Thursday 30 August 2012

Good Scot/Bad Scot: A Retrospective of McFarlane's Conan, Part One

While I certainly have a great number of Conan-related piece of paraphernalia interned in my household, I'm not what you'd call a Conan collector: I just buy what I like, rather than feel compelled to get the whole set, as it were.  I have many of the reprints of the Marvel comics that adapt the stories, but I didn't see much point in going beyond the Roy Thomas run: likewise, I have thus felt no need to liberate the Conan the Adventurer action figures from whatever warehouse they're currently collecting dust in.

I was going to make an exception for the McFarlane Conans.  You can't exactly call these action figures on account of the preposterous lack of articulation: "action" figures would be something of a misnomer.  Even the Battlechargers had more freedom of movement.  However, one doesn't buy these to enact fun little battles: one buys them to display, like you would a sculpture.  It just happens to have some variety in accessories and trinkets available.  It's a nice idea, all the same.

However, the more I looked at the McFarlanes, the louder Bad Scot started to grumble.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Bite-Sized Blog: Conan, Theosophy, and Expendables

Iggy Pop dressed as Conan, looking about as depressed as I do looking at this cover to Conan the Barbarian #10.

Well, time for another update: times are interesting indeed, as it turns out I have more time for one project when I was under the impression I had a matter of days, while the other project is still in the womb of creation, waiting to be snatched out. How purposefully vague.

In the meantime, quite a few things have happened in the world of adventure.

Saturday 11 August 2012

In lieu of new posts, some links

Once again, I apologise for the lack of activity on the blog. Essentially, I've been getting ready for a big project not related to Howard. I've been reticent in posting "real life" issues on the blog, since nobody's interested in that sort of thing, but I figure I might as well let you all know I'm still chugging along.

I don't think I realised just how ambitious "80 Years of Conan" really was. I'm only two stories in, and I'm in over my head: if I'm like this for "The Frost-Giant's Daughter," how on earth could I manage such meaty courses as "Beyond the Black River" or "The Tower of the Elephant," let alone the mighty "Hour of the Dragon"? So I'm going to scale it back a bit after this. Future instalments will probably not see quite as much detail as in the final two parts of TF-GD (if they aren't split further!), but will be more like starting points of discussion. Asking the questions without necessarily answering them, if you will. I'll endeavour to make them worthwhile reading, all the same. In the meantime, I offer a few links of interest.

First, I'll give some props to my literary colleague Ross Leonard, whose comic Maximum Alan (the grand saga of Alan Moore battling legions of his alternate universe counterparts, of course) was illustrated by my artistic colleague Brian Rankin. They were barely beaten out by another acquaintance's book, Gordon McLean's No More Heroes, for the top prize at the Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards. I thought it would be expedient of me to mention them since I'm hoping to work with these fine fellows in the future.

Keith Taylor's back in action with the second part of "If Wishes Were Horses." Part one can be found here. Anyone who's been over at The Cimmerian knows that the good Mr Taylor was a fellow blogger, and so it won't surprise anyone that I must admit that fact in any discussion of his fiction. Full disclosure, and all that. Nonetheless, almost despite my appreciation of his Howard scholarship, I can't recommend his fiction highly enough. A number of Howard fans and scholars have also entered the literary field, befitting aficionados of the great yarn-spinner, but that doesn't necessarily mean that their works are my cup of tea. Keith Taylor, dear readers, very much is my cup of tea. It took me a while to track down a copy of his Bard series, but they were well worth the effort, and I think the same could be said for yourselves.

"Gudrun Blackhair has returned."
Men said it all down both sides of the Narrow Sea. The Jutes of Kent said it with violent curses, and looked to their spears and their new king. When he heard the news he did not smile again for a full day.
Watchers on the white cliffs saw a ship pass by, a long swift ship bearing the emblem of a raven with spread wings on its crimson sail. Blackhair was flaunting. It was for show, that sail. She had two plain gray-green ones for business, but it was not in her mind to sneak home. Let them all know!

 - Prologue, Bard III - The Wild Sea

Being your usual stereotypical Scot, I eat stuff like this like salted porridge.

Although the Bard books are criminally out of print, Keith has returned to the realm of fiction with Servant of the Jackal God. Quite a change of pace from post-Roman Britain, but I don't doubt Mr Taylor's usual historical rigour would let up when his scribing hand turns to Egypt.

In a final tiny bit of REH-related news, I noticed that Gary Amdahl lists Conan the Barbarian among his literary pillars:

Conan the Barbarian
Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood
Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
Would've been nice to mention Howard's name, and while I instinctively rankled at putting Conan in the "adolescent" category, it's alongside the works of Capote, Ellison and blasted Dostoevsky. How could I possibly fault REH's proxy inclusion among such individuals?