image from Frobidden Planet

image from Frobidden Planet
Graves of Altair IV

Monday, March 26, 2018

Nagrul Rising (mostly blather about Epic illustrated)

This is not directly a gaming post by any means save in the vaguest of senses so if me blathering on about my influences and comics from 35 years ago aren’t your thing then feel free to happily skip this one.  More interesting stuff will come.

One of the bigger inspirations for the galaxy crawl was an old marvel magazine called Epic Illustrated.  Very much like the Heavy Metal of its day (itself, initially just an Americanized version of Metal Hurlant where most of HM’s early strips first appeared) - but while Heavy Metal was still (at that time) very much hooked into the Euro comics scene (where a bunch of other influences come into play - Moebius, Drullet, etc. multiple cetera) Epic was all about promoting American (mostly) artists and writers….while also giving some marvel folk the place to do let’s just say untraditional material.  Lots of the stuff in there (especially the Ostrander) is VERY appendix N in flavour, style, and direct influence IMO.
There was an adaptation of Almuric in the early issues that was I think my exposure to non-Conan, Howard fiction. It was favorable. Also Sword & Planet. There was a LOT of Sword & Planet in Epic, though not nearly as much as in HM. A good balance of post-apocalyptic stuff too (It was the 80s after all).  Like, Cobalt-60, which was, however indirectly, was my first exposure (it was by his kid I think) to Vaughn Bode, which led me to Crumb and all that later on when I was a bit taller. (But only a bit, I was a curious kid.)
Other notable and memorable bits I recall were P. Craig Russel’s Dreaming City (but that had already appeared in Star Reach I think) and Wendy Pini did a weird little tie in to their Elfquest comic in one issue.  (Like I said the magazine was random. Not that there was a dearth of magazine sized comics in the early 1980s.  Fewer if you take out Mad and Cracked and that lot.)  There was some Corben I think, though not nearly as much
as in HM; probably because of the nudity. 
Eventually Epic was (briefly) successful enough - well “successful” in that the magazine itself ended but the imprint, sort of a proto-Vertigo lingered on for many years, giving us Dreadstar (more Ostrander), the Alien Legion (a HUGE influence on the thing), and a few others besides. I loved that imprint.  (And it was all over the place too. Swords of the Swashbucklers (sort of adolescent girl escape story meets Crawljammer style space pirates – it was a lot of fun), Stray Toasters (by Sienkiewicz) and Groo were all put out at the same time as the rest of this stuff.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic.
 Nagrul (below) originally appeared in Heavy Metal back in the 70s but I didn’t know that when I first saw it in a later issue of Epic Illustrated (in the 20s I think) - I read this right when I was sinking my teeth in Moorcock’s other characters besides Elric, and the whole idea of cyclic time and cycles of doom really appealed to me - and still does, from a story standpoint.)   But also the way the panels mate the classical with the cosmic. Like Kirby’s Thor and New Gods, it nailed the idea in my imagination that myth cycles taken onto a cosmic scale are, well, very appropriately….mythic. Especially to a jaded audience from today that has no trouble comprehending the idea that symbols evolve, but the meanings remain.

Wow that got deep.  To the point then, Nagrul Rising.  A direct inspiration in
some ways to the sort of galaxy crawl meta setting that’s emerging, though a strong tonal one as well. But mostly, just a cool seven page epic from Epic.  

This was from Epic Illustrated so yes there’s sex & violence.  It’s a myth after all.
Dude totally looks like Nicol Williamson from Excalibur.

Back when I ran a crapton of Werewolf the Apocalypse in the late 90s this spread always came to mind with regard to the Apocalypse. Still does. 

Loving the Four Nazgul of the Apocalpse thing gong on here. 

At some point, I need to sit down and scribble out why Bill Mantlo is one of the greats of
comics and def. one of those lucky few who warped my tiny little mind growing up.
We all have our inspirational and creative debts; the muse dictates that we pay it forward.