Thursday, August 12, 2010

Maps of Four-Color Fantasy Lands

When secondary world fantasy made the jump from literature to comics in the wake of Tolkein and Howard it brought the tradition of the world-map along with it.  Of course in comics, they'd have to be full color.

Here are two prime examples, suitable for gaming inspiration:

"I feel like a character from Howard or Tolkein. Pretty soon, though, I'm gonna wake up and find this is a spaced-out dream. And I'm gonna swear off reading sword-and-sorcery sagas!"
-- Jim Rook, Showcase # 82 (1969).
Myrra is the fantasyland that rock musician Jim Rook, and his girlfriend Janet Jones, get transported to in Nightmaster, starting in Showcase #82 (May 1969).  Rook is revealed to be the descendant of Nacht, an ancient warrior of Myrra, and the only one who can wield his ancestor's Sword of Night, and save the world from the evil Warlocks.  Nightmaster was the of writer Denny O'Neil and artist Berni Wrightson.  As some of the place names on the map might suggest (Duchy of Psychos, for instance) there was a bit of a late sixties camp element to Nightmaster's adventures, but not as much as some of the names might suggest.  Nightmaster ran through just three issues of Showcase.

"...On a nameless world in a forgotten time..." is a pretty typical beginning for these sorts of things, and that pretty much sums up Wulf the Barbarian.  The series was from Atlas/Seaboard Comics (helmed by Stan Lee's brother Larry Lieber) and ran for four issues in 1975.  Wulf is the son of royalty, orphaned when trolls in the service of an evil sorcerer, killed his parents.  Wulf spends the next decade training as a warrior to reclaim his kingdom.  As one might imagine, the road to reclaiming that throne is potholed with a number of fantastic obstacles.  Wulf was written and drawn by Larry Hama, and inked by Klaus Janson for his first two outings, with multiple creators pitching in on the last two.  This map is from Wulf the Barbarian #3.


Stefan Poag said...

I love maps like these --- there was a really good one from an old Flash Gordon comic that had the absolutely best names and ideas plunked randomly all over it --- like "Land of the Ape Men," and "Rocket Railroad" and "Valley of Fire."
Sometimes I think the creations of fantasy start being taken too seriously by their creators... and I wish I could just dial back the calendar, pick up one of these maps and just start the campaign on a random point somewhere on it --- and where the players go is up to them.

Trey said...

I may have that old Flash Gordon map--or one similar. If so, I'll post it at some point.

Your point is well taken. While I'm not against "serious" world-building I think that game world-building in particular is ok with a certain degree of whimsy--which is separate from camp or punnishness or what ever other forms of humor one might want to inject.

Matthew Slepin said...

I love 'em too. I'm not sure if this is the Flash Gordon map you were thinking of, but I posted some while ago.

Trey said...

Thanks, Matthew.