Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Sword of Shannara Comic Strip '78

Back in 1978 there was a syndicated comic strip called "Bestseller Showcase". It featured illustrated versions of the best selling novels of the time. One story they featured was Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara.

The time period is interesting because Holmes' Basic Dungeons and Dragons was just coming out and D&D was just beginning to create some buzz among the hobby shops. Was it a coincidence that the editor of the strip at that time chose to go with a high fantasy story about elves, dwarves and dark lords just at the beginnings of what would be a rebirth of a fantasy genre ushered in by a strange fantasy role-playing game? It's also interesting to note that this is the same year that Bakshi's Lord of the Rings animated film came out.

The strip is drawn by classic illustrator Gray Morrow. It's also interesting to notice the character designs have that early D&D/Holmes feel to it, no doubt inspired by the book's original cover art, before fantasy become more polished in the mid to late 80's.


Say what you will about Brooks' story, I would have loved to have seen this strip at the time. I had just gotten into the Holmes Blue Book, was reading the Conan books and collecting the Marvel comics and just watched and begin reading The Lord of the Rings and seeing this type of fantasy in comic strip in the newspaper would have just been another thing I would have obsessed about (and lowered my math grades even more!).



More about the artist Gray Morrow

3 comments:

  1. Cool. I like how you placed it in context of the time period. Sword of Shannara, the Silmarillion and the Hobbit cartoon all came out the same fall ('77) as the Holmes set.

    So this strip ran daily in the newspaper? Did they cover the whole SoS book?

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  2. It does look like they've completed the entire story. I saw some strips where they find the sword and the Dark Lord falls. It's never been compiled into a trade or anything which is too bad.

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  3. I used to read this strip in the Sunday paper in Phoenix while I was a senior in high school.

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