E. Gary Gygax passed away in 2008. His widow Gail has worked tirelessly since that time to pave the way for a public memorial to the man who inspired the imaginations of so many people, and she says she is now close to seeing that dream become a reality. Her efforts in lobbying the City of Lake Geneva’s parks board have resulted in dedicated space in Donian Park for the monument to her late husband.
“It’s been a real labor of love,” she says, citing the challenges of raising funds and awareness of the project through her 501c3 organization, the Gary Gygax Memorial Fund. But according to Gail, as of this year, the fund is close to reaching its financial goal, and she has approached bronze sculptor Jerry Sawyer (creator of the famous “Bronze Fonz” in Milwaukee) about taking on the project. Celebrated fantasy artist Larry Elmore, who worked with Gygax, will design a dragon for the memorial, which will also feature a four-sided castle tower, medieval pole-arms and the Gygax family crest.
Gail hopes to complete the project in 2015. “We know the gamers are going to come and see this,” she says matter-of-factly. “Lake Geneva is a Mecca to these guys.” To that end, the current renderings include a space for fans to deposit the game’s iconic polyhedron dice as a tribute.
When asked why Gygax is such a beloved figure in the gaming community even years after his death, Gail points out that Dungeons & Dragons is essentially an immersive social experience. “Gary invented a game that created lifelong relationships,” she says. “In life that’s what everyone should do: work together to achieve a common goal. The friendships that these players form is everything.”
From At The Lake Magazine
Winter 2015 Issue
"Dungeons & Dragons: A Journey of Imaginations"
by Anne Morrissy
The late Gary Gygax is now the stuff of legends to D&D fans and the gaming industry. His wife, Gail Gygax, plans to have a memorial to him crafted from granite, steel and bronze. That memorial, when completed, will stand in Lake Geneva’s Donian Park. Gail, however, is but flesh and blood, and subject to all of the weaknesses that attend flesh and blood. Gail Gygax looks thinner and walks slower than the last time she brought her plans for a Gary Gygax memorial before the city park commission. A childhood illness that went untreated is now affecting her kidneys and liver, Gygax said in a November interview. Earlier this year, she required surgery and a two-month hospital stay to heal the damage.
Now out of the hospital and back on the job, Gail Gygax said she hopes to have all of the contracts for her husband’s memorial signed this month. That would clear the way for work to get started by spring 2015. Final approval however still rests with the Lake Geneva Plan Commission and the city council.
The Gygax Memorial Fund is pleased to announce its association with Albion Swords, LTD./Filmswords of New Glarus, Wisconsin, a Swiss community. Albion Swords/LTD/Filmswords is a leading manufacturer of museum quality historically accurate swords and medieval pole arms. All of their work is done by artisans with historically accurate perfection.
A little-known fact is that Gary Gygax was considered by historians to be a leading expert in the knowledge of medieval weaponry, in particular pole arms. During his lifetime the opportunity for Gary to visit Albion Swords never presented itself. However, Mrs. Gygax very strongly felt that it was fitting that an Albion Swords design element be included on her late husband's memorial. To that end, in honor of Gary's passion for historically correct weaponry and his admiration of Albion Swords' works, Mrs. Gygax incorporated into the memorial design a pair of crossed Swiss halberds, along with a pair of crossed swords utilizing the Gygax Memorial Fund shield, Gary's family crest. The halberds were chosen because of Gary's Swiss descent and the swords were chosen to give balance and symmetry to the design and to symbolize protection of the monument.
