Saturday 30 July 2011

The Great Divide

What Conan Fans and People Who Know How To Use The Internet Know

1932       December       "The Phoenix on the Sword" (Weird Tales)
1933       January           "The Scarlet Citadel" (Weird Tales)
                March            "The Tower of the Elephant" (Weird Tales)
                June               "Black Colossus" (Weird Tales)
                September      "Xuthal of the Dusk" (Weird Tales)
                October          "The Pool of the Black One" (Weird Tales)
1934       January            "Rogues in the House" (Weird Tales)
                April               "Iron Shadows in the Moon" (Weird Tales)
                May                "Queen of the Black Coast" (Weird Tales)
                Augus             "The Devil in Iron" (Weird Tales)
                September      "The People of the Black Circle" (1) (Weird Tales)
                October          "The People of the Black Circle" (2) (Weird Tales)
                November       "The People of the Black Cirlce" (3) (Weird Tales)
                December       "A Witch Shall Be Born" (Weird Tales)
1935       March              "The Servants of Bit-Yakin (Weird Tales)
                May                 "Beyond the Black River" (1) (Weird Tales)
                June                      "Beyond the Black River" (2) (Weird Tales)
                November          "The Man-Eaters of Zamboula" (Weird Tales)
                December           "The Hour of the Dragon" (1) (Weird Tales)
1936       January                "The Hour of the Dragon" (2) (Weird Tales)
                February              "The Hour of the Dragon" (3) (Weird Tales)
                March                   "The Hour of the Dragon" (4) (Weird Tales)
                April                       "The Hour of the Dragon" (5) (Weird Tales)
                July                        "Red Nails" (1) (Weird Tales)
                August                  "Red Nails" (2) (Weird Tales)
                September         "Red Nails" (3) (Weird Tales)
                October               "Red Nails" (4) (Weird Tales)
1938                                       "The Hyborian Age"
1950                                       Conan the Conqueror (Gnome)
1952                                       The Sword of Conan (Gnome)
                                                "The God in the Bowl" (Space Science Fiction)
1953                                       The Coming of Conan (Gnome)
1953                                       King Conan (Gnome)
                                                "The Black Stranger" (Fantasy Magazine)
1954                                       Conan the Barbarian (Gnome)
1955                                       Tales of Conan (Gnome)
1957                                       The Return of Conan (Gnome)
1965                                       "Cimmeria" (The Howard Collector)
1966                                       Conan the Adventurer (Lancer)
1967                                       Conan the Warrior (Lancer)
                                                Conan the Usurper (Lancer)
                                                Conan the Conqueror (Lancer)
                                                "The Vale of Lost Women" (Magazine of Horror)
1968                                       Conan (Lancer)
                                                Conan the Freebooter (Lancer)
                                                Conan the Wanderer (Lancer)
                                                Conan the Adventurer (Lancer)
                                                Conan of the Isles (Lancer)
1969                                       Conan of Cimmeria (Lancer)
1970       October               Conan the Barbarian #1 (Marvel)
1971                                       Conan the Buccaneer (Lancer)
                                                Savage Tales #1 (Marvel, first issue)
1974                                       The People of the Black Circle (Donald M. Grant)
                                                Giant-Size Conan #1 (Marvel)
                August                  The Savage Sword of Conan #1 (Marvel)
1975                                       A Witch Shall Be Born (Donald M. Grant)
                                                Red Nails (Donald M. Grant)
                                                Savage Tales #5 (Marvel, final issue)
                                                Giant-Size Conan #5 (Marvel, final issue)
1976                                       Rogues in the House (Donald M. Grant)
1977                                       Conan of Aquilonia (Lancer)
                August                  The Hour of the Dragon (Berkley)
                September         The People of the Black Circle (Berkley)
                October               Red Nails (Berkley)
1978                                       Queen of the Black Coast (Donald M. Grant)
                August                  Conan the Swordsman (Bantam)
1979                                       Jewels of Gwahlur (Donald M. Grant)
                                                Black Colossus (Donald M. Grant)
                February              Conan the Liberator (Bantam)
                May                       Conan: The Sword of Skelos (Bantam)
                October               Conan: The Road of Kings (Bantam)
1980                                       King Conan #1 (Marvel, first issue)
                July                        Conan the Rebel (Bantam)
                December           Conan and the Spider God (Bantam)
1982       May                       Conan the Barbarian (Universal)
                                                Conan the Barbarian Adaptation (Bantam)
                June                      Conan the Invincible (Tor)
                December           Conan the Defender (Tor)
1983       April                       Conan the Unconquered (Tor)
                October               Conan the Triumphant (Tor)
1984                                       Conan: Hall of Volta (Datasoft)
                May                       Conan the Magnificent (Tor)
                June                      Conan the Destroyer (Universal)
                July                        Conan the Destroyer adaptation (Tor)
                November          Conan the Victorious (Tor)
