Conan the Barbarian
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Illustration of Conan by Mark Schultz.
|First appearance||Weird Tales (Dec. 1932)|
|Created by||Robert E. Howard|
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Conan the Barbarian (also known as Conan the Cimmerian) is a fictional sword and sorcery hero who originated in pulp fiction magazines and has since been adapted to books, comics, several films (including Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer), television programs (cartoon and live-action), video games, role-playing games and other media. The character was created by writer Robert E. Howard in 1932 via a series of fantasy stories published in Weird Tales magazine.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Setting
- 3 Personality and character
- 4 Original Robert E. Howard Conan stories
- 5 Book editions
- 6 Conan chronologies
- 7 Media
- 7.1 Films
- 7.2 Television
- 7.3 Comics
- 7.4 Games
- 8 Characters
- 9 Copyright and trademark dispute
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Conan the Barbarian was created by Robert E. Howard in a series of fantasy stories published in Weird Tales magazine in 1932. For months, Howard had been in search of a new character to market to the burgeoning pulp outlets of the early 1930s. In October 1931, he submitted the short story "People of the Dark" to Clayton Publications' new magazine, Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror (June 1932). "People of the Dark" is a remembrance story of "past lives", and in its first-person narrative the protagonist describes one of his previous incarnations: Conan, a black-haired barbarian hero who swears by a deity called Crom. Some Howard scholars believe this Conan to be a forerunner of the more famous character.
In February 1932, Howard vacationed at a border town on the lower Rio Grande. During this trip, he further conceived the character of Conan and also wrote the poem "Cimmeria", much of which echoes specific passages in Plutarch's Lives. According to some scholars, Howard's conception of Conan and the Hyborian Age may have originated in Thomas Bulfinch's The Outline of Mythology (1913) which inspired Howard to "coalesce into a coherent whole his literary aspirations and the strong physical, autobiographical elements underlying the creation of Conan."
Having digested these prior influences after he returned from his trip, Howard rewrote the rejected story "By This Axe I Rule!" (May 1929), replacing his existing character Kull of Atlantis with his new hero, and retitling it "The Phoenix on the Sword". Howard also wrote "The Frost-Giant's Daughter", inspired by the Greek myth of Daphne, and submitted both stories to Weird Tales magazine. Although "The Frost-Giant's Daughter" was rejected, the magazine accepted "The Phoenix on the Sword" after it received the requested polishing.
"The Phoenix on the Sword" appeared in Weird Tales cover-dated December 1932. Editor Farnsworth Wright subsequently prompted Howard to write an 8,000 word essay for personal use detailing "the Hyborian Age," the fictional setting for Conan. Using this essay as his guideline, Howard began plotting "The Tower of the Elephant", a new Conan story that would be the first to truly integrate his new conception of the Hyborian world.
The publication and success of "The Tower of the Elephant" would spur Howard to write many more Conan stories for Weird Tales. By the time of Howard's suicide in 1936, he had written 21 complete stories, 17 of which had been published, as well as a number of unfinished fragments.
Following Howard's death, the copyright of the Conan stories passed through several hands. Eventually, under the guidance of L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, the stories were edited, revised, and sometimes rewritten. For roughly forty years, the original versions of Howard's Conan stories remained out of print. In 1977 the publisher Berkley Books issued three volumes using the earliest published form of the texts from Weird Tales, but these failed to displace the edited versions. In the 1980s and 1990s, the copyright holders of the Conan franchise permitted Howard's stories to go out of print entirely, while continuing to sell Conan works by other authors.
In 2000, the British publisher Gollancz Science Fiction issued a two-volume, complete edition of Howard's Conan stories as part of its Fantasy Masterworks imprint, which including several stories that had never seen print in their original form. The Gollancz edition mostly used the versions of the stories as published in Weird Tales.
In 2003, another British publisher, Wandering Star Books, made an effort both to restore Howard's original manuscripts and to provide a more scholarly and historical view of the Conan stories. It published hardcover editions in England, which were republished in the United States by the Del Rey imprint of Ballantine Books. The first book, Conan of Cimmeria: Volume One (1932–1933) (2003; published in the US as The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian) includes Howard's notes on his fictional setting, as well as letters and poems concerning the genesis of his ideas. This was followed by Conan of Cimmeria: Volume Two (1934) (2004; published in the US as The Bloody Crown of Conan) and Conan of Cimmeria: Volume Three (1935–1936) (2005; published in the US as The Conquering Sword of Conan). These three volumes combined include all of the original, unedited Conan stories.