Last week, while visiting with the artisans and owners of Albion Swords, Mrs. Gygax was able to take a tour of their shop in order to view their exquisite works. The highlight of the visit was the offer by Albion Swords, LTD, to donate the Swiss crossed halberds for Gary's monument--a most generous gift to the memorial project. Below is a photo of Mrs. E. Gary Gygax pictured with Howard and Mark of Albion Swords, LTD, along with a link to their website. Please take time to review the work of the artisans at Albion Swords, and we think you will see why we are so excited to receive their generous donation to Gary's memorial! http://www.albion-swords.com
Building a statue monument in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin dedicated to the memory of E. Gary Gygax, the “father” of roleplaying games seems like a “monumental” task. How could one person possibly make a difference? Well, Curt Gould, of Wizards of the Coast thought he could make a difference, and did just that. You see, Curt is the Inventory Control/Logistics Manager, in charge of cataloguing and warehousing all of the intellectual property for Wizards of the Coast. In the process of doing his job, Curt realized that there was a “surplus” of items left over from the TSR era -- inventory above and beyond what was needed by Wizards for their catalogue. Curt, being the Gary Gygax fan that he is (at one point even having travelled to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin just to “soak in” the creative ambiance that he imagined Gary must have experienced) just had to take action. Hence, his plan: for Wizards of the Coast to donate 100 items of vintage TSR inventory to the Gen Con 2012 Charity Auction, with proceeds to benefit the Gygax Memorial Fund.
We don’t know all of the exact details of what transpired next, but suffice it to say Wizards of the Coast went along with Curt’s plan, the same plan we announced earlier this year on our Facebook page and Website. Everything else from there is like a dream for us here at the Gygax Memorial Fund, but we can only guess the amount of effort it took to get the items catalogued and sent to Indianapolis for auction.
The auction took place during a “prime” time Gen Con 2012 charity auction slot. The room was full with fans eager to get a piece of history. Harold Johnson, Tim Kask, and Frank Mentzer, all former TSR employees, were on hand to help out with the auction. As cataloguing items is Curt’s business, the item descriptions were exacting and detailed. However, that didn’t stop the three auctioneers from adding their own personal knowledge of a particular item. Harold was the most prolific, sometimes with eager fans shouting their bids above his lengthy historical oratory of a particular item. We found Harold’s descriptions fascinating…like going back in time, even though several bidders were hungry for actually getting the coveted items in hand. Add to this, Frank “guilted” a few of the bidders into upping their final bids, all for the cause of the Gygax Memorial Fund. The final “topping” to the night was the auctioning off of Tim Kask’s yellow hat, which in and of itself brought in over $130!!!!
So, how can one person make a difference? Thanks to Curt Gould, and of course with the much appreciated backing of Wizards of the Coast, a total of $15,383.34 was raised, bringing us ever closer to our goal of getting the Gygax Memorial built. We should also mention that Live Game Auctions was kind enough to “forego” their customary portion of the proceeds-- a very generous offering on their part. All in all, a fun and productive evening!
August 8, 2012
We would like to thank all the companies which have recently started coming forward to help honor the memory of the Father of Role-Playing Games and for supporting our continuing mission to fulfill the wishes of Gary Gygax.
We would especially like to thank Jeff Martin of True Dungeon, who in 2010 led the gaming industry as one of the founding donor companies to the Gygax Memorial Fund by giving a percentage of True Dungeon Gen Con sales to the Gygax Memorial Fund. As we enter into Phase 2 (the approval of the design and continued fundraising - join our Honor Roll to keep up with our latest insider news, opportunities to help support the Fund, and more), it is with efforts like Jeff Martin's and Gary's fans, that Gary's memorial will be built.
If you are attending Gen Con 2012 and are lucky enough to have tickets to True Dungeon — good luck and enjoy!
Visit the True Dungeon website (truedungeon.com) for event information & important updates.
July 27, 2012
Arcane sigils and blood-splattered imagery welcome you to Hell — at least, that is how renowned RPG author Jon Creffield's site grabs your dread and pulls you in.
Fortunately, Jon's debut novel entitled Hell's Door Opens, also shows a determined heroic figure in the character Prince Calgus. So, all does not seem totally lost.
The story is an evolved, dark fantasy that is written for adults unafraid of plunging themselves into the detailed world of a metropolis that is under supernatural attack and spiraling into madness, cannibalism, torture, and unspeakable depravity. Facing off against the evil that seems unstoppable, Prince Calgus and his companions struggle to save the city before an attack by desert nomads descends on the walls and sweeps through the streets.
