||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (August 2013)|
September 1, 1974
|Pseudonym(s)||"The Giant" or "Giant in the Playground"|
|Notable works||The Order of the Stick|
|Awards||Eagle Award, Gold ENnie, Five WCCA awards|
Rich Burlew (born September 1, 1974) is an author, game designer, and graphic designer best known for The Order of the Stick webcomic. He has written several works for Wizards of the Coast's game Dungeons and Dragons. He owns and operates a small press publishing company, named Giant in the Playground, which he formed in order to publish his comic work.
Rich Burlew was ranked #5 on ComixTalk's list of the Top 25 People in Webcomics for 2007 for his work on The Order of the Stick.
Burlew has a chronic illness to which he occasionally alludes, which sometimes impedes his ability to draw the comics, and causes the periodic delays in the schedule. On July 10, 2011, he reiterated on his website that the Order of the Stick comic is produced on "a random schedule... depending on [his] ability to work"
In September 2012, Burlew seriously injured his right hand in an accident, requiring emergency surgery and preventing him from drawing for an extended period. Despite physiotherapy, he has said that he does not expect to fully recover from the injury.
Burlew first developed the basic style elements of his stick figure art at the age of 12 while drawing a comic called "Mr. Demon" for his lunchroom friends. He attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, where he earned a degree in Illustration, and has noted that "everything [he] learned about color use or panel composition... [he] picked up at Pratt." After leaving college, Burlew worked for several years as a professional graphic designer in New York, primarily working on elementary school textbook design and layout.
Burlew first began playing Dungeons and Dragons in high school, but his interest in the hobby lapsed until 2000, when Wizards of the Coast released the Third Edition ruleset for the game. Upon running his first adventure with the new rules, Burlew found that he needed several identical miniatures to represent a group of bandits, and so used graphic design software to draw simple stick figure cut-outs in the style he had developed as a youth instead of purchasing lead miniatures. He continued to use stick figure monsters for years in his D&D sessions. Burlew frequently assumed the role of the GM, a role he has likened to writing a webcomic.
Fantasy Setting Search and GiantITP.com
In 2002, Wizards of the Coast announced a contest to find a new campaign setting for their D&D game, dubbed the Fantasy Setting Search. From a field of over 11,000 gamers who sent in one-page descriptions of their worlds, one of Burlew's four entries was chosen as a finalist. He was asked by Wizards to produce a 100-page setting bible for his world, competing against two other designers. While the contest was won by Keith Baker's Eberron, the experience encouraged Burlew to seriously pursue a career in game design. He was also offered additional writing work from Wizards of the Coast the following year, contributing monsters such as the battletitan and the shadesteel golem to Monster Manual III. His entry in the competition remains the unpublished property of Wizards of the Coast, and, as such, Burlew is prohibited from discussing it by a non-disclosure agreement.
In June 2003, Burlew launched his website, GiantITP.com, in hopes of "turning [his] paltry name recognition into something resembling a job." He dubbed his new site "Giant in the Playground" after his screen name on the Wizards.com forums, in order to capitalize on his reputation there as a knowledgeable gamer. The site languished for several months, until he decided to add a webcomic to the site to bring recurring traffic. He transferred the images from the stick figure miniatures he had produced for his D&D game into a page-long comic, starting The Order of the Stick in September 2003.
The Order of the Stick
The Order of the Stick is a stick figure fantasy webcomic. It gained heavily in popularity through 2004, and Burlew realized that he had created a successful story when several friends in an online D&D game spent an entire session berating him for writing a scene where a villain impales a main character. He announced the publication of the first strip compilation in December of that year. Shortly thereafter, he reported that preorders for the book had been so successful that he was prepared to quit his job as a graphic designer and apply himself to comic and game writing full-time. Since then, he has produced four additional compilations and two black-and-white prequels for the Order of the Stick not featured on the website.
In November 2005, new strips of The Order of the Stick began appearing in Dragon Magazine, significantly extending the potential reach of the comic. Burlew described the feeling of seeing his comic on the same page that once held What's New with Phil & Dixie as "awe-inspiring" and "weird". The comic ran in the magazine until its final print issue. These strips were later published, alongside several other non-canon stories, in the compilation Snips, Snails and Dragon Tales.
