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Phantacea Publications in Print

- The 'Launch 1980' story cycle - 'The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories' Fantasy Trilogy - The '1000 Days' Mini-Novels - The phantacea Graphic Novels -

The 'Launch 1980' Story Cycle

The War of the Apocalyptics

Front cover of War Pox, artwork by Ian Bateson, 2009

Published in 2009; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

Nuclear Dragons

Nuclear Dragons front cover, artwork by Ian Bateson, 2013

Published in 2013; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

Helios on the Moon

Front cover for Helios on the Moon, artwork by Ricardo Sandoval, 2014

Published in 2014; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

The 'Launch 1980' story cycle comprises three complete, multi-character mosaic novels, "The War of the Apocalyptics", "Nuclear Dragons" and "Helios on the Moon", as well as parts of two others, "Janna Fangfingers" and "Goddess Gambit". Together they represent creator/writer Jim McPherson's long running, but now concluded, project to novelize the Phantacea comic book series.

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'The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories' Epic Fantasy

Feeling Theocidal

Front Cover for Feel Theo, artwork by Verne Andru, 2008

Published in 2008; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

The 1000 Days of Disbelief

Front cover of The Thousand Days of Disbelief, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published as three mini-novels, 2010/11; main webpage is here; ordering lynx for individual mini-novels are here

Goddess Gambit

Front cover for Goddess Gambit by Verne Andru, 2012

Published in 2012; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Circa the Year of Dome 2000, Anvil the Artificer, a then otherwise unnamed, highborn Lazaremist later called Tvasitar Smithmonger, dedicated the first three devic talismans, or power foci, that he forged out of molten Brainrock to the Trigregos Sisters.

The long lost, possibly even dead, simultaneous mothers of devakind hated their offspring for abandoning them on the far-off planetary Utopia of New Weir. Not surprisingly, their fearsome talismans could be used to kill Master Devas (devils).

For most of twenty-five hundred years, they belonged to the recurring deviant, Chrysaor Attis, time after time proven a devaslayer. On Thrygragon, Mithramas Day 4376 YD, he turned them over to his Great God of a half-father, Thrygragos Varuna Mithras, to use against his two brothers, Unmoving Byron and Little Star Lazareme, in hopes of usurping their adherents and claiming them as his own.

Hundreds of years later, these selfsame thrice-cursed Godly Glories helped turn the devil-worshippers of Sedon's Head against their seemingly immortal, if not necessarily undying gods. Now, five hundred years after the 1000 Days of Disbelief, they've been relocated.

The highest born, surviving devic goddesses want them for themselves; want to thereby become incarnations of the Trigregos Sisters on the Hidden Continent. An Outer Earthling, one who has literally fallen out of the sky after the launching of the Cosmic Express, gets to them first ...

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The '1000 Days' Mini-Novels

The Death's Head Hellion

- Sedonplay -

Front cover for The Death's Head Hellion, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published in 2010; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

Contagion Collectors

- Sedon Plague -

Front cover for Contagion Collectors, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published in 2010; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

Janna Fangfingers

- Sedon Purge -

Front cover for Janna Fangfingers, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2011

Published in 2011; two storylines recounted side-by-side, the titular one narrated by the Legendarian in 5980, the other indirectly leading into the 'Launch 1980' story cycle; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

In the Year of the Dome 4825, Morgan Abyss, the Melusine Master of the Utopian Weirdom of Cabalarkon, seizes control of Primeval Lilith, the ageless, seemingly unkillable Demon Queen of the Night. The eldritch earthborn is the real half-mother of the invariably mortal Sed-sons but, once she has hold of her, aka Lethal Lily, Master Morgan proceeds to trap the Moloch Sedon Himself.

In the midst of the bitter, century-long expansion of the Lathakran Empire, the Hidden Headworld's three tribes of devil-gods are forced to unite in an effort to release their All-Father. Unfortunately for them, they're initially unaware Master Morg, the Death's Head Hellion herself, has also got hold of the Trigregos Talismans, devic power foci that can actually kill devils, and Sedon's thought-father Cabalarkon, the Undying Utopian she'll happily slay if they dare attack her Weirdom.

Utopians from Weir have never given up seeking to wipe devils off not just the face of the Inner Earth, but off the planet itself. Their techno and biomages, under the direction of the Weirdom of Cabalarkon's extremely long-lived High Illuminary, Quoits Tethys, have determined there is only one sure way to do that -- namely, to infect the devils' Inner Earth worshippers with fatal plagues brought in from the Outer Earth.

