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Hello all,

I stumbled on your Trampier discussion and, as someone who recognizes your hunger for news Tramp, have decided to contribute some information. Essentially this comes from my own experience with Tramp from about five or so years ago.

I do respect those of you who believe in letting sleeping dogs lie, respecting Mr. Trampier's privacy, etc. In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have done this, and I am deeply sorry if I did cause Mr. Trampier any agitation.

Here's what I can tell you. I managed to track Trampier down and got in contact with him. At the time I was collecting original fantasy art and I really wanted to buy some original Wormy pages from him. The good news is that he wasn't selling any because he still is attached to them and still has the dream of publishing them all someday. So if any publishers are reading this, I know Trampier has a rocky past history with TSR, but in all likelihood a publishing deal could be worked out to reprint Wormy and he still has all the originals to print from (save 3, see below). At least as of five years ago he still held out that dream. While I don't know if he truly finished the second story arc (there were two - the first ended with the Wizard Gremorly and Solomoriah the winged panther's failed attack), he does have finished pages that were never published (which I never saw but he told me about). Even an incomplete trade edition would be a classic.

Trampier said he does own the rights to Wormy, completely. He said his self-published compilation never happened because he couldn't raise enough money to make it happen.

Trampier's voice is exactly how you might imagine it to be - gravely and warm with the smoky flavor of someone who prefers to "roll his own". At the time that I called Trampier was involved in trying to set up a tobacco shop, but I have no idea if that ever panned out.

Trampier is a big Pogo fan. He cited Walt Kelley's classic strip as the primary influence for Wormy. This isn't entirely surprising, given the art style and political subtext of several Wormy strips. In a way the Wormy material is a classic American retelling of slavery - just read the episode where Rudy has a long conversation with a caged troll if you don't believe me. Wormy isn't as heavily political as Pogo, but it's there.

I noted that there were no female characters in the strip and asked him why (although this isn't unheard of in many boy's adventure comics - women are kept at a bare minimum, say, in Tintin). He said it was because an early strip with Irving dreaming of a bare breasted female centaur made TSR uneasy about offending readership, so as a joke he decided to remove women altogether. I don't own that issue of Dragon myself, but I've seen it online and it does seem to be the only episode with a female character.

The only pages of Wormy that Trampier does not own, so far as I am aware, I own. I purchased these from a former TSR employee. When I called Trampier I told him about the pages and offered to return them, since I wasn't sure of their provenance (i.e., purchase history.) Trampier graciously allowed me to keep them, which I am grateful for. The three pages in question feature Otis and Rudy looking in a river cave mouth for trolls, then getting spooked at the thought that a kraken might be lurking. Afterwards Catfish and Bender (the Salamander) pole through on the back of a belly-up, dead Long-bellied Mudsucker fish. If anyone ever does want to publish the run of Wormy and needs these pages to reproduce (with Trampier's permission, naturally), I am entirely willing to lend them to the cause.

I'm bringing up the art because, frankly, it's gorgeous. Trampier used a special kind of magic marker to color his work (I can't remember the name he told me, but apparently that brand is no longer made), but the way he used them made his work look like it had been painted with watercolors. If you've ever looked at original comic art, even the big names will "cheat" using white-out, etc., so that often the final printed product looks more perfect than the original. Not so with Trampier. Every line is perfect, every color vibrant and nary a corrected mistake visible. I've seen a fair amount of original comic pages and I haven't seen anything to rival Trampier's sheer craftsmanship and painstaking labor. The pages practically glow like stained-glass windows.

Trampier confirmed to me that he had had a falling out with Mohan and company at TSR, and was surprised to learn the company had been purchased by Wizards of the Coast. He was entirely unaware of the interest expressed in his work on the internet, as he didn't have a computer or an internet connection at the time. He was happy to hear that the interest was there. Incidentally, at the time someone was posting Wormy pages and had stirred up controversy for doing so since they are Trampier's intellectual property and this person (not me, no relation, etc.) had not obtained permission. By the time I called Tramp they had capitulated and taken the images down. Trampier's words to me were that "I WANT people to see Wormy" and that this internet posting sounded fine. For the record.

The first call was really magical. Trampier was good humored, informative, and appreciated my compliments, and there I was, talking to a legend who had really impacted my childhood. Frankly I pretty much subscribed to Dragon back in the day just for the Wormy strips.

Things sadly went downhill from there. Without getting into it too much, Trampier withdrew, and stopped responding to my letters and inquiries into work that he had previously stated he was willing to sell (at the time, the pencil drafts for the Wormy pages, not the finished pages. And if anyone is curious, he doesn't have any of the classic Monster Manual drawings. Artist Tony DiTerlizzi does have the original of the Pseudodragon, but the rest are currently in oblivion. Apparently Trampier never got those drawings back from TSR, unlike the Wormy pages.) From my experience I do believe speculation that Trampier has some personal issues is likely true. I also want to stress that Trampier was never anything but polite to me when we did talk.

People can make of this what they will. I hope at least that this satisfies some curiousity about the David Trampier of five years ago. I understand why this could be read as a cautionary tale for would-be seekers, but I do hope that someone at TSR, paizo, etc will seek him out with a serious offer to collect and publish his Wormy material. He may have his quirks, but those strips are some of the most accomplished ever produced, they have a powerful base of nostalgic fans, and Trampier himself still holds the material, the copyright, and the will to have it published. He probably could use the additional monetary support too, frankly. It is certainly worth inquiring.

How to track him down? I'm sorry to say that you are on your own. I've moved, had several computer crashes, and no longer have Trampier's number or address. But I found both the old fashioned way in the first place, and so could anyone, no detective experience required. Personally, I hope that a publisher WILL contact him and at least make the attempt while it could still benefit Trampier himself - who knows what will happen to the Wormy material after Trampier does pass on. It could be lost, sold and scattered, or destroyed (Tramp's wife doesn't really seem to appreciate that part of his life). Simple fans just wanting to pay homage like I did should probably tread more lightly.

So there you go. That's my story. I hope it was helpful to you. And somebody, anybody, one way or another, please publish this classic of American pop culture.

By the way, for interests of privacy, my email address is bogus. I will try to respond to questions posted here for awhile if anyone has any, but I think I've already told you everything I know.


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