Burlew also drew a short-lived webcomic for the RPGA website, entitled Five Foot Steps, that featured more traditional cartoon art instead of stick figures, depicting a diverse roleplaying game group at the fictional Rollmoore College. The strip only lasted for 5 installments for reasons that have not been made public.
Game design credits
- Monster Manual III, Contributed. (September 2004, ISBN 0-7869-3430-1)
- Explorer's Handbook, w/Frank Brunner and David Noonan. (August 2005, ISBN 0-7869-3691-6)
- Spell Compendium, Contributed. (December 2005, ISBN 0-7869-3702-5)
- The Order of the Stick Adventure Game: The Dungeon of Dorukan, w/Kevin Brusky. (October 2006, ASIN 0966347641)
- Dungeonscape, w/Jason Buhlman. (February 2007, ISBN 978-0-7869-4118-6)
- Tome of Artifacts, Contributed. (June 2007, ISBN 978-1-58846-935-9)
The Order of the Stick Trade Paperbacks
- The Order of the Stick: Dungeon Crawlin' Fools (February 2005, ISBN 0-9766580-0-3)
- The Order of the Stick: On the Origin of PCs (August 2005, ISBN 0-9766580-1-1)
- The Order of the Stick: No Cure for the Paladin Blues (November 2006, ISBN 0-9766580-3-8)
- The Order of the Stick: Start of Darkness (June 2007, ISBN 978-0-9766580-4-7)
- The Order of the Stick: War and XPs (August 2008, ISBN 978-0-9766580-5-4)
- The Order of the Stick: Don't Split the Party (November 2009 ISBN 978-0-9766580-6-1)
- "Eagle Awards". The Eagle Awards. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- "2007 ENnie Award Archives". ennieawards.com. Archived from the original on 2007-12-26. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- "Outstanding Gaming Comic 2007". ryanestrada.com. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
- "Outstanding Long Form Comic 2007". ryanestrada.com. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
- "Outstanding Fantasy Comic 2005". www.ccawards.com. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- "Outstanding Fantasy Comic 2006". www.ccawards.com. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- "HERE ARE YOUR 2008 WCCA WINNERS!". The Webcartoonist's Choice Awards. March 8, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
- "ComixTalk's People of Webcomics List For 2007". ComixTalkdate=December 20, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2007.
- "Quote of Rich Burlew explaining the nature of the delays".
- "Rich Burlew talking about future delays".
- Burlew, Rich. "Rumblings in the Playground". Giant In The Playground forums. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
- Burlew, Rich. Dungeon Crawlin' Fools. Giant in the Playground. p. 5.
- Israel, Cecil (March 1, 2007). "Order of the Interview: Rich Burlew". Sequential Tart. Retrieved November 10, 2007.
- "Fantasy Setting Search Closes in on Finalists: Rich Burlew". December 9, 2002. Retrieved November 10, 2007.
- "Wizards of the Coast Announcement!". GamingReport.com. June 14, 2002. Retrieved November 10, 2007.
- "Participants in Next Round of Fantasy Setting Search Announced". Wizards.com. October 15, 2002. Retrieved November 10, 2007.
- "Fantasy Setting Search Winner Selected". Wizards.com. February 3, 2002. Retrieved November 10, 2007.
- "Monster Manual III: Design Team Interview". Wizards.com. September 3, 2004. Retrieved November 10, 2007.
- Burlew, Rich. "What was your setting like? Will it ever be published?". Giant in the Playground Site FAQ.
- Burlew, Rich. "What is "Giant in the Playground"?". Giant in the Playground Site FAQ.
- Burlew, Rich. Dungeon Crawlin' Fools. Giant in the Playground. p. 66.
- "News for 1/2/2006".
- "Paizo.com". September 30, 2005. Retrieved November 10, 2007.
- Burlew, Rich (November 14, 2005). "Giant in the Playground News". Retrieved March 9, 2008.
- "Five Foot Steps #1". Retrieved February 10, 2008.
Interviews with Rich Burlew
- Fantasy Setting Search Closes in on Finalists, December 9, 2002.
- Geeklabel Radio Podcast: Unedited Interview with Rich Burlew, October 25, 2006.
- Order of the Interview: Rich Burlew, March 1, 2007.
- Geekademia interview, February 2012.