Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Newcomer's Guide to REH: Update

The more I come across people who don't know their Conans from their Cohens and Howards from their Jordans, the more I'm convinced the Newcomer's Guide is a necessity.  So necessary, that I'm thinking of expanding it beyond this blog, and into a site in itself.  Rather than being one big long page, each question will have its own page dedicated to it, with a contents list linking to each.

Since I've found Wordpress to be a more versatile platform, I've set up the bare bones here:

http://rehguide.wordpress.com/

I still need to sort the basics out, but all the finished stuff will be put up.  Anyone with any ideas on how to improve, streamline or facilitate the site would be most appreciated.

EDIT: Gragh, I forgot to make it visible to everyone.  A fine debut that is!  The blog's very Spartan right now, and I'm still working out the kinks - like navigating the posts.  All I can suggest right now is go to the categories and click through them: some don't have anything, others have a few.  Boy, Wordpress's harder than I thought!

11 comments:

  1. I am looking forward to this! It is a much needed resource. I know you are the guy to do it and do it right.

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  2. Oh lovely! But right now it's set as private like Kike said.

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  3. I am looking forward to this! It is a much needed resource. I know you are the guy to do it and do it right.

    I hope I don't let you down, Shane!

    The blog is private? Why?

    Bother, I forgot I set it to private while I was updating things. That should be it now. Sorry folks!

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  4. Excellent work. And I applaud the switch to Wordpress; I've been very pleased with that platform on my own blog.

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  5. Hi, Taranaich and friends:

    I create a new platform/action videogame named "Serpico saves the christmas". Yes, THAT Serpico. And the villain is the Professor Moriarty. It is not very howardian, but it is funny and addictive. It have more than 20 levels and don't requiere any installation.

    YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT HERE:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?03h6p4qc8o7qa1a

    I really hope you will like it ;)

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  6. Dead links, right now

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/video-game-adaptations/age-of-conan-hyborian-adventures/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/television-adaptations/conan-the-young-warriors/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/television-adaptations/conan-the-adventurer-animated/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/cinematic-adaptations/conan-the-barbarian-1982/king-conan-crown-of-iron/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/cinematic-adaptations/kull-the-conqueror/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howards-fiction/conan-robert-e-howards-fiction/pastiches-conan/red-sonja/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/cinematic-adaptations/red-sonja-1985/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/cinematic-adaptations/red-sonja-tba/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/cinematic-adaptations/solomon-kane/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/video-game-adaptations/

    http://rehguide.wordpress.com/category/robert-e-howard-adaptations/cinematic-adaptations/vultures/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Under "Conan and the Myth of the Special Sword" in the Myths and Misconceptions page, you wrote:

    The Atlantean sword is central to the mythology of Conan the Barbarian, as well as in the live action and animated series, but it has no basis in the original stories.

    The cartoon sword was just forged from "star-metal" by Conan's dad; did the show make a connection to Atlantis also (say, Kull's axe being star-metal also)?

    When this is finished, the Myths and Misconceptions page could answer the following along with other questions formulated in earlier posts (just rephrase if needed):

    - How many times does Conan just fight his way out of a problem/obstacle? (In light of that TV Tropes Thud and Blunder thing)

    - Isn't Conan just thud-and-blunder or gore-and-girls-and-grog? (As above, why not take the bull by the horns [and break its neck]?)

    I'm still formulating a response; mainly that "Conan-esque writing" can't be actual Conan writing as the term implies. I was told to list what stories didn't fit the imposed criteria -in other words, what stories are actually substantial instead of mostly fluff. While they aren't all of the same quality, surely the general barbarism vs. civilization theme elevates them beyond fluff? And even for the stories where this is absent, like The Frost-Giant's Daughter, aren't they made substantial by the writing, mythological evocation, etc. - by their very creation (like intellectual property rights)? It was also argued that Conan lacks character development, at least from a story-to-story to basis - implying he's a flat character. So if his character arc is spread across several stories, he's still flat? I'll have to read the stories again, but this expectation that fiction has to have certain elements to make it "deep" feels very Sprague-y, or even Peter Jacksonian.

    - Howard being a white man in 1930s Texas and all, did Conan tend to fight "colored peoples"? (In light of that recent black Heimdall post)

    Perhaps mention how Conan is more Irish/Scottish/Gaelic than Austrian (an accent does wonders for popular perception).

