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Saving the Best for Last, by Daniel R. Horne

This painting by Daniel R. Horne premiered as the cover of Dragon Magazine issue 126, which arrived in my mailbox in October of 1987. Thereafter, it would reappear in several other TSR products and advertisements.

My thirteen-year-old reaction? “Wow!”

Back in the day, Dragon had a excellent track record for Halloween (and April’s Fools) themed covers, and this piece was no exception. It’s got great composition: The figure of the undead giant bursting through the snow is full of threat and movement, and the ranger’s pose with her bow is both desperate and determined at the same time.

Against the pale background, both characters really pop and demand your attention… with the darker shades of the giant adding weight and strength to him from his more extreme contrast. And the little details like the giant’s half-missing finger, the sword stuck in his breastplate, and the faint but not overdone glow at the tip of the arrow. All of these keep your eyes wandering and drawing it all in.

Finally, the painting poses an excellent if unspoken question that leaves us in suspense: What happens next?!

Over the years, I’ve thought of several possible conclusions. But I’ll let you keep-up the tradition and think up one of your own. ;-)