On Friday, Feb. 1, Dungeons & Dragons fans lined up to get into Secret Headquarters in Silver Lake, but they weren’t there to battle mythical creatures — they were there to admire and celebrate them. After the success of last year’s “Monster Manual” show, which featured D&D-style monsters dreamed up by local artists, curator Jon Vermilyea revived the concept for a second group show, “Dark Dungeons.”
Vermilyea, an art director at Warner Bros., has been playing Dungeons & Dragons since he was 17. He says, “I work in animation now but I came from working in comics, and I had had some of my own events at Secret Headquarters, so I got to know the people who run it. I thought it would be fun to curate a show.”
Above the comic racks, the walls of the store are hung with drawings of such fearsome beasts as the “Midnight Croaker,” “Your Mom Inside Out” and “Slagatha the Worm Queen.” The monsters are the work of 48 local artists including Mark Ingram, Grady Gordon, Charlie Immer, Devin Flynn, Lizz Hickey, Rob Goodin and Vermilyea himself.
Each drawing in “Dark Dungeons” depicts a monster one might encounter on a fantasy role-playing adventure.
For Vermilyea, the show is more about the unusual monsters than the art itself. He says, “It’s like if you’re playing a campaign with your friends and you have to draw your own monsters and characters and stuff. I really like that aspect of gaming. There’s a more casual approach to it, because things can be kind of goofy and more embarrassing. It’s like artwork you’re doing for yourself instead of other people, because it’s just a small group of friends.”
In addition to the monsters, each piece lists the type of stats one might find on a D&D character sheet. Ready to work them into your next tabletop gaming session? Vermilyea cautions, “The characters aren’t totally playable, because I had to make room for the artwork to take precedence, so the actual stats and stuff are pretty bare-bones. Some are more playable than others, but all of them are usable in that if someone wanted to base something off of these ideas, they could reinterpret them into their own game as a jumping-off point.”