Art in D&D

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MGibster

Adventurer
I honestly don't know how significant the art of earlier editions was in regards to how many women and girls played Dungeons & Dragons three decades ago. TSR certainly made efforts to market to women as they make an appearance in print and television ads during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I suspect there were more reasons D&D largely remained the domain of middle class adolescent white males throughout that time period.

But I can't dismiss that the artwork might have been a part of the reason why D&D was largely male dominated. I refused to purchase many of the d20 splat books produced by Avalanche Press in the early 2000s specifically because of their cheesecake covers. As I said earlier, I'm a context kind of person. The covers of these supplements offended me not because they showed a lot of skin or because of their poses but because the cover of an RPG supplement wasn't the right context for those illustrations.

Ragnarok.PNG
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
I suspect there were more reasons D&D largely remained the domain of middle class adolescent white males throughout that time period.
Because those were the majority types that had read the pulps, the dime novels, and the latter speculative fiction market deriving from these and that eventually drove a detour to such via the advent of RPGs? Umm. Could be...
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
and the latter speculative fiction market deriving from these ....
I think the idea that there was a paucity of female speculative fiction readers in the 80s or later... to fit in the category of "extraordinary assertions require extraordinary evidence".

I will accept that the wargaming root was male-dominated. But I don't buy that for fiction readership.
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
I think the idea that there was a paucity of female speculative fiction readers in the 80s or later... to fit in the category of "extraordinary assertions require extraordinary evidence".

I will accept that the wargaming root was male-dominated. But I don't buy that for fiction readership.
Well. There were no female comic book readers of the superhero variety that I noted (maybe some Archie and Veronica types); and girls in 5th-8th grade (and thus later) were not reading heroic fantasy or S&S (more like Nancy Drew and mystery Hardy Boys stuff) as well as romance. With the SCA, of which I was a member, they were more prevalent, and I surmise that holds true for LARP and Ren Fairs as well, today. Boys really are different than girls in that respect. I could go on and on and on with the examples; but in my view and experience they just did not want to watch Batman on the television nor did they get into Star Trek as much, though the latter did wean a few more due to the Romantic angles and tension from that especially in the 3rd season as it was bumped to a later time for that audience. I Spy with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. Nope. My mother wouldn't even watch that let alone my sister. Journey to the Center of the Earth? The Gygax girls were all conspicuously absent from that as well as they were for The Raven, Pit and the Pendulum, et al. Flash Gordon on Sunday mornings? Nope. They liked Bozo the Clown due to the contests and the crowd and the fun. But the A-Team? Maverick? Anything adventure-oriented including Westerns. Nope. So in my experience, even DMing Sunken City at Gencon VIII, in two rounds, I had one female participant. Now that incrementally changed over time, but from the 60's to 70's, nope, no where in sight.
 
I think you may be missing a large part of the point. Everyone keeps using the word "offended". That's not actually the issue for D&D art. This isn't about, "Oh, no, we see skin, and are puritanical people!"

The issue with cheesecake art is that the art displayed in the game materials represents the characters. It sets expectations. So, when a woman sees that art, the implication is that is what the characters are like in people's minds. The art says, "Female characters are eye-candy."

Coupled with a culture outside the game - in the world at large, in which women are, in fact, treated as sex objects, this isn't just offensive - it is demoralizing and may actually induce fear of the kind of focus on their sexuality that they see in everyday life. If you were sick and tired of being treated as a lesser being because of your gender, and tired of being constantly considered a sex object, that art simply says, "That game is not for me."

That is why they don't include that art any more - because while it may have sold to men, it turned women away from the game - and that's bad for business.

Maybe, some day in the future, when we have gotten past prevailing sexism in our culture, or we have regressed further back into that sexism, that art will be seen again in a mainstream game. But, so long as there's a power imbalance in society, but we are acutely aware of it, that art will be problematic and rare.
I miss nothing here. You and i simply disagree. Nearly 100%. Sorry. I just dont agree.
 
I’ve always been a sucker for the late 1-to-early 2e art; my favorites were always Elmore, Easley, Caldwell, etc.

That said, I really don’t have any real criticisms of the 5e art; not my favorite, but it also doesn’t contain my LEAST favorite, who was Tony DiTerlizzi. Nothing against the man himself, but his style of portrayals, with every single character just vaguely unnatural and aberrant, usually spindly, sometimes bloated, just always creeped me out. I’d love it if just his Fey were like that, the man can draw Fey as I’ve always pictured them, but in every other subject was just off-putting for me (it’s possible that’s why Planescape never resonated with me much.)
you arent the only one who thought his drawings were occasionally just...weird...off...skin crawl...

