Ed Greenwood is no stranger to the world of “Forgotten Realms.” He created the fantasy setting in the late 1960s, and shortly after adapted this world into a “Dungeons & Dragons” campaign setting once he became familiar with the now-legendary role playing game. The world was so well imagined and thoroughly realized that Greenwood was eventually able to sell “Forgotten Realms” to D&D publisher TSR in 1986, but far from relinquishing his interest in the fantasy setting, Greenwood has remained involved with their development ever since, even writing multiple novel series set in the Realms.
As the “Dungeons & Dragons” license has traveled from publisher to publisher over the years, fans have been treated to a few “Forgotten Realms” comics, notably at DC Comics which held the license first, and more recently at Devil’s Due. But in April, IDW Publishing’s first “Forgotten Realms” series will also mark Greenwood’s first work in comics, as he scripts the ongoing series with Lee Ferguson on art inked by Sal Buscema. Comic Book Resources spoke with Greenwood to discuss the series, the evolution of “Realms” throughout the years and what it was like for the gaming legend to learn to write for comics.
CBR News: Ed, you created “Forgotten Realms” and have been very active in its continued development at TSR, including writing a number of novels based in the setting. Over the years, what have you enjoyed most about seeing how this world has grown, both in terms of your own contributions and those of TSR and the players themselves?
Ed Greenwood: In terms of my own contributions, I got the chance to write many fantasy novels set in the world I’d created, and made many new friends all over the world, both fans and fellow creatives working in the Realms. Great people, and some of them have become dear friends — which is my real reward from all of this.
In terms of what others have done, my chief joy is that the Realms can now surprise me from time to time — something it just couldn’t do while I was its sole creator. So the world seems richer and deeper. And has prettier maps than I could manage, armed with a Staedler and pencil crayons.
What made you want to jump in to writing an ongoing “Forgotten Realms” comic series?
I have collected, read, loved and worked on comics (in small, behind-the-scenes roles), for almost five decades (yikes!), and any chance to tell new Realms tales is one I’m going to jump at!
Are there different challenges associated with writing “Forgotten Realms” stories for comics as opposed to novels?
Certainly. Learning to prune my dialogue down to what will fit in a comic book panel, for starters. Then there’s the need to keep the pace up, and the lack of space to delve in a leisurely way into sardonic narration or multi-layered intrigues. And although it’s all storytelling, scripting a comic is closer to scripting a movie or television show than it is to straight prose. I’d be cheating the reader of a comic book if I just tried to write a story without fully using the way pictures enhance tale-telling.
I understand you’re introducing all new characters in the “Forgotten Realms” comic. What can you tell us about the series’ heroes, and what are they up against?
First off, they are young folks who don’t think of themselves as heroes, and who have to learn to be heroes — the hard way, as they pelt along being attacked from all sides. Two of them are friends before the action in the first issue starts, but the third doesn’t know the other two, is of a different social class than they are and doesn’t at the outset like them much. They have to learn to rely on each other and become heroes. While they’re up against all sorts of menaces, from shapeshifters to monsters to fell wizards to just plain thugs, their main adversaries are some kidnappers whose employers have rather mysterious aims.
It sounds like the first arc revolves around the kidnapping of one Lady Talandra Roaringhorn. Who is she, and what are the circumstances behind her strange abduction?
The Roaringhorns are an old, wealthy noble family of Waterdeep. Their heir has gone missing — probably dead, but possibly kidnapped and held somewhere. Leaving his younger sister, the Lady Talandra, as inheritor of the family title and fortunes if her father’s life ends. In the first issue, a kidnapping attempt is made on Talandra, and there’s something fishy about it; it almost seems as if she’s helping her kidnappers. Why? Read on…
Your artist for the series is Lee Ferguson. What does his style bring to the type of story you’re telling?
That’s the delight of all this: I get to see that as an unfolding surprise. The team is Lee inked by veteran Sal Buscema, with Tyler Walpole (whom I first met when he and I were fellow Guests of Honor at Paizocon last year; a great guy) and Steve Ellis doing covers. In comic art as in music, I’m an eclectic tastes guy — I love the intricate, fine-line art of Barry Windsor-Smith’s early “Conan” and Craig Russell and Charles Vess, but also the bolder style of John Buscema and Ernie Chan and the Severins. I cherish [Chris] Claremont and [Jim] Starlin and [Neal] Adams — and Phil Foglio and Bill Willingham and [Jackson] Guice inked by [Mike] Perkins and [Cary] Nord colored by [Dave] Stewart and — get the picture? I’ve been collecting comics since the early 1960s, and have fallen in love with many different art styles. I can’t wait to see what “my” book looks like. The little bits I’ve seen thus far are exciting, believe me.
Finally, what is it that most excites you about taking control of IDW’s “Forgotten Realms” comic series?
Sure! The most important thing is: I love to tell stories, and this is going to be fun! The second thing is: yes, the “Forgotten Realms” has been a published world, one way or another, for over forty-five years, and a full-blown D&D world setting for twenty-five — but you do not have to be a Realms expert to enjoy this comic! You don’t have to know anything about the Realms to follow the story — our heroes know precious little about where they find themselves, and who and what they’re up against; you can learn along with them. We are going to see a lot of the Realms — which is a lot more than Elminster and drow and dragons swooping out of the sky (though you’ll probably see all three of those before I’m done, quite possibly all in the same panel), and it’s going to be a wild ride. Embroidered with bickering and pratfalls and other humor. Promise.
“Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms” #1 swoops into stores in April.