From the Vaults: O BEAUTIFUL ZEBU

I inherited my first novel. In 1964, my mother and my aunt collaborated on a book called O Beautiful Zebu, an illustrated quest in a hardbound notebook that was passed down to me. In 1988, I took over the writing and illustrating, and continued for twelve whole pages.

Hey, I was 8. You've got to start somewhere.

My favorite thing about the book that was handed to me was the pantheon. The stand-in for Zeus was named Pippipipota. Just spelling that out makes me smile.

I took my role very seriously, at least for a while. My hope was that this would become a long-running fantasy epic, and that generations of Squailias would labor over the tale of Zebu. 

Should anyone take up the mantle, though, they've got their work cut out for them. It took me about five of those twelve pages to get the characters in so much trouble I couldn't get them out again.

The P stands for "Puissant." I, uh, don't know what the other Ps stand for.

The P stands for "Puissant." I, uh, don't know what the other Ps stand for.

Yes, in my hands, the story went straight to Hell. On page 44 the story was all fairy queens and flowers and clowns. On page 45, we're in a world of gargoyles, living shadows, evil wizards, spells gone wrong...and footnotes.

Tremble, O Mortal, before the cowled visage of Santilyon, Ruler of Doom!

Tremble, O Mortal, before the cowled visage of Santilyon, Ruler of Doom!

Some things never change.

Looks like the principal influence here was The Dark Is Rising. Here's a representative passage:

"We're in luck! I just learned a transporting spell for large objects. I'm not sure about a castle, but I can try!" After discussing it for about an hour, they decided that they should put the castle on top of Mt. Slinkor, where there is nothing but hail and snow.

Humbled by my page-count, I'd soon decide that what I really needed was a world of my own to play with.