Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Unpublished Gems: Conan the Barbarian

One of Marvels most popular characters that started the "barbarian" invasion in comic anti-heroes, we were lucky to have the talented Barry Smith on the title to provide the lush illustrations. But don't take my word for it, just take a look at this unpublished cover for Marvel's Conan the Barbarian #9 from 1971. Robert E. Howard's most famous creation savagely fights as he falls in this action-packed cover from "The House of Ideas" most renowned Bronze Age title. With wonderful backgrounds as supremely detailed as the main figures themselves, you can see why Smith's art, especially his covers, are so prized by original art collectors. Thought somewhat different than the actual printed version as shown here, I imagine this was an earlier version of the piece, most likely changed at the request of the editor. Perhaps to make Conan a little larger and more centered in the image. In many ways, however, one could argue this version is clearly superior to the version that was eventually published. Incidentally this cover sold at auction back in 2003 for the grand sum of $7,590, so who knows what a cover of this caliber would cost  today eleven years later.

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