The complexity of the character & story development have been highly praised — but this praise is not entirely unexpected as Creffield has earned the respect of the fantasy role-playing game community with previously published gaming materials that includes several tomes that he authored in conjunction with the Father of Role-Playing Games, Gary Gygax (e.g., Hall of Many Panes, Slayer's Guide to Dragons, etc.).
“Gary... spent many hours with Jon discussing ideas and subjects to further their creativity.” — Gail Gygax
“Jon Creffield paints epic stories in thought provoking and approachable ways....” — Matthew Sprange, Mongoose Publishing
Jon's site (and specifically Hell's Door Opens) is an experiment in self-publishing and pushes the envelope of viral publicity:
“[W]e are relying on readers of the book, visitors to this webpage, and those who download the sample chapters, to spread the word. We believe that personal recommendations are worth more than adverts. Let’s see if we are right!” — Jon Creffield
We certainly believe in Jon's work and encourage everyone to check Hell's Door Opens out — well, everyone that is age appropriate for the story. 8^)
Jon's site explains his reasoning for giving to the Gygax Memorial Fund, details more of his previous work, offers his musings, and many other features that are worth browsing through in our humble opinion.
If you brave his tale and journey into Hell, be sure to share your experiences with us on our Facebook page.
July 17, 2012
All across the country today the highly-anticipated launch of the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Premium core rulebooks have hit the shelves of local game & comic book stores. The books, originally released in 1977, ‘78, and ‘79 (Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, and the Dungeon Master's Guide - respectively), have been meticulously restored with every interior detail intact and faithfully bound in a NEW cover that tastefully highlights the original artwork of early D&D artists David C. Sutherland III and D.A. Trampier.
Most notably to us, these limited-edition books were specifically created to help support the Gygax Memorial Fund's mission as well as honor the memory and work of Gary Gygax - all with no small thanks to the people at Wizards of the Coast (www.wizards.com).
Metro Entertainment (www.metro-entertainment.com), established in 1991 and still run faithfully by its original owner Bob Ficarra (known simply as Bob by most of the clientele) to this day, had received its copies of the Premium AD&D books on Monday. When we arrived early today, the books had already been placed on the "New Games" display shelf that stands prominently in full-view for all who enter the store.
Although Bob and his staff were busy with their Tuesday comic book counting routine of newly-arrived issues (not yet for sale, mind you - as one customer was reminded as he eyed the tables stacked with inventory), he did take a moment to share that several of the new Premium AD&D books had already been set aside by special request and were safely awaiting their new owners.
The remaining stock of the new PHB, MM, and DMG that were yet unspoken for, beckoned to our touch.
Each book was shrink-wrapped for protection and had an additional paper wrap under the clear plastic shrink-wrap covering the bottom of each tome. The Gygax Memorial Fund shield (i.e., the family crest of Gygax), pressed into some gooey red-sealing wax graphic, helped signify the importance of this book's launch to the Fund. Under the protective wrap, we could feel an appropriate heft of the books that felt good and feel that the intricate filigree surrounding the original was delicately embossed into the cover. The classic artwork seemed to burst forth from the cover of each book actually highlighting the colors and details more than we had expected.
A feeling came over us then.
Amongst the walls of role-playing games, autographed photos of visiting celebrities, cool t-shirts, display cases holding giant d20s, and the friendly voice of Bob chatting with a mother that had brought her son into the store, or the business man on his break, or the young woman talking about her dreams of attending Comic-Con next year - amongst all this, we knew that although these books would only be displayed here for a short while before being bought, that during that time they would temporarily be welcome here and amongst friends.
For now, though, we have a feeling that a serious AD&D game is coming to our table very soon.