1985       September         Conan the Victorious (Tor)
1986                                       The Pool of the Black one (Donald M. Grant)
                February              Conan the Fearless (Tor)
                April                       Conan the Renegade (Tor)
                October               Conan the Raider (Tor)
1987       April                       Conan the Champion (Tor)
                October               Conan the Defiant (Tor)
1988       January                Conan the Marauder (Tor)
                March                   Conan the Warlord (Tor)
                October               Conan the Valiant (Tor)
1989                                       The Hour of the Dragon (Donald M. Grant)
                                                Conan (Mindscape)
                                                King Conan #55 (Marvel, final issue)
                February              Conan the Hero (Tor)
                April                       Conan the Bold (Tor)
                                                Conan the Great (Tor)
                October               Conan the Indomitable (Tor)
1990       February              Conan the Freelance (Tor)
                November          Conan the Formidable (Tor)
1991                                       Conan: The Mysteries of Time (Mindscape)
                                                Conan: The Cimmerian (Virgin/Synergistic)
                January                Conan the Guardian (Tor)
                April                       Conan the Outcast (Tor)
                November          Conan the Rogue (Tor)
1992       April                       Conan the Relentless (Tor)
                October               Conan the Adventurer (Jetlag/Sunbow)
                November          Conan the Savage (Tor)
1993       February              Conan of the Red Brotherhood (Tor)
                May                       Conan and the Gods of the Mountain (Tor)
                November          Conan and the Treasure of Python (Tor)
                December           Conan the Barbarian #275 (Marvel, final issue)
1994                                       Conan and the Young Warriors (DiC)
                                                Conan the Adventurer #1 (Marvel)
                January                Conan the Hunter (Tor)
                April                       Conan, Scourge of the Bloody Coast (Tor)
                October               Conan and the Manhunters (Tor)
                November          Conan at the Demon's Gate (Tor)
1995                                       Conan the Adventurer #14 (Marvel)
                                                Conan the Savage #1 (Marvel)
                                                Conan #1 (Marvel, first issue)
                January                Conan and the Gladiator (Tor)
                April                       Conan and the Amazon (Tor)
                July                        The Savage Sword of Conan #235 (Marvel)
                August                  Conan and the Mists of Doom (Tor)
                November          Conan and the Emerald Lotus (Tor)
1996                                       Conan the Savage #10 (Marvel, final issue)
                                                Conan #11 (Marvel, final issue)
                January                Conan and the Shaman's Curse (Tor)
                April                       Lord of the Black River (Tor)
                November          Conan and the Grim Grey God (Tor)
1997       January                Conan and the Death Lords of Thanza (Tor)
                September         Conan: The Adventurer (Keller)
2000       August                  The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1 (Gollancz)
2001                                       Conan: The Road of Kings (Tor)
                                                The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2 (Gollancz)
                October               Conan the Rebel (Tor)
2002                                       Conan and the Spider God (Tor)
                February              Conan: The Sword of Skelos (Tor)
                June                      Conan the Liberator (Tor)
                December           Conan the Swordsman (Tor)
2003                                       Conan of Cimmeria: Volume 1 (Wandering Star)
                                                The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian (Del Rey)
2004                                       Conan of Cimmeria: Volume 2 (Wandering Star)
                                                Conan #1 (Dark Horse, first issue)
                                                Conan: The Dark Axe (TDK Mediactive)
                                                Conan and the Daughters of Midora (Dark Horse)
                January                Sagas of Conan (Tor)
                July                        Conan of Venarium (Tor)
2005                                       Conan of Cimmera: Volume 3 (Wandering Star)
                                                The Bloody Crown of Conan (Del Rey)
                                                The Conquering Sword of Conan (Del Rey)
                                                Conan and the Demons of Khitai (Dark Horse)
                                                Conan and the Midnight God (Dark Horse)
                                                Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur (Dark Horse)
2006                                       The Complete Chronicles of Conan (Gollancz)
                                                Conan and the Songs of the Dead (Dark Horse)
                                                Conan: The Book of Thoth (Dark Horse)
2007                                       Conan (Nihilistic)
2008                                       Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (Funcom)
                                                Conan #50 (Dark Horse, final issue)
                                                Conan the Cimmerian #0 (Dark Horse, first issue)
2010                                       Conan: Road of Kings
2011       June                      Conan the Barbarian Novelization (Del Rey)
                July                        Conan the Barbarian (Del Rey)
                August                  Conan the Barbarian (Lionsgate)

