Artist Sean Andrew Murray contributes one of the covers to Heavy Metal 299, which is now finally shipping (thanks a lot, COVID-19). Murray is a world-builder, creating a realm called The Great City of Gateway. “I think of Gateway as a life-long project at this point,” he tells Heavy Metal in the pages of issue 299. “I have been with it, or rather it has been with me, for so long now that I don’t think there is a point at which I will say, ‘I’m done.'”
And Gateway has grown. Murray has produced copious images of it, a history and lore to tie it all together, which he’s published in crowdfunded books. He’s expanded into a deck-building card game, “Gateway Uprising,” and in his latest venture he’s turning items from Gateway into collectible artifacts, in partnership with Sideshow Collectibles. You can learn all about this great stuff at the City of Gateway website.
“I started thinking about [Gateway] as a response to what I felt was a very conservative genre: fantasy,” Murray says. “Although I believe this has changed since those early days, I used to feel as if the fantasy genre, which I love, was mostly populated with Tolkien clones, which didn’t make sense to me because Tolkien already made the best version of Middle Earth, so why try to re-make it?”
“I didn’t think it was fair that science fiction could have bars full of diverse, bizarre creatures from far-flung places, but inns in fantasy worlds always had the same elves, dwarves, and half-orcs. I wanted to create a setting for stories that was more inspired by the world around us, and more specifically, the cities we live in, which are teeming with stories and adventures around every corner.”
Get issue 299 to read more of Murray’s thoughts about creating Gateway, as well as his rules of thumb for would-be world-builders out there. You’ll also see a selection of Gateway (and other) images that is mostly different than what we’re posting here. You can stay up on his latest work by following him on Instagram @seanandrewmurray and Twitter @SeanMurray_Art, and visiting his Artstation portfolio.