Conan the Barbarian, the once-pulp, sword-wielding ruffian created by famed scribe Robert E. Howard, has been passed through mediums and reinventions for nearly 80 years. As the character is once again adapted for film in 2011’s Conan the Barbarian. This calls for a chronicle his comicbook narratives, as a primer for the first-time reader. In this miniseries, we will take a look at the character, his impact and the appeal of fantasy settings in our current age.
Marvel Comics was the first imprint to tackle the character with an ongoing series beginning in 1970. These legendary tales must have commanded legendary talent. Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala were just a few of the names associated with Conan’s multiple titles. The character would eventually see its end with the company in the mid-nineties, moving to bloodier pastures with Dark Horse Comics. The prolific side of Dark Horse’s Conan was helmed by Kurt Busiek, who penned Conan before handing the duties to current Conan the Cimmerian writer Tim Truman. Fans of the series are quick to acknowledge the artistic contributions of Cary Nord, Tomas Giorello and more. The series continues today.
Whether or not this year’s film will galvanize the Conan fan-horde is still a guess. And perhaps it will not say much at all, as the character has lasted through enough dry spells and misses as any longstanding protagonist. And vocal devotees and collectors of Conan comics, including our own President of the United States, continue the buzz of the Barbarian. I hope to use my own lack of history with the character’s comic incarnation to its advantages – fresh eyes, hopeful thrills and a question: Why do people still care about Conan the Barbarian?
Let’s find out.
// Notes from the Road
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