Sidney Sime, Forgotten Master

Posted by: on May 31, 2011 | 10 Comments

Looks like I’m gonna get another infusion of money for Rex Mundi – hooray for me. The first thing I did, of course, was buy a bunch of expensive and out-of-print art books.

The best purchase, by far, was a copy of a 1978 book devoted to Sidney Sime, one of the original, if not the original, fantasy illustrator(s). The introduction by Ray Bradbury was worth the price all by itself, and I can’t believe I finally have detailed, printed copies of Sime’s art. Until now, all I had was low quality scans gleaned off of the Web.

It’s a tragedy Sime has been forgotten so utterly. His illustrations for Lord Dunsany’s and William Hope Hodgson’s stories are every bit as good as the stories themselves; works of art in their own right.

Here’s Sime’s map of his “Land of Dreams”:

The "Land of Dreams", by Sidney Sime

The "Land of Dreams", by Sidney Sime

I’m sort of a nut for fantasy maps; I’d never seen this one in enough detail to make out the place names until today. One of the things I love about Sime – Dunsany, too – is his/their sense of humor. They don’t take their worlds so deadly-gloomy seriously, the way some (cough!)Tolkien!(/cough!) creators do.

The image above links to a high resolution .tiff file, suitable for printing – and do print it out, Dear Reader, it’s worth the ink. Right-click the image and choose “Save link as…” to download. If you can’t do that for whatever reason, a .jpg is right here.

As far as I know, this is the only high-resolution image of this map floating around the Web. Of course, the brittle binding of the book I just paid a ridiculous sum of money for snapped as soon as I laid it flat for the scan. It’s my little sacrifice to the world, I guess.

Oh, yeah – Queen Sonja #17 is out tomorrow; buy a copy or three if you happen to pop into your local comic shop!

10 Comments

  1. Ben
    June 7, 2011

    Awesome map, Arvid! Thanks for sharing. It is too bad there is not more Sime work available to see online. After you introduced me to his work, I had to look up more. Truly beautiful work. I am particularly fond of the waterfall into the “Great Hole Full of Stardust.” The four points of the compass are quite interesting, too.

    If you get other books, there may be ways to scan without bending the binding so much to snap it. Of course, that is very dependent on the scanner you have… I hope it isn’t too bad a snap…

  2. Rvid
    June 7, 2011

    Ben! The snap was pretty bad. Not quite as bad as getting “snapped” by the likes of Kid ’n Play (one, either, both, or neither of them), but pretty bad.

  3. Vidugavia
    November 9, 2011

    The sacrifice was not in vain. Marvelous map!

    I’m also quite a map nut and would really like to know when this map was made. Does it predate The Hobbit? If so, Tolkien must have seen it.

  4. Rvid
    November 11, 2011

    I think it must predate The Hobbit – Sime was from the generation (or two!) before Tolkien.

  5. Vidugavia
    November 13, 2011

    But Sime died 1941 while The Hobbit was first published in 1937
    According to this page the illustration was published in 1905:
    http://dl.lib.brown.edu/mjp/render.php?view=mjp_object&id=mjp.image.SimeSidney.5

    But a book with the title The Land of Dreams was published in 1940 by someone who might be a relative to Sidney:
    http://books.google.com/books/about/The_land_of_dreams.html?id=H5ZlewAACAAJ

    Does it say in your book where the illustration comes from? Was it made for a specific story? When?

    It would be very appreciated if you could help me with this. I am writing an article about the history of fantasy maps and identifying Sime as a inspiration to Tolkiens maps in The Hobbit would be nice.

  6. Rvid
    November 13, 2011

    You’ve already done far more research than I! I don’t know when Tolkien started writing The Hobbit, but unless it was significantly before 1905, I’d say Sime’s map came first. I know for a fact Lord Dunsany was a big inspiration for Tolkien, as was William Morris.

    The book is actually at my mum’s place. I’ll see if there’s any information in it when I go there next, probably for Thanksgiving.

    Drop me a line at arvid@rexmundi.net when the article is finished! I’d love to see it.

  7. Vidugavia
    November 17, 2011

    Thank you and happy thanksgiving in advance. I’m rather suspicious of dates an such that are only given once on an internet page without any clear sources. It’s always safer to double check with another source. 1905 might be a mistake but it would be nice if it’s true.

    By the way. I found your blog looking for art by Sime but then realized that I have read some of your comics. I’ve read the first four albums and think they we’re nice, even as I’m usually bored with stories related to the grail mytos. I especially liked the part when your french “Hitler”(don’t remember his name) seemed to be surrounded by enemy forces posed for a inevitable victory. That he instead turned out as the victor was a great surprise. Bad-guys usually doesn’t get that kind of victories. I have to ask my friend who collects them if he as bought the last two albums.

  8. Rvid
    December 5, 2011

    Aheh. Of course, Thanksgiving came and went, and I failed failed failed to look at the book. Apologies. I just finished a novel, so my head is even more in the clouds than usual.

    I’ll remember next time I head up, or I’ll shave my head. All the sources I’ve read on Sime indicate he was doing art similar to Land of Dreams around 1905. Based on what I know, it would be very surprising if he had created the map post 1937.

    I, too, am bored to tears by “Secrets of the Holy Grail” conspiracy theories, because I’ve read so goddam many of them!

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