CROYDWATCH

George RR Martin's Wild Cards Croydwatch Pic

If there's a single character in the Wild Cards universe who qualifies as a mascot or figurehead for the series, then that person can only be the friendly neighbourhood bad-boy, Croyd Crenson - The Sleeper.

He's the first victim of the virus the reader meets, his affliction means he gets to experience life both as ace and joker, and he has the uncanny ability to be present at just about every major event chronicled in the series. As if that weren't enough, he's possibly one of the very few aces who can claim immortality amongst their gifts as he gets physically reborn with each transformation. As an extra bonus, he's also given some of the more memorable lines in the series.

For your amusement, the following lists all his appearances in the series to date. For those who have yet to read the series, please note there are spoilers contained in some of the entries.

Volume l: WILD CARDS
His first appearance comes in The Sleeper which sees him in a variety of ace and joker bodies, and covers his life fom the age of 14 to his late teens. In Interlude One, he is the unidentified man caught looting New York's diamond centre who falls into a coma, wakes up eight months later and walks through the wall of his jail cell.

in Interlude Three, a 'burly black man' named Croyd is noticed by Tom Wolfe at Aces High chilling a champagne bottle with his hands, while Interlude Four sees him as a 7ft tall joker with triple-jointed arms and a wolf's snout who's able to spit venom, sharing some crank with Hunter S. Thompson.

It's likely that Angelface is referring to Croyd in Shell Games when she tells Tachyon, 'Once I had a customer get so drunk he slept for five months.'

* UPDATE: There are three brand-new stories in the reissued first volume. In one of them, Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan, Croyd shows up as a nondescript thirty-something man with crew-cut black hair and the ability to freeze anybody in the immediate vicinity for five minutes.

Volume ll: ACES HIGH
Croyd is next seen in Ashes to Ashes as a mind-controlling ace who accepts a commission from Jube to recover a body. He returns in the final Jube chapter as a shape-shifter.

Volume lll: JOKERS WILD
A brief but memorable cameo in this volume. He's a guest at the Aces High banquet with unspecified powers over metals, who accidentally does grevious damage to Modular Man during a moment of stress.

Volume lV: ACES ABROAD
Croyd is absent from this volume.

Volume V: DOWN AND DIRTY
To make up for his non-appearance in the last episode (and the next two), Croyd is present throughout the entire book this time, in two ace incarnations. First as an insect-eyed super-conductor of electricity, later as an albino with added strength and super-fast reflexes - as well as the dubious talent of passing on a new strain of the Wild Card virus to anyone with whom he comes into contact.

Volume Vl: ACE IN THE HOLE
Croyd is absent from this volume.

Volume Vll: DEAD MAN'S HAND
Although he doesn't appear in this story, Croyd is briefly considered as a suspect when Jay Ackroyd makes a list of aces strong enough to have committed the book's murder.

Volume Vlll: ONE-EYED JACKS
In Nobody Loves Me Like My Baby, Jerry Strauss spots a tall, thin, dark-haired Croyd with luminous eyes, on the arm of Veronica at the Wild Card Day dinner. He later makes a two-page cameo in Horses in the form of a seven-foot joker covered in feathers and a membrane linking his arms to his sides.

Volume lX: JOKERTOWN SHUFFLE
Hired by Black Shadow for a tail job, Croyd is 'sort of a giant bat, except without hair' in While Night's Black Agents to Their Preys Do Rouse. While in this form, Croyd is next seen playing delivery boy in The Temptation of Hieronymous Bosch Part Vll, when his new landlord, Bloat, asks him to relay a message to St. John Latham.

He next appears in Nobody Does It Alone when Jerry observes St. John Latham in conversation with a hairless pink bat who then flies off to report back to Bloat. Some time later, in The Temptation of Hieronymous Bosch Part X, Bloat mentally follows Croyd during an army attack on the Rox as his new incarnation - a strong joker looking like an armadillo crossed with a man - wreaks havok on some unfortunate soldiers.

