Jump to content

Why does the Red Emperor look like Elvis?

Nick Brooke

Recommended Posts

I shared this over on Facebook, but I know some of you don't use that platform, and people do keep asking. Now that A Rough Guide to Glamour is out in print, I think the tale can be told.

A flash of inspiration led MOB to write one of the short stories included in the book (The Son of Light Awakens, written in response to my Yolanela Spurned and followed by the gruesome sequel Moonson's Number Two - all three stories are collected in A Rough Guide to Glamour, of course [footnote], and were read aloud in Gloranthan Storytelling events at nineties RQ/Glorantha conventions, the notorious "Yolanelathons").

Michael O'Brien's genius brainwave was to draw increasingly explicit parallels between Moonson Argenteus, beloved demigod ruler of the Lunar Empire, a talented musician and the darling of the masses (much like the Roman emperor Nero) ... and the declining years of Elvis Presley in Las Vegas.

He's a King, the King of Kings, a Living God no less, living in the lap of pleasure-dome'd luxury, with staff and servants and slaves and worshippers providing everything he could possibly desire...

And yet, despite his Godlike image, he is bound by the burdens of mundanity, materiality, bloated decline and orgiastic decadence, cheeseburgers, alcohol, drugs, and - eventually - mortality.
It was such a striking conceit, we all embraced it immediately, and were delighted when Dario Corallo drank our Kool-Aid and produced a perfect rendition of Moonson as Elvis for our book's front cover.

That's the story.

[footnote] Indeed, they're all illustrated (with just one exception): and MOB's other story in the book, Jaxarte and the Emperor, includes yet another picture of Elvis Argenteus Presley.

The only exception is Moonson's Number Two. For moral reasons, we were not prepared to commission an illustration of constipated Elvis straining on the Imperial Commode. You will have to draw your own version in the space provided (and you can spill over to the blank last page if that proves insufficient).
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Behold the power of archetypes!

Asvedava the Black, the Spolite Witch who inherits Tatius the Bright’s role and immediately starts doing things very differently, wasn’t in Life of Moonson (she was added to Gloranthan canon in the Guide to Glorantha, when @Jeffdecided that - for fairly obvious reasons - it would be useful to know more about Tatius’ successor); the decision to depict her as Cate Blanchett playing Hela was another of Dario‘s inspirations, and I think it works very well. You clearly wouldn’t want to mess with her, and you’re reasonably sure she can access primal necromantic forces of Darkness and indeed Feminism in a way that probably isn’t in anyone else’s best interest.

The Red Dancer of Power was conceived by Chris Gidlow (who wrote her up for “Life of Moonson” and, I believe, “The Hunt for Red Storm Season” before that) as currently presenting* as a slightly inhuman-looking anime schoolgirl. The hair in bunches was always a feature. I think Mike Hagen suggested Margot Robbie as a good model for the cover, adding a twist of psychosis and insanity to the original concept. And Dario, of course, delivered. (The rose-tinted sunglasses are my fault)

One thing I hadn’t realised until Dario assembled the whole cover - as a group, they look remarkably like the Bat Man’s rogues’ gallery. (Which means, of course, that I’m working out who’s missing - The Riddler is only too obvious for the Lunar Empire; Two-Face fits perfectly as some kind of Carmanian vizier; others...?) 

* she changes form every year, of course.

Edited by Nick Brooke
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

The Riddler is only too obvious for the Lunar Empire

Riddle me this Moonson!... 

4 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

Two-Face fits perfectly as some kind of Carmanian vizier

A priestess of Natha sounds about right.

4 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:


Scarecrow, Poison Ivy (or is that Yolanela?), Mr. Freeze...


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...