Magic Circle from "Wormy"

The comic series "Wormy", by David Trampier, ran in the back of Dragon Magazine from 1977 to 1988. It focuses on a dragon named Wormy and various other characters dealing with him.

In 1983 issue 72 of the magazine appeared, depicting a mage named Gremorly who had made his way to Wormy's hoard conjuring a portal to some sort of alternate space in order to escape with treasure. The creation of the portal is depicted carefully and evocatively, and clearly made a big impression on my 10-year-old self.

Gremorly writes in the air, using a rectangular golden stylus. He writes a glowing letter in an unknown language, then traces a line across where the portal will be to the other side, draws another glowing letter, then repeats. The eventual shape of the portal spell is a 28 pointed star of Schläfli symbol {28/11} with alternating radii of approximately 3 feet and 2 feet 9 inches. Finally, he writes a final symbol in the central circle (not shown clearly) and speaks a short phrase in the same language. A small portal appears in the central circle, which expands while bending the lines outward. Meanwhile the inner letters shift out to join the outer ones in a single circle as the portal fills the entire inner circular space within the letters.

Interestingly, the language of the portal spell is not the language Gremorly uses to speak to his imp-like familiar (which is also spoken by a demon elsewhere in the comic), nor the language he uses to cast mind-control spells on ogres a few strips earlier. He's also shown to speak what is depicted as English. Clearly wizards are learned people!

The final portal is about 6 feet wide and hovers a few inches above the floor (in this case a dragon-sized table). It seems to be permanent, and is not dispelled when Gremorly is knocked unconscious by an immense 6-sided die.

I've redrawn this portal in a few formats. These images depict the portal as seen from Gremorly's side, though many of the images in the comic are from the other side of it so as not to have his body block the details. It clearly looks the same from both sides aside from being a mirror-image - it may be entirely 2-dimensional. My images don't depict the central symbol, as it is not shown clearly beyond beginning with a vertical line from the top. It would be about the same size as the other letters.

These PDF versions also include the glyphs in the order they are written as well as the activation phrase.

Monochrome portal poster Color portal poster Grayscale portal poster

Addendum, Jun 2 2015: on further investigation, I noticed that the symbols across the circle from each other have some similarities. Below is the drawing sequence, split halfway through, to make this more obvious.

Addendum, Mar 26 2016: thanks to reader Tony Rowe, who has published his own series about Trampier's artwork, I have another example of this writing: a certificate sent to backers of the attempted Wormy graphic novel, with this writing around the border.

Addendum the second, Apr 6 2016: reader tsojcanth has created a font with these characters.


These are magical symbols from a fictional universe - I make no claims about any power they have in our world beyond looking cool.

I've also redrawn magical circles from the manga "Oh My Goddess!".


Symbols designed by David Trampier and redrawn by Denis Moskowitz with no authorization. I claim this to be fair use of possibly copyrighted material. First posted May 25 2015. Last updated Apr 6 2016.