Saturday, October 20, 2012

Marvel Spotlight: Conan The Barbarian

With his first Marvel Comics appearance in October of 1970, Robert E. Howard's, Conan the Barbarian, hit the newsstands with a landslide success in issue sales. Roy Thomas was chosen to write the adapted short stories of Howard and though he wanted John Buscema to illustrate the feature, British newcomer Barry Smith was picked for the coveted artistic chores. Thomas was true to the source material, which had already made Conan world famous years before, but now coupled with the ornate, art deco-like illustrations of Smith it quickly won a legion of new fans and awards alike. Pleasing page composition and layout, excellent figure drawing, and a delicate use of color helped propel Conan as a best seller, before Smith had a falling out with Marvel over creative differences and left the strip in 1973. Now Buscema was available to draw the barbarian in his own distinctive style, though many morned Smith's departure from the book, dividing fans as to who drew the best version of the character. A second black-and-white dollar magazine debuted in August of 1974 under the title, the Savage Sword of Conan, which could get away with a little more sex and violence from the comic censors. Even today the wild Cimmerian continues his many adventures under different comic publishers.

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