"Conan has been done an awful lot in comics, books and video games, but not so much in movies.  With the sheer number of stories that have been told over the years, even for the half-century before the 1982 movie, it's actually quite astonishing that there haven't been more films made."

What The Uninformed Masses and People Who Don't Know How To Use The Internet Know

1982       May                      Conan the Barbarian (Universal)
1984       June                      Conan the Destroyer (Universal)
2011       August                  Conan the Barbarian (Lionsgate)


Thursday 28 July 2011

Blood & Thunder Fairytales: Snow White

Here's another one of those ideas I had a while back: what if someone did a more action-packed version of Snow White, where the dwarfs were more Tolkien than Kiebler?

The story would go much as it normally does in Grimm's original fairytale, with one or two subtle alterations.  See if you can find them, in this shameful copy/paste find/replace hack-job on Grimm's classic fairytale...

Tuesday 26 July 2011

The Filmgoer's Guide to Conan the Barbarian (1982): Contents

To make things easier to navigate, I'll be using this post to serve as a directory for the Filmgoer's Guide, until I get the Complete Filmgoer's Guide finished.  I've made a start on The Filmgoer's Guide for the 2011 film, and... well, we'll see.

  • Introduction
  • The Nemedian Chronicles
  • Of Swords and Riddles of Steel
  • Cimmerian Mythology
  • Cimmeria
  • The Cimmerians
  • Conan's Family
  • Conan's Early Life
  • The Picts
  • Rexor, Thorgrim and the Vanir
  • Thulsa Doom
  • The Wheel of Pain
  • The Cultured Conan
  • Conan the Gladiator
  • The Intellectual Conan
  • Conan the Samurai
  • The Philosophical Conan
  • The Atlanteans
  • The Multilingual Conan
  • The Witch
  • Subotai and the Hyrkanians
  • Zamora
  • The Cult of Set
  • Black Lotus
  • The Tower of the Serpent
  • Valeria
  • Giant Snakes
  • King Osric
  • The Mounds of the Dead
  • The Wizard
  • The Mountain of Power
  • Crucifixion
  • The Resurrection and the Price
  • The Snake Arrow
  • The Battle of the Mounds
  • Do You Want To Live Forever?
  • Children of Doom
  • ... But That Is Another Story

If anyone's particularly interested in one of the subjects, I'll see what I can do to fasttrack them.

Sunday 24 July 2011

Conan vs Khal Drogo and other such silliness

It's interesting that following the little kerfuffle which emerged when we found out which fictional barbarian Jason Momoa has his money on, many seemed to think the dispute was about how REH fans are incensed that Jason picked the wrong choice.  However, I don't think that's the case.  For one thing, there isn't actually a debate, since we can't really know who would win out of Drogo or Conan for the simple reason that we barely know anything about the former, most specifically his combat prowess.

In A Game of Thrones, all we have to go on is hearsay.  Tales of how impressive the Khal was in battle, the fact that he has a massively long ponytail suggests he was never defeated in battle, the fact that everyone fears and respects him.  But we never see first hand evidence of his skills, strength and endurance.  He has a fantastic mystique and aura of death about him, but it's all just that: mystique and aura.  This was somewhat remedied by the TV show, but I maintain what I thought originally: that wasn't a fight, that was an execution.  Drogo was barely scratched by the "challenger," and he punished the would-be usurper with contemptuous ease.  Aside from that, we have practically no information to go on.

Conan, of course, is a different story.  We have plenty of first-hand accounts of the Cimmerian's battle against scores of different opponents. Duels, brawls, skirmishes, assaults, battles, sieges, with odds both against him and in his favour.  So we have a good idea of how Conan would fare against, say, Thomas Covenant, Imaro or Elric.* But against Drogo, all we can do is speculate.  All the more reason to be annoyed at Martin killing off one of the best characters in A Game of Thrones.

