Friday 15 October 2010

Conan Continuity Conundrum

The above graphic shows all the different continuities within Transformers fiction.  As you can see, it's a mite complicated: there are quite literally dozens of different universes all coalescing, coexisting and frequently conflicting with each other.

This got me to consider the state of Conan.  As we all know, there are dozens of Conan continuities out there, with many relations and conflicts with each other.  Depending on which continuity you're talking, Conan's parents are either alive or dead (or turned to stone) and the age of Conan at the time of their deaths can be different.  Even their names can be multiple choice.

Thus, I feel it might be helpful to create a "Conan Multiverse" system for future reference.

So far, I think I have the following.

Robert E. Howard Stories
Lancer/Ace Pastiches
Bantam Pastiches (includes REH/Lancer/Ace)
Tor Pastiches (includes REH/Lancer/Ace)

Conan the Barbarian Comics
"What If" (each comic occupies its own universe)
Savage Sword of Conan Comics
Conan Newspaper Comics
Conan the Adventurer
Conan (1996)
Conan the Savage
Conan the Barbarian Movie Special
Conan Dark Horse Comics

Cinema & Television
Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Destroyer (because CtD is often ignored, and would be ignored by Milius for King Conan, I feel it might be considered a "branching" continuity from Conan the Barbarian)
Red Sonja (assuming that Kalidor is in fact an assumed name for Conan, just for fun)
Conan the Adventurer - Animated
Conan & the Young Warriors
Conan the Adventurer - Live Action

Video Games
Conan: Hall of Volta
Conan: The Mysteries of Time
Conan the Cimmerian
Conan: The Dark Axe
Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

There are some things I'm unclear on, such as the Marvel graphic novels, the Conan the Barbarian miniseries, and Giant-Sized Conan - do they occupy their own universes, or should they be considered extension of the existing Marvel comics? There's also the matter of a universe drawing on two disparate ones: Conan the Adventurer, for instance, draws upon the comics and the films.

If any of the chaps with more knowledge of the lesser-known Conan universe, let me know!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Damn, Al, that chart looks like Gundam continuity!

    (anybody wanna attempt something similar with all those REH Conan Chronologies out there?)

  3. Huh well thats weird, I typed up a big reply but it got all garbled in transmission.. I'll put up another one later..

    Continuities, I love them but they make my head hurt..

  4. If I'm not mistaken, one of the older Conan games had him going on the standard Milius revenge quest after raiders destroyed his village and killed his young wife and child(!!!)

    Perhaps you could devote an article or more to video games.

  5. Lagomorph, is this your post?

    Thats a good starting point for the continuity of the transformers fiction.. but dosen't quite include everything.

    I've been working on an comprehensive one, with individual episode/issue breakdowns for what seems like ages.. It just gets weirder and weirder. Not to mention the outright strangeness that exists because of that Deathshead/Doctor Who crossover.. and the more recent Transformers/Avengers crossover.. Looking to get even weirder with a Transformers/GIJOE/Ghostbusters/Startrek crossover from IDW..

    But if you read the Inteview with Robert Jordan in the back of one of the later Save Swords.. he pretty much spills the beans that his 7 Tor's at least.. then you have another universe with CtB, CtD and then Magnificent/et al following...

    and of course then you get the fact that, the Avengers have crossed over with the X-men.. who crossed over with star trek!


    trying to do one with Conan, could be easier.. or could be even more difficult.. because while the majority of Transformers fiction is at least watchable/readable.. I've found a lot of the Conan fiction isn't.

    (Google Alerts to the rescue!) Anyway, I agree that there really aren't a lot of good Conan continuities out there, and that things can get a little crazy. Indeed, I'd say the vast majority are distinctly inferior.

    (By the way, if Trek crossed-over with X-Men, and Wolverine crossed over with Conan, then does that mean Star Trek is linked to Conan? Awesome)

    There's only one thing I want from the Transformers/GIJOE/Ghostbusters/Startrek crossover, and it's for at least one space battle where one ship transforms and starts punching enemy ships. Which then transform, and we get a big brawl in space. "Did... did he just punch my ship?"

    Tex, well, as Lagomorph says, even that crazy chart is incomplete. Such a chart for Conan is one of my ideas, though I have no idea how to make them. I actually had an idea kicking about illustrating it like a solar system: REH (or Conan Prime) as the sun, the major continuities like Pastiches, Comics and Movies as planets, and continuities spawned from those continuities as moons. Hence, Conan the Adventurer (Live Action) would be a moon orbiting the Conan the Barbarian planet, which itself orbits Conan Prime. The distance of each planet would indicate how close to the source material it is. Poor 1996 Conan, so very far away...

