Wednesday 30 June 2010

Solomon Kane's DVD release number 1 in sales

According to Michael J. Bassett's blog, Solomon Kane did well on its first day on disc:

I was also told that Solomon Kane was the number one selling Blu Ray and DVD in the UK on the day of its release.  We beat out The Lovely Bones, which is nice, since that beat us at the cinemas.

Well done everyone involved. I've ordered the DVD from Amazon, and intend on reviewing it as soon as I get my grubby mits on it.  It'll be interesting to see if my original thoughts apply, or if it's better/worse than I remember. 

Tuesday 29 June 2010

What Happened to Geoff Darrow's Conan 25 Cover?

From Bleeding Cool:

Recently, Dark Horse heavily teased and promoted its upcoming wraparound cover to Conan #25 by Geoff Darrow, scheduled for September, the last issue before the relaunch

And while official solicitations have yet to be released, I understand that the cover may have to be withdrawn. Robert E. Howard Properties has objected to it being… too.. violent. For a Conan book. Blimey. That’s something.

Yeah... no.  I'd guess that the cover would be withdrawn because it is useless.

I have nothing against Geoff Darrow, but given what I've seen of his work, he could've done something more appropriate.  Way more appropriate.  His cover is a parody, and fan reaction has not been entirely positive.  The Keegans' cover is superior in every way.

Monday 28 June 2010

Conan the Barbarian: The Musical

Quite excellent. I'd watch it.

Be sure to watch the makers' previous Schwarzenegger extravaganza, Total Recall: The Musical.  I dearly hope they do more quotable Arnold films: Predator, Commando, The Running Man, and my own favourite, Kindergarten Cop.  Imagine the showstopping tracks "There Is No Bathroom," "It's Not A Tumour," "You Hit A Kid, I Hit You," "Who Is My Daddy And What Does He Do".  Last Action Hero would be hilarious too.

Saturday 26 June 2010

"Faithfulness to the Source Material does not a Great Movie Make."

Behold, another target for the HMS Taranaich.

Honestly, I'm tired of people bitching about Milius' Conan being unfaithful to the books. I'm a fan of Howard's writing, but let's not get pretentious about it. He wrote gory sexy adventure stories, not important works of literature.

And even if they were, faithfulness to the source material does not a great movie make. Greystoke has very little in common with Burroughs' Tarzan, but that doesn't change the fact that it's the best Tarzan film ever made.

Source fidelity can take a flying leap, for all I care. Make a good movie. That's all that matters.

First of all, let's ignore this idea that we're being "pretentious" in wanting a film adaptation that respects an author who is in the Library of America, Penguin Classics, is about to have an academic study published, and has been critiqued in more fanzines and independent scholarly journals for decades than any other fantasy author save Tolkien.  Apparently, that doesn't matter, since everyone knows Conan's just puerile adolescent wish fulfillment.  That said, this does accurately reflect the old Lancer approach of being "just a story."  Also, kinda hard to view the foundation stones of an entire literary genre as "not important literature."

Friday 25 June 2010

Another new shot of Conan the Momoan (® Miguel Martins)

As brought to us from Rock via kromtaar at the Robert E. Howard forums:

Man... I don't know.  It looks very 300-ish: stylized to the max with much post-production.  That would certainly explain why the principal photography schedule was so amazingly short, if most of the film is being done in post-production like 300.  The sword sports a lens flare J.J. Abrams could be proud of.  Conan's hair looks more like a Sumerian's than a Cimmerian's.  And for the life of me I can't figure out what that pose he's striking is meant to be: I guess it's meant to be a wild barbaric attack, but it looks more like a skirling dance.  Overall, my impression is that it's shooting for badass, but fell somewhere in the "stupid" section.

It's about what I've expected to come from this production, really.

Thursday 24 June 2010

The Shadow of Maggiegate

I can't say I remember hearing about this podcast.

This episode is a memorable one, as we recorded it while Fandomania was under siege from fans of Robert E. Howard who took umbrage with an article we published about the writer’s life. Hilarity ensued.
Hilarity, Jason?  I seem to recall that you were requesting Howard fans to leave Maggie alone, that she was very upset about the feedback she received, to the point where, upon posting another article later on The Cimmerian, that you asked us to just put it behind us, that Maggie suffered enough?  It didn't sound like hilarity was ensuing at all, but that you were treating this situation as a fairly serious one.

(Of course, my sarcasm reader might be faulty, and unable to detect any in the use of the phrase "hilarity ensues," but you'll forgive me if I'm not quite sure given the context.)

I'm too afraid to listen to it.  Not afraid for myself, or for Maggie and Fandomania, but for my keyboard: it's had a lot of battering to put up with lately and I don't want to break the poor thing. Maybe it's a good podcast, maybe it isn't: I won't make little Qwerty suffer any more.

Of course, if any enterprising readers feel differently, they could always say if it's worth the listen...

Conan the Momoan: A Few Adjustments

Looking at the clear photo of Conan the Momoan now all over the internet, it still bugs me how they couldn't do the hair right, "uncool" or not.  So, I went ahead and did a few little changes to make him more Howardian - at least in my mindset.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

The Baby-Intellectuals of the Colloquy Society

You might've noticed I don't suffer fools gladly: fools who think Conan the Barbarian was a faithful or even superior adaptation, morons who think Howard would've sympathized with Hitler, dunderheads who think Howard ripped off Tolkien.  Of course, it isn't only the trolls of the internet which make these stupid errors: apparently, so do "geniuses" like those at the Colloquy Society.

Monday 21 June 2010

Ol' Blue Eyes is Back: Clearer Shot of Conan the Momoan

Courtesy of Boyana, here's the first shot of Momo as Coco.

Finally, we have those blue eyes us Conan fans have been waiting for.  A shame his hair is still brown, Crom damn it. Dark brown, but still brown: unless there's some funky light refraction going on.  I realise this is going to be as Howardian as Thundarr, but would it have killed them to give him hair "black as a raven's wing"?

Silly question, I know.

*Forgot to add, thanks to Stampfer for the news at the Robert E. Howard Forums.

OK, this nonsense is getting out of hand.

First, we had the idiocy of complaining about a Jake Gyllenhaal, a white man, playing a Persian, when the Persian ethnos are considered white by any racial delineation which includes the term "white." 
Now we have idiots throwing a hissy fit because Angelina Jolie is playing Cleopatra.  Because, apparently, Cleopatra was black.

This is stunning.  I can't even see how such a silly idea comes about: is it because Egypt is technically in the continent of Africa, ergo anyone from Africa is a black person - despite that being far from the case in history, and especially the classical era?  Cleopatra VII - the most famous of the Cleos, and undoubtedly the one Jolie is cast as - was Greek.  She was a member of the Ptolomaic Dynasty, and had been for 300 years.  Like the earlier Egyptians, the Ptolomys married closely, sometimes to the extent of cousins and siblings.  The only way she could be black is if the Ptolemies had been marrying Nubians in the 300 years since - something absent from the historical record, and which surely goes against their history of keeping as close to the family as possible.

Sunday 20 June 2010

"click here for the scan you computer"

Despite being overly cautious (obviously not cautious enough) I seem to have fallen prey to that heinous Conficker scam.  This iteration of the detestable worm is called AV Live.  I'm currently working from another computer, but it drives me insane nonetheless, since the virus could well have my passwords.  Guess I'll have to change them again.

I wish Gypsy curses operated over the internet, because I would definitely curse the dastards who created this monstrous thing.

Friday 18 June 2010

Howard: What He Really Thought of Women.

Howard's immaturity and parochialism show plainly in his prose, which is sometimes racist, and definitely sexist.
- AboutFilm.Com

In the harsh glare of 21st Century enlightenment, Robert E. Howard has done himself no favors. Racism, sexism, anarchism, and religious intolerance abound in his works.
- R.H. Rich's Review of The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane

Firstly, maybe I should have felt bad about it on a personal level, but I never did. That's because I have such little respect for Howard as a person, it was easy to dismiss his attitudes as those of a bastard and not feel bad about it all by ignoring them. I have immense and total respect for his skills as a writer and a storyteller, I know his writings very well, but the guy himself was racist, sexist and the reasons for his suicide always unnerved me.
- Aaron Dembski-Bowden shouldn't be let anywhere near Dialogue Writing for Age of Conan... guess who's chief AoC dialogue writer?

Enough of this.

People have an irritating habit of judging Howard's views on women based on the least of his writings. This is about as disingenuous as judging the merits of Tolkien's writings on his Father Christmas stories, or Stephen King on Dreamcatcher: a man is judged on his best work. So why judge Howard on the Octavias, Natalas and Olivias when you should judge him on the dozens upon dozens of great, well-rounded female characters?

However, instead of quoting from "Sword Woman" or "Red Nails" or anything else that makes a mockery of that "Howard was sexist" argument, I'm going to post a letter. This one letter, in no uncertain terms, tells us exactly what's what when it comes to what Howard thinks of a woman's place in society.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Fantasy Cliches are both Good and Bad, According to Greg Tito

In Greg Tito's piece, he asserts that mechanical cliches (storytelling devices such as the concept of monster-haunted ruins, gaining experience and classes) are good, while narrative ones are frequently trite and, thus, bad.  For example, he posits that the idea of a spell user being physically frail is a necessary element of the party dynamic that encourages tactical and strategic thinking, whereas the other trappings like the Odin hat and beard are .

