Conan the Barbarian History

Conan the Barbarian History

Conan the Barbarian History

The history of Conan the Barbarian, from his early days as a pulp fiction anti-hero to his headliner as a Marvel Comics Character to the Conan movies.

Conan the Barbarian


Conan the Barbarian
Conan from the Marvel Comics of the 1970s

Conan - 1st appearance in print: Weird Tales -a pulp magazine-(December, 1932) 1st Comic Book Appearance, Conan the Barbarian #1 (October 1970), a Marvel Comic book.

Arnold Schwarzenneger as Conan />
Arnold
Schwarzenneger
as Conan


The character of Conan began in Depression-era Texas with a writer named Robert E. Howard. Howard wrote adventure and fantasy short stories for the pulp magazine Weird Tales in the early 1930s. Howard, who also created the characters Kull the Conqueror and Solomon Kane, revised an unpublished Kull story, and created a barbarian character from the wilds of a fictional land he called Cimmeria. Howard named this barbarian Conan, whose introduction to the world took place in the December, 1932 issue of the magazine Weird Tales.

Conan was a native of a cold, dark, windswept land of gaunt hills named Cimmeria. Howard described Conan's native land in a poem he wrote in 1932. It is believed that Howard may have based Cimmeria's description on what he saw of the hill-country above Fredricksburg, Texas in a mist of winter rain

"It was gloomy land that seemed to hold
All winds and clouds and dreams that shun the sun,
With bare boughs rattling in the lonesome winds,
And the dark woodlands brooding over all,
Not even lightened by the rare dim sun
Which made squat shadows out of men; they called it
Cimmeria, land of Darkness and deep Night.
It was so long ago and far away
I have forgotten the very name men called me.
The axe and flint-tipped spear are like a dream,
And hunts and wars are like shadows. I recall
Only the stillness of that sombre land;
The clouds that piled forever on the hills,
The dimness of the everlasting woods.
Cimmeria, land of Darkness and the Night."


In Howard's tales of Conan and his life, the barbarian adventurer left his native Cimmerian hill-country for a life of adventure. In his freebooting career, Conan lived and fought as thief, a mercenary, a pirate, a hero, and, toward the end of his life, an usurper of the crown of the kingdom of Aquilonia.

Conan's debut as a comic book characvter began in 1970 in Marvel Comics. Conan the Barbarian enjoyed a run of 275 regular issues into the early-1990s. While the Marvel Comics version of Conan was popular, it was limited in how it could present Conan as a true, bloodthirsty, studly barbarian who always gets the barely-clothed girl (after saving her from being eaten by some monster). In order to present Conan in all of his true savagery, Marvel (under the imprint of Curtis Magazines) also published a magazine called the Savage Sword of Conan, which began in 1973. As a magazine, this version of Conan did not have to follow the restrictive Comics Code Authority, which governed what could and could not appear in comic books. The Savage Sword of Conan, with its more adult themes and artwork (see below) was very popular with readers, and also a place where many of the top comics artists of that time wanted to work. Dark Horse Comics also publishes a comic version of Conan.

Frazetta Art Conan
Frank Frazetta covers of Savage Sword of Conan


In 1982, famed director John Milius introduced Conan to the big screen for the first time. Conan the Barbarian featured a new action movie actor with a thick foreign accent named Arnold Schwarzenegger as the big Cimmerian. This first Conan movie was successful, launchdding Arnold's movie career, and leading to a less successful sequel in 1984, Conan the Destroyer. In August, the latest iteration of Conan hits the theaters starring Jason Momoa as Conan and Rachel Nichols as Tamara, his love interest in the movie.

Jason Momoa as Conan
Jason Momoa as Conan


Sources and Links on Conan the Barbarian:

Frank Frazetta website
Rachel Nichols Bio and Images
Conan the Barbarian (2011)--Official site for the 2011 Conan movie

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