Famous fantasy and Dungeons & Dragons artist Jeff Easley painted the promotional mini-poster given out at early screenings of the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie.
“Finally scored a copy of the giveaway print….THEY TOOK MY SIGNATURE OFF THE PAINTING!”
Over a month after the giveaway was made available to fans, the artist obtained a copy of the mini-poster. He noted that Hasbro erased his signature from the print.
Update: 30th April – Paramount Pictures handled the distribution for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Paramount, or their marketing partners, may have directed the removal of Jeff Easley’s signature. If so, the erasure is not specifically attributable to Hasbro, but instead, this came from their partner in the D&D movie.
On April 28th, Jeff wrote in the Fans of the art of Jeff Easley Facebook group that he acquired a copy of the print that was first released on March 29. He did not call out the delay in obtaining a copy of his work; instead, the artist revealed that the printed version of his painting had been edited to remove his stylized signature.
Jeff Easley’s Honor Among Thieves poster, along with the d20 popcorn bucket from AMC theaters, are among the best souvenirs associated with the movie. Taking the artist’s name off of the finished product robs him of the customary credit he deserves as the author of his work; which might be apropos for a movie that has “thieves” written into the title.
Cropping an artist’s signature out of an illustration can occur when the original image meets the layout artist. Every artist working in publishing knows that cropping, where the image is trimmed, can occur. In this instance, Easley’s signature was not cropped off, but digitally removed. The residue of the erasure is still visible beneath where the “E” in “Easley” originally resided.
Likely done by Hasbro or eOne, the production company that filmed the D&D film, this change was an unexpected, and arguably needless, alteration to the original work.
In this case, removing Jeff Easley’s mark contrasts with the signature policy of some of Hasbro’s subsidiaries. Wizards of the Coast (WotC), Hasbro’s subsidiary that publishes the Dungeons & Dragons RPG as well as Magic: The Gathering card game, does not remove artist’s signatures from the artwork that they source.
In fact, Jeff Easley provided artwork for the 2021 Magic: The Gathering core set, Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms as well as other card art over the years. His signature was left intact unless cropping was required. His artwork for The Den of the Bugbear (Dungeon Module version) Magic: The Gathering (MtG) card clearly shows his signature. MtG goes further in celebrating the artist by listing their name on the bottom of each card.
It’s notable that WotC’s standard MtG art policy clashes with Hasbro or eOne’s handling of this promotional poster. This incident may be attributed to a difference of policies within different arms of Hasbro’s corporate empire.
At other times, this erasure might have flown under the radar were it not for Hasbro’s recent history of troubling public incidents like sending the Pinkertons to a fan’s house, the OGL crisis, Bank of America’s scrutiny over their MtG prices, and other heavy handed decisions. Needlessly erasing Jeff’s signature is yet another incident to add to Hasbro’s list of ill advised decisions thus far in 2023.
Despite the fact that the alteration to the printed artwork could be taken as an insult, Jeff Easley’s reaction was professional and lighthearted. In the same thread where he announced the signature revelation, he stated that he found this “more amusing than anything else…” The creatives that work for Hasbro and similar companies cannot control, and are not at fault for, their management’s decisions. As with any of the difficulties he’s experienced in his long career of working for corporate clients, Jeff Easley proves he’s a class act.
Update 2: 1st May – On Facebook, Jeff Easley shared his thoughts on the incident. His point of view and attitude are the hallmarks of professionalism.
“To be fair, none of the other promo art I saw was signed. None of the 50’s and 60’s poster artists ever got credit for their work. I would just think my association with early-ish TSR would be the only reason I got the job.” – Jeff Easley – April 30, 2023
Update 3: 6th May – Jeff Easley, the artist of the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves promotional poster, is selling prints of the painting. These are similar to the free giveaway, but done with a greater attention to detail. Jeff Easley’s versions come in several sizes, they’re printed on higher quality stock, and produced by a printer that captures the details from his artwork. Best of all, Jeff’s version includes his original signature. You can pick up a copy of Jeff’s version from his website.
[Editor’s note: Both Egg and Girdy are keen to do the right thing and note that while Jeff called attention to this certain reactions from fans would make life challenging for the artist. Please be considerate.]
Can you help expand this article? Scribble down some thoughts in the discussion area below.
This is actually not the first case of WotC removing artist signatures. The MTG 30th anniversary packs, Mark Poole’s signature was removed from Birds of Paradise. Also, all of those cards were reprinted without the artists’ permission.
If he was paid for the work then the Hasbro shouldn’t have to receive work with a signature on it.
If I paid for something I wouldn’t want a signature.
In that case, you might want to get that into the original contract, and the artist is entitled to charge more for it. So it’s a little piece of negotiation.
Credit for work done is how writers, editors, developers, and artists in the tabletop space get additional work.
Eat my asshole Hasbro