Come All-Death Day there are more Dead Things Walking than Living Beings Talking. Believe it or not, that's the good news.

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phantacea Graphic Novels

Forever and Forty Days

- The Genesis of Phantacea -

Front cover of Forever and Forty Days; artwork by Ian Fry and Ian Bateson, ca 1990

Published in 1990; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

The Damnation Brigade

- Phantacea Revisited 1 -

Front cover of The Damnation Brigade, artwork by Ian Bateson, retouching by Chris Chuckry 2012

Published in 2013; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Cataclysm Catalyst

- Phantacea Revisited 2 -

Front cover for Cataclysm Catalyst, artwork by Verne Andru, 2013

Published in 2014, main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Kadmon Heliopolis had one life. It ended in October 1968. The Male Entity has had many lives. In his fifth, he and his female counterpart, often known as Miracle Memory, engendered more so than created the Moloch Sedon. They believe him to be the Devil Incarnate. They've been attempting to kill him ever since. Too bad it's invariably he, Heliosophos (Helios called Sophos the Wise), who gets killed instead.

On the then still Whole Earth circa the Year 4000 BCE, one of their descendants, Xuthros Hor, the tenth patriarch of Golden Age Humanity, puts into action a thought-foolproof, albeit mass murderous, plan to succeed where the Dual Entities have always failed. He unleashes the Genesea. The Devil takes a bath.

Fifty-nine hundred and eighty years later, New Century Enterprises launches the Cosmic Express from Centauri Island. It never reaches Outer Space; not all of it anyhow. As a stunning consequence of its apparent destruction, ten extraordinary supranormals are reunited, bodies, souls and minds, after a quarter century in what they've come to consider Limbo. They name themselves the Damnation Brigade. And so it appears they are -- if perhaps not so much damned as doomed.

At least one person survives the launching of the Cosmic Express. He literally falls out of the sky -- on the Hidden Continent of Sedon's Head. An old lady saves him. Except this old lady lives in a golden pagoda, rides vultures and has a third eye. She also doesn't stay old long. He becomes her willing soldier, acquires the three Sacred Objects and goes on a rampage, against his own people, those that live.

Meanwhile, Centauri Island, the launch site of the Cosmic Express, comes under attack from Hell's Horsemen. Only it's not horses they ride. It's Atomic Firedrakes!


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A PHANTACEA on the Web Feature

LOGO PREPARED PHOTOSHOP BY JIM MCPHERSON,  2002]
© copyright Jim McPherson

-- PHANTACEA pHluff--

Autumn 2007: 'Godhead as Godblob'

July 1997: 'Anarchy, Gynarchy, Archie Malarkey'

March 1997: 'Ants, Anheroics, and Anarchism'


Autumn 2007

'Godhood as Godblob'

(Plus some philosophical poof on the not so-much-so, any longer, 'Secret Doctrine' in PHANTACEA)

Thirty years have now passed since I began publishing PHANTACEA in its initial incarnation as a series of oversized comic books. More than fifteen 365s-plus have gone by since I published "Forever & 40 Days - The Genesis of PHANTACEA". Over a decade has disappeared under the proverbial troll shelter since I last added to pHluffy pHilosopHies (that'd be this page).

Most of 10 years have gone boo since I finished writing 'The Volsung Variations' and, speaking of things going boo, it wasn't until almost Halloween of 2007 that I re-read VolVar-6 start-to-finish. This is the chapter wherein Tanith Silverhair has Magnus Minus shrink Herr Hel Helios mouse-sized then, after she changes her mind and has the Mighty (Midget) Minotaurus (latterly Mr Miniature) grow him back, agrees to marry Tammuz Rhymer of Dukkha.

(He's the Inner Earth Summoning Child who believes his parents are the Dual Entities. By now he's already been faerie-dusted and thus rendered the latest version of Tom-Tiddly Taddletale — who probably shouldn't be confused with Tomcat Tattletail, the blue-skinned troubadour who causes the incomparably beautiful Datong Harmonia, the Unity of Balance as well as Panharmonium, so much distress during "The Thousand Days of Disbelief".)

In this excerpt, presented mostly for purposes of future referencing, Tanith is walking through Sub-Trig discussing all sorts of interesting stuff with Machine-Memory. As it happens, due to the fact that the Female Entity is then currently stuck in her innards of Trans-Time Trigon mode, she's also walking on Machine-Memory.

