Map to WORLDS END is an experimental comic designed to stretch and explore the boundaries of comics art. It takes the form of a road map and is meant to be ‘read’ not like a regular comic but in the same way that maps are read.
Is it still a comic? I think so: it juxtaposes words and pictures in very deliberate ways with the intent to tell a story.
The design of the map includes several cartographic (map) references – including design elements that are meant to evoke famous maps from pop-culture including Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Time Bandits. I also included nods to Marcel Duchamp’s “standard stoppages,” Jasper Johns’s map paintings and even Bil Keane’s Family Circus.
Almost all of the place names are references to eschatological and apocalyptic stories or theories. These include familiar religious prophecies as well as scientific and science-fiction ones.
One of the interesting aspects of this comic is that I tried to ‘draw’ as little as possible. This was originally an idea that I’d proposed to a friend as an example of the kind of comic that could be done even by someone who wasn’t satisfied with their draftsmanship skills. Most of my work consisted of adapting, altering and arranging the various graphic elements. Where illustrative artwork was needed, I appropriated details from famous public-domain works by Hieronymous Bosch, Albrecht Durer, Edvard Munch, Claude Monet, and Katsushika Hokusai.
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EXPLORING the Map to World’s End…
Several readers have asked me to confirm or explain some of the apocalyptic references in my MAP so I’m happy to outline the overall and general references while also shedding a little light on a few of the most obscure ones. That said, while I am happy to answer specific questions from readers, I do NOT intend to detail every single reference. After all, exploration is part of the fun of having a map and I have great confidence in your Google-fu abilities!
Obviously, most of the street/place names are references to apocalyptic scenarios. These references take many different forms:
- The name of someone who prophesied/predicted the end of the world (e.g., Harold Camping, Nostradamus, St. John, Sir Isaac Newton). In a few cases, I’ve slightly altered the doomsayers names (e.g., Albert Porta, Charles Manson, Hal Lindsey) to turn them into place names.
- A description or key aspect of an apocalyptic scenario (e.g., Big Rip, Black Hole, Nibiru, Singularity, Gray Goo, Gog & Magog, Fimbulwinter).
- Title or detail from a book, comic book, or film with an apocalyptic setting or event (e.g., The Road, Damnation Alley, Omega Man, Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Soylent Green, On The Beach)
- There are a few street/place names which have little or no apocalyptic connotations (as far as I know). Since these are the ones that have prompted the most inquiries from readers, I will list them here:
- Fanciful folk sayings related to occurances that would signify the End Times or should never come to pass at all (e.g., Hell Freezes Over, Pigs Fly, Crawfish Whistle, Sunrise in West). Verdens Ende (World’s End”) Opera House is where “the fat lady sings.”
- Place name puns. Sunova Beach is both apocalyptic and punny and that led me to a few other puns. The others are not apocalyptic references, per se, but do provide commentary on apocalyptism in pop culture (e.g., Weshall Sea, Leifsa Beach, Echhs Stream).
- Diane Lane, Penny Lane, and Margo Lane are all pop cultural references. Only Lois Lane (because of the connection to the Doomsday story in Superman comics) is an apocalyptic reference. The other lane names just riff off Lois.
- The Phoenician Scale is a double nod to my friend Jim Salicrup who was not only editor on Marvel’s The Uncanny X-Men during the planet-frying Dark Phoenix Saga but has also previously had his name appropriated as a unit of time. Here, I use it instead as a unit of distance.
- The Blue House is an inside family joke.
- Blue Mtns., Eushalnotte Pass and Fangorn March Road are all Tolkien references. More on that later.
- Some of the place name and visual details are references to art and the art of cartography (map-making) rather than eschatology
- The shoreline and mountain ranges roughly approximate Tolkien’s map of Middle Earth so that The End lies about where Mordor would be found.
- The End Times along the lefthand edge of the map echo the design of the Time Bandits movie map. The actual times on the clocks, however, are all apocalyptic references.
- The stencil type face was chosen as a nod to the map paintings of Jasper Johns.
- The shapes of the three main roads (i.e., Route 666, Western Sunrise Highway, Bifrost Scenic Parkway) leading to The End are modeled after dadaist Marcel Duchamp’s standard stoppages.
- Billy’s Path in Revelation State Forest is a reference to a trope from Bil Keane’s Family Circus cartoons.
Everything in my MAP is there for a reason. I hope these notes (plus access to the Internet or your local library) helps lead you to an exploration of these references. If you still have questions (or just want to confirm your hunches) about what I intended, feel free to contact my by email or stop by at one of my convention appearances.