Black Colossus

"Black Colossus" is one of the original short stories starring the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian, written by American author Robert E. Howard and first published in Weird Tales magazine, June 1933.[1] Howard earned $130 for the sale of this story.[2]

It's set in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age and concerns Conan leading the demoralized army of Khoraja against an evil sorcerer named Natohk, "the Veiled One."

This story formed part of the basis for the later Conan novel, The Hour of the Dragon.

"Black Colossus"
Black Colossus WT
Cover of Weird Tales, July 1933.
Art by Margaret Brundage
AuthorRobert E. Howard
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SeriesConan the Cimmerian
Genre(s)Fantasy
Published inWeird Tales
Publication typePulp magazine
PublisherRural Publishing Corporation
Publication dateJuly 1933
Preceded by"The Tower of the Elephant"
Followed by"The Slithering Shadow"

Plot overview

An ancient wizard named Thugra Khotan is awoken from his 3,000 year slumber by Shevatas, a Zamoran thief (he doesn't survive the experience). Soon, Thugra remembers his dream of world domination. He assumes the alias of Natohk (The "Veiled One"), assembles an army of desert nomads, and begins his strategy on conquering the Hyborian nations. However, the tiny kingdom of Khoraja - with a mixed Hyborian\Shemite population, culture, and religion - stands in his way. Khoraja is presently ruled by the beautiful Yasmela, sister to the king, who is now a prisoner in neighboring Ophir. In fear of Natohk's potential invasion, Yasmela seeks advice from the long-forgotten god of her ancestors, Mitra. Eventually, Yasmela is told to travel into the streets and offer her kingdom's defenses to the first man she meets.

Fortunately, the first man she encounters is Conan the Cimmerian. Conan already has a position in Yasmela's army. Now, he's given full command over Khoraja's royal military, much to the confusion of his more cultured comrades. Soon, Conan demonstrates his knowledge in military tactics by defeating an entire caravan of bandits. However, Conan's efforts are ridiculed by the arrogant officers below him who fall victim to Natohk's magic. Meanwhile, Natohk has made it clear conquering the world isn't the only goal on his agenda: He also desires Queen Yasmela for himself.

The story climaxes with an epic battle. Conan defeats Natohk's army and the wizard devises a final attempt in capturing Yasmela. Conan goes after Natohk and confronts him near the ruins of a Stygian temple.

Themes

The story marks an important stage in the career of Conan. Due to the direct intervention of Mitra, Conan - who had never commanded more than a "company of cut-throats" - is given the opportunity to become a general and emerge victorious from an epic battle involving tens of thousands of soldiers while affecting the future of the whole world. Though Conan's career would know many more ups and downs, this was an important step towards him eventually becoming a King - which is hinted in the story itself, and which Howard and his readers already knew since "The Phoenix on the Sword" was already published half a year earlier.

At the climax of Leonard Carpenter's Conan the Great - taking place many years later, when Conan has already become King of Aquilonia - it's revealed that Conan's relationship with Yasmela resulted in the secret birth of a son, which Conan never never knew about at the time, and his child eventually became the king of Koth. This revelation has a crucial importance in the plot of Carpenter's book.

The expression: "A short life and a merry one", used by the character Amalric in Howard's story, is attributed to the Australian bushranger Steve Hart (1859 – 1880).

Publication history

"Black Colossus" was first published in Weird Tales, June 1933.

A version of the story that was edited by L. Sprague de Camp was first published in the collection Conan the Barbarian (Gnome Press, 1954). It was then republished in several collections entitled Conan the Freebooter (Lancer Books, 1968; Sphere, 1974; Prestige, 1977; Ace, 1981) and The Conan Chronicles Volume 1 (Sphere, 1989).

The original version was first republished in Black Colossus (Grant, 1979). It has more recently been published in the collections The Conan Chronicles Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (Gollancz, 2000), Conan of Cimmeria: Volume One (1932-1933) (Del Rey, 2003), The Weird Writings of Robert E. Howard Volume 1 (Girasol Collectables, 2006), The Complete Chronicles of Conan (Gollancz, 2006), Valley of the Worm (Wildside Press, 2006) and Three Tales of Conan the Barbarian (Echo Library, 2007).

Adaptations

The story was adapted in comics form by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Alfredo Alcala in 1974, in the B&W Marvel Comics magazine Savage Sword of Conan #2.[1] "Black Colossus" also forms the basis of part of Conan the Barbarian #248 and all of 249. (Conan serves as a mercenary captain for Khoraja, fighting rebels and Natohk's Stygian allies, in #246 and 247.)

The Savage Sword comics adaptation was reprinted in full color in the large sized Marvel Treasury Edition #15 in 1977.

In 2008, the Marvel adaptation was reprinted in black and white in the Savage Sword of Conan trade paperback published by Dark Horse.

In 2009, Timothy Truman and Tomas Giorello adapted the story in Dark Horse Comics' Conan the Cimmerian #8-13.

