Where's Wormy?

So, Captain America's dead now? Big deal. Like that's ever stopped anyone in comics.

Who cares about Captain America? ... what happened to Wormy? I just found out about this crazy story, and have been wondering, since I was a kid (teen, really), what happened to that cool comic.

Dave Trampier (aka Tramp) was an illustrator for TSR's Dungeons & Dragons game, and did a comic strip for Dragon Magazine. The strip, "Wormy" was a fantasy story told from the perspective of the monsters, including a snooker-playing dragon, a redneck cyclops and his cyclops dog, a bunch of bumbling ogres, and a village full of trolls and other creatures. There were funny jokes, Jim Henson-esque characters, a fantastic attention to detail, and even some real serial drama. The series mysteriously ended after issue #132, right in the middle of a storyline, and was later replaced by other plot-driven comics. I came in at issue #56, just when it was getting interesting. That would make me 11 at the time. Yikes!

The loss of "Wormy" marked the downfall of Dragon Magazine (in one blogger's opinion).

wormy3.jpg

Answers.com/Wikipedia said this about the mystery:

A few issues later there was a brief note from the editors stating that "Wormy" would never be appearing again. No explanation was given. Artist and writer Trampier pretty much vanished and has never been reliably heard from since. In a casual conversation with fellow Dragon artist Phil Foglio at the 2000 Origins Game Convention, Mr. Foglio stated that at some point the "Wormy" strips just stopped coming into Dragon magazine and all checks mailed to Trampier were returned as undeliverable. Inquiries by TSR at his residence showed that he had moved with no forwarding address.

Rumours that he had died were denied by Tom Wham, who was for a while Trampier's brother-in-law. Wham stated in the 1990s that he had actually had some contact with Tramp and that he was fine. He gave no further details.


In 1999, an unconfirmed letter from an unknown author (unknown to me, anyway) mentions knowing Trampier, and offers a glimpse into the mind of the artist:

Tramp caught me in a bar one night ... and he was raving. Don't get me wrong, I like eccentrics and idiosyncratic characters, but Dave seemed wacked out of his mind-- paranoid, delusional or something (not just drunk, though he may have been); he was very agitated. I could hardly make sense of what he was trying to tell me-- it was all so incoherent and in many cases just wrong-headed (contrary to certain facts I was privy to), but none-the-less he was rather insistent. I subsequently got the impression that this agitated state of mind Dave seemed to be in wasn't an isolated incident, but reflected a more general problem he was having. I suspect that it complicated his involvement with Dragon Magazine. Dave's reality seemed to be all his own at that time. He was being extremely creative and diligent in his artwork, but he chafed at or ignored many of the conventions and compromises the professional world demands of creators. Well, bully for him. I appreciate the dilemma he likely faced.

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In 2000, Radio Free Wyhtl 2.3 seemed to have found him in their post, "Trampier Lives?"

We do caution fans out there, that if Mr. Trampier is alive, he has plainly taken great pains to Not Be Seen. Sudden departures are signs of caution in our society, and the vanishing of the famous and outspoken must always be loudly noted in a free country. But if he is off in a new life somewhere, and you get his phone numberâ.. resist the initial temptation. Consider well if he's interested in strangers bothering him after all these years. As evidence of his peaceful continued existence mounts, so does the dynamic of insuring a fellow artist's safety: The issue of privacy is second to life, but an extremely close second.

In 2005, there was a personality piece by Arin Thompson of the Daily Egyptian, a Carbondale, IL paper in which a cab driver named Dave Trampier is interviewed:

He rolls his own - no filters. He keeps his smokes in a novelty box that displays the word "Outlaw," embossed in thick, red ink.

When the key is in the ignition, he's not just David Trampier. He's cabby No. 4, and he knows Carbondale better than people who have lived here their entire lives.

"I literally have a map of the entire city in my head," Trampier says.

Trampier has been driving in Carbondale for about eight months. The former Southern Illinois resident used to drive a cab in the northwest suburbs of Chicago but moved back to the area last year.

wormy2.jpg

The article is accompanied by a picture of the driver. An unconfirmed Wikipedia statement suggests Gary Gygax confirmed it was the David Trampier who once worked for TSR.

So what's the story? Did Trampier go nuts and leave town? Where is he now? What's the deal with him? Maybe he's just out there, floating around in the aether... in any case, it sure sounds like a terrific Exhibit A episode, doesn't it?



3 Comments

Well, I'm the one who wrote the article in 2002 about Mr. Trampier and boy oh boy, had no idea it would lead to this! I feel privilaged in a sort of strange way to be a part of something so intriguing...like "Is Elvis Still Alive!?!" I can't say either way what the "truth" is, as my relationship with Mr. Trampier remains in confidence as he is one of my sources, and a great cabbie to boot, but I hope ya'll have fun with this, as I'm sure Dave and myself have over the years.

Peace!

Trampier was one helluva an artist! Damn, I wish he was still at it.

Wormy was the best. I wish it was possible to buy the whole series in one volume. Truly, an unsung gem of 20th century fantasy literature.

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