Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Eternal Champion You've Never Heard of - Johnny Melniboné From Grimjack (1984) #76 by John Ostrander With art by Flint Henry & Gary Fields

 So in the face book Stornbringer/ Elric group I happen to be active in we were talking about Elric parodies & homages.  And it suddenly reminded me of  Grimjack (1984) #76!  Grimjack (1984) #76 was published on Nov 1990 by First Publishing & it featured both Flint Henry's amazing artwork & pencils. The plot and details from my comic shop go like this; "Twilley gets involved in a battle of the bands – literally in "Battle Rock." Script by John Ostrander and art by Flint Henry & Gary Fields. Issue also has "Youngblood" with script by John Ostrander & Kim Yale and art by Steve Pugh. Cover price $2.25."

 'Battle Rock' is an old favorite of mine going back well into the 90's because its filled with that quirky & spot on savage satire of 
John Ostrander & Kim Yale. So why is it important?! Because it marks the appearance of yet another aspect of the Eternal Champion. Grimjack in his Twilly incarnation goes to a back water dimension to fufill a debt to his old band mates. In this dimension time runs weird & the heart of Rock & Roll is about to be over run by the Philistine zombies. His old band mates don't recognize him & so Grimjack ends up having to audition for the band that he founded. 
On this plane musical instruments are the literal weapons of war. Guitars at as lasers, basses act as small arms fire, etc. 


The guy that we're concerned about is Johnny Melniboné whose the holder of the giant rune encrusted stratocaster 'Soulsinger'. Johnny Melniboné speaks with a West Texas drawl in my mind & in AD&D first edition terms is a 12th level bard. 'Soulsinger' is an aspect of the Stormbringer entity oriented towards Law in Stormbringer rpg terms. Why?! Because Grimjack would not be hanging out let alone playing with someone whose got a demon weapon. Grimjack is a veteran of the 'Demon Wars' and Johnny Melniboné is a friend. The abilities of rune encrusted stratocaster 'Soulsinger' include soul eating just as 'Stormbringer', creating nasty scortching blasts of music in D&D terms 1d8 points of damage per chorus, a bit of magic, & the ability to use the song of the spheres to visit other planes. But there's a problem with this last ability. 

Its been two hundred years between incarnations of GrimJack and that means its been two hundred years that Johnny Melniboné has been guarding the heart of rock & roll. Johnny & the band have been battling the Philistines & entertaining folks. He can't leave this backwater plane because he'll begin to age. Then he'll die.. Sure the Melnibonéans are long lived but 'Soulsinger' comes at a price. So he's a totally useless NPC  other then in this dimension or plane. 
Well no not at all, essentially  
Johnny Melniboné has been a patron & teacher to various bards, rockers, & musicians in my campaigns for decades. This includes the Stormbringer rpg. 

We played Stormbringer right up into 2011 or so until one of our number took his own life. That's another blog entry for another time folks. During that time we took our PC's to another very obscure rpg game called Nexus The Infinite City. We had aquired our own Scaling Ship and we were getting into all kinds of trouble in Nexus. And this included helping out Johnny Melniboné & his band with reenforcements. 

Johnny Melniboné the holder of the giant rune encrusted stratocaster 'Soulsinger' is still out there in the wastelands of 2020 fighting against the Philistines. When it comes to the OSR. Johnny & company would make excellent mentors for a group young PC's in the world of the Metallic Tome. 

Because   Johnny Melniboné & his band are defending the heart of rock & roll a party is going to have to seek him out. And they would have to try out to make sure their worthy of his attention. 

Now in Stormbringer rpg terms  Johnny Melniboné is troubling. He's an aspect of the Eternal Champion whose survived most likely an
 version of the Elric saga. He's lost everything except soul singer & his war against the Philistines of the music industry. Johnny is a moody & dangerous character possibly a 'force of nature' on his own back water plane that he calls home. Ages ago he walked away from his home plane & found the heart of rock & roll. This war is the only thing keeping him going. He's extremely loyal to his friends but the heart needs him. The heart itself is sentient & an artifact of Law because of its ties to Earth's pop culture & music scene. The Fillalamo the fortress club & temple that houses the heart sits in its backwater plane some place out in the 'Wastelands' an area of desert that surrounds Cynosure erm Nexus. 

Because this is a section of the desert where both Law & Chaos have been scrubbed clean making finding the interface very dangerous. Anyone spending time here must be very careful as the elements of life are leeched out of them. The heart of rock & roll is still beating.. 

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