Favourite Marvels 1: The Savage Sword of Conan
By Patrick C Oliver
February 4, 2008 - 07:22
The first exposure to Robert E Howard's Conan character that I can clearly remember, was in the Marvel monthly comic The Savage Sword Of Conan. The character has been an enduring favourite of mine since my teen years.
Wanted: Strong sword arm.
The savage sword of Conan was as a monthly comic book filled with tales of adventurous daring do, excellent artwork and the occasional interview with artists like Boris Vallejo.
The monthly issues represented for me an exiting glimpse into a well-imagined world of magic and excitement featuring a hero who though often seemingly outmatched was sure of one thing that he would prevail, or die in the effort. And the character of Conan, seemed to me to be fully rounded. He was jovial, intelligent, brusque and quick thinking man. He was also, brooding, single-minded, loyal, and honourable, had an eye for the ladies, a taste for ale and much more! Occasionally we would see him interact with characters from his travels, the formidable female warrior Red Sonja or the pirate queen Belit, for instance. These were always welcome tales.
Let me tell you of the days of High Adventure!
The stories (that I remember the best) were written by Roy Thomas and wonderfully drawn by John Buscema, Ernie Chan and Gil Kane. The adventures were rendered in what at first looked like simple black and white illustrations. Upon closer inspection though, the pages managed to convey lots of information to the reader, whether they were conscious of this or not. I remember lots of the scenes being quite atmospheric and upon re-reading a couple of issues, I was pleased to find that was still the case! Whether walking down a dark dirty alley way or fighting in woodland, the reader always had a solid sense of place thanks to the artwork and the imagery conjured up by the text.
The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery.
Of the two Conan feature films, the first, Conan the Barbarian, captured the solid sense of 'place' that I felt reading the comic books the best. And while Arnold Schwarzenegger might have been everybody’s first choice, he acquitted himself reasonably well in the title role.
I have read some other Conan adaptations recently and they are very good. The writing is excellent and the artwork matches the quality of the writing, no doubt about it. While they are definitely worthy successors, they cannot yet shift marvel comics Savage Sword of Conan in my affections.
The covers to each issue were pieces of art in themselves. And they all had one thing in common - dynamism.
Conan is a well loved character; hopefully he too will continue to show the dynamism of those covers from my teenage years, and keep on marching from our pasts and continue long into our future.
Last Updated: June 23, 2021 - 00:45
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