Monday, August 28, 2017

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.  This was the 1960s, and comics books hadn't quite gotten the memo that fantasy was completely serious, as this first map shows:

"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.

This next map is a bit more traditonal. It's notable how set the tropes had become by 1975:

"...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 (pretty typical).  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.

1 comment:

garrisonjames said...

Wulf was interesting, had some real potential. There was a revival not long ago by a newly reformed Atlas.

These sorts of maps were a staple of Sword & Sorcery paperbacks in the Seventies partly because of Lin Carter and his devotion to Edgar Rice Burroughs, as well as the map(s) used for the Conan tales, in tandem with the whole Tolkein renaissance. When so much of this stuff transitioned to comics...well, it is a pretty quick and painless way to establish a new franchise, series or setting since most of the audience would be familiar with such a thing. I really liked the map in the old run of Marvel's Weirdworld.