Friday, May 29, 2015

The Curious Case of Jeff Starlind

This post could also be titled, Two Shall Be One. So I've been re-reading 2e Greyhawk's Five Shall Be One and Howl From the North adventures. Overall I like parts of them, the swords, the locations, but not so much the characters or even story. Then there is the covers. I have those images burned into my brain and they're not special, merely passable. Of course looking in closer to see who the cover artists were, I noticed something peculiar...

The inside credits for Five Shall Be One's cover says it is by Jeff Starlind. All the googling in the world won't find you a Jeff Starlind, but there is a guy named Jeff Starling. Even at the bottom of the illustration it says clearly, STARLING 90. So yes if this is the same artist then he is also known for doing comics and work for White Wolf I believe. They did a typo on his name in the credits. That's a bad one on TSR. It gets stranger though...

Howl From the North has this iconic Viking-like warrior shouting to the wind with a longship in the background. I approve. The signature at the bottom is by ORBIK. A quick check shows Glen Orbik is a notable illustrator with his own site even. What does the inside credits say for cover artist? Jeff freaking Starlind!

I'd love to know how Jeff or his alter-ego, got credit for the cover of this flaming turd of a module, when Orbik is clearly the better artist (or painter at any rate). Maybe Jeff did the initial mock-up cover for HFtN and it was a bit too blah for TSR so they turned to Orbik to redo it. That's my best guess. Then as my brain tried to process this artist knot I noticed something compositionally odd...

 
Both covers can combine into one epic barbarian tussle. You got the black haired conan-esque guy from the first cover, out of the orc cave and now has got frost barbarian Orbikson in the same arm-lock as before. Two Shall Be One. You gotta love old-school D&D art, sometimes it's a real mess.
 


4 comments:

Stelios V. Perdios said...

It's 25 years later, and what TSR did with Greyhawk still annoys me. lol

Where's the editing? Where's the quality control?

But then again, we're talking about the same company, around the same time, converting two RPGA Raven's Bluff/Forgotten Realms modules into Greyhawk, switching a few names around and calling it good. The result: "Puppets."

Jeff_Grubb said...

Not that this reflects any better on TSR, but the most likely explanation for WSG2's credits is that someone cut and pasted the credits for WSG1, and thought they had changed everything, when they had left the (typoed) Starlind credit. Mind you, once they also credited a project on the back cover to "Ed Greenwoood" (three O's).

Mike Bridges said...

Wow, Jeff! Many thanks for the explanation, that does indeed sound quite possible! That, the Greenwoood gem and Stelios' anecdote on Puppets really makes me laugh. I miss TSR ;)

Jeff B. said...

Glen Orbik was a fantastic cover artist, especially for the Hard Case Crime line. In an unfortunate coincidence, he succumbed to cancer on May 11.