References

  1. ^ a b Publication history of Black Colossus retrieved 23 December 2007
  2. ^ REHupa Fiction Timeline Archived December 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine retrieved 23 December 2007

External links

Preceded by
"The Tower of the Elephant"
Original Howard Canon
(publication order)
Succeeded by
"The Slithering Shadow"
Preceded by
"Shadows in the Moonlight"
Original Howard Canon
(Dale Rippke chronology)
Succeeded by
"Queen of the Black Coast"
Preceded by
"Hawks over Shem"
Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
Succeeded by
"Shadows in the Dark"
Black Colossus (collection)

Black Colossus is a 1979 collection of two fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The book was published in 1979 by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. as volume IX of their deluxe Conan set. The stories originally appeared in the magazine Weird Tales.

Conan (comics)

Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard was first adapted into comics in 1952 in Mexico. Marvel Comics began publishing Conan comics with the series Conan the Barbarian in 1970. Dark Horse Comics published Conan from 2003 to 2018, when the rights were reacquired by Marvel Comics.

Conan chronologies

This article covers some of the major Conan chronologies that have been advanced over the years. From the 1930s onward a number of fans and scholars have attempted to create a chronological timeline into which the numerous Conan the Barbarian stories by Robert E. Howard and later writers could be placed.

Going beyond a simple fan activity, these efforts have had a significant impact on the development of the popular conception of the character of Conan as well as economic consequences on the Conan franchise. As Paolo Bertetti observes, the focus on the creation of a character chronology outside of the work of the original author begins a "process that tends to transform the character into a social object of inter-individual construction and public debate, rendering it independent of texts in which it was born," and in the case of Conan, this has led to the exploitation of the character for commercial reasons and perhaps encouraged and justified the proliferation of pastiche stories and novels over the years.A number of factors have prevented the establishment of a consensus on order of the Conan stories, most notably the fact that Howard himself apparently had little more than a general idea of the character's career path and intentionally wrote the stories out of chronological sequence.

Clearly, the stories where Conan is a thief are at the early part of his career and those of King Conan – at the later part. But the middle part – the various tales of his being a pirate, brigand, and mercenary at various locations around the world – are more difficult to arrange in a neat order. While the earliest (Miller/Clark) timeline had at least partial endorsement from Howard, the addition of stories discovered and published after Howard's death in 1936 are more difficult to place. Fragments and synopses that were never completed are even more problematic and some contain what appear to be internal inconsistencies.

Conan the Barbarian (1955 collection)

Conan the Barbarian is a collection of five fantasy short stories by American writer Robert E. Howard, featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian, first published in hardcover by Gnome Press in 1955. The stories originally appeared in the 1930s in the fantasy magazine Weird Tales. This collection never saw publication in paperback; instead, its component stories were split up and distributed among other "Conan" collections. A later collection with the same title but different contents was issued in paperback by Del Rey/Ballantine Books in 2011.Chronologically, the five short stories collected as Conan the Barbarian are the second in Gnome's Conan series; the stories collected as The Sword of Conan follow.

Conan the Freebooter

Conan the Freebooter is a 1968 collection of five fantasy short stories by American writers Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp, featuring Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. Most of the stories originally appeared in the fantasy magazine Weird Tales in the 1930s. The book has been reprinted a number of times by various publishers, and has also been translated into German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Italian, and Japanese. It was later gathered together with Conan and Conan of Cimmeria into the omnibus collection The Conan Chronicles (1989).

Crom (fictional deity)

Crom is a fictional deity in Robert E. Howard's fantasy tales of the Hyborian Age. He is recognized by the lead character Conan, and his proto-Celtic Cimmerian people.

The name Crom is probably derived from the ancient Celtic deity Crom Cruach or Crom Dubh.

Hawks over Shem

"Hawks over Shem" is a fantasy novelette by American writer L. Sprague de Camp, featuring Conan the Barbarian and published in 1955. It's based on the story "Hawks over Egypt" by Robert E. Howard and is usually credited to both authors.

Jewels of Gwahlur

"Jewels of Gwahlur" is one of the original short stories starring the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian, written by American author Robert E. Howard. Set in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age, it concerns several parties, including Conan, fighting over and hunting for the eponymous treasure in Hyborian Africa. The tale was first published in the March, 1935 issue of Weird Tales. Howard's original title for the story was "The Servants of Bit-Yakin".

Jewels of Gwahlur (collection)

Jewels of Gwahlur is a 1979 collection of two fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The book was published in 1979 by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. as volume VIII of their deluxe Conan set. The title story originally appeared in the magazine Weird Tales. "The Snout in the Dark" is the original fragment of a story that Howard never completed. It first appeared, completed by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, in the collection Conan of Cimmeria.

Mitra (Conan)

Mitra is a deity from the Hyborian Age setting created by Robert E. Howard for his Conan the Barbarian series of stories. Mitra is a personification of good popular among the Hyborian peoples.