The various stories of Conan the Barbarian occur in the fictional "Hyborian Age", set after the destruction of Atlantis and before the rise of the known ancient civilizations. This is a specific epoch in a fictional timeline created by Howard for many of the low fantasy tales of his artificial legendary.
The reasons behind the invention of the Hyborian Age were perhaps commercial: Howard had an intense love for history and historical dramas; however, at the same time, he recognized the difficulties and the time-consuming research work needed in maintaining historical accuracy. By conceiving a timeless setting – "a vanished age" – and by carefully choosing names that resembled human history, Howard shrewdly avoided the problem of historical anachronisms and the need for lengthy exposition.
According to "The Phoenix on the Sword", the adventures of Conan take place "Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas."
Personality and character
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Conan is a Cimmerian. From Robert E. Howard's writings (The Hyborian Age among others) it is known that the Cimmerians were based on the Celts or Gaels. He was born on a battlefield and is the son of a village blacksmith. Conan matured quickly as a youth and, by age fifteen, he was already a respected warrior who had participated in the destruction of the Aquilonian outpost of Venarium. After its demise, he was struck by wanderlust and began the adventures chronicled by Howard, encountering skulking monsters, evil wizards, tavern wenches, and beautiful princesses. He roamed throughout the Hyborian Age nations as a thief, outlaw, mercenary, and pirate. As he grew older, he began commanding larger units of men and escalating his ambitions. In his forties, he seized the crown of the tyrannical king of Aquilonia, the most powerful kingdom of the Hyborian Age, having strangled the previous ruler on the steps of the throne. Conan's adventures often result in him performing heroic feats, though his motivation for doing so is largely to protect his own survival or for personal gain.
Conan has "sullen", "smoldering" and "volcanic" blue eyes with a black "square-cut mane". Howard once describes him as having a hairy chest and, while comic book interpretations often portray Conan as wearing a loincloth or other minimalist clothing to give him a more barbaric image, Howard describes the character as wearing whatever garb is typical for the land and culture in which Conan finds himself. Howard never gave a strict height or weight for Conan in a story, only describing him in loose terms like "giant" and "massive". In the tales, no human is ever described as being stronger than Conan, although several are mentioned as taller (such as the strangler Baal-pteor) or of larger bulk. In a letter to P. Schuyler Miller and John D. Clark in 1936, only three months before Howard's death, Conan is described as standing Script error: No such module "convert". and weighing Script error: No such module "convert". when he takes part in an attack on Venarium at only 15 years old, though being far from fully grown.
Although Conan is muscular, Howard frequently compares his agility and way of moving to that of a panther (see, for instance, "Jewels of Gwahlur", "Beyond the Black River" or "Rogues in the House"). His skin is frequently characterized as bronzed from constant exposure to the sun. In his younger years, he is often depicted wearing a light chain shirt and a horned helmet, though appearances vary with different stories.
During his reign as king of Aquilonia, Conan was
- ... a tall man, mightily shouldered and deep of chest, with a massive corded neck and heavily muscled limbs. He was clad in silk and velvet, with the royal lions of Aquilonia worked in gold upon his rich jupon, and the crown of Aquilonia shone on his square-cut black mane; but the great sword at his side seemed more natural to him than the regal accoutrements. His brow was low and broad, his eyes a volcanic blue that smoldered as if with some inner fire. His dark, scarred, almost sinister face was that of a fighting-man, and his velvet garments could not conceal the hard, dangerous lines of his limbs.
Howard imagined the Cimmerians as a pre-Celtic people with mostly black hair and blue or grey eyes. Ethnically the Cimmerians to which Conan belongs are descendants of the Atlanteans, though they do not remember their ancestry. In his fictional historical essay "The Hyborian Age", Howard describes how the people of Atlantis – the land where his character King Kull originated – had to move east after a great cataclysm changed the face of the world and sank their island, settling where Ireland and Scotland would eventually be located, Thus they are (in Howard's work) the ancestors of the Irish and Scottish (the Celtic Gaels) and not the Picts, the other ancestor of modern Scots who also appear in Howard's work. In the same work, Howard also described how the Cimmerians eventually moved south and east after the age of Conan (presumably in the vicinity of the Black Sea, where the historical Cimmerians dwelt).
