|Copyright CONAN PROPERTIES & MARVEL COMICS|
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
THE (SECOND) COMING OF CONAN!
Most people will be aware that, when MARVEL decided to launch their CONAN The BARBARIAN four-colour comicbook back in 1970, Big JOHN BUSCEMA was first choice as artist to illustrate the swarthy Cimmerian's action-packed adventures. Only one problem with that however - too expensive. There was a severely limited budget for the comic and writer ROY THOMAS was already paying more than Marvel's publisher MARTIN GOODMAN had authorised for the rights to use ROBERT E. HOWARD's sword and sorcery swashbuckler.
Well, the rest is history. The less-expensive BARRY SMITH (later WINDSOR-Smith) was assigned the task of bringing Conan's comicbook career to life, which he did with verve and vitality as befitting the bold barbarian's bombastic and bloodthirsty battles. As we're well aware, John Buscema eventually did become the series' regular artist (drawing more issues than anyone else), but what might that first adventure have looked like had he pencilled the premiere issue as originally planned?
Fortunately, such a possibility isn't merely confined to the realms of speculation as, in 1994 - nearly half a century after Conan's debut issue - Big John finally brought his artistic magic to that '70s tale from Conan The Barbarian #1. Personally speaking, I'd have preferred to see the story drawn with a more traditional grid-layout without the page-bleeds, and in colour as opposed to black and white. The last panel in particular cries out for colour - or even some kind of shading to indicate the moon against the night sky, as described in one of the captions. As it is, it's short on some sorely-needed atmosphere and lacks the impact of Smith's earlier version.
However, despite being robbed of the opportunity to compare 'like-with-like' in the strictest sense, it's fascinating to see Big J's take on Thomas's titanic tale, although it would have been even better had JOE SINNOTT or TOM PALMER performed the inking chores. Perhaps one day they'll reprint it in colour and give readers a better idea of what could have been had "the Michelangelo of comics" (as Smilin' STAN 'The Man' LEE dubbed him) drawn the Hyborian hero's dynamic debut all those years ago.
Anyway, enjoy "The COMING Of CONAN!" from the June '94 issue of The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian #222. Take a look at Conan's first appearance here - then come back and say which visual version of the tale you prefer - and why.
(The two pages below should be read as a double-page spread.)
(Like below. Click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.)
Posted by Kid at Wednesday, June 27, 2012