In regard to Part 1, I'm indebted to Marty Halpern of More Red Ink who pointed out an error: Effinger's When Gravity Fails was nominated for a Hugo and a Nebula, but unfortunately won neither. The post was corrected accordingly, and in doing so I caught a few typos and cut-paste malfunctions which have also been corrected. Dammit Jim, I'm a Doctor not a word processor!
Hopefully, I'll be closer to error-free today...
DC's Sword & Sorcery: “TWO SOUGHT ADVENTURE”
“At least we have something in common!—we’re all three crooks!”
- Catwoman (to Fafhrd and Gray Mouser) Wonder Woman #202 (1972)
Perhaps it was because DC didn’t have the works of Robert E. Howard to fall back on, or maybe it was a reluctance to delve into this sort of material, but for whatever reason, they didn’t adapt as many literary sword and sorcery characters as Marvel.
When they did, at least they got two for the price of one—Fritz Leiber’s sword and sorcery duo, Fafhrd and Gray Mouser.
Fafhrd and Gray Mouser’s prose debut was in Unknown in “the Year of the Behemoth, the Month of the Hedgehog, the Day of the Toad”—well, in story, at least. In our world we may reckon that as August 1939. Leiber chronicled the twain’s adventures off and on from that story until 1988’s “The Mouser Goes Below”—a longer span than the entire life of Robert E. Howard. Fafhrd was a Northern barbarian from Cold Corner, and Gray Mouser was a thief and one-time sorcerer’s apprentice from the urban South. They met in decadent Lankhmar, “City of the Seven Score Thousand Smokes,” and became lifelong friends and companions in (mis)adventure.
The issue was written by New Wave science fiction luminary, Samuel Delany. Highlights include Fafhrd backhanding Diana, and Mouser and Catwoman having a totem-appropriate face-off, before they all decide to join forces. This all serves as a “backdoor pilot” for the twain’s run in the bimonthly Sword of Sorcery series premiering in 1973. It only ran for five issues, but featured original stories and adaptations, most scripted by Denny O’Neil (except for one by George Alec Effinger), and featuring art by Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, and Jim Starlin.
Fafhrd and Gray Mouser vanished from DC at the cancellation of Sword of Sorcery. The two were next sighted at a different company in a 1991 Epic limited series which reunited them with Howard Chaykin, who scripted adaptations of Leiber’s tales. All issues featured evocative art by Mike Mignola.
“Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."