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Despite his brutish appearance, Conan uses his brains as well as his brawn. The Cimmerian is a highly skilled warrior, possibly without peer with a sword, but his travels have given him vast experience in other trades, especially as a thief. He is also a talented commander, tactician, and strategist, as well as a born leader. In addition, Conan speaks many languages, including advanced reading and writing abilities: in certain stories, he is able to recognize, or even decipher, certain ancient or secret signs and writings; for example, in "Jewels of Gwahlur" Howard states, "In his roaming about the world the giant adventurer had picked up a wide smattering of knowledge, particularly including the speaking and reading of many alien tongues. Many a sheltered scholar would have been astonished at the Cimmerian's linguistic abilities." He also has incredible stamina, enabling him to go without sleep for a few days. In "A Witch Shall be Born", Conan fights armed men until he is overwhelmed, captured, and crucified, and goes a night and a day without water, but still possesses the strength to pull the nails from his feet, then to hoist himself into a horse's saddle and ride ten miles.
Another noticeable trait is his sense of humor, largely absent in the comics and movies, but very much a part of Howard's original vision of the character (particularly apparent in "Xuthal of the Dusk", also known as "The Slithering Shadow.") His sense of humor can also be rather grimly ironic, as was demonstrated by how he meted out justice to the treacherous - and ill-fated - innkeeper Aram Baksh in "Shadows in Zamboula."
He is a loyal friend to those true to him, with a barbaric code of conduct that often marks him as more honorable than the more sophisticated people he meets in his travels. Indeed, his straightforward nature and barbarism are constants in all the tales.
Conan is a formidable armed and unarmed combatant. With his back to the wall, Conan is capable of engaging and killing opponents by the score. This is seen in several stories, such as "Queen of the Black Coast", "The Scarlet Citadel" and "A Witch Shall Be Born". Conan is not superhuman, though he did need the providential help of Zelata's wolf to defeat four Nemedian soldiers in the story The Hour of the Dragon. Some of his hardest victories have come from fighting single opponents of inhuman strength: one such as Thak, the ape man from "Rogues in the House", or the strangler Baal-Pteor in "Shadows in Zamboula". Conan is far from untouchable and has been captured and defeated several times (on one occasion knocking himself out drunkenly running into a wall).
Howard frequently corresponded with H. P. Lovecraft, and the two would sometimes insert references or elements of each other's settings in their works. Later editors reworked many of the original Conan stories by Howard, thus diluting this connection. Nevertheless, many of Howard's unedited Conan stories are arguably part of the Cthulhu Mythos. Additionally, many of the Conan stories by Howard, de Camp and Carter used geographical place names from Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborean Cycle.
Original Robert E. Howard Conan stories
Conan stories published in Weird Tales
- "The Phoenix on the Sword" (novelette; vol. 20, #6, December 1932)
- "The Scarlet Citadel" (novelette; vol. 21, #1, January 1, 1933)
- "The Tower of the Elephant" (novelette; vol. 21, #3, March 1933)
- "Black Colossus" (novelette; vol. 21, #6, June 1933)
- "The Slithering Shadow" (novelette; vol. 22, #3, September 1933, alternate title "Xuthal of the Dusk")
- "The Pool of the Black One" (novelette; vol. 22, #4, October 1933)
- "Rogues in the House" (novelette; vol. 23, #1, January 1934)
- "Iron Shadows in the Moon" (novelette; vol. 23, #4, April 1934, published as "Shadows in the Moonlight")
- "Queen of the Black Coast" (novelette; vol. 23, #5, May 1934)
- "The Devil in Iron" (novelette; vol. 24, #2, August 1934)
- "The People of the Black Circle" (novella; vol. 24, #3–5, September–November 1934)
- "A Witch Shall Be Born" (novelette; vol. 24, #6, December 1934)
- "Jewels of Gwahlur" (novelette; vol. 25, #3, March 1935, author's original title "The Servants of Bit-Yakin")
- "Beyond the Black River" (novella; vol. 25, #5–6, May–June 1935)
- "Shadows in Zamboula" (novelette; vol. 26, #5, November 1935, author's original title "The Man-Eaters of Zamboula")
- "The Hour of the Dragon" (novel; vol. 26, #6 & vol. 27, #1–4, December 1935, January–April 1936)
- "Red Nails" (novella; vol. 28, #1–3, July, September, October 1936)
Conan stories published in Fantasy Fan magazine
- "Gods of the North" (March 1934) - published as The Frost-Giant's Daughter in The Coming of Conan, 1953.
