Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Really Old Old-School Artist: John D. Batten

Okay, before you read any further, any guesses as to who did this illustration?

It does have that Larry Elmore juno se qua, doesn't it? Well, it's not Larry's.

The old school artist who did this illustration of the fairy tale "The Wooing of Olwen" is John D. Batten. He was born in 1860 and died in 1932. That makes him a REALLY old school artist.

I discovered Batten's work while trolling Wikimedia Commons searching for images for The System earlier this year.

This image is from The Book of Wonder Voyages, a volume by Jason Jacobs, a collection of English, Celtic, Indian, and other European fairy and folk tales.

Just look at this baby... it could have been an OD&D module cover alongside the original 2-color Tomb of Horrors, or the early G Modules.

This one is another one from The Book of Wonder Voyages, and looks like it's straight out of the 1e AD&D Monster Manual.

You can probably see why I relied so heavily on so many images from Batten when I put together The System. It was a way of inexpensively achieving an old-school illustration look by going really old school.


  1. You get a very vivid impression of character or situation in these. I love a single panel drawing that almost tells a tale in itself. Nice.

  2. Great find! I'll have to check out this artist some more (I saw that he's listed on Project Gutenberg as well).