The Great Comic Book Heroes usually writes about comics but today we are going to celebrate the birthday of the great writer, Robert E. Howard, who is considered to be the father of Sword and Sorcery with his work on such stuff as Solomon Kane, King Kull and Conan!
Robert E. Howard!
(January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936)
Robert E Howard, born on January 22, 1906, was raised in rural Texas by a country physician. He once wrote, “I took up writing simply because it seemed to promise an easier mode of work, more money and more freedom than any other mode of work I’d tried. I wouldn't write otherwise.”
He got his start writing pulp fiction for such magazines as Weird Tales. Weird Tales published supernatural, fantasy and horror stories that focused on the weird, the bizarre and the unusual, like those stories written by their most famous contributor H. P. Lovecraft.
|Margaret Brundage was responsible for most of the covers of Weird Tales Magazine while Howard's Conan stories were being published. She was known for her provocative covers of scantily clad women in peril.|
King Kull's The Shadow Kingdom is considered by some to be the very first Sword and Sorcery story ever written. It was started in August of 1926 but wasn't published for another 3 years, in August of 1929.
|Kull had a good run of comics in the 70's at Marvel. Here is Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog's version from Kull the Destroyer #11, Nov. 1973.|
|Writer Roy Thomas, and brother and sister team, John and Marie Severin adapt Howard's The Shadow Kingdom for Marvel's Kull the Conqueror #2, Sep. 1971.|
Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane is an English Puritan who fights the dark forces of the supernatural and satanic creatures.
|Writer Don Glut and artists Will Meugniot and Steve Gan adapted Howard's Footfalls Within in Marvel Preview #19, Oct. 1979.|
|Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin adapted Solomon Kane's Red Shadows in Marvel Premiere #34, Feb. 1977, though for some reason Chaykin didn't want to draw him in his archetypal Puritan slouch hat.|
Howard must have been inspired when he came up with kull because he wrote 9 complete stories which he sent to Weird Tales. Of the 9 only 2 were accepted. This must have discouraged Howard from writing any more stories of Kull because he was shelved for good.
Solomon Kane fared a little better fate. He had 7 stories appear in Weird Tales over the next 5 years. Once Conan hit the scene though, Solomon Kane was a thing of the past.
|In 1970 Roy Thomas and Marvel bought the rights to Conan and began a highly successful series that was kicked off with legendary artwork by Barry Windsor Smith.|
Conan's first appearance, the Phoenix on the Sword, was actually an old Kull story, By This Axe I Rule, that he pulled off the shelf and reworked. It appeared in Weird Tales of December 1932. In it Conan is a king and he must fight for his life against conspirators.
|Roy Thomas adapted the Phoenix on the Sword for Conan Annual #2, in 1976 with the help of Vicente Alcazar and Yong Montano|
|Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith did a stunning adaption of the Frost Giant's Daughter first in Savage Tales #1, May 1971, in black and white and then reprinted it in Conan #16, July 1972, in color|
|Thomas and Smith did an early adapted the God in the Bowl for Conan #7, July 1971. In it you can see Smith, though still not at his peak, beginning to come into his artistic powers.|
Next Howard went ahead and wrote up a history of Conan's world in the essay, the Hyborian Age.
|Roy Thomas and Walt Simonson's adaptation of Robert E. Howard's "The Hyborian Age". From Savage Sword of Conan #15 (Sep. 1976)|
|Roy Thomas and Sandy Plunkett did a comic of the tragic suicide of Howard for Epic Magazine #34 (Feb 1986). You can see the entirety of it on Shades of Gray blogspot.|
Robert E. Howard,
you are remembered!
Weird Tales covers and their content.
Here is an exhaustive pictorial of Conan in Comics.
Some pages from Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith's Red Nails as presented in the giant Marvel Treasury Edition #4 which were also colored by Smith.
Robert E Howard and his illuatrators
Nice article on collecting Robert E. Howard for the Cimmerian