Of the entire Dark Horse run of original Conan graphic novels, Cimmeria (number 7) is perhaps the one with the thinnest grounding in Robert E. Howard’s stories—the entire basis for it is a mere sentence or two in the synopsis of Conan’s career—but it is as on-target as any of them with respect to the tone of Howard’s own work. Tim Truman has really managed to do justice to the legend.
Although collected from the individual issues of the ongoing Conan the Cimmerian comic book, this volume represents a well-integrated narrative, with a single story arc, or rather a double arc: Conan’s homecoming after his initial adventures outside Cimmeria is told in parallel with reminiscences about his grandfather Connacht’s travels. Art duties are divided on these lines between Giorello (Conan) and Corben (Connacht). Also included are some splendid pieces of art from the individual comics covers as drawn by Frank Cho.
Anyone interested approaching Conan in the comics medium for the first time could begin here quite profitably. And for those like me who have been reading Conan comics of one sort or another for decades, this book has a lot to offer that is both new, and also deeply reflective of the highest quality of what’s come before. [via]
Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Free Companions, volume 9 of the Dark Horse Conan collections, by Tim Truman, Tomas Giorello, Joe Kubert, and Jose Villarrubia.
I can still recall my entry to comics reading as an adult. It began with the early issues of Grimjack from Chicago-based First Comics, written by John Ostrander, with art by Timothy Truman. That book got me excited about the comics medium in a way that traditional capes never could, and I really liked Truman’s art. In the many years since, I’ve come to respect Truman’s own talents as a writer, and I’ve been pleased with the work I’ve seen him do on the Dark Horse Conan books. Ironically, my affection for him as an artist has not been so durable. The Free Companions collection of issues 14 and 16 through 21 of the Conan the Cimmerian title does a fine job of showcasing Truman’s writing, while his art suffers by comparison to the two other artists whose work is presented in the same volume: Joe Kubert and Tomas Giorello.
Kubert’s distinctive style is well-suited to sword and sorcery, and his contribution is a frame-story for “Home for the Hunt”: Kubert shows the court of Khoraja, while Truman’s interior tale is a recollection of Conan’s Cimmerian youth. The body of the book is the “Free Companions” novella, recounting Conan’s early blunders in national politics. Truman’s art is central here, but it is framed by a story in Giorello’s images, which continues into the epilogue “Kozaki.” There are also some full-page interstitial pieces by artists Cary Nord and Joseph Michael Linsner. Of all these artists, Giorello and Nord do the best job of capturing Conan and the Hyborian Age, as far as I’m concerned.
Truman’s development of a continuous narrative to cover the activities of the still-young adventuring Conan invites comparison to the many such developed by pastiche writers since the 1950s. Truman does as well as any and better than most. His work as a comics scripter is doubtless informed by his experience as an artist, and he is adept at letting the pictures carry the bulk of the storytelling, while his dialogue is credible and dynamic, and his narrator’s voice captures the feel of the Robert E. Howard original. [via]
This graphic novel collects the first four issues of Daniel Way’s 2009 reboot of Roy Thomas’s 1970 Conan knockoff Starr the Slayer. The 21st-century version is an “adult” fantasy title from Marvel Comics’ “Max” imprint. Richard Corben furnishes the art in his inimitable style. The story is very suited to Corben’s work; it is a profanity-riddled barbarian-boy-makes-good adventure, with the narration provided in rhyming doggerel throughout by a ludicrous minstrel. Complication is provided by a hack pulp writer “Len Carson” (Thomas’ creation), who is supposed to have invented the barbarian and his world, becoming enslaved by a fictional villain he created; thus the evil sorcerer Trull effectively has the demiurge as his thrall. This metaficitonal opus is sort of what you might get if a drunken 19-year-old D&D player tried to write James Branch Cabell’s The Cream of the Jest.
This slender volume is a fast read, full of disgusting violence, nudity, and general hilarity. [via]