Conan stories not published in Howard's lifetime
- "The God in the Bowl" — Published in Space Science Fiction, Sep. 1952.
- "The Black Stranger" — Published in Fantasy Magazine, Feb. 1953.
- "The Vale of Lost Women" — Published in The Magazine of Horror, Spring 1967.
Unfinished Conan stories by Howard
- "Drums of Tombalku" — Fragment. Published in Conan the Adventurer, 1966.
- "The Hall of the Dead" — Synopsis. Published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1967.
- "The Hand of Nergal" — Fragment. Published in Conan, 1967.
- "The Snout in the Dark" — Fragment. Published in Conan of Cimmeria, 1969.
A number of untitled synopses for Conan stories also exist.
- "Wolves Beyond the Border" — A non-Conan story set in Conan's world. Fragment. Published in 1967 in Conan the Usurper
- "The Hyborian Age" — An essay written in 1932. Published in 1938 in The Hyborian Age.
- "Cimmeria" — A poem written in 1932. Published in 1965 in The Howard Collector.
The character of Conan has proven durably popular, resulting in Conan stories by later writers such as Poul Anderson, Leonard Carpenter, Lin Carter, L. Sprague de Camp, Roland J. Green, John C. Hocking, Robert Jordan, Sean A. Moore, Björn Nyberg, Andrew J. Offutt, Steve Perry, John Maddox Roberts, Harry Turtledove, and Karl Edward Wagner. Some of these writers have finished incomplete Conan manuscripts by Howard. Others were created by rewriting Howard stories which originally featured entirely different characters from entirely different milieus. Most, however, are completely original works. In total, more than fifty novels and dozens of short stories featuring the Conan character have been written by authors other than Howard.
The Gnome Press edition (1950–1957) was the first hardcover collection of Howard's Conan stories, including all the original Howard material known to exist at the time, some left unpublished in his lifetime. The later volumes contain some stories rewritten by L. Sprague de Camp (like "The Treasure of Tranicos"), including several non-Conan Howard stories, mostly historical exotica situated in the Levant at the time of the Crusades, which he turned into Conan yarns. The Gnome edition also issued the first Conan story written by an author other than Howard — the final volume published, which is by Björn Nyberg and revised by de Camp.
The Lancer/Ace editions (1966–1977), under the direction of de Camp and Lin Carter, were the first comprehensive paperbacks, compiling the material from the Gnome Press series together in chronological order with all the remaining original Howard material, including that left unpublished in his lifetime and fragments and outlines. These were completed by de Camp and Carter, and new stories written entirely by the two were added as well. Lancer Books went out of business before bringing out the entire series, the publication of which was completed by Ace Books. Eight of the eventual twelve volumes published featured dynamic cover paintings by Frank Frazetta that, for many fans,[who?] presented the definitive, iconic impression of Conan and his world. For decades to come, most other portrayals of the Cimmerian and his imitators were heavily influenced by the cover paintings of this series.
Editions after the Lancer/Ace series have been of either the original Howard stories or Conan material by others, but not both. Notable later editions of the Howard stories include the Donald M. Grant editions (1974–1989, incomplete); Berkley editions (1977); Gollancz editions (2000–2006), and Wandering Star/Del Rey editions (2003–2005). Later series of new Conan material include the Bantam editions (1978–1982), Ace Maroto editions (1978–1981), and Tor editions (1982–2004).
Several of the Lancer/Ace Conan versions are rewrites by de Camp and Carter of non Conan stories. For example, at least one El Borak in which the protagonist infiltrates the City of the Assassins was rewritten with Conan replacing Francis Xavier Gordon and a supernatural element added.
In an attempt to provide a coherent timeline which fit the numerous adventures of Conan penned by Robert E. Howard and later writers, various "Conan chronologies" have been prepared by many people from the 1930s onward. Note that no consistent timeline has yet accommodated every single Conan story. The following are the principal theories that have been advanced over the years.
- Miller/Clark chronology — A Probable Outline of Conan's Career (1936) was the first effort to put the tales in chronological order. Completed by P. Schuyler Miller and John Drury Clark, the chronology was later revised by Clark and L. Sprague de Camp in An Informal Biography of Conan the Cimmerian (1952).
- Robert Jordan chronology — A Conan Chronology by Robert Jordan (1987) was a new chronology written by Conan writer Robert Jordan that included all written Conan material up to that point. It was heavily influenced by the Miller/Clark/de Camp chronologies, though it departed from them in a number of idiosyncratic instances.
