D&D General D&D Red Box: Who Is The Warrior?

A WizKids miniature reveals the iconic character's face for the first time.

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The Dungeons & Dragons Red Box, famously illustrated by Larry Elmore in 1983, featured cover art of a warrior fighting a red dragon. The piece is an iconic part of D&D's history.

WizKids is creating a 50th Anniversary D&D miniatures set for the D&D Icons of the Realms line which includes models based on classic art from the game, such as the AD&D Player's Handbook's famous 'A Paladin In Hell' piece by David Sutherland in 1978, along with various monsters and other iconic images. The set will be available in July 2024.

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Amongst the collection is Elmore's dragon-fighting warrior. This character has only ever been seen from behind, and has never been named or identified. However, WizKids’ miniature gives us our first look at them from the front. The warrior is a woman; the view from behind is identical to the original art, while the view from the front--the first time the character's face has ever been seen--is, as WizKids told ComicBook.com, "purposefully and clearly" a woman. This will be one of 10 secret rare miniatures included in the D&D Icons of the Realms: 50th Anniversary booster boxes.


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The original artist, Larry Elmore, says otherwise. (Update—the linked post has since been edited).

It's a man!

Gary didn't know what he wanted, all he wanted was something simple that would jump out at you. He wanted a male warrior. If it was a woman, you would know it for I'm pretty famous for painting women.

There was never a question in all these years about the male warrior.

No one thought it was a female warrior. "Whoever thought it was a female warrior is quite crazy and do not know what they are talking about."

This is stupid. I painted it, I should know.
- Larry Elmore​

Whether or not Elmore's intent was for the character to be a man, it seems that officially she's a woman. Either way, it's an awesome miniature. And for those who love the art, you can buy a print from Larry Elmore's official website.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
Well, Frankenstein is a text that I know very well. I've taught it many times. And I have 200 more years of context to bring to it than Shelley did. For example, I supervised an essay exploring it as an important precursor to Gibson's Neuromancer.

Frankenstein
today has meanings that Shelley couldn't have imagined. I think her own reflections on it are fascinating but incredibly limited, partly by historical necessity, and partly by her personal context and inclinations.

Edit: Does that make my interpretations more valid? No, I don't think "valid" is a meaningful term when it comes to interpreting art. It's not like we're doing maths.
IMHO, there’s a grain of truth here, but just a grain.

The grain: Eddie Van Halen created & recorded the blistering guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. But Jennifer Batten played that solo on stage as MJ’s touring guitarist, and has probably played that solo more than any other professional guitarist on the planet. Her understanding and feel for playing it is unmatched.

Where I disagree: diminishing the interpretation of a work’s creator to merely “one amongst many” as opposed to ceding its primacy is discounting the personal experience of someone else from a remove, and should only be done in extreme situations. Batten’s understanding of playing the “Beat It” solo was the best, but she probably has a lesser understanding of why the solo was composed the way it was than EVH did.

Your understanding of Shelly’s Frankenstein is based on the accretion of the thousands of hours of scholarly interpretation built up over the centuries, but it’s all from the outside looking in.

All that said, I still agree that a work’s creator may include meaningful aspects they may not even be conscious of. I’d also say that finding something in a work that would be impossible for a creator to be aware of is a combination of coincidence and projection.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
Not too long ago HeroQuest rereleased with resculpted figures. If you got the KS/Pulse version, you got male/female versions of the heroes* (and some of the monsters too). I liked that, thought it was a great idea. This, I feel was handled poorly - probably wouldn’t have hurt to do male/female versions for the set. Perhaps better would have been to include the previously unpublished other character in the original rough, and keep the original warrior.

