Tag Archives: Tomas Giorello

Black Colossus

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Conan: Black Colossus [Amazon, Publisher] by Timothy Truman, with Tomás Giorello, José Villarrubia, and Joseph Michael Linsner, volume 8 of the Dark Horse Conan series.

Truman Conan Black Colossus

Although this book collects six issues of the continuing Dark Horse Conan comic, it really is a solid graphic novel with its own coherent plot arc and narrative integrity. Tim Truman has done a terrific job of adapting and expanding on the original Robert E. Howard “Black Colossus” short story, in light of the difficulty–which I have mentioned in earlier reviews–presented by the novel form which latter-day Conan writers have adopted. In 1974 the Savage Sword of Conan cover boasted “a novel-length tale,” but provided a mere 35 pages to exhaust Roy Thomas’ Savage Sword of Conan adaptation of the same story: less than a quarter of the length of the Dark Horse version.

The illustration in this Black Colossus is really terrific. Joseph Michael Linsner, who is no slouch, provides striking interstitial art (first used in the original comics covers, I think), but I honestly prefer the work on the continuous panels by Giorello and Villarubia. As much as I liked the Buscema art of the 1970s, the 21st-century artists are putting it to shame. 

Truman’s writing did include a tiny amount of grammatical failure in attempting mannered archaic speech in the way that made Michael Avon Oeming’s Red Sonja comics excruciating to read. But most of the writing was as eloquent as it needed to be, and he used a lot of Howard’s original prose. 

“Black Colossus” is in many ways a quintessential Conan story. It gives the whole of Conan’s rise from rootless rogue, through disciplined warrior and military leader, to (temporary) royal station, all within a single adventure. He defeats an evil prophet-sorcerer and rescues a princess. Commendably, the sorcerer-sacrificing-the-girl-on-the-altar scene is motivated by more than mere custom or following the grimoire! 

Overall, this book combines many of the best features that have been accreted to the Conan concept from its REH origins on. It has the sort of adventure pacing that we think of as “cinematic,” but really originates with Edgar Rice Burroughs and the pulp writers. The characters are recognizable from their prior iterations, and the Hyborian settings are fantastic and visually splendid. The violence and sex are unapologetic. To call this the eighth volume of a series is a little misleading. If this were the only Conan book ever, it would be a good read on its own, and it could communicate the whole notion of Conan and his world quite worthily.


Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Conan Volume 7: Cimmeria by Timothy Truman, illustrated by Tomás Giorello, Richard Corben and José Villarrubia, from Dark Horse.

Timothy Truman Tomas Giorello Richard Corben Jose Villarrubia Cimmeria from Dark Horse

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]

Free Companions

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.

Tim Truman Tomas Giorello Joe Kubert Jose Villarrubia Free Companions from Dark Horse

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]