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I See Fire


By David A. Trampier 

23 Feb, 2020

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David A. Trampier’s cartoon Wormy was serialized in TSR’s Dragon Magazine, running from issue 9 (in 1977) to issue 132 (in 1988). 1988 is long past the cut-off date for the My Tears are Delicious reviews, but enough of Wormy’s run falls within the Tears’ purview to warrant a look.

The eponymous Wormy is a dragon.

His live-in minion, Irving, is an imp. The rest of Wormy’s friends are likewise entities who would be considered monsters by humans: ogres, giants, trolls, and the like. Not that this matters; humans are the race Not Appearing in This Cartoon.

But there are dwarves. They are food rather than friends. In an early strip, dwarves show up at Wormy’s lair to take back stolen treasure. This ends badly for the dwarves.

The treasure is a bunch of small spheres which, when broken open, release demons. The demons are no threat to the dragon (though they would be to dwarves). But Wormy does wonder who made the demon spheres and why. He might not have any leisure for research. He has many enemies and his lair is not hard to find.


One doubts that the young folk of today, with their new-fangled CDs, Tamagochis, and Buffy videotapes [Editor’s note: James, are you sure that you’re up with the times?] would know anything about David Trampier, the author of Wormy. He was the artist for several Dungeons and Dragons modules (Dungeon Masters Guide, Deities & Demigods, Dungeon Master's Screen, The Village of Hommlet). He’s one of the people who helped create the D&D world.

The comic’s first readers might have expected a routine one-gag-a-strip cartoon. That’s simpler to pen than an ongoing storyline. If you’re going to have a story arc, you need a plot that can keep readers coming back, episode after episode. You need editors and a publisher who are going to give you room and time. Trampier had a plot, yes indeed. He spun it out over the next decade.

What kept the young me reading Wormy was not just the plot, but the setting. Trampier was imagining societies with customs, rules, and back story for creatures who, in most RPG settings, are just convenient sources of XP and GP. Gamers level up by killing dragons; Trampier wondered what it would be like to be a dragon.

I should add that these are not cuddly cute dragons. They don’t have much empathy for their food. Nor for the any of the other monsters who might attack them. They are sociopaths, really, if amusing ones.

It’s clear that Trampier was going somewhere with his deliberately paced strip. We’ll never know what that somewhere was, because the strip stopped abruptly after number 132, in 1988. Around that time Trampier also stopped contributing to D&D publications and disappeared from the gaming world. He hadn’t died; he died in 2014, having spent the rest of his life utterly disconnected from the field he shaped. More details here.

Wormy is out of print. Perhaps it could be found in some online archive.