The black and white magazines from the 1970s are treasures that should be on every comic book collectors list. The artwork is typically phenomenal, and the stories cool as well. One of the best of these without doubt is The Savage Sword of Conan! Each magazine is filled with stories from the barbarian and his adventures. Whether he faces a wizard, a monster, or an army, Conan will prevail!
The mags almost always have extras in them as well. In this particular issue, you’ll see a frontispiece by the terribly underrated Keith Pollard and a pin-up by Gene Day! Also, sandwiched between two tales of the Cimmerian, you get a story called “The Kozaks Ride” by Fred Blosser and some illustrations by “Marvel’s finest.” The other two stories were adapted by Roy Thomas!
The first tale, “The City of Skulls,” was a story written by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. These two sci-fi writers have a ton of credits and were obviously huge fans of Robert E. Howard! The artwork is by Mike Vosburg and Alfredo Alcala. The second story, “Wolves Beyond the Border” was written by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp.The artwork in this story is by Ernie Chan.
Now, you may be wondering how these other names came to write stories starring everyone’s favorite barbarian. Well, the truth is, many stories were written by others after Howard’s death in 1936. They were either new material using the characters created by Howard or sometimes old material that had not been completed yet by Howard himself. Throw in an incredible painted cover by Clyde Caldwell, and you have a masterpiece of fiction brought to you by Marvel Comics!
Of course, who doesn’t enjoy a good story where Conan thrashes some scoundrels, and then saves the beautiful woman! I know a lot of people will steer clear of a series like this because they think it’s very one-trick pony, but if you really enjoy the genre, give it a try! This story in particular has a very weird and twisting ending. Sometimes Conan can get a little weary in regards to the plot, but action is never missing nor is a mystical/magical aspect that always kept my interest. Throw in an evil sorcerer or a weird creature, and I’m in for the long run!
When you have a character with the history that Conan has, it’s now extremely difficult to cook up decent stories. That’s not to take anything away from Roy Thomas (writer) mind you, but the groundwork laid by Robert E. Howard (creator) surely deserves the lion-share of the credit. It certainly doesn’t hurt your book when you have an artist the caliber of “Big” John Buscema (pencils, R.I.P.) and Ernie Chan (inker on interiors and cover) to put forth a spectacular visual feast either! Add on Bronze Age stalwarts John Costanza (letters), and Glynis Wein (colors), and the book will ascend to the heights of greatness! Did I forget to mention the cover by the master, Gil Kane?
Alright, a new month, and we say goodbye to Jack Kirby, but in his absence, we will see another titan of the comic book industry that left us way to soon, in the form of ‘Big’ John Buscema! A week-long tribute to him, then on to another comic book icon! There’s no two ways about it, you have to start out with a tribute to John Buscema with that Cimmerian warrior, Conan! In the first issue of The Savage Sword of Conan #1 (cover by Boris Vallejo), we get to see Conan, as he’s doing his usual thing (partying, and getting into trouble), but then out of nowhere, as he’s attacked by some vagabonds, he’s assisted by the beautiful but dangerous, Red Sonja! The two then go on to have an adventure that includes rescuing a girl from being sacrificed on an altar by some evildoers!
Nobody could draw Conan like John Buscema (Barry Windsor-Smith did a fine job too), and when you see other renderings, you will find it to be true! Whether it was gulping down a flagon of ale, fighting in some desert war, or riding a horse across the wilderness, ‘Big’ John Buscema was king of Conan the Barbarian! Enjoy!