A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Monday, April 9, 2007

In which I'm rude about art

I spend some of my hard-earned money on game books. Lately, alot of them have been Werewolf the Forsaken books from White Wolf.

In the past, game books that I have bought have, for the most part, been good to me, content-wise. I flip their pages eagerly, my eyes scanning the words. The draw for me has always been the game and the system. I was interested in the new whatever for D&D, or the new edition of Shadowrun. I was interested in the mechanics, and in the suspension of disbelief part - the world they were setting up. The art I usually glimpsed over, enjoyed and moved on. The short fiction bits I skimmed through and thought was excellent flavor. So it is with a heavy heart that I flip through books and, upon seeing a piece of art in the book, rather than either pausing to "oooh" at it for a moment, or even scanning it briefly before moving on to the gritty stuff, I recoil slightly at how fucking terrible it is.

I am certainly no artist. I do not draw. I do not paint. I do not sculpt. I would perhaps argue with anyone that wanted to offer that my contribution here is, in fact, some form of art.

Let me cite some examples, and I am only doing these by title and page and artist name - I would gladly scan and upload the images, but I fear that were someone to accidentally happen upon my page, and I were speaking so unkindly about an artist, and featured his protected material on my page, I'd be placed in an uncomfortable position. And I can't find any of the art that I'm referring to already out there on Google anywhere. So here is my referencing, I'm just sorry that this is lost on most (probably all) of you.

Book: War of the Pure, Page 5, Arist: Jeff Holt. The scene is of a naked woman, facing toward three wolves, with a werewolf-looking person with a knife bearing down on her.
Book: War of the Pure, Page 169, Arist: Brian LeBlanc. A family is ambushed in the jungle by some werewolves. The family appears to all be using "Crest White Strips", judging by the way they are holding their mouths open. And the man looks like he is being raped by one of the werewolves.
Book: War of the Pure, Page 172, Arist: Brian LeBlanc. The scene is a voluptuous naked woman being held (and eaten?) by three snake-men.
Book: Blood of the Wolf, Page 108, Artist: Brian LeBlanc. A screaming werewolf is swinging through an open window, and somewhat resembles the Ultimate Warrior, from wrestling days long past. Lying just inside, sitting up on a bed, is a voluptuous woman, barely clad in some kind of a gown or nightie. The werewolf appears to be naked, or to have forgotten his loincloth.
Book: Rage- Forsaken Player's Guide, Page 100, Artist: Brian Leblanc. A voluptuous woman, clothed in skin-tight capri pants and a bikini top, stands with her back to a door, a huge knife in her hand, facing off again three sorta-werewolf-looking-guys. Her expression is hard to define. Actually it looks like she was cut off in mid-sentence while talking to a girl-friend at the mall. Mild disinterest with a dash of surprise. (This one is my favorite/most-eyerolling)
Book: Rage- Forsaken Player's Guide, Page 127, Arist: Brian Leblanc. A voluptuous woman, wearing some kind of bra or halter-top and some short-shorts that lace up on the sides is pointing a clawed hand, commanding a trio of evil-looking wolves into action.

Put most concisely: I find these pieces to be incredibly juvenile, and somewhat lacking in skill. Some of LeBlanc's stuff is good, from a shading and lines perspective, but is of ridiculous-seeming content. Like, LeBlank draws some very nice looking, voluptuous women, but c'mon people - aren't chainmail bikinis the stuff of Conan and D&D? I don't need the 7th grade porn.

I'm griping because I've spent my money on this stuff, and so, in a way, paid the artist too. I think I have a vote. Some of the art is not just poor, it is distracting. I just can't help but wondering why no one else noticed it. Like the editor, maybe.

And I have to be fair. Even though I'm not zeroing in on them the way I did the awful pieces that I pointed out above, for each piece in the books that is just horrible, there is a piece which is at worst "meh" and at best, pretty good. By the same guys even. And some of the art in the books is really good, I've just made a point to pick out the negative and whirl it around like a dead cat, instead of any of the positive stuff, really.

But, as I sit here and think about it, I think I'm setup for failure. White wolf is hoping that people will buy these books. Plain and simple. And if that means that 14 year olds, and That Guy Who Lives In Mom's Basement are in their target demographic, why not appeal to them?

PS - I'm not advocating against art featuring voluptuous women. I like voluptuous women. I like art. I like naked women. I guess I'm responding this way because I'm surprised. I hadn't expected to see it in these White Wolf books. I thought they were for mature audiences. I guess I forgot that "mature audience" means "be sure to hide this from your grandma".

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