Cant always put my finger on it but the man's drawings just...weird me out sometimes.
 
I honestly don't know how significant the art of earlier editions was in regards to how many women and girls played Dungeons & Dragons three decades ago. TSR certainly made efforts to market to women as they make an appearance in print and television ads during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I suspect there were more reasons D&D largely remained the domain of middle class adolescent white males throughout that time period.

But I can't dismiss that the artwork might have been a part of the reason why D&D was largely male dominated. I refused to purchase many of the d20 splat books produced by Avalanche Press in the early 2000s specifically because of their cheesecake covers. As I said earlier, I'm a context kind of person. The covers of these supplements offended me not because they showed a lot of skin or because of their poses but because the cover of an RPG supplement wasn't the right context for those illustrations.

View attachment 116435
I can agree with this sentiment. The focus was definitely drawn off from where it was aupposed to be at times by covers such as the above. I can get behind that.
 

Hussar

Legend
There is also another issue.

Everyone LITERALLY everyone it appears has agreed since the very beginning that its cheesecake. So a third issue is that literally no one has denied that its cheesecake. But some have acted as though that was being contested. When it was by no one.
"LITERALLY everyone"? Really?

You may call that cheesecake but i think that might actually be more skillful than anything ive seen in 5e. Or at least anything that comes to mind.
Yes. Really. The art in that piece takes vastly more technical skill than the average art i see in 5e.

What the art is saying is irrelevant to what i, myself, was saying.

Sorry this art offends you but yeah. Far greater technical skill and command over anatomical elements than the average art of 5e. The vulgarity couldnt be any less relevant.

Dont pearl clutch so hard that you end up needing a chiropractor.

Sorry the art doesnt acheive your moral standards.
Huh. Looks to me like not "everyone" appears to have agreed that this was cheesecake from the very beginning.
 

QuentinGeorge

Explorer
I’ve always been a sucker for the late 1-to-early 2e art; my favorites were always Elmore, Easley, Caldwell, etc.

That said, I really don’t have any real criticisms of the 5e art; not my favorite, but it also doesn’t contain my LEAST favorite, who was Tony DiTerlizzi. Nothing against the man himself, but his style of portrayals, with every single character just vaguely unnatural and aberrant, usually spindly, sometimes bloated, just always creeped me out. I’d love it if just his Fey were like that, the man can draw Fey as I’ve always pictured them, but in every other subject was just off-putting for me (it’s possible that’s why Planescape never resonated with me much.)
I know he is very strongly associated with Planescape, and is a great artist, but I really disliked some of his fiends. His glabrezu is terrible.



I don't want to fight that. I want to take it home and adopt it. I'd name it Rover.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Well. There were no female comic book readers of the superhero variety that I noted (maybe some Archie and Veronica types); and girls in 5th-8th grade (and thus later) were not reading heroic fantasy or S&S (more like Nancy Drew and mystery Hardy Boys stuff) as well as romance. With the SCA, of which I was a member, they were more prevalent, and I surmise that holds true for LARP and Ren Fairs as well, today. Boys really are different than girls in that respect. I could go on and on and on with the examples; but in my view and experience they just did not want to watch Batman on the television nor did they get into Star Trek as much, though the latter did wean a few more due to the Romantic angles and tension from that especially in the 3rd season as it was bumped to a later time for that audience. I Spy with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. Nope. My mother wouldn't even watch that let alone my sister. Journey to the Center of the Earth? The Gygax girls were all conspicuously absent from that as well as they were for The Raven, Pit and the Pendulum, et al. Flash Gordon on Sunday mornings? Nope. They liked Bozo the Clown due to the contests and the crowd and the fun. But the A-Team? Maverick? Anything adventure-oriented including Westerns. Nope. So in my experience, even DMing Sunken City at Gencon VIII, in two rounds, I had one female participant. Now that incrementally changed over time, but from the 60's to 70's, nope, no where in sight.
Chicken and Egg problem, though, isn't it?
 

QuentinGeorge

Explorer
They basically repackaged fantasy as "Young Adult" and that seems to have worked in attracting more women, even when the stories are pretty much the same as ever (and YA is a fairly ludicrous category anyway.)
 

Hussar

Legend
Well, I'm not really sure you can say "the stories are the same as ever". That's certainly not true in YA fiction.

For one, you actually have female protagonists. Something Fantasy and certainly the pulps lacked until after the 80's. Never minding that that most pulps read like Nazi fan fiction. While writers like Lovecraft rightfully get criticised for their blatant bigotry and racism, it's not like the hobby exactly covered itself in glory for a VERY long time.

Young women didn't read fantasy in the 70's? Shocking!!

