TSR Darlene tells NuTSR NO!

The artist Darlene, who designed one of the original TSR logos that TSR3.5 is currently using, has emphatically and publicly refused to endorse the company's use of the logo. Darlene's work appeared in early Dungeons & Dragons materials, and included the full-color map in 1980's World of Greyhawk. In December, I finally reviewed the contract Justin LaNasa (JL) wanted me to sign. That’s...

The artist Darlene, who designed one of the original TSR logos that TSR3.5 is currently using, has emphatically and publicly refused to endorse the company's use of the logo.

Darlene's work appeared in early Dungeons & Dragons materials, and included the full-color map in 1980's World of Greyhawk.

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In December, I finally reviewed the contract Justin LaNasa (JL) wanted me to sign. That’s when I took a stand and gave this answer: “I prefer not to be directly involved in any way with your lawsuit against WOTC. Therefore, I do not give permission to use the Wizard-head logo."

For the longest time, I tried to remain neutral, aloof, and unaffected. I wanted to avoid being associated with the bombastic claims of the new TSR.

JL first responded with a denial: “We were not planning on having you in the lawsuit this is why we ask for your permission.” Then a guilt trip: “We really tried to bring back something good with TSR.” Then played the underdog card: “it seems like WOTC and their supporters have a lot of fear and sway amongst the industry.”

It’s upsetting if JL thought I would be stupid enough to sign a contract without reading or comprehending it. In my response, I referred him to item #3 which obligates me to defend his position in his WOTC lawsuit. 


The pressure they are putting on me to reconsider has increased. Ernie Gygax thinks granting my permission for them to use the logo—which, btw, they are already using anyway—is key for their successful arbitration. He intimated if I don’t give in, sign away my rights and take their money, I’d be hurting some people I really care about. He also suggested I can “up the ante” for double the amount initially offered.

JL has since amicably proposed to work out a contract that excludes me from the lawsuit. He’s been very nice and cordial to me throughout. Nevertheless... The contract will most likely retain the first sentence where I declare that I have “not previously transferred my rights to any entity or party.” What? As I understand it, logos don’t work that way.

The most important thing to me has not been addressed. As a visual thinker and logo designer, I am very particular about the nuances of what I create. Yes, I designed the original wizard-head logo back in the ’80s. That is not in dispute. However, the logo produced as “Exhibit ‘A’” in JL’s contract is not my logo. It’s a bastardization—a greyed-out, fuzzy, lesser version—of what I designed. I detest the spindly letters used for "The Game Wizards." Ugh!

Therefore, I cannot honestly take money for it because I do not and will not claim it as mine. I’m extremely picky about choosing my clients. Before I would consider designing a new logo for the new TSR, they would have to demonstrate ethical behavior as a business entity.

Ever since they appeared on the scene, the new TSR has been plucking the heartstrings of those who fondly remember the good ole days when the hobby was in its infancy. JL’s lofty words: “to honor and remember TSR, the Dragon, Gary and all the alumni of the old days of gaming” sound inspiring. But I remain unmoved. I never want to return to Lake Geneva to relive those “good old days."


If I were to endorse the new TSR, they have to correct the mistakes of the old TSR. They must be kinder and more generous to artists and authors in their employ. They would show proper respect, listen to, and honor women, both within the gaming field and as consumers. They would be more inclusive and sensitive enough to address the needs of individuals beyond the white male demographic. They would be fair to their customers and transparent in their actions.


Besides, the idea of me endorsing TSR—new or old—is laughable. Not always, but in general, I did not have a positive experience freelancing for TSR. Looking from the outside in, I witnessed how the growth spurts of TSR turned it from being an “all-for-one; one-for-all” company into an uncaring corporate entity with an “us vs them” mindset. With few exceptions, success brought out the worst in those TSR people given positions of authority. I witnessed how the creatives got the brunt of TSR’s unfair predatory policies. No, I do not yearn to return to that stressful, hostile, and toxic atmosphere.


My memories of TSR are clear because they are frozen to the time I needed to leave Lake Geneva for my own mental health and well-being. I turned my back on the growing number of small-minded TSR people who created and spread malicious rumors and hurtful lies about me, made me feel unwelcome whenever I visited the building, told me my art was not very good and caused me to doubt myself and my abilities.

I left to pursue knowledge, my MFA, and the prospect of new beginnings with no intention of returning. Gary Gygax contacted me in 2005 and coaxed me back. That’s when he and I became fast friends. In the years since, I’ve discovered—for the most part— nothing much has changed for females in the gaming world (ie: gamergate). TSR’s unfair internal practices (abusing creatives financially) seem to have followed the RPG industry. How do I know? Having worked as a professional in the “real world” since 1984, I’m aware of the many disparities.