* as I recall, the elf in the retail version is gender-swapped. I think this may have been what started them considering the alt versions for all.
Even before that, there was a brief period of time when Ral Partha released blister packs with a pair of male and female figures of very similar (but not identical) characters.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
All that said, I still agree that a work’s creator may include meaningful aspects they may not even be conscious of. I’d also say that finding something in a work that would be impossible for a creator to be aware of is a combination of coincidence and projection.
Not at all. I wrote a poem about a sunset once, that several of my friends quite liked. That poem could have been written any time in the last two centuries. A friend of mine observed that it had interesting parallels to The Lord of the Rings, because of its emphasis on the West. It would be genuinely impossible for a person in 1890 to intend a relation to LotR--because the work didn't exist then. I certainly did not intend such a relation, despite having read Tolkien's works, and while it is not strictly impossible for me to come up with that interpretation on my own, I can certainly say it would never have occurred to me independently. I in fact love it when that sort of thing happens, when someone sees something in my work that was never intended but which nonetheless expresses and draws value from the themes I presented.

Unless you mean to dismiss all of history itself as "coincidence," I guess. Though at that point I think you would have done far, far more damage than an erroneously excessive application of the death of the author ever did.

The heart and soul of the "death of the author" idea is that creators do not have monarchy over the meaning of their works. It arose, in large part, because in the context that the idea was expressed, literary analysis and criticism had in many ways devolved into "biography of authors," where knowing what kind of person the author was meant you had THE one and only valid, fitting, justified interpretation of a work. The one and only valid form of dispute was to, in effect, claim that you knew the mind of the author better than someone else did, and so of course this also meant that an author actually analyzing their own work was automatically the only valid voice in the field, period, end of discussion, you're just wrong if you think anything else.

In that kind of environment, a radically anarchist "NOBODY is the king of art" attitude was warranted. Much as, although I loathe the whole "found art" thing, Marcel Duchamp and the Dadaists were raising a valid criticism of how an elite squad of pretentious jerks had locked down what was permitted to be "art." They were trying to break open those ideas and get people to recognize that what pretentious galleries call "art" and what art actually is can often be only distantly related things. Unfortunately, as is the case with so many revolutions, the former revolutionaries became the new traditionalists, it's just now art is even more pretentious than it was before, even more divorced from connection to anything concrete or meaningful or interesting, and we have a new crop of revolutionaries (e.g. the Stuckists) reasserting that there's value in so-called "traditional" arts like portraiture, and that things like "a depressed person's bed that they barely left for multiple weeks, including used tissues and multiple types of bodily secretions" really aren't particularly great pieces of art.

As a result, though we should not fight a revolution against DotA (the philosophy; jury's still out on the Steam video game), we should recognize that taking it to extremes--as many have done--can lead to just as bad of a place as what it responded to, dead ends with no possibility of development or nuance. Authors, performers, composers, etc., they certainly have a special position, which means we ought to heed them for the same reason we ought to heed licensed, well-respected physicians or widely-cited, prolific physicists within their personal areas of expertise. But having a special position does not equate to having the only or even best position. Even an author who has taken great pains to analyze and comment upon their own work is not omniscient, and cannot be prepared for all possible future events and perspectives. Contrasts, unexpected comparisons, future developments that re-cast an idea in a new light, new debates that only arise because the creator did what they did...all of these things can lead to interpretations, indeed whole well-defended theses, that the original creator could never have personally predicted.

Hell, just think of how much effort Asimov put into his "Multivac" concepts, and which led to several amazing works, and yet he never predicted the internet or even anything much like the internet. He thought people in the 21st century would still be consulting "Multivac terminals," rather than having an actual personal computer. The very idea of a personal computer at all was something he didn't think would happen for centuries, if not millennia. But in the light of such technologies today, we can go back and re-interpret his works through the lens of modern cell phone and internet technology and consider what impact they would have on, say, The Caves of Steel.
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
Because an author's creation automatically has greater validity than anything anyone else can come up with. Mary Shelly created Frankenstein. She created the appearance, creation process, mental and physical prowess, etc. No one can rationally look at her Frankenstein and say, "That's not Frankenstein." They can dislike it, but they can't refute it. If you create a different Frankenstein, yours is doubtable in a way that hers never can be.