Once she was finished dressing Tanith asked for, and received, an extended tour of Trans-Time Trigon. It was a somewhat bizarre experience, walking anywhere you wanted and having wherever you went telling you where you were and what that was and where it came from, -- Machine Memory had apparently continued to build herself, the insides of Trigon's three peaks, throughout the lifetimes she and Helios had experienced when she was mostly a machine.

As she walked, they talked, -- and not just about Trigon.

"Primeval Lilith, the demon queen, is she really the mother of the Biblical Cain? I mean, is she really that old?"

"Older in all likelihood; make that much older. Demons are chthonic, not Cathonic. Come out of the ground, not the stars. There's a theory I've heard about called the Secret Doctrine. It postulates that humanity was nothing more than rutting animals little better-brained than apes for most of its existence; that what intelligence did exist in those bygone days was a purely spiritual phenomena."

"I've come across something like this before. It's a virtual precept of the Alliance of Man that we don't need a god because, collectively, we are God."

"A precept of Heliosophos too, my dear."

"Xuthrodism," carried on Tanith, only vaguely disturbed that she was discussing philosophy with a machine, "Argues that materialism has robbed us of our spiritual capacity – atrophied it, more like – and made us prisoners of our own physicality. That we, not just our souls, are, and always have been, immortal; that we've become just too damn stupid to remember it."

"Ironic then than the current High Priest of Xuthrodism, your benefactor, Loxus Abraham Ryne, is quite conceivably the richest man on the planet."

"Mr. Ryne wouldn't see the irony. He'd contend that his goal is to make everyone rich; that, only then, when most of us aren't scrambling about trying to earn our daily bread, will we be able to put out material concerns behind us and get back to working on our brains instead."

"Intellectual pursuits have always been akin to spiritual pursuits, I'll grant you that. However, as I understand you, and him, it would seem that this Dutch-Iraryan Croesus of yours is overlooking aging and death, not to mention what happens after death."

"Hardly. But what can you do about it? Other than to delay it as long as possible and enjoy the time you have as much as you can. Sure it sounds like hedonism, and maybe it is, but it isn't depravity. Not necessarily. Besides, even if it is, isn't moral turpitude better than intellectual torpidity?"

"Put that way, perhaps. In our case of course, we just go onto another life; one that always starts with Hel in his late twenties. Which saves him the bother of growing up over and over again. In your case, and Ryne's, whatever happens to your soul, your body dies so does your consciousness. You, what makes you Tanith, ceases to exist, at least in this sphere of reality."

"While he's not altogether irreligious," Silverhair considered, "The great man would undoubtedly equate physical well-being with mental well-being. He'd tell you that once everyone was carefree they could get on with the real work of the human race."

"Which is?"

"Not only to live forever, which we unwittingly do anyhow, but to live forever wittingly, with our wits, our consciousness of self, about ourselves at all times. Not that any of this has anything to do demons or chthonic beings."

"Ah, but it has everything to do with them. You see, according to this theory I was telling you about, intelligence in effect coalesced around Humanity; adhered to your kind not unlike fluff to a sweater. It built up much the same as static electricity does when you shuffle across a carpet."

"And here I thought God just created us in his image and likeness. Not to mention women out of Adam's rib."

"We are not talking fairy tales here, child."

"I figured that's exactly what we're doing."

"Only in so far as humanity was not the only specie to which intelligence adhered. In fact, it adhered to just about every living creature there was in those days, even muck-monsters like Magnus Minus and his ilk. It just didn't stick in most."

"And barely stuck in the muck-monsters. You're telling me your Minotaurus is a demon or a fairy."

"Perhaps somewhat more than the former but somewhat less than the latter. It's just a theory after all. And the rest of it, the part you won't find in the Secret Doctrine, is that some of these intelligences, for want of a better word, decided they didn't like most of the existing life forms as such and used their creativity to build distinct bodies out of the muck-monsters that amounted to a bit of this and a bit of that."

"They became the monsters of antiquity."

"Pre-devic antiquity anyhow. The fetishes and totems, the guys and gals with the heads of jackals and hippos and such like. Lilith herself was one of them, one of the very first ones, if not the very first one. Not for nothing is she remembered as the mother of the jinns, the demons, the fairies."

