Thoughts on the Loss of an Artist

Yesterday, I learned about the death of David Trampier or “D.A.T,” as he signed much of his work.  Before Elmore and Parkinson, before Lockwood and Reynolds, there was Sutherland and Trampier.  David Trampiers’s work in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons still sings to me.  In black and white, he drew the imaginations of many gamers and was a well-liked cartoonist for his comic, Wormy.  He painted the scene on the first ever Dungeon Master’s Screen (I still own 3 copies).  Trampier,Sutherland, and Otus are the ones who gave vision to many of my encounters and in my minds eye, it is their work that I first see when I think of traditional D&D monsters.  Trampier’s winged, black panther, Solomoriah, may have been the first of its kind and his ability to fly between the spheres is an image that has haunted my daydreams for years.  His art remains, but the artist is now gone.

It appears that Mr Trampier had a troubled life.  I and others have wondered about what caused him to separate himself from the gaming community; he had a lot of gaming credits to his name, when he withdrew from public life.  I never knew the man, but   his death at 59 bothers me greatly.

David Trampier was 22 or 23, when he and his brother-in-law, Tom Wham had illustrations published in the Monster Manual in 1977.  I was 12 or 13 and wouldn’t hear of D&D for another 3 years.  He wrote and illustrated a wonderful comic.  He seemed to have a great career.  His last published work of which I know is the Wormy comic installment in Dragon 132 in April 1988.  What happened in those 11 years that made him leave his public life and his art?  Where did the artist that gave me the rakshasa go?  Did he have a good life?  Did he regret his choice to leave?  Was he happy?  Who mourns him?  What do I do now?

What do I do?  I share my feelings about David Trampier with the world.  I game on and use his illustrations to enliven the imaginations of new players and old.  I continue to enjoy the great D&D artists that followed him.  I live my life to its fullest potential, create, and share.  After life is for living and living well, may I never forget that and do my best to do just that.

Kevin Gisi has a great You Tube response to mourning celebrities.  He is speaking about Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but I feel much the same about Dave Trampier.

Until next time, Game On!