I had planned to write this blog on January 22nd, which will mark the 112th anniversary of the birth of author Robert E. Howard. The latest news dropping concerning Howard’s most famous creation — Conan — has inspired me to begin it a week early and in two parts.
It seems we are in the midst of a Conan renaissance. After a disastrous reboot of Conan the Barbarian on the big screen in 2011, the Cimmerian as a marketable franchise appeared deader than one of the unfortunate curs who crossed his path.
However, since that tumble we have been treated to a renewed interest in all things Howard, particularly his sullen-eyed and melancholy thief, reaver, and slayer of men that first sprang to life in the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales.
In the past two years we’ve seen highly successful kickstarters for a Conan board game from Monolith and a phenomenal RPG titled Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of from Modiphius.
Funcom’s Conan:Exiles has proven to be quite popular with the video game crowd and they have another in development.
Excitement really reached a fevered pitch when Funcom announced its partnership with Cabinet Group to form Heroic Signatures, and when it was announced that a new line of Conan pastiche novels would be forthcoming, it cemented the fact that Conan of Cimmeria, as well as a veritable host of other Howard creations, would be back in a big way.
Then the Marvel announcement dropped.
For many, their first introduction to Conan the Barbarian through Marvel Comics’ adaptations that ran from October 1970 to December 1993. It was just announced that the rights, since held by Dark Horse, would be reverting back to Marvel, including all reprints, after 18 years.
What does this mean for the mighty Cimmerian? Time will tell, of course. I have high hopes. The Savage Sword of Conan, which ran from 1974 – 1995, was my favorite comic. Most of its run, principally by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Ernie Chan, was simply magic on the page. Masterfully written and gorgeously illustrated. Can Marvel recapture that kind of magic? Their recent track record leaves me doubtful, but I’ll be giving it a look.
I’d pray to Crom in hopes that it is a successful launch, but I know that he does not care. He just laughs from his mountain.
So, why does this all relate to Dungeons & Dragons and Appendix N? Tune in next week for Part 2 to find out.