- William Galen Gray chronology — Timeline of Conan's Journeys (1997, rev. 2004), was fan William Galen Gray's attempt to create "a chronology of all the stories, both Howard and pastiche." Drawing on the earlier Miller/Clark and Jordan chronologies, it represents the ultimate expression of their tradition to date.
- Joe Marek chronology — Joe Marek's chronology is limited to stories written (or devised) by Howard, though within that context it is essentially a revision of the Miller/Clark tradition to better reflect the internal evidence of the stories and avoid forcing Conan into what he perceives as a "mad dash" around the Hyborian world within timeframes too rapid to be credible.
- Dale Rippke chronology — The Darkstorm Conan Chronology (2003) was a completely revised and heavily researched chronology, radically repositioning a number of stories and including only those stories written or devised by Howard. The Dark Horse comic series follows this chronology.
Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984)
The very first Conan cinematic project was planned by Edward Summer. Summer envisioned a series of Conan films, much like the James Bond franchise. He outlined six stories for this film series, but none were ever made. An original screenplay by Summer and Roy Thomas was written, but their lore-authentic screen story was never filmed. However, the resulting film, Conan the Barbarian (1982), was a combination of director John Milius' ideas and plots from Conan stories (written also by Howard's successors, notably Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp). The addition of Nietzschean motto and Conan's life philosophy were crucial for bringing the spirit of Howard's literature to the screen.
The plot of Conan the Barbarian (1982) begins with Conan being enslaved by the Vanir raiders of Thulsa Doom, a malevolent warlord who is responsible for the slaying of Conan's parents and the genocide of his people. Later, Thulsa Doom becomes a cult leader of a religion that worships Set, a Snake God. The vengeful Conan, the archer Subotai and the thief Valeria set out on a quest to rescue a princess held captive by Thulsa Doom. The film was directed by John Milius and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. The character of Conan was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and was his break-through role as an actor.
Conan the Conqueror (cancelled)
The third film in the Conan trilogy was planned for 1987 to be titled Conan the Conqueror. The director was to be either Guy Hamilton or John Guillermin. Since Arnold Schwarzenegger was committed to the film Predator and De Laurentiis's contract with the star had expired after his obligation to Red Sonja and Raw Deal, he wasn't keen to negotiate a new one; thus the third Conan film sank into development hell. The script was eventually turned into Kull the Conqueror.
Conan the Barbarian (2011)
There were rumours in the late 1990s of another Conan sequel, a story about an older Conan titled King Conan: Crown of Iron, but Schwarzenegger's election in 2003 as governor of California ended this project. Warner Bros. spent seven years trying to get the project off the ground, with development attempts made by The Wachowskis, John Milius, and Robert Rodriguez, who left the project for Grindhouse. Boaz Yakin was hired in 2006 to start again. However, in June 2007 the rights reverted to Paradox Entertainment, though all drafts made under Warner remained with them. Paradox's CEO, Fredrik Malmberg, told Variety "we have great respect for Warner Bros., but after seven years, we came to the point where we needed to see progress to production." Paradox were auctioning the rights after and various groups took interest in producing, including New Line Cinema, Hollywood Gang, and Millennium Films.
Due to development-time frustrations felt when the rights were with Warner, Malmberg made deal terms where he was asking for $1 million for a one-year option, with another $1 million for each year's renewal. In August 2007, it was announced that Millennium had acquired the right to the project in an unrevealed seven-figure deal, with Malmberg and Millennium's Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson, Joe Gatta and George Furla set to produce. The deal was brokered by Gatta, who originally made the deal between Paradox and Warner in 2002. Production was aimed for a Spring 2006 start, with the intention of having stories more faithful to the Robert E. Howard creation.
In November 2008, The Hollywood Reporter, based on a press release from Lerner, reported that Brett Ratner was committed to direct Conan; an update changed this to state he was in final negotiations. Days later, however, Ratner announced, "I am not doing 'Conan' now. This is totally premature. For now, 'Conan' is only a development deal. In June 2009, Nu Image/Millennium Films hired Marcus Nispel to direct. In January 2010, Jason Momoa was selected for the role of Conan. In February 2010, on the eve of production, Sean Hood was brought in to retool the screenplay.
