When it comes to the end of days for mankind, the apocalypse is usually flavoured with hordes of the undead or a technological menace of our own creation. Monsters born of men, who quickly prove to be more than a handful as scattered remnants of survivors struggle to figure out who the real monster really is when society inevitably turns on itself.
I’m…I’m pretty sure that the real monster is that rotting zombie currently enjoying a snack of some random victim;s face, but hey that’s just me. What if the end of humanity came from a more fictional source however? What if the apocalypse wasn’t result of technology running amok, but an army of monsters that were thought to be the sole domain of the fantasy genre?
That’s the scenario presented in Image’s next big series, The Realm. It’s ten years after civilisation has fallen, armies of Orcs, dragons and other mythical beasts roam the streets and a small resistance is combing the new wasteland for answers to just what went wrong for our species as they tangle with a sorcerer named Johnny Eldritch. “We step into the story about a decade after a global cataclysm that saw monsters from another reality overrun the planet,” writer Seth M. Peck said to Newsarama.
These creatures largely resemble monsters from myth and fantasy (orcs, dragons, trolls, etc), although their precise origins are unknown. Whatever force brought about this apocalypse also knocked out the electricity and rendered most technology useless. Since some time has passed, we are following characters who are “survivors,” people who are resourceful, and maybe a bit more hardened than the average person.
There are characters, both good and evil, with designs on this new world, and it’s the interaction of those characters (and their minions) that propels the story of The Realm.
The point of view character for The Realm? Will Nolan, a soldier whose skills have enabled him to survive in the new unforgiving landscape. “Will is a guy who checks all the exits the minute he steps into a room. He’s a strategist, and he’s found his niche as the guy who can get you where you need to go, for the right price,” Peck explained.
His bravery and heroism is tempered with a very strong pragmatic streak, and he doesn’t take unnecessary risks. He’s a former soldier, and he’s got the right blend of resourcefulness and training to thrive in the dangerous world of The Realm.
“We’re jumping into this world about a decade after the Break. People have had to figure out how to survive. Will isn’t just a survivor, he’s the guy who helps others survive- to get from place to place in this post apocalyptic landscape,” artist Jeremy Haun added.
Will also has his demons. There’s something that he’s running from that he just can’t escape, no matter how he tries.
As for the actual monsters? Think classic pen and paper roleplaying games when it comes to the design of these beasts. “I think a lot of it came from classic D&D monsters, with an eye towards making them familiar while bringing in new elements. The way our world appropriates items from theirs, and the way they take things from ours and repurpose them is something that is a big part of what we wanted to do visually,” Peck said.
We wanted orcs using machine guns and human soldiers wielding warhammers and battleaxes. We usually discuss the basic design elements of the characters, and then Jeremy noodles around with them and we talk it out until we feel like we’ve got it figured out. I think that Ben was the only character I really had a clear image of in my mind, and sketched out the details for Jeremy to translate.
“When we were building the world of The Realm we talked a lot about “our goblins” and “our dragons.” We spent a lot of time going through those old D&D monster manuals, picking out things we liked and figured out how we wanted them to look and feel. Once we knew what we wanted I just went crazy with it,” Haun explained.
I tend to design a lot on the page, so even with the discussions and planning, I was still finding a lot of these crazy creatures as we’d go. I loved designing the human characters. The setting of the book really allowed me to mix and match the looks in the best kind of way. I wanted the costuming to look and feel like classic fantasy design, but built from these elements of modern clothing.
One of my favorite designs is Rook. She has this helmet that she always wears. It was probably the hardest thing to design so far in The Realm. It had to be iconic and feel both modern and old school fantasy. I think I sketched it out fifty times before landing on something that we liked.
A mix of fantasy and reality in one post-apocalyptic setting? I’m down for that when The Realm kicks off this week.
Last Updated: September 13, 2017