So in a recent blog entry, someone compared Gary Gygax in terms of ability as a game designer to the Sex Pistols. It was not meant to be a flattering comparison, as the implication was that the Sex Pistols succeeded by accident and were not actually good musicians.
I think the Sex Pistols comparison is incredibly apt, in fact. Because you have all these idiots imagining themselves music critics who go around saying "the sex pistols were shit (insert band here) are so much better"; ignoring that the Sex Pistols accomplished what said band could never fucking hope to do. Their argument is not based on a holistic view of what it takes to be great musicians, because they think only (insert thing they care about here: guitar skills, lyrics, whatever) is what makes a 'good' musician. And they're wrong.
Mentzer, for example, was akin to a good guitarist; he may have been better at taking Gygax's genius and reworking it into a more basically comprehensible set of rules, for example. But he was no Gary fucking Gygax.
You get this bullshit from certain Gygax-haters all the time who are always trying to claim that someone else should be praised as the great early-figure in RPGs (usually Arneson, but I've heard others). But that's bullshit. Gygax was the Whole Package, and thus the one who made it happen, and thus a great game designer. Designing a game is more than just designing clever little mechanics, which is why the assholes who make obsessive and intricate heartbreakers full of point-buy complexity are losers and not the kings of the genre. It's why the Forge never got anywhere (though even the Forge understood to some degree the value of other factors of design, often better than a lot of the fucking bizarro-grognard-nerds who shit on Gygax).
Conversely, it is why (although he's a lesser light than Gygax) Kevin Siembieda Won the Hobby: he became the Last Man Standing of the original industry because he's a brilliant game designer even though he's only at best a so-so mechanics-writer and a poor-to-terrible businessman.
(Siembieda: The Jerry Lee Lewis of the RPG Hobby)
Currently Smoking: Davidoff 400-series + Gawith's Balkan Flake