    Anonymous, I think that game was Conan the Cimmerian. I think I forgot to add it, so cheers for jogging my memory! Man, that's gotta hurt: not only your parents and home village, but your wife and child and new home village destroyed by raiders.

  6. All of the Marvel stuff (Conan the Barbarian, the Adventurer, Savage Sword, King Conan, and the graphic novels) are all more or less one continuity-- at least, Roy Thomas went through great pains to make it so.

  7. Bruce Jones Conan could be a continuity himself but I think that all the Conan series in marvel comics have the same continuity...
    spanish scholar Javier Martin Lalanda on his book La cancion de las espadas saw the diferent Conan... REH, pastiches, comic... like the different versions of a myth like King Arthur seem by Chretien de Troyes, Geoffrey of Mounmouth, Thomas Mallory...

  8. (By the way, if Trek crossed-over with X-Men, and Wolverine crossed over with Conan, then does that mean Star Trek is linked to Conan? Awesome)
    Hmm, yes and no. The Star Trek/Xmen crossovers took great pains to note that the two are from separate dimensions. However, Conan (as well as Kull and Solomon Kane!) is found at one end of Win Scott Eckert's massive (not to mention massively fun) Crossover Chronology, and Star Trek on the other - I didn't see the Wolverine meeting mentioned, so the quickest connection is probably Conan - Spiderman (via a cameo in Conan's What If trip to the 70's) - Batman (at least two different meetings) - Trek (via the DS9 episode with the baseball player from Gotham).

    Yeah, the whole two books are kinda like that. In keeping with the theme of this post, Eckert also takes great care to note that most of the well-known comic characters that appear are "Elseworlds" versions of themselves - depending on how canonical you take, say, Conan's meeting with Thor, this probably applies to him, too.

  9. Space Cadet Juan (cool handle, btw): I believe that the Marvel Conans are *meant* to be the same continuity, but in practise the amount of nonsense and contradictions that came after Thomas' meticulously crafted stories renders this impossible. Even in single series like Savage Sword, you get completely contradictory depictions of things like Conan's parents: sometimes they're dead, sometimes they're alive, they die at different points of Conan's life etc. So things get problematic very quickly.

    Francisco, I think the Marvel planet might have a dozen or so moons orbiting it, the way various authors have contradicted Howard, Thomas and each other. I quite like the "legends" and "historical" idea for Conan too. That way you could have different interpretations of, say, Venarium or his usurpation of Aquilonia, while sticking to the truth for the Howard stories.

    T, well that's very in-depth, thanks! I'll have to find Eckert's book, it sounds a bundle of fun.

  10. that is indeed my post, for whatever reason when I got ready to post it the first time it came out all garbled, Its still not in the right order. but its better than nothing.

    whats really interesting is that some of the more obscure transformers continuities are very interesting in their own regard.

  11. Cool, any suggestions for ones to check out? I've read most of the recommended Marvel UK comics, War Within and whatnot, but not much beyond that in comics. I love the weirder ones like Shattered Glass and Hearts of Steel.

  12. well the most interesting one I can think of, off the top of my head is probably the ladybird books continuity.

    It branches out from the Cartoon's opening 3 parter... but then eventually makes use of the Marvel UK books "In the national interest" and a few other stories.. before going off in its very own direction entirely.

    It's my personal feeling that, that continuity is also the best home for some of the oddities that showed up in the Marvel UK annual like "Plague of insecticons".

  13. For me these are the different adult Conan universes:
    1) REH's original stories, including unfinished works and non-contradictory information from drafts, I include other REH works Kull, Bran Mak Morn, Black Turlogh etc in there as well.
    2) "De Camp" Pastiche novels universe, including rewritten REH works, Lancer, Bantam, Tor etc + maybe the Lancer King Kull with completions and the Cormac Mac Art, Bran Mak Morn pastiches
    3) Marvel comics including Kull and Red Sonja comics + the Red Sonja novels and film(?)
    4) 80s movies, including adaptations in print and comic
    5) Dark Horse comics

    I see each of those as separate continuities in my mind, even though I may enjoy all of them for different reasons.
    Never watched the old cartoon or 90s TV series so can't comment. The new movie will probably be it's own entity as well.