrupt and cry and babble and make a complete idiot of myself. But I did get to say the one thing that I wanted to, although he couldn’t have known exactly how much I meant it.

“Thank you, Mr. Elmore. For everything.”

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2008 5:41 pm

    I SO very much want to go to one of his France workshops!

  2. Coty permalink
    September 2, 2008 9:05 pm

    Nice article. It is so great that you got to meet him!! EEEK!!

  3. September 2, 2008 9:38 pm

    That’s great 🙂 I got a few signed post cards from him the first time I went to Gen Con. I wasn’t really familiar with him but my brother was because he had read a lot of Dragonlance (I think I only got a couple chapters through the first book).

  4. September 16, 2008 8:07 am

    I too, fell in love with Dragon Lance. For me, I stumbled upon the Twins series when I was in grade eight.

    Some where in the world are 10 white printer sheets of paper taped together, with Raistlin and Cryanthia from the older cover drawn by Larry recreated as faithfully as I could with pencil crayons.

    I am so glad you were able to meet him, and to finally say what you found to be important to you.

    This post has reminded me of the imagination I feel like I have been so lost, so distant, and so very grown-up from.

  5. October 11, 2008 2:00 am

    I discovered the Dragonlance Series at an older age then you, but it was when I first fell in love with the illustrations of Larry Elmore. I have a print of a pencil drawing he did that he signed for me at GenCon, he’s a real sweetheart of a guy!

  6. February 7, 2010 10:51 am

    I used to love Dragonlance too, and it was THE D&D setting when I played that game (and I have for a very long time when I was younger).
    I also met Mr.Elmore and Mrs.Weis at a convention here in Italy, so I had to get some of their signatures on some of my Dragonlance material (AD&D Player’s Guide to Dragonlance sourcebook, The Art of Dragonlance artbook, The Dragonlance Campaign setting manual for D&D 3rd edition and The Soulforged novel).
    Now I really can’t stand that kind of literature (I just quit reading Dragonlance fiction after the first novel in one of the last trilogies), but I really look back to it with fondness.

    I was really happy I could not only read those tales, but living some of them was part of my growth, so, thanks to Margaret, Tracy and Larry…

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