"The chthonic creatures, the ones who sprang from Mother Earth fully formed, as opposed to evolved through a process of natural selection, and survival of the fittest, from the primordial ooze like every other creature on the planet."

"But with a pre-existing intelligence, yes. Her big innovation was that she didn't adhere to a human, such as your Biblical Eve, or try her hand at anthropomorphizing a beast of the forests. No, instead she built a humanoid body out of a muck-monster."

"In other words, unlike devils who, as the gods and goddesses of Ancient Humanity, were demonized by monotheistic, mostly western religions, Lilith was demon all along."

"Not quite right, -- she was an intelligence all along --, but close enough. My love knew what he was doing when he had her stuck in that tub."

"How so?"

"Ah, as to that, we'd have to go back to our Fifth Lifetime, to how Hel, with my help, -- much more so than either of us cares to acknowledge by the way --, came up with the Moloch Sedon in the first place."

"I heard that last night. Rather than going the Adam's Rib route, he plucked an eye out of a Utopian by the name of Cabalarkon, plunked it into a vat of this Cathonic Fluid stuff, and let nature take its course."

"Not exactly nature. As close to Godhood as there is. Cathonic Fluid is essentially distilled Brainrock and Brainrock is ..."

"Yeah, yeah, I heard that too, -- the stuff of God Itself. Not so much Godhood as the Godhead, the compacted everything that blew itself up in the Big Bang and turned into the Cosmos."

"Not just the compacted everything but the compacted every thought. In the beginning there was the word and all that. Say every single intelligent being today was to reach a state of perfection, a oneness with God as it were. What form would, could, this oneness take?"

"A big blob?"

"A not so much big but almost impossibly dense thickness encompassing everything that was. Call it the ultimate unity."

"A Godhead," Tanith appreciated. "And not only everything that was, I gather you're saying, but will be again."

"Consider that a nod," suggested the air as her silver hair ruffled otherwise inexplicably. "What happened was, at least what Heliosophos would tell you happened, was that every conceivable intelligence in what it's easiest to think of as the previous cosmos, having achieved perfection, the ultimate unity, found it perfectly boring."

"Enough of them rebelled, blew themselves, and every other intelligence, up and out of this perfection, and began another cosmos for not even God, them, knows how many times."

"Bang on, as Helios is wont to say."

"Wont, -- or as Helios would want you to say?"

"I told you I like you. We think very much alike, you and I."

"Am I really such a calculating bitch?"

"You're no dog."

"But I am a god."

"Part God too. You're also somewhat of a natural-born witch. Somewhat, though it'll take a lot of work to get you up to the level of even an Astarte."

"I thought Astroarche or Ashtoreth was Astarte; the first Syrian, the second Phoenician, not that there's much geographical difference between what's now Lebanon and what's still Syria."

"It's an Anthean joke: Astarte as in a starter. True witches have to have a girl child, one they give over to the Superior Sisterhood, before they're allowed to advance any further. They're called Astartes until they're deemed done advancing."

"Made a start on that already," she joked, then suddenly grew very serious. "Or do you already know the sex of my unborn?"

"I know, from Helios's first life, the one he hasn't begun yet, that your Count Molech had a son. But I don't know if he was yours or one of the others Etzel Sangati impregnated."

"All this assuming Helios gets to have a first life."

"Just so. But, going back to Cathonic Fluid, it has a lot of uses, -- a cure-all for one, a font of youth for another. Depending on how long you stay in it, a font of infancy or even fetancy, if that's a word."

"It isn't but I get your point. Fetality not fatality."

"Fetality?"

"Isn't a word either but, unlike Tom-Tiddly, I'm not adverse to making things up to complete a rhyme." Mnemosyne must have paused to ponder that – unless she needed a quick oiling – because it took the air a couple of seconds to respond.

"Again it depends how long you stay in it," she/it finally said. "And cure-all isn't quite right either. Terminally ill folks aren't cured. Instead they go into a state of stasis or suspended animation once they're immersed in it. Get too far gone and you stay too far gone to get out of it for very long."

"Barring a miracle cure."

"Or a genuinely gifted Althean, one who can heal damn near anything, even if it's for a price most would rather not pay."

"You're not seriously talking selling your soul shit, are you? I thought none of that stuff was possible."

"It isn't, at least not in my experience, but I wasn't talking about souls as such. Alts stockpile favours. They can also take back what they give. But they're usually not demons, nor even overly duplicitous. Fact is, except for Satanwyck, demons don't have much intercourse with the rest of the Head."

