Jeffrey Beebe's Refractoria
November 27, 2012 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Over the last fifteen years, I have created the world of Refractoria, a comprehensive imagino-ordinary world that is equal parts autobiography and pure fantasy. - Jeffrey Beebe

Beebe has also drawn Refractoria's constellations and notable residents.
posted by Egg Shen (11 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Anyone who is familiar with my work (and I think there are six or seven of you out there) understands that a key component of the drawings--and a lot of the thought and organization behind the work--come from the language of the first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game. Henceforth, in this minor essay, the game with be referred to as 1st ed AD&D.

(Look at me: I streamlined that shit. You're welcome) ...

In the spring, I tackled the AD&D influence head on with a drawing of a dungeon map called the Lost Caverns of the Queen of Ropes. (The Queen of Ropes, of course, being just another avatar of the Empress of the Vast Nonsense.) It was a very traditional dungeon crawl map inspired directly by the G1-3, D1-3, and S4 module maps.
posted by Egg Shen at 3:16 PM on November 27, 2012

This is great. I'd play a campaign on this map for sure, though we might have to replace some of his ex-girlfriends and bosses with canon harpies and ogres.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:37 PM on November 27, 2012

"Small puffy red pregnant lady hands."
posted by Nomyte at 4:04 PM on November 27, 2012

And also, I now understand why the Codex Seraphinianus is written in Seraphinian.
posted by Nomyte at 4:07 PM on November 27, 2012

I can't help but admire this because I have made up fantasy lands at least this ridiculous, but never illustrated so well, nor so skillfully.

However, I also recognize this as a warning. This is what happens when you read Cabell's Jurgen at an impressionable age.
posted by wobh at 5:07 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is gorgeous and sprawling and alive and incredible.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:14 PM on November 27, 2012

I get a Flaming Carrot vibe from it. Which is, needless to say, a good thing.
posted by Egg Shen at 6:00 PM on November 27, 2012

The thing is though (speaking as an ancient D&D grognard): didn't we all do this? When I populated Jon's Lurk or Hammerhill or my main campaign city of Dragonsgate, wasn't I pulling parts of me out and spreading it across hexes or grids, mapping my dreams and fears on paper and then, hesitantly, holding it up for my fellows to conquer and mock?

And wasn't it good when my dreams stood strong and defied their best?

Is authoring a fantasy map any different, really, than writing something close to the heart and having the courage to share it with others?

(Was JRRT the bravest of us all?)

(Memo to self: watch Whisper of the Heart again, this weekend.)
posted by SPrintF at 7:30 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Interesting bio and the one-offs made me want to view the rest of his online work. But not the maps, so much.

He talks about characters in his drawings. Is there a chronology that would guide me? I don't want to get too deep into it if there's a recommended order...
posted by surplus at 8:20 AM on November 28, 2012

Hi there.

Sorry I'm late to the game. I mostly slumber in the cave of my studio. As a heavy slumberer, I appreciate the interest in my work.

Egg Shen, thanks for the posting of my work. I appreciate it. I've been struggling with my drawings since the mid 90s--they were okay but something was missing. About two years ago, I made the Refractorian map and the work just gushed out after that. Something about feeding my perceptions of the world through an AD&D filter and making a kind of pathetic heroics out of everyday concerns . . . it just worked. And I denied it for so many years as not cool or not serious enough, not "fine art" enough. How ridiculous, right?

wobh, thanks for the mention of Cabell's Jurgen. I hadn't heard of it before now but it's been moved to the top of the reading list. (Anything to stop reading Austen's Emma. I'm doing it on a dare. And I think I'd have rather eaten my own earwax.)

SPrintF, I agree with you. I'm inviting people to invade, mock and conquer my fears and failures. There is something endlessly self-mocking to me about letting that easily-wounded 12 year old kid take over the hands and vocabulary of this 41 year old man. Thanks also for the mention of Whisper of the Heart. I've Netflixed it, top of the queue.

Surplus, there is no chronology to guide you. I'm kind of bouncing back and forth through time in these drawings--on my site, the Indianapolis map is set (in my mind) in medieval times, the Chicago map during my world's equivalent of the Victoria era, etc. The characters that show up are inspired by the maps. I use them as launching points I can revisit at a later times.

Famous Monster, if I weren't so anemic, I would blush at your praise.

Nomyte: during lunch one day in high school, a cute girl told me I had pregnant lady hands--"you know . . . small, red and puffy" which is something that most guys probably don't want to hear. It stuck with me. I think it's hilarious.

Thanks again for the interest in the work. I sincerely appreciate it. I'm trying to get a kickstarter campaign going to get some prints made of the bigger drawings. Yes, I know--another f#*king kickstarter campaign. But what else can I do?

posted by beebe at 11:28 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hi there,

Just to let you know, I've launched my Kickstarter campaign. (Yes, I know they're annoying . . . sorry.) The link to my campaign in on the landing page for my website. Link below. Please pass along where you think people might give a crap.

Printing the Map of Western Refractoria.

SPrintF thanks for the Whisper of the Heart rec. I loved it!

posted by beebe at 10:56 AM on December 11, 2012

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