Conan, being a rather famous example of the badass barbarian warrior, is a regular combatant in such contests. However, given how vastly different Howard's Conan is from film-Conan, who is different from Marvel Conan, who is different from animated Conan... So you can have matchups go all over the place. And, of course, all are decided by vote.

Sometimes he's really punching above his weight:

Loss Optimus Prime 17 to 85

Loss Witch-King of Angmar 56 to 62
Loss Wolverine 12 to 75

Others, he's come out on top when circumstances really point against it:

Win He-Man 41 to 36

Win The Balrog 13 to 12
Win Alien King 24 to 8

And, predictably, there are other battles he really should've won:

Loss Bruce Lee 60 to 62
Loss Chewbacca 47 to 48
Loss King Leonidas 58 to 76

That said, when it comes to fictional characters, the only person who would really win is who you want to win: all the attempted empirical deduction and analysis is, unfortunately for such pedantic folks as myself, subject entirely to the whim of circumstance, bias and story.

*Effortlessly, Decently and Poorly respectively.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

So, about that dwarf movie...

"Farewell, Balin!" he said; "and farewell, Dwalin; and farewell Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur! May your beards never grow thin!"
 - Bilbo, The Hobbit, Chapter 18, "The Return Journey"

I've made a concerted effort not to talk about the recent character reveals from the upcoming Hobbit film adaptations, mostly because I couldn't really think of anything to say at the time. Everything I suspected would happen has happened: when they do it right, they do it brilliantly, but when they do it wrong, it looks preposterous.  Just like the adaptations of The Lord of the Rings.

Still, now that we've seen all thirteen dwarves, I might as well comment on them, based on my observations.

No, don't run away: I have praise as well as criticisms. I'm as surprised as you are!

Monday 18 July 2011

Star Trek just isn't as expansive as Star Wars, according to Robot Chicken

I kind of like Robot Chicken.  It seems incredibly self-indulgent, a bunch of nerds making a bunch of nerdy sketches that only other nerds would get, but it has its moments every so often.  Plus the use of action figures adds a certain charm to it.

I think, however, that their Star Wars specials take things too far.  The whole episode felt less like an attempt at sketch humour, and more like a bunch of pals snarking and commenting on their favourite movies.  Family Guy did the same thing, and I can't fathom how these things are getting releases. However, Family Guy attempted to do the same thing with Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, but Paramount shot that down. Apparently, Robot Chicken aren't even interested in doing something on not just TWoK, but Trek in general. Their explanation is somewhat bizarre.

Thursday 14 July 2011

John Carter: The Trailer

Now THIS is a goddamn trailer.

Remember what I said last time about the Conan trailer, that all I wanted was to watch a trailer and think "I know this"?  Well, I got it in spades here.

I saw Barsoom.  I saw John Carter.  I saw Dejah Thoris.  I saw the flying ships of Barsoom.  I saw red and green Martians.  I saw a legion of Barsoomian Thoat cavalry. I think I saw Tars Tarkas.

Yes, I do miss "of Mars."  True, I think that weird glowy-bluey-liney-thingy was daft.  Indeed, I'm not a fan of the music, or the fact that Dejah Thoris wasn't quite the shade of red I thought she would be.  But goddamn, I saw Barsoom.  That was Barsoom, up there on the big screen.  That was a Green Martian holding up a gun.  That was a fleet of Barsoomian airships.

I don't doubt that there will be things I don't like about the film: there are things I don't like about the trailer.  But that's to be expected from a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster.  So far... this is easily recognizable as John Carter.  And more importantly, to me, it's easily recognizable as Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter.

And that's pretty freaking awesome.

Now cue all the silly people claiming this adaptation of a 99-year-old literary creation is an Avatar/He-Man/Prince of Persia/Star Wars ripoff...

Wednesday 13 July 2011

The Fall of Johann Hari

Similarly, the films which established Arnie as a movie star, the 'Conan the Barbarian' series, have a strong resemblance to the fascist myths of a heroic Nordic pre-civilisation, when strapping Aryans would fight against vicious hoardes of savages. The Waffen SS could have used Conan's philosophy, "I burn with life, I love, I slay and am content."
 - Johann Hari on Arnold Schwarzenegger's impending reign, and I guess it would be too much to expect that he'd know about Howard's profound hatred of the Nazis and Fascism in general

I never liked Johann Hari even before I found out some of the garbage he said about Lord of the Rings, as noted by Brian Murphy in a passionate recent post, where he has outed Hari as a goddamn hypocrite.  I didn't even find out until today that he had the above to say about Conan.  My dislike of Hari goes beyond simple disagreements with his assessment of literature and authors I happen to like, and into disgust for his arrogance, pretentiousness, shameless sensationalism, lack of journalistic integrity, brazen plagiarism, woolly association with the truth, and most of all, his penchant for just making things up.

