Thursday, 30 July 2015

KID'S KLASSIC KOMIC KOVERS - CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1...


Image copyright the ROBERT E. HOWARD Estate

I remember one day back around 1971, sitting on the back step
of a pal's house and reading this comic - given to my pal by his next
door neighbour amongst a pile of other comics.  The sequence with
the astronaut seemed a bit out of place to me, and many years later
(and only a few years ago) I read ROY THOMAS say that he sort
of felt the same and that he'd probably omit that panel if he was
doing it today for the first time.  See?  So I was right all along.

8 comments:

Colin Jones said...

The first Conan story I ever read was in No.2 of the UK weekly - "Lair Of The Beast Men". I don't think I got to read this debut Conan tale till it was reprinted in Marvel UK's Conan pocket-book a few years later. I can't actually remember an astronaut in it though.

Kid said...

See? There you go then, CJ. Proof, if any were needed, that too many Sherbet Dabs rot your brain.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, I've been thinking about it and doesn't Conan see visions of the future including an astronaut and himself as king ? But why did you and Roy Thomas dislike the astronaut bit ?

Kid said...

In the same way that Tolkien's description in The Hobbit of steam escaping from a kettle like a train shooting out of a tunnel intrudes on the self-contained mythical nature of the book, the astronaut panel in Conan #1 jarred with the sword & sorcery mood of the comic. This was compounded by Smith drawing a futuristic (by the standards of the 20th century) astronaut, as opposed to a more realistic one - although I think that would still have been a step too far. When a writer is talking as if he's part of the fantasy world he's describing, modern allusions and references intrude (and even shatter) the world that the author is trying to create in the minds of the readers. It's a bit like a writer telling a story about 17th century France from a French peasant's point of view and describing a stone being scudded across the water like a speedboat cutting through the waves (or something like that). See what I mean? I take it that Thomas eventually came to that same conclusion.

Colin Jones said...

Another jarring thing in The Hobbit is one or two occasions where it says they are in April or some other month (I can't quite remember which exactly) when the months' names are from ancient Rome and the Hobbit is set long before that. Well, it jarred with me - to be honest I think The Hobbit and LOTR are over-rated anyway.

Kid said...

Perhaps we're meant to assume that the Romans merely continued a previous tradition in regard to the names of months, CJ. I think LOTR could do with a good bit of heavy editing, but I much enjoyed The Hobbit, which I consider the superior of the two.

Dougie said...

I have probably said this before but the futuristic astronaut is my favourite scene, probably.It gives the story a staggering sweep.
I like Conan least when the series incorporates authentic medieval history- the Condottiere, for example. My favourite moments are the Lovecraftian references and anything fantastic. That's what I also like about DC's Conan rip-off, Claw the Unconquered; tongue-twisting names like K'Dasha-Deen, Dhylka-Ryn or N'Hglthss. As opposed to Zembabwei or Ophir.

Kid said...

Dougie, perhaps if it had been alluded to in a slightly less obvious way (although don't ask me how) I could've lived with it, but it was just too sci-fi looking to fit the mood of the mag. It was like a panel from the FF and I don't think that's the effect Roy Thomas was looking for, as he clearly realizes himself these days. However, whatever rings your bell. I still like the comic and have 'sort of' got used to that scene now, but it still feels slightly out of place to a certain extent.

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