The Legend of Conan
On October 25, 2012, it was announced that a sequel to the 1982 Conan the Barbarian titled The Legend of Conan is being planned with Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his role as Conan. A year later, Deadline reported that Andrea Berloff would write the script. The film is being produced by Fredrik Malmberg and Chris Morgan and was originally scheduled for release in 2014, a date which the production team is now "clearly going to miss." Still, production continues, and according to Morgan, Berloff has nearly finished the script, and the project is now looking for a director.
There have been three television series related to Conan: A live-action TV series and an animated cartoon series — both entitled Conan the Adventurer, as well as a second animated series entitled Conan and the Young Warriors.
- Conan The Adventurer was the name of a popular animated television series. Produced by Jetlag Productions and Sunbow Productions, the series debuted on 1 October 1992, ran for 64 episodes and concluded exactly two years later, on 1 October 1994. The series involved Conan chasing Serpent Men across the world in an attempt to release his parents from eternal imprisonment as living statues.
- Conan and the Young Warriors was an animated television series which premiered in 1994 and ran for 13 episodes. DiC Entertainment produced the show and CBS aired this series as a spin-off to the previous Conan the Adventurer animated series. This cartoon took place after the finale of Conan the Adventurer with Wrath-Amon vanquished and Conan's family returned to life from living stone. Conan soon finds that the family of one of his friends are being turned into wolves by an evil sorceress and he must train three warriors in order to aid him in rescuing them.
- Conan: The Adventurer was a television series loosely based on Conan. The TV show premiered on 22 September 1997, and ran for 22 episodes. This live-action series starred German bodybuilder Ralf Möller as Conan and Danny Woodburn as his sidekick Otli. The storyline was quite different from the Conan lore of Robert E. Howard. In this adaptation, Conan is a pleasant and jovial person. Also in this version, Conan is not a loner but one member in a merry band of adventurers.
Conan the Barbarian has appeared in comics nearly non-stop since 1970. The comics are arguably, apart from the books, the vehicle that had the greatest influence on the longevity and popularity of the character. Aside from an earlier and unofficial Conan comic published in Mexico, the two main publishers of Conan comics have been Marvel Comics and Dark Horse Comics. Marvel Comics launched Conan the Barbarian (1970–1993) and the classic Savage Sword of Conan (1974–1995). Dark Horse launched their Conan series in 2003. Dark Horse Comics is currently publishing compilations of the 1970s Marvel Comics series in trade paperback format.
The current president of the United States, Barack Obama, is a collector of Conan the Barbarian comic books and a big fan of the character and appeared as a character in a comic book called Barack the Barbarian from Devil's Due.
Marvel Comics introduced a relatively lore-faithful version of Conan the Barbarian in 1970 with Conan the Barbarian, written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith. Smith was succeeded by penciller John Buscema, while Thomas continued to write for many years. Later writers included J.M. DeMatteis, Bruce Jones, Michael Fleisher, Doug Moench, Jim Owsley, Alan Zelenetz, Chuck Dixon and Don Kraar. In 1974, Conan the Barbarian series spawned the more adult-oriented, black-and-white comics magazine Savage Sword of Conan, written by Thomas with art mostly by Buscema or Alfredo Alcala. Marvel also published several graphic novels starring the character.
The Marvel Conan stories were also adapted as a newspaper comic strip which appeared daily and Sunday from 4 September 1978 to 12 April 1981. Originally written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by John Buscema, the strip was continued by several different Marvel artists and writers.
Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse Comics began their comic adaptation of the Conan saga in 2003. Entitled simply Conan, the series was first written by Kurt Busiek and pencilled by Cary Nord. Tim Truman replaced Busiek when Busiek signed an exclusive contract with DC Comics; however, Busiek issues were sometimes used for filler. This series is an interpretation of the original Conan material by Robert E. Howard with no connection whatsoever to the earlier Marvel comics or any Conan story not written or envisioned by Howard supplemented by wholly original material.
A fourth series, Conan the Barbarian, began in February 2012 by Brian Wood (writer) and Becky Cloonan (artist). It is stated to run for twenty-five issues, and expand on Robert E. Howard's Queen of the Black Coast.
- In 1984, Datasoft released Conan: Hall of Volta for the Apple II, Atari 800, and the Commodore 64.
- In 1991, Mindscape released Conan: The Mysteries of Time for NES, a Commodore 64 port by System 3.
- In 1991, Virgin Games and Synergistic released Conan: The Cimmerian for Amiga and DOS.
- In 2004, TDK Mediactive released Conan, a third-person action game for Windows and consoles.
