Friday, March 22, 2013

Remembering Amber

In the 1970s and into the 1980s, Roger Zelazny's "Amber" series was fresh and very popular among fans. It was the "Game of Thrones" of its day. Set in a shifting kaleidoscope of different dimensions, its story pit the dozens of descendants of a single patriarchal King against each other for possession of the throne of all the worlds. They could communicate with each other and teleport about between worlds and places in worlds with the help of a magical Tarot deck. Each prince or princess had their own set of cards and had their own portrait card. The writing was a mixture of hard-boiled detective story, Renaissance swashbuckling, and high "chaos versus order" fantasy, including a universe-shifting Unicorn. 

The costuming and characters were a great source of ideas and many crafters wearing costumes based on Amber appeared in convention masquerades and won prizes. I did many illustrations from the Amber worlds and characters in its day. Nowadays Amber is forgotten in an era of more "realistic," brutal fantasy such as Martin's "Game of Thrones." I think that the Amber tales would have made a terrific TV series. I heard some time ago that someone was thinking of creating such a show, but I haven't heard anything further. 

This character is Brand, one of four red-haired siblings (fantasy has been obsessed with red-haired people since its beginnings) holding some of his brothers' and sisters' trump cards. The body came from a photo of a pirate costumer but the head is a portrait of a real person, red hair and all, who was a member of a costume and Amber fan group I belonged to at the time.

"Brand of Amber" is ink and acrylic watercolor on Fabriano paper, 6" x 7", April 1981.

1 comment:

Tristan Alexander said...

I always loved these sort of things from you and I can not understand why you think you can't do people!