I can say that it doesn't feel like Frankenstein(if it's close) or flat out isn't Frankenstein if it deviates from the mold she created by too great of a degree. Any Frankenstein you create that differs from hers is less valid. That's not the same as saying invalid, but it will definitely be less valid.
I think if you ask people to describe Frankenstein’s monster, the majority are going to describe Boris Karloff’s portrayal which was decidedly not Shelley’s version of the creature.
 


Well, Frankenstein is a text that I know very well. I've taught it many times. And I have 200 more years of context to bring to it than Shelley did. For example, I supervised an essay exploring it as an important precursor to Gibson's Neuromancer.

Frankenstein
today has meanings that Shelley couldn't have imagined. I think her own reflections on it are fascinating but incredibly limited, partly by historical necessity, and partly by her personal context and inclinations.

Edit: Does that make my interpretations more valid? No, I don't think "valid" is a meaningful term when it comes to interpreting art. It's not like we're doing maths.

I get that the text has different meaning over time as ideas and language changes, and I am no literary professor, but I still would say that doesn't mean Shelley's intent isn't the most important for understanding its true meaning. Granted we don't know the entirety of an author's thoughts, as what they have left in that respect may be limited, but I would say the purpose is to try to understand what their intent was in terms of meaning rather than simply invent our own. I am not saying we can't find other meaning in art. I do that all the time. I am watching A Touch of Zen again right now, and there is meaning I find in that, I don't believe was intended, but I think the most important source of meaning to the work is King Hu himself. Particularly in places where I feel like I am struggling to understand said meaning.

And I am not saying it is like math. I believe we do all have subjective responses to art. In some ways that is the point of art. But how art makes me feel is different from what it means, and what it means, I think primarily flows from the author (otherwise we are just kind of assigning meaning based on what one can see in it). You can also find other meaning in a work. But I do think that gets kind of flaky the more it is open to every subjective thought a person could have about it
 

How many versions of Frankenstein have there been in the past hundred or so years? Between TV, movies, novels, and various other places? I dunno either, but, I'm going to say, "a LOT". And every single one of them is equally valid to the Mary Shelly version.

So, I guess you refuse to watch any version of Frankenstein? As it's obviously inferior? You eschew any novel, movie, or any other artistic endevour based upon Mrs. Shelly's work? No? You watch the movies? You read the books? You see the comedies, dramas, and various other versions, and enjoy some and don't enjoy others?

To be clear here, I am not against reimagining art, building on what an author has done or changing things in new versions. I just think Mary Shelley's intent is more valid than my subjective thoughts about Frankenstein in terms of its meaning. But I still love the Boris Karloff monster in Frankenstein from Universal in the 30s (and Bride of Frankenstein remains my favorite film version of the book).

Also there are three editions of Frankenstein I believe, and I recall the 1818 version is different in key ways from the 1831 version (so there is also that when it comes to what themes get emphasized in an interpretation). I like 1818 better personally. So I am also not saying the writer has final say. My meaning is I am interested in the meaning the writer invested at the time of writing (so in the case of Frankenstein I would distinguish between editions in that respect and say those are in a way different books, reflecting her at different times in her life). And I am not saying other meanings can't exist. I just think if we are weighing what matters, to me the original intent of a work is incredibly important for us to try to decipher and I feel it outweighs ideas or meaning I may find (which I can still do, I just see it as an unintended meaning----which I would say is lesser than the intended)
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
I just think if we are weighing what matters, to me the original intent of a work is incredibly important for us to try to decipher and I feel it outweighs ideas or meaning I may find (which I can still do, I just see it as an unintended meaning----which I would say is lesser than the intended)
I think there's nothing wrong with determining the artist's original intent, and if you want to put greater value on that versus your own or someone else's interpretation, that's fine. What I think is important though is that others declaring that they have uncovered the unequivocal truth and trying to pass that off as the only valid interpretation is what rankles.
 

Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
There are people out there who, I think, have better understanding of my mage and Vsmpire tie-in novels than I do. Some things I planned for and tried to do didn’t come out as I planned. They see what’s actually on the page and can make connections of sorts that I can only do slowly and hesitantly. I don’t regard myself as the best analyst of anything but my intentions, how long and how much effort it took to write the books, and stuff like that.

This certainly colors my art and craft views in general. Even when it comes to the work of better artists than me who more successfully put their vision into the work.
 

I think there's nothing wrong with determining the artist's original intent, and if you want to put greater value on that versus your own or someone else's interpretation, that's fine. What I think is important though is that others declaring that they have uncovered the unequivocal truth and trying to pass that off as the only valid interpretation is what rankles.

I wouldn't do that. I mean I think if one has an authentic statement by the author about the meaning of a work, and there is a debate over the topic, presenting that fact is useful. But I don't believe in pretending to know for sure what someone meant. I think there is always some amount of doubt because people don't always mean what they say. An author could even deny a particular meaning but merely be doing so because they want to avoid controversy or contribute to confusion about its meaning. And I don't think you can ever tell someone how a work of art should make them feel. To go back to A Touch of Zen, there are things I certainly get from watching the movie, I doubt King Hu intended. And I think it is appropriate for me to engage with the movie in that way. There is the theme of Zen Buddhism in the movie. But I don't know the meaning of that theme really. In fact the original title of the movie isn't even A Touch of Zen, it is Xia Nu, which is the name of a Pu Songling story from which it takes its inspiration and means something like gallant woman (a xia is a martial hero). So the translated title itself is probably leading my mind to certain interpretations and I am not sure how true those are to Hu's intent. Buddhism does feature in the movie, there seems to be a lot of spiritual language in the visuals. But Hu could also be quite critical of religion in other films, so I am very curious what he really intended here and am cautious when I draw my own conclusions (both because of the cultural and temporal hurdle with the film, but also because the director is no longer alive and I want to respect what he was trying to achieve with this incredible movie). So I am looking at things like this, which was part of a press kit but written by King Hu himself I believe. Still it is part of a press kit.

Some years ago, I was talking about Zen with some passionately literary friends, and my mind went back to one of the Liaozhai stories, “Xia nu” (“The Heroic Maid”). I was struck by the thought that if it could be filmed with a touch of Zen, the result might be highly effective.

But when I started working on the scenario, I discovered that translating the concept of Zen into cinematic terms posed a great many difficulties. Not long afterward, I made the acquaintance of an old man who was a devout Buddhist. He told me that Zen is something that can’t be explained but only experienced through wu (awakening to the truth). As for the innumerable books, in both Chinese and Western languages, that seek to analyze Zen using Western philosophical concepts, they are bound to confuse the matter.
Iencountered this some time ago. But before I did, I assumed the Buddhist themes Hu was conveying were ideas he believed (because of how the film is presented, it feels almost like a religious experience, and it is very hard to put your finger on the meaning). But here makes an important distinction that I think supersedes my original interpretation as a viewer:

The only way to wu is through yu (example or analogy); that is why the Buddhist scriptures include a volume called Baiyu jing (Sutra of a Hundred Parables). Wu is not subject to logical analysis. It would be difficult, for example, to explain the concept of sweetness to someone who had never tasted sugar, but giving him a cube of it would be enough to enlighten him once and for all. I must add here, however, that I am not a Buddhist myself, and that I don’t have the least intention of being didactic or evangelical in my approach to this matter. All I am interested in is presenting the flavor of a particular experience.

It is easier to get the kind of information now. But when I first saw the film, it wasn't so easy to find. So for many years I would watch a movie like this, and only have my own thoughts or ideas. But now that I have more access to this kind of info, I think it matters that the intent may have been different than I thought. I can still take my own meaning. I just wouldn't elevate it above the artist's
 

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