Artist Erol Otus’ singular style was an integral part of Dungeons & Dragons in the early years of 1st Edition. Rather than aim for the verisimilitude of a Fields or an Elmore, or the idealized heroes of a Brom or a Frazetta, Otus created surrealist depictions of the fantasy worlds in our imaginations. They bordered on “whimsical,” but usually settled firmly on “weird” with a heady blend of “delightfully creepy.”
Matt Staggs has a great interview with Otus over at Tor.com, which touches on the artist’s style and inspirations, as well as his history with D&D (he’s not a just a painter, he’s a gamer). Incidentally, Matt is overseeing the gaming column for the resurrected Realms of Fantasy Magazine, which is certainly worth some attention. A magazine full of fantasy short stories delivered to my house every month? Sign me up.