D&D comics history part 1 - Cartoon ads

In 1981/82, TSR, to promote D&D, published in comics a strip of cartoon-shaped ads.
It depicted the adventures of Saren the cleric, Indel the rogue, Valerius the warrior and Grimslade the mage at Zenopus castle...

I am very grateful to Das √úbernerd's post that made me discover these ads.
I am also very interested in the concept of the story being an endless loop... cf comments in his post.

If the first page's artist is unknown (high probability it was drawn by Keenan Powell, who is credited for her arts in early D&D rule books and extensions), 2nd page was done by Jeff Dee and all the other ones by Bill Willingham.



You can find funny and very inspired frame-by-frame analysis by Christopher B of the 4 first pages at his "A Rust Monster Ate My Sword" blog. Enjoy ! ;)

Then I somehow managed to get another cartoon ad for D&D, relating adventures of Auric, Tirra and the wizard Khellek in the Dungeon of Roakire.
(Also by Bill Willingham)

It s dated 1981.

My first bet, checking the TSR "reply-coupon" (not sure of translation here... :P) which doesn t include the UK address, was it started to be published before summer '81 as well as first 2 ads from the Zenopus series.
I did some digging, and in fact these ads ran from october '81 to april '82 in magazines like Dragon or Epic illustrated...

This is a 4 pages strip :

And, icing on the cake, it also exists a third set !

This one has a title : Quest through the Savage Country
Dated 1982 (released from june), it is featuring a ranger named Rory Gellan and Shadrak the gnome rogue being recruited to help Khellek, the wizard from Roakire series.

It is obviously the sequel of the precedent story.
We could bet it was meant to be also a 4 pages strip but story ends in midstream as the following pages were never drawn according to Bill Willingham.

Here s how it starts :

Any further infos about these ads or any other I am not aware of would be greatly welcomed !


  1. I used to love reading these adds, back in the day, and always wondered why they were never collected into a comic.

  2. Thanks for your comment !
    Glad this post found some reader ! :)

    I am still looking for other D&D cartoon ads, if ya remember having read any other one, dun hesitate to tell me. (I tried to find the following pages of the last sequel but without any result yet...)

  3. From what I understand, there aren't any additional pages. The guy that was in charge of creating the adds felt that they just didn't stand out enough, and stopped having them produced. Bill Willingham talks about how they came out in an interview he did.

  4. Interview found (I added the link in post as well as artists' ones).
    Thanks for the hint !

    But damn... I wanna know the end of the story...
    how frustrating heh... XD

  5. I used to love these, back in the day, as well! I'm pretty sure that Stephen Sullivan had something to do with them (he might have even done the art on the first one), as I remember talking with him about it at Gary Con two years ago.

  6. I saw the one where tirra the elf is fried by a beholder and thought khellek set this up to off the lawful elf and leave lawful auric to recieve the helm of alignment change turning him into warduke...

  7. Indeed it really looks like Warduke's helm... interesting point !