Skartaris is a fictional Hollow Earth fantasy setting created by Mike Grell for the sword and sorcery comic book Warlord, published by DC Comics. Skartaris debuted in 1st Issue Special #8 (November 1975).
In Jules Verne's novel "Journey to the Center of the World", Skartaris, or Scartaris, is the name of the Icelandic mountain peak, whose shadow on the first day of July, directs the explorers to the crater opening leading to the center of a Hollow Earth. Obviously, the modern usage in sword and sorcery computer games derives from Jules Verne's adventure story, that also exists as a movie featuring Pat Boone.
While Mike Grell never drew a map of Skartaris during his tenure on the book, one was created towards the end of the original volume's run, the illustration appeared in Warlord Annual #4 (1985). In an interview from Comic Scene in 1983, reprinted on TheWarlord.ca he says: "I did things like moving my character around the countryside; I never drew a map so I could move him from one side of Skartaris to the other just for the sake of the story."
And in a later interview with Comic Book Resources he says: "Anything that can happen in fantasy happens in the lore and it’s one of the reasons I always refused to draw a map of Skartaris. Year after year after year went by, and I always hounded by the editors, “When are you going to have a map?” The reason I refused was because once you draw a map, you establish boundaries. And why would you want to put boundaries on your imagination."
Skartaris is essentially a translation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar into the graphic medium, with elements of Jules Verne and half a dozen other fictional Hollow Earth settings, and the admixture of magic and the Atlantis myth. In Grell's concept, as in Burroughs', the Earth is a hollow shell with Skartaris as the internal surface of that shell. Skartaris is accessible to the surface world via a polar opening allowing passage between the inner and outer worlds. There are also various tunnels connecting the interior world with the surface. Skartaris is lit by a miniature sun suspended at the center of the hollow sphere, so it is perpetually overhead wherever one is in Skartaris. The miniature sun never changes in brightness, and never sets; so with no night or seasonal progression, the natives have little concept of time. There is however, a "moon" that orbits the sun in a random way, resulting in certain areas of Skartaris being covered in darkness from time to time. The events of the series suggest that time is elastic, passing at different rates in different areas of Skartaris and varying even in single locales.
Skartaris is populated by primitive people of various levels of culture ranging from the primitive to medieval, with the most advanced inhabiting city state monarchies such as Shamballah (based on the mythical Tibetan realm of Shambhala), the home of Morgan's principal love interest Tara. The practice of magic is well developed, numerous sorcerers being known, usually antagonistic to each other and to Morgan; the most prominent is Deimos, his main antagonist. Remnants of the super-scientific technology of Atlantis can also be found. Skartaris is overrun by a variety of prehistoric creatures from all geological eras, notably dinosaurs.
Most early issues of the comic characterize the setting with the following tag phrase: "In the savage world of Skartaris, life is a constant struggle for survival. Here, beneath an unblinking orb of eternal sunlight, one simple law prevails: If you let down your guard for an instant you will soon be very dead."
Skartaris was eventually retconned into being located in another dimension instead of physically inside the Earth. Thousands of years ago, before it was colonized by humans, this dimension was known as "Wizard World" because of the number of magical beings that lived in it.
Atlantean survivors of the city of Challa-Bel-Nalla, then ruled by Lord Daamon (an ancestor of Deimos), formed an alliance with an alien race they called the Red-Moon Gods. These aliens provided the Atlanteans with advanced technology that Travis Morgan would later discover in New Atlantis. New Atlantis first appears in Warlord Annual #2. Lord Norrad the Younger, one of the Atlantean Knights of the Sea Eagle left Atlantis with a small group of followers and travelled to Skartaris. Yet another group led by the Atlantean sorcerer Ar-Diamphos escaped the sinking of Atlantis and found New Atlantis, Ar-Diamphos had Norrad killed and made himself ruler. He transformed them into beast men known as Blood Brothers using Red-Moon God technology.
Books of Magic
- Although not referred to by name, a world within the center of the earth that was very similar to Skartaris is shown in the Super Friends episode Battle at the Earth's Core. There, prehistoric animals live, and there are even the ruins of an ancient Atlantean city.
- Skartaris has appeared in Justice League Unlimited episode "Chaos at the Earth's Core", where Green Lantern, Supergirl, Stargirl, and S.T.R.I.P.E. where summoned by Warlord's daughter, Jennifer, against Deimos. Apparently, Metallo and Silver Banshee had provided his forces with energy weapons in exchange for capturing the Great Stone, a large chunk of kryptonite. With the League's help, they defeated Deimos' forces, bringing peace to Skartaris. Afterwards, Green Lantern closed the portal to that world so no one can capture the Great Stone.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Brian Cronin, 2006, "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #54!" (archive)
- ↑ http://www.thewarlord.ca/articles/skartaristosable.html
- ↑ http://www.comicbookresources.com/?id=19757&page=article
- ↑ Warlord Annual #2
- ↑ Secret Six #25-28