This week, let’s take a look at Warlord’s prehistory--not the Atlantean origins of Skartarian civilization, but the origins of the series itself. Before there was the hollow world, the eternal sun, and Travis Morgan, Grell conceived of an archeologist transported back to ancient Atlantis to become ruler of a Savage Empire.
While attending the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, Grell created a comic strip called Savage Empire, born of his admiration for Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant and Burne Hogarth’s rendition of Tarzan. In 1973, Grell went to New York to try to sell the strip to a syndicate editor, but was unable to even get an interview to present it. He was told: “Adventure strips are dead.”
During that trip, he also went to New York Comicon. He left with a job at DC Comics, but Savage Empire was still in limbo. While working at DC, he pitched the idea to Atlas Comics. When DC publisher Carmine Infantino found out from Jeff Rovin about the meeting with Atlas, he wanted to hear Grell’s idea. While Infantino took a phone call, Grell had a few minutes to rethink things, and so when he pitched what came out was Warlord.
The two strips had a lot of similarities. The heroes looked something alike, and the female leads do too--they both look like Raquel Welch. In fact, the love interest of Savage Empire was named Tahnee (which happens to be the name of Welch’s daughter, also an actress, born in 1961). This Tahnee was “a lovely savage from the jungle kingdom of Valka” (perhaps showing some Robert E. Howard influence as “Valka” is the name of the favorite deity of his Atlantean savage turned king, Kull).
|Raquel, "Tahnee," and Tahnee|