- In 2007, THQ and Nihilistic released Conan, a third-person action game for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
- In 2008, Funcom released Age of Conan, an massive online multiplayer role-playing video game (MMORPG) on May 20 in the US and May 23 in Europe.
- A RPG game titled "Conan: The Tower of the Elephant" was released for the iOS around the time of the release of the movie Conan The Barbarian as a promotion. The game is based on the short story of the same name.
Collectible card games
- In 2006, Comic Images released the Conan Collectible Card Game designed by Jason Robinette.
- In 2009, Fantasy Flight Games released the Age of Conan strategy board game, depicting warfare between the Hyborian nations in the Conan's adventures.
- In 2015, Monolith Board Games LLC will release a new boardgame with miniatures directly based on Robert E. Howard's short stories. Conan (previously known as Conan: Hyborian Quests) pits one player, controlling the evil forces, against 2-4 other players controlling Conan and his companions.
- Two modules for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons:
- The Conan Role-Playing Game (1985), with 3 official game adventures:
- Three Endless Quest books by TSR, published in the eighties, allow the reader to play the role of Conan.
- GURPS Conan: Beyond Thunder River (1988, solo adventure)
- GURPS Conan (1989, core rulebook)
- GURPS Conan and the Queen of the Black Coast (1989, solo adventure)
- GURPS Conan: Moon of Blood (1989, solo adventure)
- GURPS Conan the Wyrmslayer (1989, solo adventure)
In 2003 the British company Mongoose Publishing bought a license and acquired in turn the rights to make use of the Conan gaming franchise, publishing a Conan role-playing game from 2004 until 2010. The game ran the OGL System of rules that Mongoose established for its OGL series of games:
- Conan: The Roleplaying Game (2004), with many supplements.
In 2015, British company Modiphius acquired a Conan license, announcing plans to put out a new Conan role-playing game in August of that year.
- Hyborian War, introduced by Reality Simulations, Inc. as of 1985, is a play-by-mail game set in the Hyborian Age.
Characters with prominent roles in Conan prose fiction
- Bêlit – A self-styled queen of the Black Coast, captain of the pirate ship "Tigress," and Conan's first serious lover (Queen of the Black Coast).
- Thoth-Amon – A Stygian wizard of great power who appeared in the first Conan story written (The Phoenix on the Sword) and was mentioned in The God in the Bowl and The Hour of the Dragon. L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter made Thoth-Amon the nemesis of Conan. In the Marvel comics, Thoth-Amon was also Conan's lifelong opponent and had a striking appearance designed by Barry Windsor-Smith; he wore a distinctive ram-horn ornamental headdress. He is portrayed by Pat Roach in Conan the Destroyer.
- Valeria – A female mercenary affiliated with the Red Brotherhood (Red Nails).
- Yara – An evil wizard and an adversary of Conan (The Tower of the Elephant) who enslaved Yag-Kosha, an extraterrestrial resembling Hindu god Ganesh.
- Zenobia – A seraglio concubine whom Conan promises to wed and make queen of Aquilonia (The Hour of the Dragon).
Characters with prominent roles only in Conan comic-book fiction
- Red Sonja – An Hyrkanian warrior created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith for the Conan comics. She was based on the Howard character, Red Sonya of Rogatino, who appeared in The Shadow of the Vulture tale set in the 16th–century.
- Jenna – (Marvel comics character). A dancing girl from the city of Shadizar. She becomes Conan's girlfriend after he saves her from a monstrous bat, but later betrays him to the authorities. Conan gets his revenge by throwing her into a pool of sewage. Based on an unnamed character in the prose story Rogues in the House.
- Mikhal "the Vulture" Oglu – In Marvel comics' Conan the barbarian #23, Mikhal Oglu is Yezdigerd's enforcer and the greatest swordsman in Turan. He challenges Conan but is defeated and beheaded. He was inspired by a character in a non-Conan story by Robert E. Howard (The Shadow of the Vulture)
- Zukala – A character from the Conan comics published by Marvel, inspired by a poem by Robert E. Howard. Zukala is an evil sorcerer who gains his powers from his mask. His daughter Zephra falls in love with Conan
- Yezdigerd – Ruler of Turan, a Turkish empire-based civilization. He employs Conan as a mercenary but betrays him after he outlived his usefulness
- Fafnir – A mighty red-bearded Vanir warrior and pirate captain. At first he and Conan are enemies but they soon become allies after being shipwrecked
Characters with prominent roles only in Conan movies
- Thulsa Doom – A skull-faced necromancer in a King Kull story, a recurring villain in the Kull comics, and the antagonist in the 1982 film, played by James Earl Jones.
