Larry Elmore has been called the best thing that ever happened to Dungeons & Dragons art (although personally, your proprietor is more of a Trampier man), and we wondered what Elmore’s legions of role-playing fans might think if they knew that for the past four years, he’s been helping out the Church of Scientology.
This Sunday, Scientology will host its annual “L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers and Illustrators of the Future” contest awards ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Hollywood.
Back in 2012, we dispelled some of the myths about the contest. Contrary to what some of its participants may like to believe, the contest is very much a Church of Scientology owned and funded project whose sole purpose is to promote Hubbard’s image and pretend that his reputation as a science fiction writer is really on par with the contest’s illustrious judges.
The contest was started in 1983, during the period when Hubbard was in hiding from process servers and government investigators but had put out his doorstop of a science fiction novel, Battlefield Earth, and was trying to rebuild his reputation as a fiction writer after being out of the game for many years. Six years later (and three years after Hubbard’s death), in 1989 an illustrator’s contest was added, and each year the quarterly winners are invited to a lavish ceremony in Los Angeles where a writer and an illustrator are named that year’s overall winners. Particularly on the writing side the list of judges has been top notch, with such names as Algis Budrys, Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven, Robert Silverberg, Theodore Sturgeon, Roger Zelazny, and Orson Scott Card.
Larry Elmore joined the list of illustrator judges in January 2013, after we had exposed the troubling links between the contest and Scientology’s notorious abuses. In our 2012 article, we reported that in 2004 Barbara Ruiz, who ran the contest then for Scientology’s Author Services Inc. (Hubbard’s literary agency), was seen helping to operate “The Hole,” the prison for Sea Org executives that Scientology leader David Miscavige created that year. One of its prisoners was Mike Rinder (now co-star with Leah Remini on her A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath), and he was one of three sources who identified Ruiz as one of the people running the bizarre prison.
Later that year, Ruiz helped run the 2004 writers and illustrators contest, and then she vanished. We’ve received no reports of her whereabouts since. She’s just one of many Scientology executives who were made to disappear by David Miscavige.
Despite our report directly linking the contest with Scientology’s abuses, Elmore joined the contest as a judge, which means like the others he gets to enjoy a trip to Hollywood where Scientology spends money like it was going out of style. (At least a few participants have pointed out that the spendy richness of the contest and its ceremony are a little too obvious. Not to mention the giant portrait of Hubbard that hangs over the stage, accepting the fulsome thanks of every winner, as they are so obviously instructed to do.)
But Elmore tells us that he hadn’t heard about our reporting, and that he has no association with the church. “I am not aware of any of this. I am only a judge at the Writers and Artists of the Future Contest. I have no other affiliations with them. I am not a Scientologist, and I have mentioned to them that I have no interest in any of that stuff,” he said to us in an email this week. “I know that they have a ‘reputation,’ but it seems that the particular contest for new artists and writers is on the level. Unless proven differently, I really do [believe that]. But keep me informed, OK?”
We assured him that as far as we know the contest is very much on the level, and quite prestigious. But it only exists because the Church of Scientology spends fabulous sums, and with the purpose of burnishing Hubbard’s reputation by having his name in proximity to a legend like Larry Elmore.
From 1981 to 1987, Elmore worked for TSR and produced some of the most well known images for Dungeons & Dragons, particularly in its Dragonlance line. He’s freelanced since then, and like most artists he’s probably never been paid what he deserved. But taking money from Scientology, especially when it’s tied directly to brutal treatment of Sea Org employees? We were disappointed to hear that he was unaware of our previous reporting.
But we told him we’d appreciate it if he might ask the contest’s Joni Labaqui about Barbara Ruiz and her disappearance.
Here’s Elmore with fellow judge Nancy Kress and illustrator-winner Michelle Lockamy in 2015…
We also found this photograph on his Facebook page. It’s a picture of Elmore with Sea Org member and Galaxy Press official Emily Jones, daughter of Phil and Willie Jones, who are known for putting up billboards to protest Scientology’s “disconnection” policy that keeps them separated from Emily and her brother Mike.
It’s a shame that Galaxy Press — which publishes Hubbard’s old fiction in new editions and employs Sea Org workers — would use Elmore like a prop in this fashion.
The 33rd Writers and Illustrators Contest awards gala will happen Sunday night at 6:30 pm Pacific time, and will probably stream live as it has the past few years. We’ll be watching.
UPDATE: As part of the lavish weeklong ceremony paid for by Scientology, the writer finalists take part in a workshop. And in case you had any doubts about what was really going on, here’s a photo from this week’s activities (caption theirs)…
Aaron Smith-Levin: How to get someone to leave Scientology
Says Aaron: “I discuss Scientology’s confidential ‘Clear Cognition’ and how telling a Scientologist what it is might just lead to them leaving Scientology.”
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HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield