Conan The Barbarian #1-24
of the best series ever produced by Marvel Comics was, in
my opinion, Conan The Barbarian. Begun in 1970, Conan was
the first adaption of Robert E. Howard’s wandering
Cimmerian to comic books. It made an instant splash among
what became rabidly loyal readers, most likely due to the
ready-made fan base inspired by the novels.
label Conan a “sword and sorcery” comic does
it an injustice. Though it certainly had it’s share
of wizards and magicians, and there was, indeed, plenty
of steel clashing and teeth-gnashing, this particular sequential
series was about a man of indomitable will, from a hard,
unforgiving place, making his mark on the world. Whether
the world liked it or not.
character was harsh, but fair. Crude, yet, in his way, civilized.
Strong, but vulnerable. (Oh, how that barbarian hated and
feared magic!) And, while certainly not chivalrous, Conan
had a soft spot for the damsels in distress. As long as
they didn’t give him attitude.
much of these character traits were, of course, established
long before the comic book adventures, writer Roy Thomas
is certainly to be given monumental accolades for his work
in adapting the character to the four-color medium. His
affection for the subject matter was evident on every page.
back, one of the most exciting things about those first
24 issues of Conan was witnessing the rapid growth and developing
maturity in the work of artist Barry (Windsor) Smith. With
his work looking very much like a series of Jack Kirby knock-offs
in the first few issues, the young artist quickly began
to come into his own. In short order, his figures became
more lifelike, his settings more intricate, his storytelling
more dynamic, his women certainly more beautiful and his
barbarians and warriors more formidable.
Smith’s work went from being the Marvel “house
style”, sometimes pushed by Stan Lee, to being a truly
ground-breaking, awe-inspiring series of renderings which
has influenced the character, the fans and the comics world
to this day.
24 issues of Conan The Barbarian have been reprinted more
than once, and are highly recommended. Get them however
note: below are some of the reprint volumes for order from
Amazon, or you may find them at your local shop. Dark Horse
has promised a volume of Barry Windsor-Smith Conan Archives
reprinting at least some of the run mentioned above.)