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Conan, King of the Barbarians

April 26, 2012

This was the barbarian I grew up with.  I remember how weird the comic looked on the spinner racks when I was a kid.  Nearly everyone else was in spandex and had capes.  I was down with superheroes, still am.  But there’s something about barbarians and jungle girls that just will not leave me alone.  Yeah, Raquel Welch in 1 MILLION BC really scarred me for life too.

At the time the comic came out, I didn’t even know who Conan was.  I hadn’t noticed the Lancer editions that were coming out with Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp, and Lin Carter’s names on them.  But after I read Roy Thomas’s story and devoured Barry Wood’s art, I had found a new hero to root for.  Conan wasn’t Superman, didn’t have web-spinning ability, or powers gained from cosmic radiation, but he was the closest thing there was to Batman before Batman became the Dark Knight we all know and love these days.  Denny O’Neill was just warming up his character-changing ideas for Batman, and Frank Miller was still in school.

For a lot of years there, I read all the barbarian heroes.  They had their worlds that were interesting and fun.  Thongor of Lost Lemuria (also by Lin Carter).  Kothar of the Magic Sword (written by comics and SF veteran Gardner F. Fox).  And dozens of others.  Before John Jakes reached bestsellerdom with his international hits, The Kent Family Chronicles, he was penning the adventures of Brak the Barbarian.

Sadly, the barbarian hero seems to have faded from publication as fantasy novels have gone more upscale and moved in political climates (Tolkein meets West Wing) like in Game of Thrones.

With the advent of ebooks, a return to basically the same kind of pulp atmosphere (including dark economic times) that spawned Howard’s Hyborian, Phil Athans and I thought it would be good to  bring a hero like this out again.  So we did.

In the meantime, you can still enjoy the original in books, comics, and movies.  The latest run at Dark Horse Comics includes the fateful meeting of Conan and Belit.  I’m really enjoying it.

But don’t forget to pick us up!


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