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  8. Excellent work. And I applaud the switch to Wordpress; I've been very pleased with that platform on my own blog.

    Cheers, Taran!

    I create a new platform/action videogame named "Serpico saves the christmas". Yes, THAT Serpico. And the villain is the Professor Moriarty. It is not very howardian, but it is funny and addictive. It have more than 20 levels and don't requiere any installation.

    I ran out of bullets on the second level. Plenty of burgers, though! Great fun.

    Dead links, right now

    Anon, the dead links are dead because I haven't actually written anything for them yet! I should probably put *something* there just so there isn't dead space there. Still, thanks for listing them: that'll make things much easier for me.

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  9. By the way, Anon, your second comment was claimed by the dreaded "spam" filter: I think it's eaten only one genuine spam post in my entire time on the blog!

    The cartoon sword was just forged from "star-metal" by Conan's dad; did the show make a connection to Atlantis also (say, Kull's axe being star-metal also)?

    Ah, bad wording there on my part: what I mean to say is that "the idea of a wondrous sword of great renown/antiquity/quality is central to the mythology of Conan the Barbarian, as well as in the live action and animated series, but it has no basis in the original stories." I don't *think* there's any correlation between Conanimated's star-metal sword and the Atlantean one, though frankly it wouldn't surprise me.

    - How many times does Conan just fight his way out of a problem/obstacle? (In light of that TV Tropes Thud and Blunder thing)

    Good idea. Offhand, I can think of a good many situations where Conan got out of a problem/obstacle by just running.

    - Isn't Conan just thud-and-blunder or gore-and-girls-and-grog? (As above, why not take the bull by the horns [and break its neck]?)

    Oh, definitely. I'm going to basically fill that page with links and excerpts to some of the finest pieces of Conan scholarship I've read. Heck, just reading the forwards/afterwards in the Del Reys should be enough for most people, but there's so much great stuff out there.

    I was told to list what stories didn't fit the imposed criteria -in other words, what stories are actually substantial instead of mostly fluff.

    You're kidding me - they actually told you that? Meaning that there's someone who actually thinks that? Well, that's lit a fire under me. Steve Tompkins wrote some fantastic appraisals of certain stories in his fanzine:

    http://www.robert-e-howard.org/VisionGryphons1.html
    http://www.robert-e-howard.org/VisionsGNN2ws01.html
    http://www.robert-e-howard.org/VGNNno3ss02.html
    http://www.robert-e-howard.org/VGNNss03.html

    Then there's what I think is Tompkins' finest hour, comparing LotR to Howard's S&S:

    http://www.robert-e-howard.org/VGNNws02.html

    So unless the fella thinks LotR is just "fluff," that should hopefully help out. These essays alone should show that there's more to REH than this supposed Thud-and-Blunder

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  10. It was also argued that Conan lacks character development, at least from a story-to-story to basis - implying he's a flat character. So if his character arc is spread across several stories, he's still flat?

    As you surmise, the facile idea that a character has to start one way and end another, even in a short story, is a nonsense. Real people don't "go on a journey," they grow slowly, naturally. Lives are not just made by stacatto monolithic events and paradigm shifts, but by gradual maturing and learning.

    Conan is an excellent example of this. Compare the near-feral thief of "The God in the Bowl" to the canny manipulator of "The Black Stranger." Appearance aside, they may as well be different characters. Then look at the selfish, murderous scoundrel of "Rogues in the House" and the self-sacrificing bordering-on-heroic forest runner of "Beyond the Black River." Then the naive, insecure thief of "The Tower of the Elephant" to the confident, generous king of "The Phoenix on the Sword."

    (There's another article: Conan's character arc)

    Yet even then, there are stories where Conan goes on a subtle character arc. The best example is, in fact, "The Vale of Lost Women," where he starts off a brutish bastard, but the encounter with Livia makes him reassess his life, and he turns up at the end as a hero instead of a monster. There are subtler ones, too, like "Black Colossus," "The People of the Black Circle," and The Hour of the Dragon.

    - Howard being a white man in 1930s Texas and all, did Conan tend to fight "colored peoples"? (In light of that recent black Heimdall post)

    Even off the top of my head, I can think of about ten white foes for every ethnic minority foe in the Conan stories. It deserves consideration.

    Perhaps mention how Conan is more Irish/Scottish/Gaelic than Austrian (an accent does wonders for popular perception).

    That's in the works!

    ReplyDelete