Metro hosts a Gamers’ Social twice a month (the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month) - welcoming people searching for new players or groups, discussions of gaming trends and rumors, as well as offering some punch and pie. The Gygax Memorial Fund appreciates Metro's support and we encourage everyone to support them and other local stores like them.
For more information about the 1st Edition Premium books and to use a handy Store Locator for retailer near you - please visit the WotC product page.
Please go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/gygaxmemorialfund) and share your game store stories and photos of these new books in action at your table!
Now it’s spring and we’re approaching the most beautiful time of year in Lake Geneva, when everything is blooming and the waters call for all sorts of leisure and relaxation. Gary so loved Lake Geneva and, of course, especially enjoyed his trips to Library Park, a place to enjoy nature and truly be inspired. With the remembrance of all that Gary has inspired in his fans, I want to share with them the historical background of the planned memorial, and why I have worked so hard to make it a reality. Those who knew Gary well I’m sure are aware that he did nothing by chance. He was a true gamer, with a genius mind and a person known to keep daily lists of all his plans. The plan for his memorial was no exception. Despite being an almost daily visitor to rpg web forums such as EnWorld and Dragonsfoot, Gary only occasionally hinted to his failing health to his fans. Gary knew his time was limited and made plans for how he wanted to be remembered. Gary and I had many discussions regarding how he wanted to be remembered. I suggested to Gary that he have a bronze bust in Library Park. As we discussed his wishes for the memorial, Gary shared with me his idea to include a tower plinth. These ideas are incorporated in the memorial as you will learn in this post.
As Gary’s widow, entrusted with Gary’s vision of a memorial in his beloved Lake Geneva, I feel an enormous responsibility. Yet, I have received so much support over the past several months. Whether it is through the donations of their time, talent or a monetary donation, devoted Gary Gygax fans continue to come forward to help get Gary’s memorial statue built. There are so many people to thank and I hope that all of Gary’s fans know how much he appreciated them. It is wonderful to experience everyone’s support towards making the Gary Gygax memorial statue project a reality.
Here is a summary of what is happening so far…
Acclaimed D&D Fantasy Artist Larry Elmore Will Complete Artistic Rendering
This latest news is very exciting. I am thrilled that artist Larry Elmore has graciously accepted the task of creating an artistic rendering of the design for Gary’s statue as it would be viewed once established in Donian Park. This design will help fans to see how the memorial will actually look in its natural surroundings. Larry has without a doubt the credentials to bring forth the artistic viewpoint Gary would have wanted. Larry is no stranger to Gary and the creativity his works generated, having been one of the prolific artists of the TSR time period of Dungeon and Dragons. As the main artist for TSR from 1981 to 1987, many of Larry’s paintings were Dragon Magazine covers, and the early Dragonlance and D&D work for TSR. Some of Larry's best work appeared in the first printing of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition rulebooks. Many pages of these manuals contained full color Larry Elmore works of art. I am additionally excited because Larry has been a faithful friend and fan of Gary for so many years. For more about Larry Elmore and his work as an artist, visit his website at http://larryelmore.com/.
I have another announcement, involving the very popular Cheers, Gary book, available last year at GenCon 2011 as part of the fundraising effort for Gary’s memorial statue. The first edition, edited by Paul Hughes (see his rpg blog at http://blogofholding.com) was an overwhelming success, selling out in an hour!! Immediate reprinting was necessary to quench fan thirst for words of wisdom from the Great DM as written by Gary in response to fan questions on EnWorld forums. Thanks to the efforts of Paul to get this book in initial development. I have had numerous inquiries about the availability of Cheers, Gary, which certainly reveals Gary as the gamer, writer, philosopher, and the man. Gary’s fans have found this book to be a great memory aide of their time with Gary, while others find it a wonderful way to get more insights into who Gary was, while at the same time learning the finer points of character development, game development and game strategy.
