Monday, September 3, 2018

1544 - Bespoke Worlds: Krypton III

Since the Planet Krypton explodes in the very first panel of the first Superman comic, Superman himself remains ignorant of his own heritage.  As Superman comics mature, they do add some backstory for The Man Of Steel.  Literal bits and pieces of Superman's home planet reach Earth, providing plot developments and exotic Kryptonian characters, some who are villains and some who remain allies.  

In September of 1981, DC Comics published The Krypton Chronicles, which was an attempt to codify history of life on Krypton from the point of view of Superman and his ancestors.  From a very practical standpoint, The Krypton Chronicles represented a change in DC's comic book format, adding a single sheet of paper into the comics, which when folded allowed for two more pages of artwork and two more pages of advertising as well as the excuse to bump up the retail price of the book by 20%.  Since a page of artwork takes around a day to produce, the deadlines for the comic books became that much tighter.  At least in the Krypton Chronicles, the art for the two new pages was as cheap as anything I've ever seen, and must have been rushed at top speed to completion. 

Still, what readers got was interesting lore, even if it was somewhat unformed: brief glossary terms for the Kryptonian language and a sketch map of the planet drawn by Albert de Guzman.  This map seems to have been the basis for other maps and comics that followed.

The Krypton Chronicles are available to read online, which helped me greatly in my research for this globe.  The story is a batty mix of science, history, mysticism, and prophecy that seem to borrow heavily from Christian Bible stories and Robert Louis Stevenson.  The de Guzman map shows all of the places mentioned in the Chronicles.  However, the map itself is drawn very simply onto two circles to represent the planetary hemispheres.  As a result of this haphazard projection, much is made later on of the split between Krypton's Old World and New World hemispheres.  

The progress of the El family, (Jor-El, Kal-El, Val-El, etc.) charts the progress of Superman's ancestors as they discovered new scientific and theological advances in the Old World. They migrated to the New World to populate an unexplored continent after a catastrophe appears to destroy the old one.  Since the El family are among the most honorable of the Kryptonians, several splinter colonies are created by dissidents who do not agree with the Els, including The Island Of Thieves which split from the main expedition.  Those who reject Kryptonian  orthodoxy tend to remain on the Old World hemisphere while the right-thinkers congregate on the New World hemisphere as close to Kryptonopolis as possible.  Renegades who no longer serve the plotline are doomed to explore the Valley of Juru, where no-one who visits it escapes with their lives.  

Creating a globe eliminates the hemispheric divide of the de Guzman map.  Correcting the faults in the map projection shows that the Old World and New World continents are not far apart, and that Val-El's eastward journey across the Dandahu Ocean would have been much shorter had he not detoured to see Vathlo, the island sanctuary of Krypton's highly-advanced black people, and then subesquently sailed into a vortex storm.  

As far as my artwork is concerned, I've coloured in the oceans and the continents.  In the picture above, you can see the Red Ocean.  To the east are the large mountain ranges: The Jewel Mountains, the Gold Volcano, and the strikingly obvious Magnetic Mountain.  I was tempted to put a real magnet in there.