Mar 11, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 15: The Warlord #1, Jan.-Feb. 1976

A shorter post today. I decided that I wasn't going to wait 30 years before reading the next bit of Travis Morgan's story, so I dug this out of the end of the collection (buried under 3 other boxes. I've really gotta get some more of those drawer boxes). This issue is not quite the tour de force of the previous story in 1st Issue Special. I suppose that could be because, having been given his own title, Grell can start the slow burn of whatever story he's got in mind for Morgan and Tara. If nothing else, this issue convinced me to track down the Showcase reprint of the first 30 or so issues. The series itself ran 133 issues, so I don't think I'll be tracking the whole thing down any time soon.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this particular issue is a text piece in place of the letters page that gives a history of books written about the Hollow Earth. Grell's obviously done some research into the idea, as is obvious from the maps he provides that include distances and rationales for how such a thing as Skartaris could even remotely exist. Hollow Earth theories are kind of fascinating, in that there's people who still buy into them even when it would seem that they've been completely disproven. A little bit of research into the story of The Warlord reveals that Skartaris is eventually retconned into an alternate dimension, a move that actually aligns Grell's work fairly closely with one of the earliest speculative fictions, Margaret Cavendish's The Description of a New World Called the Blazing World. Cavendish's tale sees a lady lost in a polar accident and transported to a fantastical realm of half-human, half-animal hybrids. That this trope has been a part of speculative fiction since its beginnings gives The Warlord a certain cachet, and if we add that to Grell's facility as a graphic storyteller, which I gushed about yesterday, this series provides an important link between the literary history of the speculative tale and the considered and expert construction of a graphic narrative.

Back to regular reading order tomorrow.

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