The second edition of Cheers Gary is currently in development with writer and game designer George Strayton. George recently won the Game Designer of the Year at the prestigious gaming convention, I Con 2012, for his game creation The Secret Fire Game. In addition, other projects have included work on the television series Xena and Hercules, along with Transformers, the movie. See George’s IMBd profile \ at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0833971/. George has graciously donated his time towards this latest Cheers, Gary project. We are lucky to have such an accomplished writer helping with this project.
Without a doubt I should also mention special thanks to Russell Morrissey of EnWorld for allowing access to the EnWorld forum, along with his generosity in allowing us to put into a tangible book form the words of Gary. Enthusiastically engaging in almost daily exchanges on the EnWorld forums, Gary was as loyal to is fans as they were to him. No question was left unanswered.
Artist Erol Otus Helps with the Memorial Fund Effort
For those lucky enough to have acquired a copy of Cheers, Gary at GenCon 2011, they certainly were not disappointed with the cover. Erol Otus provided the artwork, similar to that found on the limited edition white box set first published by TSR in 1974. Erol provided the artwork for some of the original TSR Dungeons and Dragons adventure modules, and his iconic style is easily recognized by old school gamers. Erol Otus’ images have transcended time and even today, Erol has almost a cult following! An example is found here, where a fan devotes an entire “shrine” in his blog to Erol Otus http://jrients.tripod.com/otus/otus.html. Erol has given us the great honor of providing the Cheers, Gary cover artwork, and I cannot say enough how pleased Gary would have been with this latest rendering of himself as a wizard! Read more about Erol Otus on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erol_Otus
The Gygax Memorial Fund
I thank all of Gary’s fans who have thus far contributed to the Gygax Memorial Fund. Every contribution is truly appreciated, no matter the size. I would also like to provide clarification in response to some confusion with may have arisen over efforts to honor my late husband Gary Gygax, some of which may have involved fundraising. The Gygax Memorial Fund is the only memorial fundraising entity whose goal is the creation and establishment of the Gary Gygax memorial statue. Having been established by me, Gary’s widow, as a corporation in the state of Wisconsin, and further registered as a 501(c) (3) corporation with the IRS, the Gygax Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization with the purpose of raising funds to establish the Gary Gygax statue to be built in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. As a 501 (c) (3), the Gygax Memorial Fund is held to strict accounting standards. Contributions to the Gygax Memorial Fund are tax deductible
Official corporate contributors or events supporting the Gary Gygax memorial statue project are listed here on the Gygax Memorial Fund website and on our official Gygax Memorial Fund Facebook page. Furthermore, to ensure supporters that their efforts/contributions are being applied to the Gary Gygax memorial statue project, items and/or fundraising events are designated by the mark above. This mark informs fans that the proceeds obtained as a result of such efforts are being used for the building of the Gygax memorial statue.
Any other organizations or corporations which purport to be engaged in activities for “memorial fundraising,” or fundraising events “in memory of Gary Gygax,” whether promoted through a website or social media, may not be associated with the official Gygax Memorial Fund efforts.
I hope this information will clarify any questions that Gary’s fans have had about which fundraising efforts are supporting the building of the Gary Gygax memorial statue. If you have any questions about whether the proceeds from a product or event is sanctioned by the Gygax Memorial Fund, please feel free to contact us here at the site, or on the official Gygax Memorial Fund Facebook page at www.facebook.com. I will ensure that you receive a response.
Wizards of the Coast and GenCon 2012 Auction Event to Support the Gygax Memorial Statue
My next announcement has to do with an officially sanctioned event such as described above. Staff at Wizards of the Coast are currently in the process of working with staff of the GenCon 2012 auction on a project, whereby WotC will donate 100 lots of vintage gaming product (with a focus on D&D) to be auctioned off at the 45th Anniversary of GenCon, in the memory of Gary Gygax. The proceeds for these 100 lots will go to the Gygax Memorial Fund for the Gary Gygax memorial statue!!! I’m sure that hard core Gary fans will not want to miss out on this opportunity. I plan to attend this auction at GenCon2012, along with my family, as Wizards and Gen Con have been such steadfast supporters of the efforts to keep alive the memory of Gary and his creative contributions to the world of gaming and beyond.
