Sunday, June 21, 2020

'A Gothic Touch or Two' - The Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon With Karl Edward Wagner Commentary

Happy Father's Day everyone! Hope all is well with my readers & last night I curled up with one of my all time favorite Michael Moorcock's Elric anthology's 'Tales of the White Wolf''. Back in '96 I grabbed this paperback with the express purpose of looking into the Karl Wagner story," The Gothic Touch"  for one of my all time favorite Sword & Sorcery characters Kane!
Kane is a mystic swordsmen & unlike mopey Elric Kane is a 'Gothic hero' in the traditional sense. He states his mother might be  Lilith & his father was Adam. Kane's world is one of a weird melding of the Sword & Sorcery with elements of Science Fantasy.  He is a left handed warrior who was cursed by a mad god with eternal life. He's marked as a killer & murderer with his icy blue eyes whom no one can stare into for too long. Kane is rather good at killing & in fact he states so;""I kill things," he tells Elric in "The Gothic Touch". "It's what I was made to do. I'm rather good at it".

Frank Frazetta's cover artwork for the Bloodstone paperback

But Kane isn't a simple Robert E.Howard Conan clone but a thinking man's Gothic hero instead;"Some commentators have argued that the fantasy protagonist that Kane has most in common with is Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibon√©, but Wagner was also inspired by novels such as Melmoth the Wanderer and The Worm Ouroboros.[2] Kane is unconcerned with common morality, since no human relationship can ever last more than a small fraction of his lifetime (although the daughter he fathered in "Raven's Eyrie" turns up as an adult in the modern-day "At First Just Ghostly"); and he frequently ends up on the wrong side in the conflicts in which he involves himself, often to his own detriment. A common theme running through all Kane stories is the hero's weariness with his own immortality and his attempts to give his existence meaning."
Kane's travels throughout the series leads him across many eras, worlds & settings in the books. The book to get if you can find it is 'Gods In Darkness' a collection of the complete Kane novels; "Kane An immortal, cursed to wander the Earth until he is destroyed by the violence that he himself has created. A warrior and statesman: As comfortable in the shadowy halls of courtly intrigue as he is on the bloody battlefields where those intrigue's inevitably play themselves out. Karl Edward Wagner's complex and compelling character of Kane redefines the boundaries of heroic fantasy, and stands besides Michael Moorcock's Elric, and Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and Gray Mouser as one of the most idiosyncratic and compelling characters of the fantasy genre. Gods in Darkness gathers together in one volume the complete novels of Kane." This collection brings together three novels 'Bloodstone', 'Dark Crusade', & 'Darkness Weaves'. This collection brings together all of the Karl Edgar Wagner elements of science fiction, science fantasy, & Gothic horror all with a Sword & Sorcery topping. 

"The Gothic Touch" brings elements of 'Science Fantasy', Sword & Sorcery, & more. Which brings the it back to the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon & Tiamat. Tiamat is very much the sort of entity that Kane deals with. There are many alien entities that trip through the Kane stories that is that they have multiple divine  aspects across the planes. 

Kane would definitely have interest in the 'Dragon's grave yard' planar lair of Tiamat. The 'dragon's grave yard' has a ton of artifact level weaponry & there might be an artifact that could end Kane's tortured immortality. But where exactly is the Dragon's Graveyard?! 

'The Dragon's Graveyard' episode of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon places Tiamat's lair on some distant plane. But my uncle who was both a fan of the cartoon & a pen pal of Karl Edgar Wagner's turned to a much older source for the location. In case the classic Judge's Guild Inferno By Geoffry O Dale! Not only do we get her lair but several artifacts scattered about. This location plugs right into the classic Divine Comedy & Biblical aspects of the 'Kane' character. 

But where do we take things from here & what do these Sword & Sorcery influences have to do with a certain little demi god dressed in red robes. 

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