Guestwriter: Nick Monitto
I would venture to guess that many of Multiverse’s readers are tabletop gamers who began to play in the golden age of the 1970s and 80s, or are younger folks who were inspired to dig into the RPG’s of the past. Wherever you may fall on the timeline, though, it is almost certain that you knew about the big game on the block, “Dungeons & Dragons”. Even if you did not play it yourself, you probably read or heard about it along the way. And while folks may not recall the intricacies of its rules and settings, chances are good that they remember its art.
There have been a number of articles, books, and movies created (or attempted) in recent years that look back on the history of the “D&D” game. As worthy of reflection as the game’s writing is, though, we must not overlook its imagery. TSR had a great appreciation for it back in the day; there are four different “Art of…” books from the 1980’s sitting on the shelf behind me as I write this! But it felt to me as though the commemoration of that had faded quite a bit before last year’s publication of the “Art and Arcana” tome. While it is not actually connected to that book, the new documentary “Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons & Dragons” is perhaps another step in rediscovery and appreciation.
Premiering through digital distribution on May 14th, “Eye of the Beholder” is an ambitious and comprehensive film. Quoting from the Kickstarter which funded it, “EotB”:
“…is an exciting new feature-length documentary that explores the history, influence, and stories behind the artwork that helps create the worlds in which we all play.”
The film includes interviews with more than two dozen folks ranging from game designers to noted fans to many of the artists themselves. More than 40 years of “D&D”s existence is covered here, so you are likely to see a number of people (and images) that you know well, along with others you will discover for the first time.
Some documentaries can be dull to watch when they are just a series of ‘talking heads’ or filled with ‘ghost’ narration that distracts from what you are seeing. While it can be tough to get a read on a full-length feature from just a minute or two preview, the trailer gave me the feeling that “EotB” will be a well paced film. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing this for myself. I would recommend it to all “D&D” players, as well as those who are interested in RPG art in general.
Nick Monitto is a gaming geek who came of age on the classic games of the 1970s and ‘80s. He is excited for what looks to be a year filled with game documentaries in 2019.