Posted on Tue, Jun. 14, 2005
Dungeons & Dragons illustrator, Minneapolis native, dies
MINNEAPOLIS - David Sutherland, the Minneapolis native and illustrator whose images helped lead the fantasy role-playing game "Dungeons & Dragons" to success in the late 1970s and 1980s, has died of chronic liver failure.
Sutherland died June 6 at his home in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. He was 56.
A graduate of Minneapolis' Roosevelt High School, he trained as a commercial artist before serving as a military policeman in Vietnam in the late 1960s. After returning, he launched his fantasy-art career by widely distributing his while working odd jobs, such as making moccasins, said his sister, Trudy DeKeuster of Omaha, Neb.
A university professor involved with "D&D" development helped Sutherland find his way to Tactical Studies Rules, at the time an emerging Wisconsin publisher of "D&D."
Sutherland's illustrations include the famed scene of a dragon, a wizard and a bow-flexing knight on the first "D&D" boxed set that brought the game into the mainstream. Images on the covers of "Dungeon Masters Guide" and "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual," were his as well. Sutherland also worked as TSR's artistic director, but felt more at ease doing his own illustrations.
After a Pacific Northwest firm bought TSR in the late 1990s and didn't rehire Sutherland, his career crashed. Recently divorced, Sutherland became despondent.
An auction of his memorabilia in late 2004 drew $22,000 and revived his spirits. The money was used for a trust fund for his daughters.