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Lost Art of D&D No. 3: Cynthia Sims Millan

 

I've always found this to be an especially evocative piece. 

I've only ever known it from the article on the Anti-Paladin NPC from The Dragon #39 (1980), but I've discovered that it was actually originally drawn three years earlier for a plate depicting the Lord of the Nazgul in a 1977 Lord of the Rings portfolio. The artist, Cynthia Sims Millan, was not credited in that issue's editorial box, and her signature was obviously deliberately excised from the artwork itself (see above plate and below page from The Dragon). At the very least this was extremely poor form on TSR's part, but I can't help but wonder if they even legally owned the rights to reprint the piece.




Besides this portfolio and a listing in the artist database on Board Game Geek, I could find precious little on Millan. The only games she seems associated with are a handful published by Heritage USA around 1980, and on all but one of those she seems paired with artist/graphic designer David Hebler, which makes me wonder if they may have been connected in more than a professional capacity. I happened to have my original copy of Knights and Magick at hand and found them listed in the credits as "Graphics Design by David Helber with Cynthia Sims Millan."

Here are a few other pieces from that portfolio...




I would venture that the map to the solitaire micro-game Barbarian Prince might be the next piece of Millan game art that has had the widest audience. It's a wonderful game by Arnold Hendrick, and the map (integral to the hex-crawl adventure) is quite good, too. 




And though uncredited in the Board Game Geek artist database, following the Heritage USA breadcrumb trail led me to these four box covers for which Millan supplied the cover illustrations in 1980. These four plastic miniatures kits (below) were scaled-down versions of the larger game kits Heritage was designing that instead came supplied with metal miniatures.






I had already planned to do a post in the coming weeks on Heritage's Dungeon Dwellers boxed miniatures games and their Arthurian-themed Adventure Gaming Kits, so I'll be sure to be on the lookout for any more of her work (her name is associated with all of those particular titles in the Board Game Geek database). If I discover more information on her or examples of her work, I'll update this post.

If you're curious about the first and second installments in the "Lost Art of D&D" series, you can check them out here!


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Comments

  1. She definitely has a recognizable style that I like.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed! And good to see a friendly face pop up in the comments!

      I've always loved the Nazgul/Anti-Paladin illustration, and some of the box art above from Heritage is pretty nifty in its own right, especially that green-robed wizard. I'd love to put together a collection of those Adventure Game Starter Sets, but they're seemingly even harder to find than the "Dungeon Dwellers" and "Knights and Magick" starter sets.

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  2. I heart these Lost Art articles, Joe. Important stuff!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Stephen. "Lost Art" is kind of a thing with me. I started a whole press devoted to it in 2010 (www.LostArtBooks.com). For what it is worth, I'm a big fan of your blog, Donjon Lands. Well-written, creative, and beautifully designed.

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