Here is a link to GenCon 2012, as presale tickets are going fast and if you want hotel reservations it is advisable to make reservations now! To make a reservation for “The Best Four Days Gaming!” go to http://gencon.com/
Wizards of the Coast Re-release of Original Dungeon and Dragons Manuals to Benefit the Gygax Memorial Fund
The Gygax Memorial Fund has another reason to thank WotC. I believe it is common knowledge by now that Wizards of the Coast is re-releasing the 1st Edition Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, and Dungeon Master's Guide. What Gary Gygax fans may not know is that with the purchase of the limited first edition Dungeons and Dragons core rulebooks, a contribution is being made by WotC to the Gygax Memorial Fund. See the link to the WotC website here http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4news/gygaxmemorial
A Special Thank You
I cannot mention enough how a BIG thanks is owed to Jason Hurst, my web designer and site administrator. Jason has given countless hours to the effort of developing The Gygax Memorial Fund website, along with personally attending GenCon 2011 and steadfastly assisting at our Gygax Memorial Fund booth, which we shared with the generosity of folks from The Old School Renaissance Group, who will be at GenCon this year as well http://theosrg.blogspot.com/
As I write this today, I have received word that one of my board members, the talented Jim Ward, writer/game designer, dear friend, former fellow TSR colleague, and devoted friend and fan of Gary, is recovering from surgery. In my next post I plan to feature all of the Gygax Memorial Fund board members, including Jim Ward, who have been generously giving of their talents and expertise in providing guidance to the Gygax statue memorial project.
Friends, family, and fans purchased a dedication brick to honor the memory of Gary Gygax, the Father of RolePlaying Games, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. We have installed the brick at Lake Geneva's historic Riviera, a facility that hosts weddings, class reunions and other events on the shores of Geneva Lake. The plaque sits near the fountain, which will be great for photos.
The Gygax Memorial Fund continues to raise money to build a statue of Gary in Lake Geneva in memory of his contributions to the development of role-playing games. We accomplished the first stage of this memorial project, the procurement of the site, when the Lake Geneva city Council approved the project in March 2011.
The Memorial Fund is now in its second phase, designing and rendering the memorial to Gary’s genius and his formative influence on tabletop and electronic role-playing games. Stefan Pokorny, New York metal sculptor and designer for Dwarven Forge (makers of “The World’s Finest Miniature Terrain”), will be visiting Lake Geneva soon to review the site.
In other news, the Gygax Memorial Fund will be re-releasing a limited press run of Cheers, Gary for all of you waiting to get a copy. This book was overwhelmingly popular at Gen Con 2011.
Expect more news about our fundraising efforts soon. Send your donation for the statue project through www.gygaxmemorialfund.com.
If you plan on making your way to Gen Con (which I suggest to everyone reading this) then don't be surprised to run into some Gygax Memorial Fund folks while you're there.
If you see us there, come on by! We continue to need the help from the millions of fans and gamers inspired by Gary's life and work to build the statue in honor of the great Gary Gygax!
The Gygax Memorial Fund will be hanging out at the Old School Renaissance Group, booth 1541 in the exhibit hall. Gail Gygax, Gary's widow, will be there, and she will also be presenting the 2011 ENnie Awards on Friday night. She will talk about conversations with her husband on how he wants to be remembered, and the resulting vision for the statue, and the goals for the Gygax Memorial Fund.
We're happy to announce that the Gygax Memorial Fund is now a 501(c)(3) corporation. What does this mean? Mostly that all donations are now tax deductable!
If you have never donated to a charity, you might ask, how does this work? We here at Gygax Memorial Fund feel that we are a really good first charity to try out!
The Gygax Memorial Fund has reached a huge milestone. We have been granted land for the memorial site at Donian Park, which "encompasses a wetland and the 100 year recurrence interval floodplain along the White River in downtown Lake Geneva."