It's a good enough article for the first page.  Then on page two...

Wednesday 16 June 2010

"Conan" Site Goes Live

Well, there's nothing there save the name and date, but it's there all right.


With all the movie news happening since my visit to Cross Plains, I foresee the return of the Rumour Mill of Pain in the coming week or so...

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Back from Cross Plains

Insert your own Samwise Gamgee reference here. Given the intense heat of Cross Plains (which was actually very pleasant and cool for that time of year, and the very idea that the place could so easily have been even hotter fills me with horror) the comparisons of that brave little country lad traveling far from home to the fiery lands of the deep south are fairly easy to note.

It's a bit bittersweet: I didn't win the 2010 Venarium, and since you can only be nominated once, I never will.  I'd long convinced myself that Barbara was going to win, seeing as she was entirely deserving for The Wordbook and her many published essays, so I wasn't disappointed at all. However, The Cimmerian blog won the 2010 Stygian for best website, and I'm included on the list of names, along with Leo, Deuce, Brian, Steve Trout, Barbara, and Jeffrey.  I'm really pleased with this, especially for Deuce: he put a huge amount of effort into the site after Steve Tompkins' death, and it's great for The Cimmerian blog - and Deuce's current time in Howard fandom - to go out with a bang.

Once I get a few day's sleep I'll gather ye all round, to tell the tale of a Scottish invasion.  A tale of auspicious first meetings and fond farewells, of perils lurking in the grass and dangers round the winding roads, of surprising discoveries within and without...

Thursday 10 June 2010

Live, from Abilene...

Little update: remember that "10 hour journey," which would be closer to 16 accounting for other flights and transitions to other flights?  Turned out to be - and I counted - 24 hours.

Just about everything that could go wrong barring actual disaster - flight delays, unexpected turbulence, irritable jackasses behind me in the queue for the scanner, beaurocratic rigmarole leading to nearly missing the Abilene flight because there were only 8 offices out of 56 attended at Dallas, having our toothpaste and a small bottle of water confiscated (seriously, a sealed tube of toothpaste!?!) the clerk at the car rental place refusing to accept Scotland was part of the United Kingdom, not getting our luggage for the final leg of the trip, my new shoes were somehow starting to fall apart - Mitra wept.

The flights themselves were fine barring a bawling baby (and it's hard to blame a poor infant trapped on a plame) and a small child practising his future drumming career in the seat behind me (again, he was a wean, so just bless 'im), and the stewards were fantastically helpful folk, but overall, this is by far the most stressful journey I've ever undertaken.

Add in the heat - remember that scene from Total Recall when the atmospheric change caused Arnie's eyes to bulge out and his face to distend horrifically?  It's kinda like that: I'm a boreal creature, and just incapable of really adapting to the heat - and I barely know how I'm going to make it to Baird, let alone Cross Plains.

Well, wish me luck!  I'm sure gonna need it.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

T-minus 1 hour before me & the gang drive to the airport. Stopping at London, Dallas, and Abilene.  Over 10 hour journey, and that's just the flights.

I'll be sure to take lots of photos for you fine folks.

See y'all later!

Tuesday 8 June 2010


A while back, Jonathan Moeller posted something on romance novels as female wish-fulfillment.  It was an interesting thing, but then I read this passage:

“On the other hand, Conan of Cimmeria boinks a different wench every story, usually after rescuing her from the bloodstained altar a depraved centuries-old sorcerer. So, male wish fulfillment, I guess.”

I see this quite a lot, and given the sheer amount of horrible Conan novels and comics out there, I think there's a definite possibility that the "boink" ratio is considerably high.  What's disturbing is that not only detractors, but fans of Conan cite the old "gets the girl at the end of every story" idea. Nonetheless, I felt the need to defend Howard's original stories. 

Monday 7 June 2010

The Pages that Time Forgot

Well, folks, here we go, the first of a few ideas I have for The Blog That Time Forgot.  The titles are works-in-progress, though some might remain.  Some may be moved over to the formative Shieldwall, others will stick around.  If I do move them to Shieldwall, then TBTTF will have its own pages based around my favourite things that aren't Howard or Tolkien, though based on one particular thing.

Sunday 6 June 2010

Triangulation: The Final Week

This is it, the penultimate Triangulation post.  It's been fun, lads & lasses.

Sunday has two: my sort-of Farewell to The Cimmerian blog, and a bit of news on The Hobbit situation (I'm sure fans of JotR will want Jackson to just step in, but given my general antipathy, I'm not really that bothered about who replaces Billy of the Bull). I might put up a second "goodbye" post closer to the blog's closing, but really, I think I've said all I could say.  I recommend everyone check out my Venarium buddy's farewell, too.