Savage Sword of Conan

The Savage Sword of Conan was a black-and-white magazine-format comic book series published beginning in 1974 by Curtis Magazines, an imprint of American company Marvel Comics, and then later by Marvel itself. Savage Sword of Conan starred Robert E. Howard's most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian, and has the distinction of being the longest-surviving title of the short-lived Curtis imprint.

As a "magazine", Savage Sword of Conan did not have to conform to the Comics Code Authority, making it a publication of choice for many illustrators. It soon became one of the most popular comic series of the 1970s and is now considered a cult classic. Roy Thomas was the editor and primary writer for the series' first few years (until issue 60), which featured art by illustrators such as Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom, Pablo Marcos, and Walter Simonson. Painted covers were provided by such artists as Earl Norem, Bob Larkin, and Joe Jusko.

Savage Sword of Conan was published under the Curtis imprint until issue 60, when it became part of the Marvel Magazine Group. Stories from the comic were reprinted in the Marvel UK title of the same name. The original run of Savage Sword of Conan ran until issue #235 (July 1995).

Marvel Comics reacquired the publishing rights in 2018, and started a new run of Savage Sword of Conan beginning in February 2019.

Shadows in the Dark (Conan story)

"Shadows in the Dark" is a short story by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, featuring the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian created by Robert E. Howard. It was first published by Bantam Books in the paperback collection Conan the Swordsman in August 1978. Later paperback editions of the collection were issued by Ace Books (1987 and 1991). The first hardcover edition was published by Tor Books in 2002. The book has also been translated into Italian. It was later gathered together with Conan the Liberator and Conan and the Spider God into the omnibus collection Sagas of Conan (Tor Books, 2004).

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian is the first of a three-volume set collecting the Conan stories by author Robert E. Howard. It was originally published in 2002, first in the United Kingdom by Wandering Star Books under the title Conan of Cimmeria: Volume One (1932–1933), and the following year in the United States by Ballantine/Del Rey under the present title. The Science Fiction Book Club subsequently reprinted the complete set in hardcover; the set is noted for presenting the original, unedited versions of Howard's Conan tales. This volume includes thirteen short stories as well as miscellanea for Howard fans and enthusiasts (e.g., drafts, notes, maps, etc.), and is illustrated by noted comic book artist Mark Schultz.

The Complete Chronicles of Conan

The Complete Chronicles of Conan: Centenary Edition is a collection of fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The book was published in 2006 by Gollancz and is an omnibus of their earlier collections The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle and The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon, though the stories are rearranged. The collection is edited by Stephen Jones and was issued to celebrate the centenary of Howard's birth. Most of the stories originally appeared in the magazines The Phantagraph, Weird Tales, Super-Science Fiction, Magazine of Horror, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Magazine and The Howard Collector.

The Conan Chronicles

The Conan Chronicles is a 1989 omnibus collection of three fantasy collections by American writers Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, featuring Howard's seminal sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian, published by Sphere Books. The component collections had originally been published by Lancer Books in 1967, 1968 and 1969, and later reissued by Ace Books. The omnibus collection was followed by The Conan Chronicles 2.

The Conan Chronicles, 1

The Conan Chronicles: Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle is a collection of fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The book was published in 2000 by Gollancz as eighth volume of their Fantasy Masterworks series. The book, edited by Stephen Jones, presents the stories in their internal chronological order. Most of the stories originally appeared in the magazines The Phantagraph, Weird Tales, Super-Science Fiction, Magazine of Horror and Fantasy Fiction.

The Pool of the Black One (collection)

The Pool of the Black One is a collection of two fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The book was published in 1986 by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. as volume X of their deluxe Conan set. The title story originally appeared in the magazine Weird Tales. "Drums of Tombalku" is the original fragment of a story that Howard never completed. It first appeared, completed by L. Sprague de Camp, in the collection Conan the Adventurer.

The Slithering Shadow

"The Slithering Shadow" is one of the original short stories starring the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian, written by American author Robert E. Howard and first published in the September 1933 issue of Weird Tales magazine. "The Slithering Shadow" is the original title, but the story is also known as "Xuthal of the Dusk" in further publications. It's set in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age, and concerns Conan discovering a lost city in a remote desert while encountering a Lovecraftian demon known as Thog.

The story was republished in the collections The Sword of Conan (Gnome Press, 1952) and Conan the Adventurer (Lancer Books, 1966). It has more recently been published in the collections The Conan Chronicles Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (Gollancz, 2000) as "The Slithering Shadow" and in Conan of Cimmeria: Volume One (1932-1933) (Wandering Star, 2002) and The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian (Del Rey, 2003) as "Xuthal of the Dusk."

The Tower of the Elephant

"The Tower of the Elephant" is one of the original short stories starring the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian, written by American author Robert E. Howard. It's set in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age and concerns Conan infiltrating a perilous tower in order to steal a fabled gem from an evil sorcerer named Yara. Due to its unique insights into the Hyborian world and atypical science fiction elements, the story is considered a classic of Conan lore and is often cited by Howard scholars as one of his best tales.

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