"They sure looked like they wanted intercourse with me when you sent me to this, -- what did you call it?"

"That's not the kind of intercourse I had in mind but, to answer your question, -- Satanwyck, Hell on Earth. I didn't leave you there either."

"But you could have."

"As you say."

"What about intercourse, the kind the demons had in mind for me, -- now that you're not humanized any more, do you miss it?"

"What you really want to know is am I jealous, -- of you. And not just because you can make love but, if you're ever so tempted, you could be making love to my love with little more than a bat of your lovely silver eyelashes?"

"With a lot more than that. So?"

"Machines don't have emotions, youngster."


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July 1997

'Anarchy, Gynarchy, Archie Malarkey'

As I've mentioned before, my theory on laws is that for every one enacted two should be repealed, -- until we get down to the only one that really matters: namely 'The Golden Rule'!

Of course I'm not big on laws to start with. Neither are most folks. (Just leave us alone; we can take care of ourselves.) Neither, as you might have noticed, are a lot of my characters. Then again, when you can do what they can do or, for that matter, what a devil can do (which is much the same thing), why would you be one, even two, for laws?

Answer to that's twofold. One's just like the gunslinger's traditional dilemma: there's always someone younger and faster. The other's a little more controversial. While there may be many of you, there aren't that many. Normie and Norma Normal will always be a lot more numerous than Simon and Sarah Supranormal; Distaff and Dickhead Deviant http/dot.ditto.

They are also unlikely to appreciate your belief that you and your kids, not to mention their kids, represent the hope for the future. Especially not when, with relatively little in the way of a concerted effort, they can quickly relegate you to the past. As in history, or her-story. The kind that's six feet under!

Anyhow, not being one for Chat Lines, from time to time I intend to use this newly-appropriated space to raise certain issues pertaining to pHluffy pHilosophies re Anarchy and any other Archie Malarkey I feel compelled to discuss on an impromptu basis. Of course, being one for long distance communication, I always welcome your reactions to anything I might say here, in what I'm starting to think of as my Monologues with the Moon.

(Unlike the Moon though, more than likely I'll even respond to at least some of them. Might even reprint your comments a mere mouse-click away and invite others to do so too!)

Ordinarily these moderate musings of mine will be presented first in the Current Web-Publisher's Commentary section. After that, for the perhaps dubious enlightenment of more recent visitors to PHANTACEA on the Web, I'll transfer them over here.

However, to mark today's debut of an ongoing feature, I'm hereby making the necessary exception that, um, necessarily proves the, um, -- whatever. (Who says I'm obscure? Ambivalent, maybe. Wishy washy, definitely.)

Although 'Helioddity' can't begin until 'The Moloch Manoeuvres' ends, and 'Helios on the Moon' is probably a year or so away from its commencement, the titular character in both cases is probably my all-time favourite guy. However, three of my other favourites, the Unities of Lazareme (Unholy Abaddon, Lord Yajur and Hellish Harmonia, who's reputedly so drop-dead-gorgeous more than a few men have reputedly done just that), begin gracing the pages of 'The Trigregos Gambit' almost immediately.

In many respects these three, respectively Chaos, Order, and Balance, represent the three aspects of anarchy most often debated. (Actually there's a fourth one, the bomb-throwing nihilist, but I'll reserve comment on her until we get there. Won't be much longer, I can assure you. Keep following 'The War of the Apocalyptics' for more.)

In PHANTACEA, Chaos/Abaddon epitomizes the damn-the-torpedos, I'll take care of myself and the rest of you can go hang for all I care, kind of anarchist. On the other hand, Harmonia/Balance is the great conciliator. Which in no way should be confused with Chamberlain's Munich of latter-day Infamy. (Which is also due up, eventually, in these pre-war '38 sequence of stories.)

Harmony would always prefer to talk than fight. To vote even, -- albeit, never being one for the so-called Tyranny of the invariably Manipulated Majority, only as a last resort. But, faced with two implacable foes, ones that are as likely to stay apart as opposite poles on a magnet, she'd be more inclined to take them both on rather than appease one or the other.