Today, I decided to publicly share my “power of no” because I recognize this as a teachable moment for the dispossessed. Charged with 42 years of suppressed emotional pain, my “no” is big and empowered. It includes “no” to bullying and unethical business practices; “no” to the unfair treatment and compensation of artists, creatives, and women; and “no” to taking advantage of the disadvantaged to profit at their expense.


My “no” is also cathartic for me. With it, I officially reclaim those lost parts of myself I abandoned so long ago. To have the courage to take this stance, my desire for money had to be relinquished. Only then could I clearly understand the implications of what saying yes meant. As tempting as a yes would be, it is ultimately disempowering.


Compromising my integrity for money is the same as selling my soul.

Therefore, I choose to continue living like I always have, modestly. I choose not to allow temporary feelings of desperation or depression to rule me nor compromise the greater truth of who I am. Perhaps I should credit JL for catalyzing my healing process and helping me demonstrate what feminine power looks like.
 

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It occurs to me to wonder: when products are reprinted by trans creators, do the publishers update the credits to eliminate those deadnames? They should.
Should they? What obligation are they under to even be aware, no less incur the cost, of making such a change?

I think that if they are reprinted and making changes, and are aware that a credited person has changed their common name, then sure, it would be nice and a good faith (?) effort for them to make the change (or otherwise indicate the name change). But, obligation? No, they are not obligated to know that a credited person has changed their name. Nor are they, imo, obligated to incur an expense if they do.

All that said, I would hope they would, and given our current social expectations I believe it would be wise for them to do so.
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
So one is from a private FB page, which I believe Morrus has said is a no-no around here. Regardless, I don't think "I don't have anything to do with NuTSR" is an invitation to seek out other things you don't like about Benoist that he's said elsewhere to mention. Do you? Neither post has anything to do with him being connected in any way to NuTSR right, it was just your way of saying you think he's no good. Which, OK, but do you have any reason to think he's connected to NuTSR, or that he doesn't support Darlene, or the topic we're discussing?
Seems a pertinent rejoinder to you inserting Benoist Poire into a discussion to which he was previously irrelevant.
 

Good point.

Originally I hadn’t wanted to butcher her statement by paraphrasing it.

I admit that might have been a mistake.
She has posted it publicly, not only on FB but on her website too; The Power of “No!”

You have provided a link to one of the originals, it seems therefore your quoting is well within social norms. And I would argue important to social discussion that people be allowed to cite sources and engage in discussion about public statements in locations other than where the public statement was made. Isn't that the basis of editorial journalism?
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Seems a pertinent rejoinder to you inserting Benoist Poire into a discussion to which he was previously irrelevant.

Why? He's speaking about the topic, is a friend of Darlene who is the topic, and has previously erroneously been claimed to be connected to NuTSR when he isn't...which is the topic. How is that off topic or not relevant to the topic?

On the other hand, "Here are some entirely unrelated reasons for people to not like Benoist" doesn't seem in any way connected to the topic any more than "Here are some entirely unrelated reasons for people to not like billd91" connected to the topic.
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
Can I just say how awesome Darlene is? As I near 50, I am stilled influenced by her art. I poured over the WoG map for hours to mimic her style and her font construction in all my DM creations. The fact that Ernie and Judd Lasagna pressured her to accept payment for a bastardized version of her work is a telling metaphor for what nuTSR wants from 'old school gaming'; a warped and pale representation of what D&D was and can be.
 

Saracenus

Always In School Gamer
Welp, any benefit of the doubt I had for Ernie (it was minimal) was washed away by Darlene's declaration. Ernie is all in and complicit up to he eyeballs. As I have posted in other threads on this topic, "He is a grown-assed man and responsible for his actions."

As for my admiration for Darlene, I have already posted that on her FB page directly.
 
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Sacrosanct

Legend
So one is from a private FB page, which I believe Morrus has said is a no-no around here. Regardless, I don't think "I don't have anything to do with NuTSR" is an invitation to seek out other things you don't like about Benoist that he's said elsewhere to mention. Do you? Neither post has anything to do with him being connected in any way to NuTSR right, it was just your way of saying you think he's no good. Which, OK, but do you have any reason to think he's connected to NuTSR, or that he doesn't support Darlene, or the topic we're discussing?
I'll repeat what I said, because that answers your questions.

If Benoist claims that it breaks his heart to see such division, then he probably shouldn't be making comments like that.

To expand: It's hard to believe him when he makes a statement like that when he's part of the problem causing division. I posted those comments not as some way to find dirt on Benoist, but to show direct evidence that contradicts his statement that you posted.
 


Darlene speaks so eloquently, honestly, and powerfully here. Not only to the bald-faced connivance of LaNasa & Co, but to the problem with blind nostalgia. Not that I don't love waxing nostalgic, but doing so completely uncritically and resistant to critical thinking is a real, present danger. And she nails that doing so glosses over real people's struggles, efforts, and pain.

Also, her art rules:

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