There was a gap of a few days, before I embarked on my last series: a history of The Cimmerian blog.  Thursday was Year One, Friday was Year Two, Saturday was Year Three.  Years Four and Five will naturally follow today and on Monday.  I wasn't sure whether to add a cute subtitle, but they're already long enough.

So, one more week until the end of The Cimmerian blog, and Howard Days.  In between getting my final four posts up (I'll just give you some clues: Barbarians of Middle-earth, Hyborian Age Gazetteer, a Howard review, and a non-Howard review), I'll be making sure everything's ready for Cross Plains.  I'm taking my laptop on the flight, so I can spend the ten+ hours productively working on stuff before I arrive in Abilene.  I'll be taking a video camera with me, which I might put up on my youtube account after some jiggery-pokery.  "The Scottish Invasion: Al Harron at Cross Plains" or some such.  Hey, if Leo can be in a video...

Saturday 5 June 2010

Solomon Kane Review Reviews: Superhero Cinema

The frustrating thing about Michael Bassett’s Solomon Kane film is that it comes so close to getting it right. The cinematography and gloomy atmosphere capture the somber tone of Conan creator Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane tales very well, and there is a scene in the film where Kane encounters a mad priest who keeps a “congregation” of gibbering cannibals locked in the basement of his ruined church that feels like it could have been directly adapted from one of the original stories.

The frustrating thing about Jefferson’s Solomon Kane review is that it comes so close to getting it right. The article clearly knows enough about Conan creator Robert E. Howard's tales to understand how profoundly wrong Bassett's characterisation is, and there are some very salient points...

Nah, I feel mean. After all, this is a pretty good review.  I just feel I have to comment on some things.

Friday 4 June 2010

David Bishop Doon the Watter, and the Dark Age of Conan Comics

Something I'd been meaning to talk about was when I saw David Bishop in Greenock.  That's him on the right, next to Sam Kelly.

Back in May, part of the Greenock Library's initiative to get young people using them again was buying a vast pile of comics. The usual suspects were there: Maus, Watchmen, Transmetropolitan, V for Vendetta, Preacher, The Invisibles, 300, The Dark Knight Returns, Sandman, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth,  even things like Robert Crumb's Old Testament. Absolutely fantastic range, even if it does lack some Thomas adaptations (in an ideal world, I'd have a "Best of Roy Thomas & Robert E. Howard" collection with Worms of the Earth, Red Nails, Black Colossus, Wings in the Night et al), it's about the best possible collection I could think of.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Michael Bay turns his monstrous gaze to another childhood property

I have a complicated relationship with Michael Bay.  I never saw Bad Boys, and am not particularly interested in changing that, since Martin Lawrence irritates me, and Will Smith in anything other than Men in Black or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has been worthless to me. I vaguely liked The Rock, but that was basically because Sean Connery and Ed Harris never fail to deliver.  Armageddon was entertaining because... actually I don't know why, but I do recall that there was a lot of meteoric action therein.  I loved the scenes on the meteor, simply because I love that sort of science-fictiony sort of thing.  Pearl Harbor was ungodly, and I'm glad I didn't see it in theatres.  I never saw The Island, but I haven't heard good things.

And then there's Transformers. Truth be told, Bay is disturbingly good at making his films (apart from Pearl Harbor) an enjoyable experience for me.  I had a good time at the films I went to see at the cinema - and Primus forgive me, that includes Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I think in the case of Transformers, the power of nostalgia completely overwhelmed me: I was just so happy to hear Pete Cullen's voice, to see giant robots on screen, and generally excited about everything that I was in an incredibly cheerful state.  So it's very bizarre that while I immensely enjoyed the two Transformers films when I watched them, I don't think it was the films themselves that I enjoyed.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

The Boxleitner Connection

I've been doing research for an upcoming series of posts on TC charting the blog's history, when I came across this little gem: who would have thought there to be common ground between Robert E. Howard and Babylon 5?

Tuesday 1 June 2010


That's the final number of page views for the month of May, and the best page-visits-per-month The Cimmerian's ever achieved. Obviously a lot of it was due to Miguel's Conan scoop and the Frazetta news/tributes (many thanks to John J. Miller in particular), but even without those, analysis of the site's growth indicates it would've been a pretty comfortable 60-70,000.  Our best day was 8,812, on 17th May. Total views as of this writing are 797,469: I'm positive we would've hit 1 million by at least the end of the year.

All things considered, I think it's a fine swan song for the site to breach the 100,000 mark, however much those two news items may have contributed.  We still have another ten days to wrap up loose ends (appropriately, the site closes up shop on 11th June), but I'm immensely proud that we broke that milestone.  I can't thank everyone who read the site enough.

Not bad for a niche blog.