It’s time to walk the hallowed halls of my artist pantheon, this time with the imaginative work of Tony Diterlizzi. I first knew Mr. Diterlizzi’s work from his RPG artwork for 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, primarily in the Monstrous Manual… and then- Planescape! How mind-blowing was that 2nd Edition boxed-set with it’s purple and brown tones and whimsical, yet with an aspect of danger, characters? He has contributed his pencils and brushes to RPG artwork for the fore mentioned Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, young adult book covers (“The Spiderwick Chronicles”), children’s books (“Ted” and “The Spider & The Fly”), and even a full-length young adult novel series that he wrote himself (“The Search for Wondla” series)!
When I look at Tony Diterlizzi’s fantasy art I see the culmination of many, many things I love- the delicate drawings of Arthur Rackham, the wonderfully imaginative collaborations of Brian Froud and Jim Henson (again going back to the Planescape, Sigil looks like it could be a neighboring community of Labyrinth), and a dash of Norman Rockwell’s paint application on his later artwork.
Diterlizzi’s early RPG artwork was mainly whispy, delicate ink lines with washes of watercolors, often done in earthy tones- browns, blues, purples and faint orange hues. At some point he began making his fantasy art in tangible, oil-painting style that has that reminiscence of Norman Rockwell I mentioned- I’d even go as far as saying there’s a Rockwellian character about the way Diterlizzi draws his faces: full of wonder, joy, excitement, or mischief. To enjoy the work of Tony Diterlizzi is to never completely lose the magic of childhood, and as his website’s tagline suggests, “Never Abandon Imagination”. And while you’re at it, Stay Nerdy! -Nerdarchist Ryan