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An Origin Story

by | Mar 8, 2018 | Introductions

Dungeons & Dragons. It all started for me when I was in 6th grade. A friend of mine slid a yellow piece of paper (one of the original character sheets from 1st edition) in front of me and asked me to draw an elf fighter in this square dedicated to a portrait. It didn’t take much convincing and when I finished, I asked what this was for. He said it was for Dungeons & Dragons and from then on, I was pretty much hooked.

That Christmas I received a handful of books and dove right in, playing with another friend. We had no idea what we were doing – and we didn’t care. We were rolling dice and saving villages from orcs and goblins. We had a blast and figured it out as we went along. Soon after, we started to bring in other friends and build our game group. The seeds had been planted and there was no turning back.

The 2nd edition D&D books came out during my “initiation phase”, so-to-speak, and it was around that time that I really started to focus on the art. Most notably, the art from Jeff Easley. I think I stared at those covers for days. All the colors, textures and movement in every piece was pure magic to me. It only solidified my love for the game. I can say it set the course for my future, as I started investigating where I could learn to paint like that.

I learned several artists were from my state of Kentucky. Really? My art heroes are from Kentucky? Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore and Fred Fields were true inspirations to this kid on the outskirts of LaGrange. I continued to hone my craft, all the while playing D&D with friends on the weekends. So much of my life was intertwined with this game. I selected my art school because I thought it would give me the best chance of becoming “the next great D&D artist”. The plans were all set.

Of course, I changed my focus and discovered comic books in college – and it almost derailed the path I was on since middle school! I found making comics books as intoxicating as D&D and even self published books for a while. What I didn’t know at the time, is that it was setting me up and educating me for when we would start publishing through Jetpack7. What I may have considered a distraction back then was life essentially training me on how to put it all together later.

I blended my passion for both comics and D&D and never regretted it. That lack of success in self publishing comics would lead to other opportunities and it ultimately prompted us to start our company called Conceptopolis, which would provide concept art for toy companies and video game publishers. We landed a great art job, illustrating the package art for GI Joe in 2007 and that eventually gave us the opportunity to work with Wizard of the Coast – and more specifically – on D&D. The timing was wonderful, as they were in the very beginning stages of making a new version of D&D. I was pinching myself that these opportunities came our way, as we were tasked to help create the modern look for the monsters and magic items on 5th Edition. Had I not “failed” in comics, I may not have been given the opportunity – at the right time – to work on D&D years later. The kid from Kentucky had come full circle, and it was wonderful.

So, here I am. Writing on one of our first Jetpack7 blog posts, where we can now share our creations that were originally inspired by D&D. It’s surreal and it’s all because some kid pushed a character sheet in front of me when I was 11 or 12 years old. From there, I met so many wonderful friends, designers and artists. Heck, I even met my wife playing D&D. So much of this wonderful game has influenced my life. Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and ALL the wonderful creative talent that has brought so much joy to everyone. I really can’t thank them enough.

It’s been an amazing journey and I can’t wait to see what the next 30 years will bring. Join us!

Aaron Hubrich

Editor, Producer

Rabid D&D fan. Maker of fun things.


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