Monday, June 22, 2015

Many Conans to choose from

It might be that you've just finished all of the lovely Conan books from Dark Horse.  Good reading, and some fine art.  Roy Thomas and John Buscema created many years of fine work at Marvel Comics, and a fine assortment of people did Savage Sword of Conan over the same period.  But, despite the good works and fun reads, there are some points to make and things to show you that you might have missed.

Larry Hama was a writer of many stories in the Conan corner of Marvel, appearing in Savage Sword of Conan, and the mainstream color comic Conan the Barbarian.  But CTB sales began to droop so Marvel canceled the comic, and relaunched it with new ideas, and a different look.  Larry Hama wrote it, and Barry Crain drew it.  I thought that it was very good, in that it had jettisoned many of the trappings that had become the norm when looking at Conan the Barbarian.  Sadly the art was a disappointment to many, and it hurt the relaunch.  I enjoyed the book though, and especially for the writing.

Roy Thomas returned to Conan writing with Conan the Adventurer.  It was an ok read, but mostly for the lush art by Rafael Kayanan.  Sometimes a great artist or writer are all a book needs.  I think this worked that way for me.  I like Roy Thomas but, his work on Conan seemed to use short hand notes, developed from the years of writing the main title CTB.  Here though, watching the artist go bongo with details and obvious love on the page was a joy to view.

Chuck Dixon knows Conan.  Conan and many other characters, Chuck Dixon knows.  Conan the Savage was similar to the Conan by Larry Hama in that it was a reboot to an old book that had lost some readers over time.  The work here was brilliant, and thought the new era and magazine was as good as the best of SSoC and better then the rest.  I would also say, Chuck and Larry seemed sympatico in their treatment of the character, which is very important in a time with two or more series on the stands, and having, perhaps, mutual readers.

Conan Saga was a sort of best of magazine which often featured spectacular cover art by former artists of the comic Conan the Barbarian or Savage Sword of Conan.  Some people preferred it over the product that was on the shelf, others bought it as completists, and lastly some people bought it for the cover art alone.  It was a pretty looking magazine, and it served as a bridge for some people who could not afford the back issues and couldn't wait for the days when archives and reprint tpbs would come and collect the series. 

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