So ultimately, what Mr Hari says about The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien, or Conan and Robert E. Howard matters little, considering what a hash he makes of things like statistics, economics, politics and the like.  If he can't do basic fact-checking about the stuff he does for his job, how can we possibly expect him to know what he's talking about when it comes to the arts?

Rarely do I outright use such strong terms, but Johann Hari...

He bothers me.

... You see why I try not to bring politics into the blog?

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Faux-Medieval Fantasy Maps

I came across this at the Robert E. Howard Forums.  It is fantastic.

I know it must seem like I say this all the time, but how cool would a map like this be for the Hyborian Age?  Flags, faction symbols, cities, monsters, ships, warriors, all that jazz.  The golden lion of Aquilonia, the scarlet dragon of Nemedia, Grey apes lurking in the mountains of the Vilayet, sabretooths haunting the Pictish Wilderness, Atali and the Frost Giants in the far north, , the many distinctive cities and ruins of the Black Kingdoms, the Tigress gliding down the Black Coast.  There could be little hints of the stories: Numalia would have the famous bowl, Khorshemish the Scarlet Citadel, Zamora a certain tower, and so forth.

A cartoony style would be fun, but I think taking after the Book of Kells' illuminations would be especially appropriate.  Nemedian Chronicles, wot wot.

Monday 11 July 2011

Cimmerian confusion

Remember a while back I was going to do a tongue-in-cheek historical analysis of the 1982 Conan the Barbarian where I erroneously put forward the idea that the film is set in historical times? Conan as a Sumerian, Subotai a Hyrcanian, Thulsa Doom a Nubian, and whatnot. However, I thought better of it, because I wouldn't want to contribute to the misinformation regarding Conan around the 'net, even in jest.

Well, a gentleman by the name of Pakistani has actually done this.

Sunday 10 July 2011

The division between the literary story and the action one

I think I understand why Otto Penzler went with "The Devil in Iron" when composing The Big Book of Adventure Stories: because it's just that, an adventure story.  It doesn't have the special something which puts it among the ranks of Howard's greatest works, or even the greatest of Howard's fantasy, or even the greatest of Howard's Conans, or even the greatest of Howard's eastern Conan stories - but it is what is, in the ol' vernacular, a Ripping Yarn.

It's one of my favourites, and to say that it doesn't have the cosmic tragedy of "The Tower of the Elephant" or the dystopian degeneracy of "Red Nails" doesn't necessarily make it a bad story, just not an exceptional one. Howard wrote dozens of these sorts of tales that are great fun to read, but there isn't much else lurking beneath the surface - at least, nothing that we haven't seen better executed in previous Howard tales. With this in mind, Penzler's choice actually seems fairly good for the sort of book he was trying to compile - rough-and-tumble, boy's own adventure tales.

Unfortunately, such an approach can sometimes lead to reviews like this.

Friday 8 July 2011

Howard Days Panel Videos

Sorry for the lack of updates again, various factors and all that.  Anyway, I had meant to post these in the Scottish Invasion posts (and will do so), but I might as well post the videos up so far here.

Ben Friberg has been providing a fantastic service for Howard fans everywhere, by posting videos of the panels from Howard Days up on Youtube. There are quite a few up there, so check out Ben's profile for more. For now, here are the first three panels from this year's Howard Days.

Friday 1 July 2011

6 Deleted Scenes That Prove The Book Isn't Always Better

Ah, Cracked.  Sometimes you provide some nice information that the inattentive masses on the internet wouldn't otherwise be aware of, and other times you're saying Sauron was an alright guy.  And now you turn your daft eye towards The Lord of the Rings and Starship Troopers.

And, naturally, they bring up Tom Goddamn Bombadil as evidence that The Book Isn't Always Better.  Because, as we all know, there isn't a single second, nary a frame, of stupid belief-suspension-failure comedy in Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy, right?