Sunday, November 28, 2010

"When you've been at this for as long as I have, you stop believing in coincidence."

My buying habits on eBay tend to follow a pattern of either feast of famine.  I usually control myself fairly well (though I suppose I probably don't have enough distance to make that claim with any impartiality), but there are a few times when I just end up buying things that are weird.  Case in point, I recently bought two Fantastic Four-related role-playing game books, each about 20 years old.  The first stars the Thing, and the cover of the book has the Thing punching another Thing, so OF COURSE I had to get it.  Here's the cover:

Aside from the unfortunate scratch around the "M" in "Marvel", the book looks like it just came from the printer.  It's a good thing it looks so nice, because the inside is just a big pile of crap.  I'm not trying to dump on role-playing games or anything - I don't know enough about them to judge, I guess - but this particular game doesn't seem like anything I could ever get into.  For one thing, the book doesn't come with the necessary six-sided die (what a gyp!), which leads you on a journey in which the Thing fights the Kingpin and his goons in Thing suits.  For another, here's a sample of the text: "You turn to Kingpin and shout, 'You might be able to beat one of us - maybe - but two Things can lick anybody.'"  Wow.

The other book stars the entire Fantastic Four and is titled "Stygian Knight", which actually doesn't sound that bad, until you realize the main villain is named "Stygorr".  Oh well.  Let's see a picture of that one!

I imagine that the theme is similar to the Thing game, but this one is open to four players.  What struck me about these two different books, coming from two separate auctions, is that the cover art is by the same guy on both, and I had no idea of this before I got them in the mail.

The artist on both books is Jeff Butler, and through the magic of the Google I just found out that he has his own webpage and a rather hefty Wikipedia entry...and wouldn't you know it, some of his work is pretty good.

This is quite the coincidence, but upon further inspection, it looks like both books were published by the company TSR, so I'm assuming that 'ol Jeff was a staff artist for them for a while.  Even so, it's funny how things like this come together sometimes.

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