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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Saturday, 11 February 2006
Chalice
Before we go on looking at other genres for the second or third time, let's pause on the barbarians for a while. Sword and scorcery starts and ends with Robert E. Howard and his most popular creation, Conan the Barbarian. Conan has had as many comic books devoted to his adventures as many of the top flight superheroes. There was Conan the Barbarian with the early Barry (Windsor) Smith art, Savage Sword of Conan in the black and white magazine format to allow for more graphic depictions of limbs being hacked off, King Conan.

And though comics companies have attempted to create their own barbarians like Skull the Slayer or Ironjaw, only Warlord has made a lasting impression. But Marvel has produced very good adaptations of Kull the Conqueror and Solomon Kane so perhaps the only rival to Howard is a fellow pulp fiction writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs, who often wrote 'barbarians on other worlds' stories. These two have been adapted, or had new stories written using the characters. Marvel has produced limited runs of Gulliver Jones and John Carter and other companies like Dell have also obtained the license at various times.

Whether it is the spin-off fame of Tarzan that created a demand for more Burroughs or the SF fantasy of bulging muscles and a broadsword, his influence has likewise lasted and all but dominated each character style he portrayed.

You can be sure that sword & sorcery epics that derive directly from the pulps are going to be a better read than Wulf the Barbarian

But as important as all the macho men are to the genre, there is a warrior woman who can kick ass with the best of them: Red Sonja who has made many incarnations and is good in all of them

Posted by berko_wills at 2:04 AM EADT
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