Wednesday, 11 October 2017

AN AGE UNDREAMT OF - EXCEPT IN DREAMS (UPDATED)...


CONAN copyright Estate of R.E. HOWARD

Must've been back around 1971 I guess.  I was sitting on the back doorstep of a friend's house, going through a pile of comics his neighbour had given him.  Among them was the first issue of a mag about a barbarian hero, in which one of the villains had a vision of space travel, oddly incongruous in a sword and sorcery tale set in forgotten ancient times I thought.  (Many years later, the story's writer, ROY THOMAS, came to the same conclusion.)

Yes, it was CONAN The BARBARIAN #1, and I read the tale again four years later when it was reprinted in MARVEL UK's weekly comic, SAVAGE SWORD Of CONAN.  (In between, I got to read the fifth issue in the series when it was reprinted in the MARVEL Annual for 1973.)  That short span somehow seemed like an immense gulf to me back then, but I immediately 'saw' myself in my mind's eye, sitting on that very same back door-step.  Around five years or so ago, I was in the house once more (for the first time in nearly 30 years) and took quite a few photos of the front and rear gardens, essentially unchanged since my friend had moved into the house in the late '60s or beginning of the '70s.

Not long after my visit, the back garden was remodelled and changes were instituted, making me glad I'd had the foresight to pictorially capture its appearance as it had been in 'my' day.  Sadly, my childhood friend's mother died recently, meaning that I'll probably never see the inside of the house (or stand in its garden) again, as it will eventually be sold and the proceeds divided among the family, as is the way of things under such sad circumstances.  (He himself had moved out many years ago and his mother lived alone.)

You may be wondering why I'm telling you this as if you're at all interested.  Well, it's simply because I recently acquired a copy of that first issue of Conan, and whenever I look at it, I'm once again back on that step, looking through a bunch of comics as if there's no end of tomorrows, in an age when each new day seemed to last... well, perhaps not forever, but at least far longer than 24 hours does nowadays.

And yes, that's the cover to my very own issue of CTB #1 at the top of the post - isn't it a beauty?!  (Incidentally, I know the post's title makes no real sense, but hey - it captured your attention, didn't it?)

******

Update, Saturday 31st March, 2018:  Today, I was back in the house again, and once more occupied that back step - holding the very issue of CTB that you see atop this post and reliving the moment from nearly 40 years before.  And thus the connection between house and comic is re-established, and things have turned full circle.  The house will soon be sold, but my memories (and hopefully my first issue of Conan) shall endure.

And would you believe it - the very back garden (and step) itself

Update, Thursday 17th May, 2018:  Back again this evening, this time got a photo of myself on back step with comic, below.

6 comments:

TC said...

The post's title is worthy of Dizzy Dean or Yogi Berra. Right up there with my favorite, "Nobody ever goes there because it is too crowded."

I had CTB #1-3 in the early 1970s, but later gave them away.

And, yes, the scene with the oracle's vision of an astronaut did seem incongruous.

The American version of Savage Sword of Conan was a monthly, B&W, full-sized magazine. That allowed it (like Mad, Eerie, and Creepy) to bypass the Comics Code.

It may have also allowed it to appeal to an older audience that would not normally read comics. I had a roommate in the Army who would read SSOC and the Warren horror magazines, but would not have touched a color comic (including Conan the Barbarian and King Conan) with a ten-foot pole.

Kid said...

The UK weekly folded after only 18 issues, TC, but then we were given our own monthly Savage Sword Of Conan, which lasted for quite a few years. As you'll have guessed, it merely reprinted strips from the US version. I've still got the first and last issues.

Colin Jones said...

I've recently been on a Robert E. Howard binge - I read all his Solomon Kane stories (there were only six) then nearly all the Conan stories. I also bought my favourite Conan story, "Shadows In The Moonlight" (also known as "Iron Shadows In The Moon"), separately as an e-book to keep and I also downloaded Dark Horse's Conan The Slayer Volume 1. Over the August bank holiday I watched the 1982 Conan The Barbarian film on YouTube - the 1984 sequel is also on YouTube so I'll probably watch that too before long. My introduction to Conan was No.2 of the Savage Sword Of Conan weekly in March 1975 - "The Lair Of The Beast-Men".

Kid said...

I've got a Conan paperback from the late '70s that I really must get around to re-reading, CJ. After reading #1 on my friend's back doorstep, I encountered Conan again (a reprint of #5) in the 1973 Marvel Annual. Then it was all 18 issues of the UK weekly, followed by quite a number of the US colour comic, and several issues of the b&w monthly - both US and UK editions.

WOODSY said...

For some reason that cover reminds me of a Shang Shi cover I had on a comic as a young Kung Fu fan! Very similar face. Love the photo of the number 1 doorstep!

Kid said...

Yeah, I'm glad I took that (and other) photos - it's a vanished age. Also glad I've finally got the original comic, as opposed to just reprints.

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