We've come to the title page on our journey through Holmes D&D, and my version of the manuscript is the third edition from December 1979. According to the Zenopus Archives, my copy is the first printing of the third edition, and there are nine known printing runs, which is a testament to the popularity of the original Basic Set. There are several changes made between editions, and I'll try to highlight these as we go along.
The illustration on the title page is by David C. Sutherland III, and in my opinion it may just be the finest piece of old school D&D art ever created. Blasphemy, I know, as Sutherland is widely considered a distant third to the likes of Trampier and Otus, but before you rile the local villagers into a frenzied mob to destroy my laboratory of obvious evil, hear me out.
Composition wise is where everything goes wrong, and right at the same time. You almost can't see the cleric (armor and mace, looks like a cleric to me) smiting the vile pig-faced orcs with extreme prejudice, as the fighter obscures most of the that action. The wizard's spell also fades into the background, and is covered up by the cleric's mace. There's so much going on, and everything gets in everything else's way. But, if we look beyond the obvious flaws, there's more going on here than at first appears.
We have three characters facing off against a horde of orcs, at least 18 by my count, and probably more that we can't see. Two orcs are already dead, with a third apparently wounded enough he's having trouble getting up. Notice the wounded fellows shield. It's been through a beating, and shows signs of distress, unlike all the other shields wielded by orcs.
The characters have positioned themselves defensively, ready for a fighting withdrawal up the stairs, a tactic that has reduced the orcs numerical advantage. The wizard has ascended the stairs so he can fire over the front rank, and is using that column as partial cover! He's also firing into the middle ranks, helping to disrupt their charge. These are players who know how to use tactics to their benefit.
Dungeons and Dragons is a thinking man's game. Brute strength alone will not win the day, one must use their wits to survive and prosper. Sutherland has encapsulated that concept into the art, and that's his great strength as an artist, no matter how simple his drawings may appear.