- Rexor – In the 1982 movie, the chief priest of Thulsa Doom's snake cult, stole the sword of Conan's father
- Thorgrim – Hammer-wielding minion of Thulsa Doom in the 1982 film. Played by Sven-Ole Thorsen
- Subotai – Hyrkanian thief and archer. He is Conan's companion in the 1982 film. Played by Gerry Lopez.
- Akiro – A character from the two Schwarzenegger Conan movies. He is a powerful wizard who befriends Conan and Subotai. He is played by Japanese actor Mako Iwamatsu.
Copyright and trademark dispute
The name Conan and the names of Robert E. Howard's other principal characters are claimed as trademarked by Paradox Entertainment of Stockholm, Sweden, through its US subsidiary Paradox Entertainment Inc. Paradox copyrights stories written by other authors under license from Conan Properties Inc.
However, since Robert E. Howard published his Conan stories at a time when the date of publication was the marker (1932–1963), and any new owners failed to renew them to maintain the copyrights, the exact copyright status of all of Howard's 'Conan' works is in question. In practice, most of the Conan stories exist in at least two versions subject to different copyright standards: The original Weird Tales publications before or shortly after Howard's death, which are generally understood to be public domain, and "restored" versions based on manuscripts that were unpublished in Howard's lifetime.
In the United Kingdom, works fall into the public domain 70 years after the death of an author. Therefore, with Howard having died in 1936, his works have been in the public domain since 2006.
- Herron (1984). p. 149: "Robert E. Howard of Cross Plains, Texas, created one of the great mythic figures in modern popular culture, the Dark Barbarian… [which] put Howard in the select ranks of the literary legend-makers"
- Louinet, pp. 429-453
- Wandering Star Books, official website
- Howard, Robert E., adapted by Roy Thomas and Walt Simonson. "The Hyborian Age". Conan Saga (Marvel Comics) (50–54, 56). Archived from the original on 25 May 2011.
- Howard, Robert E. (6 December 1932). "The Phoenix on the Sword". Weird Tales (20).
- Howard, Robert E. "A Witch Shall Be Born": "the man was almost a giant in stature"; "Knots and bunches of muscle started out of the massive arms".
- Howard, Robert E. . The Hour of the Dragon, reprinted The Bloody Crown of Conan, pp. 89-90
- Louinet, p. 436
- As stated in Project Gutenberg Australia
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- Cornet, Roth (2014-01-29). "The Legend of Conan Producer Chris Morgan Says Arnold Schwarzenegger's Return to the Role is Going to be Their Unforgiven." IGN.com. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
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- Swaine, Jon (7 November 2008). "Barack Obama: The 50 facts you might not know". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 11 November 2008.
- Mail Foreign Service (7 April 2009). "Meet Barack the Barbarian taking on scantily clad nemesis Sarah Palin in new comic superhero role". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 7 August 2009.
- Spillius, Alex (7 April 2009). "Barack Obama and Sarah Palin appear in comic series". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 26 November 2009.
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- "The History of TSR". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2005-08-20.
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- Hyborian War in the official Reality Simulations website
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- "Robert Ervin HOWARD (1906–1936)". (archived stories) Project Gutenberg.
- Blosser, Fred (1997). "The Star Rover and "The People of the Night"". The Dark Man #4: 16–18.
- Herron, Don, editor. (2004). The Barbaric Triumph. Wildside Press. ISBN 0-8095-1566-0.
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- Herron, Don, editor. (1984). The Dark Barbarian. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-23281-4.
- Louinet, Patrice, editor. (2003). The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian. Del Rey. ISBN 0-345-46151-7.
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- Conan Bibliography compiled by Bruce L. Precourt – January 1998
- The Works of Robert E. Howard
- Conan: The Official Website
- Conan the Barbarian at AmratheLion.com
- Maps of the Hyborian Age
- Online MMORPG "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures" by Funcom
- Conan RPG by Mongoose Publishing
- "From Pen to Sword: Robert E. Howard's Conan," by John J. Miller
- I Love Comix Archive: Conan the Barbarian
- Info about the Conan stories
- "REHupa: The Robert E. Howard United Press Association". amateur press association. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011.
- Robert E. Howard, The Father of Conan
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