And, if you really don't believe how bad things were, just ask yourself why we know the best selling author of all time by her initials and not the fact that she is a woman. And she was writing in the 90's.

YA fiction has been changed considerably since the release of Harry Potter.
 

QuentinGeorge

Explorer
Well, I'm not really sure you can say "the stories are the same as ever". That's certainly not true in YA fiction.

For one, you actually have female protagonists. Something Fantasy and certainly the pulps lacked until after the 80's. Never minding that that most pulps read like Nazi fan fiction. While writers like Lovecraft rightfully get criticised for their blatant bigotry and racism, it's not like the hobby exactly covered itself in glory for a VERY long time.

Young women didn't read fantasy in the 70's? Shocking!!

And, if you really don't believe how bad things were, just ask yourself why we know the best selling author of all time by her initials and not the fact that she is a woman. And she was writing in the 90's.

YA fiction has been changed considerably since the release of Harry Potter.
Sorry, I might have been a bit glib in my response - I was actually closer to what you were saying there. Plenty of the stories that YA are telling and not that different to what in the 80s and 90s would have just been termed "fantasy", except with more female protagonists.

I can't speak much to pulps because I haven't read a lot of them. I love Lovecraft despite some of his unsavoury beliefs, and enjoyed a good amount of Howard, but a lot of the others are a bit same-same. Many of them, especially the American pulp authors, had a strange obsession with miscegenation. (I still can't get over the Tarzan story I read where there was a Queen distantly descended from an African whose descendants had exclusively bred with captured Europeans, yet the narrator kept angsting over being a different race to her....dude.)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Because those were the majority types that had read the pulps, the dime novels, and the latter speculative fiction market deriving from these and that eventually drove a detour to such via the advent of RPGs? Umm. Could be...
Hahahahahahahahahahaha
I think the idea that there was a paucity of female speculative fiction readers in the 80s or later... to fit in the category of "extraordinary assertions require extraordinary evidence".

I will accept that the wargaming root was male-dominated. But I don't buy that for fiction readership.
Yep. Women in the 60s and 70s were much more likely to keep their fandoms to themselves, because of toxic male fandom, but that’s about it.
Chicken and Egg problem, though, isn't it?
It would be, if the idea that women weren’t into pulps and fantasy and Star Trek wasn’t complete and absolute nonsense.
 
Read the rules very slowly if you are having comprehension issues: Keep it civil - Don't insult people.
"LITERALLY everyone"? Really?





Huh. Looks to me like not "everyone" appears to have agreed that this was cheesecake from the very beginning.
Yes. Literally everyone. Yes really @Hussar . My quote never says its not cheesecake. In my quote im clearly calling into question people who dismissively say its just cheesecake. You wasted a lot of time typing that.

Read the text very slowly if you are having comprehension issues. I never say its not cheesecake in that post. You're being just a bit daft lol. Are you experiencing temporary illiteracy?

Or are you just unable to let this go? What you posted doesnt say what you say it said. So either you are mistaken, or you are making stuff up at this point as no where in that quote or any others by me do i say its not cheesecake. Congratulations.
 
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I have no idea what you’re trying to say here. I didn’t raise a potential problem. 🤷‍♂️
To be honest, I have no idea what you're trying to say either. To me, it seems like you're trying to deny that there were problems with art, stories, etc. because there was potentially female fans of them.

I realize that my previous post might not have a lot to deal with that sort of thing, but I have absolutely no patience for people saying that kind of thing, nor do I plan on getting it.
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
Hahahahahahahahahahaha

Yep. Women in the 60s and 70s were much more likely to keep their fandoms to themselves, because of toxic male fandom, but that’s about it.

It would be, if the idea that women weren’t into pulps and fantasy and Star Trek wasn’t complete and absolute nonsense.
No proofs. I state proofs. There was no "toxic male fandom" back then. Girls were doing what they did and either joined boys in what they were doing or vice versa. By the same token, if Girls were playing doll house are they then of "Toxic female fandom" if the boys did not wish to join and then judged them accordingly? No. Sometimes the two genders met, more often they did not, Mary Gygax, my sister, the Gygax girls, my girlfriends, my mother, my Aunts, they understand what we were dong and none of them had a mind to join in it even though the invites were there. Model train collectors and simulationists of the same time period--predominantly male as well--are now Toxic Males by such standards? Hogwash. They just admired trains and went about demonstrating their admiration for them, just as my sister went about admiring doll houses and built one, or gardens and planted one, or when she saw something in "alternative medicine" when the rest of the family did not. Difference. It makes the world go round if one can accept it as not being 'Toxic'.
 
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