Volume X: DOUBLE SOLITAIRE
Croyd is absent from this volume.

Volume Xl: DEALER'S CHOICE
Croyd's presence in this final part of the Jumper trilogy is basically as comic relief, as Bloat constantly tries to wake him up while assuring his troops that his new body is looking 'very promising.' He eventually wakes up a few pages from the end in the perfect body for his new circumstances, demonstrating that luck is also one of his Wild Card talents.

Volume Xll: TURN OF THE CARDS
In this instalment, the Sleeper takes centre stage as Mark Meadows' only ally once he gets to Vietnam. Initially taking the form of a walking lizard (or skink) with a penchant for eating bugs, Croyd is later seen as 'a tall man with blue-back hair and a notable jut of jaw', who just may be the most powerful ace on the planet.

Volume Xlll: CARD SHARKS
In The Long Sleep, Croyd relates his story to Hannah in the shape of a fairly normal looking guy, although one endowed with a tiger-like tail, sharp incisors, retractable claws and super-speed.

Volume XlV: MARKED CARDS
In this volume, the first of several appearances by Croyd comes in My Sweet Lord. Still a guest of Mark Meadows in Vietnam, The Sleeper is a tall, skinny joker with protruding, faceted yellow eyes, antennae prodruding from his forehead, and a nasty-looking claw on his right hand.

He's next seen Stateside in Feeding Frenzy Part l, as an emotionless, telepathic 'chitinous creature in black armour, with a vast, swollen head and side-mounted eyes,' who thinks in a kind of computer language. He wakes up again in Feeding Frenzy Part ll as a brown-haired man in his thirties capable of projection telepathy.

In The Colour of His skin Part 6, he returns as a ghostly, teleporting ace who's able to fashion objects from the air. While in A Breath of Life, Zoe Harris finds herself on a night flight to Jerusalem sitting next to a thin, handsome black-haired fellow called Croyd, who's gulping down chocolate-covered expresso beans in between yawns.

Volume XV: BLACK TRUMP
Croyd's initial appearance in the conclusion to the Card Sharks triad is as a thin, blond, mustached Robert Redford type who possesses the extemely useful talent of being able to understand and converse in the language of anyone with whom he comes into contact. When next we see him, it's in the rather less useful form of an eight-legged talking camel, albeit one who can travel faster than most cars.

Volume XVl: DEUCES DOWN
Croyd appears in the story, Walking the Floor Over You, in a bat-like form familiar to those who remember his memorable appearance at his sister's wedding in the very first Sleeper story.

Volume XVll: DEATH DRAWS FIVE
Croyd is absent from this volume.

UPDATE: An email from Brian has reminded us there's a mention within the book of a mysterious patient in St Dympna's Sanitarium who, in 1957, after having been catatonic for a decade suddenly woke and drained the mind of an Ace psycopath who'd just murdered thirty-seven patients, before escaping himself.

It seems unlikely this is Croyd as the first volume showed him to be fairly active in the post-war years, but you never know...

Volume XVlll: INSIDE STRAIGHT
No Croyd in this one, although he does gets a mention as an underground comix character in the sixties, drawn by Robert Crumb.

Volume XlX: BUSTED FLUSH
Croyd is absent from this volume.

Volume XX: SUICIDE KINGS
Croyd makes an actual appearance in this volume - albeit a fleeting one - as a neon-blue guy sitting in the back booth of a Jokertown coffee shop, wolfing down eight breakfasts stacked as high as his head. Welcome home, Sleeper! (And thanks to Walter for the heads up.)

Volume XXl: FORT FREAK
Croyd gets a long-awaited co-starring role in this volume's story, More!, as an Ace. This time round, he's a fairly attractive-looking man with stubble and dark, curly, mussed-up hair - as well as the power to make duplicate copies of any object or person just by touching them. He also appears in The Rat Race - Part 11.

While still in the same form, Croyd returns in the short story The Elephant In The Room, which serves as a sequel-of-sorts to the two stories above.