Friday, December 31, 2010

R.I.P. Those we lost in 2010/Frazetta and Dio Shrine

One of the numerous blogs I try to keep up with is James Maliszewski's Grognardia. There are many things about Mr. Maliszewski's blog which I enjoy, one of which is he keeps me informed of the death of designers/heroes/people somehow important to the gaming community at large. I don't mean this in a morbid way, only in the sense that it is important to remember and honor those that have given the gaming community joy through their contributions, even if their contributions were to a game I do not play. In some cases, the departed are not related immediately to the gaming community, but only peripherally through the books, movies or whatever that are often enjoyed by gamers.

The departed for 2010 mentioned in Mr. Maliszewski's blog this year are: Frank Frazetta, J. Eric Holmes, Charles S. Roberts and Edwin Charles Tubb. The links provided are to Grognardia as James has done them justice with his eulogies. I feel I have nothing more of value to add regarding these great men, but do wish to pay them my respects. I do this on the last day of 2010 in remembrance.

Of the four, the death of Frank Frazetta had the greatest impact upon me, as his paintings influenced my imagination during my youth far more then I can express. My reading habits in the years I was stumbling about book stores, magazine racks and libraries, trying to find what my niche was with literature were often influenced by Mr. Frazetta's cover paintings alone. Meaning, I was often as not willing to give something a read BECAUSE Frank Frazetta's covers attracted me versus who wrote the work or who the main character was. I have lost count of the number of tattered paper backs, comics and magazines in my collection that I keep simply due to the gorgeous Frazetta art work. Frank Frazetta's muscle bound heroes, scantily clad (or nude) women illustrated my youthful lust for fantasy and still do to this day. Thank You Mr. Frazetta.

I give honor to Mr. Holmes. I never played, owned or have personally leafed through his version of Dungeons & Dragons, but I feel he was one of the many who shaped a game that will always have a place at my table in one form or another. Thank You Mr. Holmes.

As to Mr. Roberts, I never played his games, but appreciate that without war games and war gammers, role playing games may never have developed. Thank you Mr. Roberts.

As for E.C. Tubb, I have never read any of his science fiction, but perhaps I should correct that. Thank You Mr. Tubb.

I would like to add a name to the list: Ronnie James Dio, born Ronald James Padavona.

It may seem odd that I add a Heavy Metal singer to the list above, but not so at all to me. When I think back to my gaming days in Jr./Sr. High and even somewhat into my college days, my memories are often clouded with the music I listened to while casting dice. Several bands come to mind: Metallica, Megadeth, Black Sabbath (both with Ozzy and with Dio) and of course Dio. It wasn't just the games, books, movies and comics that formed my imagination, it was the music too.

While I realize that music is not as universal amongst gamers as other media, I've known just as many gamers who find inspiration in classical music as those who find inspiration in Rock or Heavy Metal; differences in music aside, I feel music is just as important to a gamer's "Appendix N" as any other media; regardless if that music is a charging classical ensemble or a growling guitar fired over a driving drum beat.

For me as a youth, the later held true, just as it has for many gamers. Dungeons & Dragons and heavy metal music were synonymous in my bedroom as a lad. I can remember many a time sitting in my bedroom, drawing up a new dungeon while listening to heavy metal. My bedroom walls were plastered equally with fantasy inspired art, balanced out with heavy metal posters (Iron Maiden posters had the largest lion share. While I didn't love their music, I did like it, and Eddie in all his ghoulish aspects was rocking as far as I was concerned). It wouldn't be a stretch to say that this often close association of heavy metal and D&D, fanned the flames of the anti-D&D reaction of the 80's and that just made me love "Satan's Music" even more.

My musical tastes have changed over the years. Now, I am just as able to appreciate and find inspiration in Beethoven as I am in a haunting New Age piece. Still, while I may not listen to Heavy Metal as much as I once did, it has a dedicated section on my iPod.

Ronnie James Dio was amongst those musicians that fed my gaming fire; perhaps, I might even say chief amongst them. Black Sabbath was always one of my favorite bands, and while I prefer the Ozzy Osborn years, I won't turn down the chance to rock out to some Heaven & Hell inspired Black Sabbath either, nor will I dial the volume down on "Holy Diver".

Thank You Mr. Dio.

I'll close this post with a mini-shrine to the two men lost in 2010 that inspired me the most over the years and always will. Frank Frazetta and Ronnie James Dio.

If I could only choose one painting by Frank Frazetta, it would be his iconic cover to Conan the Adventurer. Conan and Frazetta will always be intertwined for me.

As for Ronnie James Dio, well just watch the video to his classic "Holy Diver" and it will explain why Sword & Sorcery and Dio are one and the same to me. And of course, crank it up!

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