Ultimate Traps: 30+ years of my career in one massive tome

Posted: March 2, 2016 in Uncategorized
Traps books covs1blog

Traps Ultimate Collection: Softcover and Hardcover editions. The largest collection of my art in one book, ranging from 1980 to 2015.

Many years ago, I was a 17 year old kid, who worked in the Flying Buffalo Game store as a clerk, but I wanted to be an artist. I was given the chance to prove my mettle by Rick Loomis and Liz Danforth.  Rick had hired me knowing my artistic dreams, and Liz saw a spark of potential there.  When things where slow at the store, she had me start working on diagrams of these traps.  My art was pretty rough, and I had only an inkling of what I needed to know to be even a half-descent artist. Below is a sample of the kind of weird collage art I was doing in 1977-79. Liz saw these scribbles and thought she’d give me a shot. This is the first time I have ever shown one of these, so don’t laugh too hard…

Steve art1978

Color Cartoon Collage: 1978: I did a lot of these and just drew whatever struck my fancy. Even now, I still love to draw cartoon parodies, superheros, demons and intricate textures.

When I started on Traps I’m not even sure the book was going to be called Grimtooth’s Traps. The dark humor developed was greatly enhanced by the new editor they hired, Paul O’Connor, who was about the same age as I was.  We had a great time working together on that book and the whole staff at Flying Buffalo would suggest ideas for traps as the book got further along.  I think about 12 traps in that first book are by me.  Drawing these things for 8 hours a day would inspire my own ideas.  I even dreamed about traps at night.

The Traps books were one of Buffalo’s best sellers and I worked on all 7 of the books. First, just doing  interior art, then also paste-up, layout, the covers and then writing bits for them as well.  I learned a lot about book production during that time, what would and wouldn’t print, bleeds, print margins, color overlays marking text, typesetting and much more.  (This was all before desktop publishing)

So for me the Traps books represent a lot more than just a funny book for GMs. Besides the technical aspects of making the art and the book, I learned important lessons about teamwork, humility and empathy for others.  Some of those lessons I had to learn the hard way. Back then, I was a headstrong teenager who often said things without thinking. Most importantly I learned about friendship.  Long term friendship, the type that ebbs and flows over the years, but its always there.  I have that for Liz and Rick, Ken and Paul and many other people that worked at Buffalo.  I never realized how important that bond was. But if you lose a friend or two to the reaper, you feel it, and then you know its important to keep those connections to your shared past.

Flash forward 30 odd years:  Goodman Games owner Joseph Goodman was a big fan of the Traps books when he was a teen and his company specializes in “Old School Gaming” books, both reprints and new material.  He approached Rick during the dT&T Rulebook Kickstarter and asked if he could do a collection of the Traps books. The Kickstarter for it went beyond any of our dreams and was at the time the highest earning one Goodman had done.

For me, working with Joseph gave me the same feeling I had working on the first two Traps books.  It was exciting and we were bouncing ideas off each other on how to make the book better and funnier.  I can’t explain what looking at the finished book is like.  It’s an amazing thing to think that 30 years of your art is all there is this massive 600 page tome. I never would have believed that all these books would be collected together or even that people still remembered them after all this time. Hard to believe I drew all that stuff, but there it is in black and white.

So what’s next?  Well now we’ve started on a new book.  This one will really show many of the places that Grimtooth has mentioned over the years in his books.  I’m pretty much writing most of this and Goodman will add the stats to make it work with their DCC system.  But its still going to feel very much like a Traps book and Grimtooth (and Grimtina) will be narrating it.  I hope to find a way to involve everyone in it to some degree.  Ken St Andre is already writing a section for it.  I’ll see who else I can lasso in.  Below is the cover and if you look in the background, you’ll see I’ve created an intricate collage – this time a digital one. (some things never change.)

Grimtooth Trapsylvania Cov sml

Coming Soon: A brand new Traps book from Goodman Games that really shows you Grimtooths realm.

We are going to so this as a Kickstarter through Goodman Games.  Various infamous places references in the Traps book (and all in Grimtooth’s Realm will be mapped and detailed.  Below is a section of one of the maps, so we can see  at least a hint of what these places will look like.  Each will be fully described so you can run it as its own adventure or as a larger part of a Grimtooth campaign. Expect to see mas of Grimtooth’s Airship, Warthog’s School for wayward Trolls, the Death Maze, Grimtooth’s underground complex and much, much more…

A cropped section of the map to Grimtina's Petting Zoo, located  in the back of Grimtooth's Castle.

A cropped section of the map to Grimtina’s Petting Zoo, located in the back of Grimtooth’s Castle.

Well that’s it for this blog.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about Traps or what you think of my old and new art. Take care of yourselves and try to enjoy whatever you do…


  1. jlv61560 says:

    I just got my copy of the goldfoil version of the Ultimate Traps Collection. I remember buying the first book right after the second printing back in 1981 or ’82, and it has long since disappeared into the mists of time. I cannot tell you how great it was to read all that old material again. It made me feel like I was back in high school still playing with my brother and friends on the weekends and during the summer. Thanks for 30 years of great art and great humor, and thanks for a wonderful trip back down memory lane. May you have thirty MORE years of art and fun ahead of you! 😉

  2. Traps were OK (I think I overindulged in Trap books a couple of decades ago) but THIS is really exciting! Looking forward to this as much as I once was for the City-State of the Invincible Overlord Kickstarter!

  3. stargatekrewe says:

    Will it be kickstarted?

  4. Bought my copy march of last year. So excited that they’ll be shipping soon.

  5. SSCrompton says:

    Ear of Kittens: They are shipping NOW, so your wait won;t be long at this point. Let us know when you get it!

  6. DM Cojo says:

    Count me in!

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