Loxus Abraham Ryne, at least in 'Moloch', which is set in early 1938, expresses a similar philosophy when discussion gets around to the Twin Terrors of this time, Hitler and his Nazis v/s Stalin and his Soviet-style Communists. By all means let them go at each other, the patriarch advises, but make sure you hang onto what you've got until they exhaust themselves. Then you better be prepared to pick up their pieces and get back to business or things will get even worse.

Oddly enough, Ryne's capitalistic attitude is more in keeping with Yajur's version of a lawless society. Natural Order, that's Yajur's recommended failsafe to just about everything. All things considered it'll all work out, -- provided you don't try to interfere with the natural order of things via a brainless beanbag full of artificial, invariably ineffective, and self-compounding laws.

Feed yourself, likely you'll feed your mind too. Spend all your time feeding others, chances are all you've time left for is sleep. Always assuming you're that lucky and aren't referring to the Deep Bleep of course!

If legislators and bureaucrats, warlords and money mongers, church leaders and other pontificating do-nothings would just stop trying to ram their sickeningly self-righteous will down the throats of the great unwashed masses, things would be much better.

After all, though people do need people, equally so people usually don't need other people to tell them to take a bath. Folks are as much born with common sense as they are with the capacity to love.

Naturally Yajur, like Ryne and Harmonia, would scoff at the theory that if there are no armies there would be no wars. While the theory might be irrefutable, the reality is that, so long as there is one left willing to fight, you've got to fight back, hire and arm others to do it for you, or risk being overwhelmed, -- sometimes even by your own supposed employees; essentially uncivilized servants included.

As for the classic anarchist conundrum of what to do with a lazy man, Yajur tends to the survival of the fittest notion, -- either find a way to accommodate him, without his malaise spreading to the general populace, or cast him out. He'll learn soon enough to look after himself, in which case he'll be back. Or he'll die, in which case you bury him.

A rabid dog? A homicidal maniac? One's much the same as the other in Lord Order's perfectly planned world. Barring an immediate cure, there's not much choice in either case, is there?

However, as Yajur discovers in the early days of 'Gambit', when that madman's your fellow Unity, when he's already killed your sister, the only one who's been standing between you for going on 5500 years, things aren't that easy. Rabid dogs kill a lot easier than they are to kill, don't they?

And, when the dead walk, as they often do on Sedon's Head, things can get even messier.

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March 1997

'Ants, Anheroics, and Anarchism in PHANTACEA'

Twenty years ago (yes, it has been that long), when I began publishing PHANTACEA in its initial incarnation as an oversized comic book, I was acutely aware that most of the major characters in that genre, certainly most of the ones who had their own title, were males. Though it's been over half a decade since I stopped buying comics, I don't imagine much has changed.

Given this, I took it as a challenge to develop some strong female leads. Of the ten members of the Damnation Brigade, my original group of 'heroes', four were female. Leaving aside Raven's Head (who, granted, is not even vaguely human) for the moment, these were Wilderwitch, Gloriel (Glory of the Angels, Radiant Rider or, in more elementary terms, Rainbow), and Thalassa also D'Angelo (Sea Goddess, or simply Sea, which is what her name means in Greek).

As I did for all my myriad characters, I constructed elaborate backgrounds for each of them, even Raven. But by far the most complex turned out to be Wilderwitch. She wasn't just to be a witch; she was to be a specific kind of witch, -- a 'life-loving' Anthean.

When you consider where her name came from (wild witch, wilder than any other witch, plus wilderness = Wilderwitch), when you consider who the mythological Anthea was (a very ancient Greek, perhaps even pre-Greek, Goddess of Spring), and that 'antho-' is a combining form referring to Flower, there were a lot of ramifications 'pre-guiding' her development.

For example, given that I also had Gentleman Jervis Murray, Wildman Dervish Furie, it seemed natural they should be having a long-term relationship. Of course, me being me and loving dichotomies as I do, it also seemed natural that her relationship should be with the Gentleman, not the Wildman, aspect of Murray/Furie.

'Life-loving' said she should have a child. However, because of his own pre-guiding considerations, Jervis/Dervish is infertile (hint-hint). Logically this meant she should fool around with other men; at least with one other man such that she could become a mother (double hint-hint). Did ants fool around? Not being an entomologist I had no idea, but the 'fooling around bit' instantly became part of the Witch's personal 'mythos'.

Next it reoccurred to me, from my readings of Herodotus as a pre-teenager, that devotees of Aphrodite did consider love-making a holy ordinance. Let's fool around with 'Af-roe-die-tee' for awhile, I said to myself. Compress the 'roe' with the 'die'. Ah-hah! 'Af-ree-tee', -- Afrite!

