Link-A-Day: The Wold Newton Universe Crossover Chronology  

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Today's link is for the truly obsessive. The title refers to a short series of Philip José Farmer novels in which he posits that in the year 1795 a radioactive meteorite impacted near Wold Newton, England, and caused a genetic mutation in those present (it was, you know, the good kind of radiation), endowing many in their genetic family with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as exceptional capacity and drive to perform good (or evil) acts. Based on this proposal, Farmer rationalizes the reasons for the extraordinary abilities and drive of such fictional characters as Solomon Kane, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sherlock Holmes (and Moriarty), Allan Quatermain, The Shadow, Doc Savage, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and James Bond, to name only a few.

The author of this website, Win Eckert, has run with this concept and made an exhaustive chronology that includes just about every fictional protagonist and story that one can imagine in the high adventure/pulp tradition, within a few set parameters (for example, he generally avoids superheroes, allowing only a few exceptions such as Batman). The end result is a website that would allow the enterprising GM to incorporate such things into his game-world history or build adventures that springboard from them. For a GM of games that incorporate fictional characters into their reality, such as Castle Falkenstein and Marvel Super Heroes, this is potentially a useful resource. Or perhaps it's merely a creative way to waste time; in any case, I found it entertaining.

I had a great weekend. I went down to Des Moines, Iowa, with my friend/mentor Pat for the I-CON Comic Book Convention. I printed up about 40 copies of my two Roman mini-comics to sell, and planned to sit at Pat's table, doing whatever it was that he might need. When we got there, the con organizers told us that one of their artists had been in a car accident (he was okay, but his thumb was hurt) and wasn't going to be able to make it. Thus, I was given his table. Since the tables were all arranged in three sets of rectangles, Pat and I had the entire end of one rectangle to ourselves. He did just fine, with his six or seven comics, t-shirts, and original artwork, but since I only had my two little piles of minicomics and hadn't brought my banner with me, I felt a little inadequate. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun, and I'm glad I went. In fact, I profited more from the con than Pat did. He made more money than I did, certainly, but he didn't make enough to cover the costs of his coming down to Des Moines. However, aside from the single sale I made (which was to my in-laws, who came to visit after Marilyn called them to let them know I was there), Nick, the owner of The Source, came by, looked over my minicomics, and said he wanted to sell them at his store. He told me that he likes to support local artists (which is quite true; I've seen other small-press stuff there) and so he would put me on his artist e-mail list, and asked me to bring ten copies of each over to the store so that they could buy them from me.

I also talked to the mother of a 13 year-old boy who wanted to get into comics. They were from western Kansas - she drove for eight hours to get there - and she said she didn't know much of anything about comics. I talked with her about finding an art school and what little I knew of the comics field, and suggested that he come over to talk to Pat. He eventually did, and we critiqued his artwork (which was pretty good; better than mine at that age, I think). So I feel as if some good was done, too...unless we've set him on a course for broken dreams and poverty. Time will tell, I suppose.

The convention closed at five. I had been around the tables twice, just to see who was there and what was on sale. I found a few local (Minneapolis) artists and chatted them up a bit. One of the big names there was Larry Elmore, the fantasy artist who should be immediately familiar to anyone who had played pre-3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons or read the original Dragonlance Trilogy. I had seen him once before in San Diego but never really took the time to talk to him. This time around, I perused his offerings on the sale table, finding prints of some of my favorite old D&D pictures (and a lot of cheesecake prints, of course), but he had one that was a pencilled piece of a Viking that I thought was pretty cool. By this time the nostalgia had set in and I remembered that I had always had a soft spot for Elmore's work, even though it hasn't changed in over twenty years. I thought that I might buy that print on Sunday, but then someone mentioned that the convention was only for Saturday. By that time, everyone was packing up their things, so I didn't really want to trouble him. I figured that I'd just wait until the next convention that I happened to see him at. However, that started me to thinking about the people I had taken that attitude with before and as a result had never gotten a chance to meet: Will Eisner, for example. I could have met him at a San Diego convention if I'd decided to wait in line. But then he died before I got another opportunity. And Larry Elmore is no spring chicken. So, I looked over and saw him sitting by himself amidst all of his boxes. I walked over to him.

"Larry Elmore?" I asked. He had white hair, a moustache and trimmed beard. When he nodded and confirmed that he was the same, it was with a fairly thick accent; I think he's originally from Kentucky. I explained that I had been a fan of his work for the last few decades, and I wondered if he might be coming to a convention in Minnesota any time soon. He said that he hadn't been to a con up there yet, but he was always taken by the greenery of the countryside. "It's really God's country up there," he said, endearing me to him instantly. He was heading to a convention in Essen, Germany, and he wasn't sure where he was going after that, but he didn't think he'd be up my way any time soon. I mentioned the FallCon to him, and I explained that I was asking because I saw a print I wanted to purchase but I didn't want to trouble him. He said, "Oh, that's okay, it should be right on top." He turned and started going through a couple of boxes until he found his prints. I told him which one I wanted and he found it, taking out a pencil and autographing it. I pulled out my wallet but he said, "No, go ahead and take it." I asked if he was sure he wouldn't take anything for it - these were $25 prints! - but he refused. We talked about art - he asked me who I was with, and I told him about Pat and art school, etc. He said that he thought that the only way to succeed in art was to have an innate need to draw. "You'd have to be doing it anyway; even if no one was going to pay you to do it, you'd still draw, because you couldn't help yourself. That's the only way I can imagine getting anywhere in this industry. There was a time when I was just sick of it, and I was talking to a friend about it, and he said, 'Well, what are you going to do, be a greeter at Wal-Mart?' Well, I'm certainly of an age to. But he was right. This is what I was meant to do, I guess. So I kept doing it." That was the gist of his conversation, more or less. It was a great conversation, and he was very down-to-earth, pleasant to talk to. I hope I get the opportunity to talk to him again at another con. In the meantime, I need to find a good place on the wall to hang my Elmore Viking picture...

This entry was posted on Monday, June 12, 2006 at Monday, June 12, 2006 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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