Unlocking The Treasure of Time AD&D Storybook
There’s 40 years’ worth of Time stashed in that floating treasure chest you see there. Come with me as we open it up and explore 2 charming Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Storybooks from 1983.
Marvel actually published these kids’ books, along with some D&D coloring books that same year. They include characters that were popular action figures of the time, put out by LJN toys. So, it makes sense that these books were designed to be a gateway to get kids to want to buy their action figure and monster toys.
Although my brother and I had a couple of these LJN toys as kids, I never knew about the tie-in storybooks.
My first read was just last night, and I have to say, they are really cool!
Of course, the audience is for young children, but even so, the artwork, style and even one of the stories was pretty entertaining to me as an adult.
When I ordered them online, I expected a normal kid’s storybook size - maybe 8.5” x 11”, but was surprised to see they are really small mini-books, only 5” x 6.5”. They might not be small enough to have fit in your back pocket, but I bet they would fit snugly in your OshKosh-B’gosh front-and-center pocket!
I decided to first read The Treasure of Time (because I liked the cover better 😁)
The artwork within and without was enchanting, done by Marie Severin. It was a perfect blend of what you’d expect from children’s fairytale style, along with some D&D coolness.
The narrative pacing was a little choppy, but hey, what do you expect from a story that only spans 30 compact pages!
The story revolves around the evil sorcerer, Kelek, who was determined to get his grubby little wizard fingers all over the sweet Treasure of Time.
Other characters included, Charmay the good Human female magic user, Elkhorn the good Dwarf fighter, Zarak the evil Half-Orc assassin, and the consummate D&D hero, Strongheart the Paladin - cited to be, “the greatest warrior in the land”!
Every single one of those diminutive pages has a full-color illustration, so I consider it worth the $1.95 it would have cost back then.
After finishing The Treasure of Time, I immediately moved on to the only other Marvel AD&D storybook made - The Forest of Enchantment.
The cover is still cool, but the deer, rabbit, squirrel, fox and cardinal on the cover gave me the impression that this story was probably going to be pretty un-D&D-like.
Boy, was I wrong!
The Forest of Enchantment actually included several D&D style mainstays: The Bard, Druid & Thief class, Lizardmen, our old evil sorcerer pal from The Treasure of Time, Kelek, and . . . D&D fan favorite badguy fighter, Warduke!
Caruso the Bard, enjoying some forest bathing Waldeinsamkeit, comes across an army of evil Lizardmen which spurs him on a quest to find help and solve the mystery of this encroaching army.
NOT-REALLY-RELEVANT BUT FUN FACTS: “Waldeinsamkeit” is a German word that refers to the feeling one has while being alone in the woods, usually a sublime or spiritual one.
“Forest Bathing” is the practice of immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way, using your senses to derive a whole range of benefits for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health. Also known as, “Shinrin-yoku” in Japanese. “Shinrin” = forest and “Yoku” = bathing.
The writing and story were surprisingly really good for only spanning 31 pages. It felt like a complete story arc with action, mystery, magic and a little humor. There was even an information-gathering mini-sidequest to the Thieves’ Guild Hall.
Bob Stine wrote it. Something about that name was familiar.
Yup, you guessed it - “Bob Stine” is the very same as “R.L. Stine” of later Goosebumps fame! (btw: his wife - talented writer and business partner, Jane - was half the writing team for the The Treasure of Time!)
The Goosebumps series started in 1992 and has since become one of the biggest commercial publishing successes, selling over 400 million books in 35 languages - the 2nd best-selling series in history!
Something else I really enjoyed about The Forest of Enchantment - the illustrations were done by none other than Earl Norem (1923-2015) of men’s adventure magazine, comic book, and fantasy art fame.
Earl made amazing illustrations for Marvel comics, Savage Sword of Conan, He-Man, Planet of the Apes, Rampaging Hulk, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and Transformers. He even did toy package design artwork for Mego Toys, Mattel and Hasbro.
Here’s a site that has a very sizeable portfolio of Norem’s stuff: https://americanpulps.com/pulp-artists-earl-norem-from-mens-mags-to-marvel/
I find it especially groovy that he illustrated book covers and internal illustrations for many titles in the Wizards Warriors & You gamebook series! I still have #1 and #2 from one of my childhood forays into the Scholastic Bookmobile!
Remember the Scholastic Bookmobile and Bookfair? I do too. “Reflect” with me about TSR Endless Quest Books here:
Back to the D&D Storybooks - The other half of The Treasure of Time writing team was David Anthony Kraft (1952-2021). David was a well-known comic book writer, publisher and critic. He had a unique way of merging his interests of music and comics by including references to the Blue Oyster Cult and The Beatles into several of his Marvel storylines.
I found out he actually wrote a Wizards Warriors & You gamebook too! Ghost Knights of Camelot.
And guess who did the interior illustrations and the American cover for that book?
. . . Earl Norem!
If you like gamebooks, you’ll definitely want to check this out:
(Featuring artwork from Clyde Caldwell & Luke Eidenschink!)
Another gamebook David wrote was Robot Race - one of the Micro Adventure series where you would enter & debug programs in BASIC on your computer as part of the adventure!
This series was amazing and contained one of my favorite gamebooks. I spent hours entering the programs and dealing with dreaded “syntax errors” on the Apple IIe. I owe much of my love of computers and technology to this book. In fact, it probably is a big reason why I eventually got into working in the tech support field.
Do you like LOTR and reminiscing about retro-computer-games? Then make sure to check out:
Both covers of these AD&D storybooks, and the internal illustrations for The Treasure of Time were illustrated by Marie Severin (1929-2018) - a comics artist and colorist best known for her work for Marvel Comics and the 1950s’ EC Comics. She was a pioneer in the comic book industry, and her creativity, artistry, and humor captured the imagination of fans around the world.
Check out some of the awards she won!
She was inducted into the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame and the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame
In consideration of her contributions to comics, Comics Alliance listed Severin as one of twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition
She received Comic-Con International's Icon Award in 2017
In 2019, Severin was posthumously awarded the Inkwell Awards Stacey Aragon Special Recognition Award for her lifetime of inking artwork.
Severin was also inducted into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame
For me, I just absolutely love her work in these 2 storybooks.
Thanks for joining me and spending some of your precious time on my little storybook sidequest of discovery. We cracked open that magical floating treasure chest, considered its precious contents and now must seal it up for another day, for another future adventurer. Time is fleeting, and though it is fun to occasionally visit the past, the real treasure will always be living in the present.
As Charmay told Strongheart and Elkhorn, “. . .the Treasure of Time - is Time itself!”
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