So, all of a sudden, I've another Witch Sisterhood. Free love and all that pre-condom, pre-AIDS panacea-poltergeist poltroonery. (I call such like alliterative indulgences fay-say, just by the fay-way.) And what's an afrite, an afrit, an afreet, except a genie? (Or a fright, I suppose.) A genie would look good in PHANTACEA, wouldn't one? Hence Djinn, from 'The Moloch Manoeuvres'.

Since I was already dealing with a magician, a Persian Magus, and Roman Mithraism in that series of stories, why not make him a legitimate Heliodromos, -- not merely someone who takes the Sun's place at Mithraic communion meals, love feasts (males only apparently) or agapes? Thus, I've added another character. One I already had, under another name, as it happened. But names can be changed, can't they?

Anyhow, if I've now got two Sisterhoods, why not concoct a few more? Better yet, how about a few more 'ants'?

This time up, in Manoeuvres, Loxus Ryne makes quite a clever series of jokes (even if I do say so myself). He's talking to his wife, Eden Nightingale (who's 'supposedly' a natural-born Althean, an Alt, -- after Althea, a female healer, the distaff equivalent of Asclepius) and is getting frustrated with her distracted, to say the least, reaction to all that's already gone on that day, January 13, 1938.

"And if I was to ask you to assess the likelihood of Megaera, Artemis, or Roxanne being behind any of this you'd say the same thing, -- that they couldn't be proper Ants but they could be Kore-Ants, Ophir-Ants, or members of any other potentially murderous Ant-Sisterhood I'd care to mention.

"What about the Hashshasin-Ants. Are they sisters too? They like to bhang people. With guns as well, so I'm told, even if their sect supposedly went up in smoke during the Crusade Errant."

He was half-trying to cheer her up, but if Eden got even one of his puns she barely reacted. "I would say I could not say, -- because I can't!"

"Or won't?"

"Just can't. I don't know."

"Maybe Etzel, Count Molech, has turned the tables. Maybe Sangati's acquired his own killer witches; devil-killers now killing for the devil. What would he call them, -- Countess Dracul-Ants?"

So, while we're on the topic of ants, what's an 'An'? As a prefix, it means 'without' (though An, or On, was a Biblical name for Egyptian Heliopolis -- see elsewhere for my previous comments on that subject). 'Anheroic' therefore means 'without heroes'.

Given that, in Manoeuvres particularly, I'm dealing with events well past; that, even in PHANTACEA, World War Two did happen; and that all sorts of people, 'heroes' included, did all sorts of horrible things during and after it; I found myself stuck with the observation that heroes are neither born nor made. Nor do they even make themselves.

The term is purely conditional on which side of the ledger you're seeking to balance. Those who attempted to avoid the War might have been heroes in their time. Then again, like Chamberlain, they might have been demonized as 'appeasers' by future generations. Which, believe it or not, gets us to anarchism!

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you and all that meek shall inherit the Earth dust-stuff. Though it sometimes might become lonely, it's not necessarily such a bad thing being able to look after yourself, by yourself. Events though often conspire against you. Can't just be your own person, can you? You're always a conditional person. In trying to avert the war, characters like Loxus Abraham Ryne, Stephen von Blut, and Mata Avar might be construed as heroes.

Of course, von Blut gets killed almost as soon as he appears. Actually, him getting getting killed near the beginning of Manoeuvres is about the only time he does appear. Such is the nature of PHANTACEA. Was designed to be 'anheroic' even before I published my first comic book. It's a mosaic piece and has to be approached that way.

Be they strings, percussion, winds, or simply windbags, like Jesus Mandam, though some may come to the forefront more so than others, all its various (ant)agonists are merely players in the same ultimately Fatal Symphony. Much like reality, wouldn't you say? Only in my stories, although it becomes a bit of an orchestral nightmare at times, I get to play the Maestro of Confusion!

I'll no doubt have more to say about any number of things in future instalments of Web-Publisher's Commentary. If you've your own commentary about these comments, or anything at all to say about PHANTACEA, either on the Web or in its comic book incarnation of bygone days, please email me at jmcp@phantacea.com.

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There may be no cure for aphantasia (defined as 'having a blind or absent mind's eye') but there certainly is for aphantacea ('a'='without', like the 'an' in 'anheroic')

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