Jim Roslof, former TSR illustrator and art director, passed away on Saturday, March 19.
As an illustrator in the late 1970s and early '80s, Roslof had a major influence on the developing visual style of the Dungeons & Dragons game. His cover illustration for adventure B2, The Keep on the Borderlands, is one of the most iconic and widely-recognized D&D images from that period.
As art director, Roslof's guiding hand was less apparent to players, but his influence was even more profound and far-reaching. It was Roslof who hired and shaped TSR's famous "pit" of color illustrators: Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Jim Holloway, Keith Parkinson, Tim Truman, and Clyde Caldwell. Under Roslof's direction, their paintings defined Dungeons & Dragons for a generation of players and DMs.
All of us at Wizards of the Coast are saddened by this loss, and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to Laura Roslof and to their children and grandchildren. We invited Jim's friends and colleagues to share their comments, and include some of them here.
"Jim Roslof was the man among the boys during my time at TSR Hobbies in the early 80s. A solid and reliable artist, mentor, friend, and father."
"I have never forgotten Jim's generosity of spirit or his support when morale was low or the winters of discontent grew too cold in Lake Geneva. He was a kind kinsman on our shared journey, and no matter how much time has passed since those days, in my memory those moments live on, unaging. Rest easy, old pal, and walk in light until we meet again."
"Jim's work always contained a strong sense of fun and enthusiasm for the game, even when he was conveying danger and dread. When you look at his illustrations, you see that there’s a story going on, and you want to be part of it."
"Jim didn't often join in on our foolishness, but he took it all in stride. He was the one who could stay at his drawing table, calmly sketching away, while everyone else was shrieking and racing up and down the hall."
"There was seldom a week went by that we didn’t learn something from Jim."
"We asked a lot of Jim, in terms of expertise, talent, and patience. It was a never-ending source of amazement to me that he delivered all three so consistently."
"He had a real eye for talent. Maybe someone else could have assembled an artistic team with the same amazing energy as that one, but no one else did. Only Jim actually made it happen."
"You can't think about that period in D&D's development, or look at a single one of those products, without seeing Jim's influence. He raised the artistic bar for the whole industry much higher than anyone really thought it could go at that time. He 'changed the game', literally and figuratively."
While working at TSR, I was very lucky to have two managers who were the nicest bosses anyone could ever ask for. Dave Sutherland, who hired me, and then Jim Roslof, who took over managing the art department from Dave. I always had the feeling that Jim was digging and appreciating the work we were doing and that meant a lot.
If I had to name one quality that would rank at the top of the list for an art director, the ability to inspire would be it, and Jim did that.
R.I.P. James Paul Roslof