Conan the Barbarian (comics)

Conan the Barbarian was a comics title starring the sword-and-sorcery character created by Robert E. Howard, published by the American company Marvel Comics. It debuted with a first issue cover-dated October 1970 and ran for 275 issues until 1993. A significant commercial success, the title launched a sword-and-sorcery vogue in American 1970s comics.

Marvel Comics reacquired the publishing rights in 2018, and started a new run of Conan the Barbarian in January 2019[1] with the creative team of writer Jason Aaron and artist Mahmud A. Asrar.[2]

Conan the Barbarian
The cover to Conan the Barbarian #1 (October 1970), by Barry Smith and John Verpoorten.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
FormatOngoing series
Publication dateOctober 1970 – December 1993
No. of issues275 and 12 Annuals
Main character(s)Conan
Creative team
Written by
Editor(s)Stan Lee
Roy Thomas

Publication history

Conan the Barbarian ran for 275 issues (cover dated October 1970–December 1993).[3] The book had a single writer, Roy Thomas, on issues #1–115 (October 1970–October 1980) and then #240–275 (January 1991–December 1993).[4] It was also the signature work of artist Barry Smith, who pencilled most issues between #1 and #24. Artist John Buscema pencilled the vast bulk of issues #25–190. Interim writers included J. M. DeMatteis, Bruce Jones, Michael Fleisher, Doug Moench, Jim Owsley, Alan Zelenetz, Chuck Dixon, and Don Kraar.

Thomas, Marvel's associate editor at the time, had obtained the licensed property from the estate of its creator, Robert E. Howard, after finding Conan chief among readers' requests for literary properties to be adapted to comics, which also included the pulp magazine character Doc Savage, the Lord of the Rings oeuvre of writer J. R. R. Tolkien, and Edgar Rice Burroughs' characters Tarzan and John Carter of Mars.[5] Elaborating in 2010, he said,

I put together a memo for publisher Martin Goodman saying why we should [license a character]. ... I hadn't read a lot of Howard, I bought a couple of the books for the Frazetta covers but I'd never really read them. When Goodman gave us permission to license a character, we figured we couldn't afford Conan..... By that time, there'd been about half-a-decade of Conan coming out in Lancer paperbacks, so we figured no sense going after that, there was no way we were going to get it. I knew Lin Carter slightly, who had authored a character called Thongor, who was half Conan and half John Carter of Mars.... Lin was great, but his agent kept wanting us to offer more money than the $150 per issue that Martin Goodman had magnanimously said we could pay for rights.[5]

Thomas said another reason for pursuing Thongor was that Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee "liked that name the most. . . . I soon got stalled by Lin Carter's agent on Thongor . . . and I got a sudden impulse to go after Conan. Later, following on the success of the Conan series, Lin Carter allowed Marvel to publish a Thongor comic, which appeared as a miniseries in Creatures on the Loose."[6]

After reading and enjoying the paperback Conan of Cimmeria, Thomas contacted Glen Lord, literary agent for the Howard estate, and "I said we can't offer much money but it might increase Conan's audience and so forth, what do you think? I didn't have much elasticity, but I was so embarrassed by the $150 that I upped it to $200 without thinking. So that when Glen agreed ... I decided I'd have to write the first issue or so, so that if Goodman objected I could knock a couple pages off my rate to even things out."[5]

The extra cost meant, however, that Marvel could not budget for Buscema, Thomas' first choice, serendipitously opening the door to Smith. Buscema, in a 1994 interview, recalled,

I was approached by Roy Thomas with the project to do Conan. He mailed a couple of the paperbacks to me and I read 'em and I loved 'em. I told Roy, 'This is what I want, something that I can really sink my teeth into. . . .' [A]t the time, Marvel was owned by Martin Goodman, and he felt that my rate was too high to take a gamble [with] on some new kind of [project]. It wasn't a superhero or anything that had been done before. The closest thing to that would be Tarzan. Anyway, he had no confidence in spending too much money on the book, and that's where Barry Smith came in — [he was] very cheap. I know what he got paid, and I'd be embarrassed to tell you how much it was, because I'd be embarrassed for Marvel.[7]

Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "Conan the Barbarian was something of a gamble for Marvel. The series contained the usual elements of action and fantasy, to be sure, but it was set in a past that had no relation to the Marvel Universe, and it featured a hero who possessed no magical powers, little humor and comparatively few moral principles."[8]

Marvel initially published Conan every two months. After sales of #1 were strong Marvel quickly made the title monthly, but sales dropped with each additional issue. Lee decided to cancel the comic with #7, not only because of the weak sales but to use Smith on more popular comics. Thomas argued against the decision and Lee relented, although the book became bimonthly again with #14. By #20 Conan again became monthly because of rising sales, and the comic became one of Marvel's most popular in the 1970s.[9]

Elric of Melniboné first appeared in comics in Conan the Barbarian issues #14–15 (March–May 1972). The comics were written by Thomas and illustrated by Windsor-Smith, based on a story plotted by Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn.[10][11] Red Sonja was introduced in issue #23 (February 1973).[12]

In 2010, Comics Bulletin ranked Thomas' work on Conan the Barbarian with Smith and Buscema seventh on its list of the "Top 10 1970s Marvels".[13]

Annuals and Giant-Size series

Twelve issues of Conan Annual were published from 1973 to 1987.[14] Giant-Size Conan was a series of 68 page giants which ran for five issues from September 1974 to 1975.[15]


Academy of Comic Book Arts Shazam Awards[16]


  • Best New Talent: Barry Smith


  • Best Continuing Feature: Conan the Barbarian[17]
  • Best Writer (Dramatic): Roy Thomas[17]


  • Best Individual Story (Dramatic): Song of Red Sonja from Conan the Barbarian #24 by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith[18]


  • Best Continuing Feature: Conan the Barbarian[19]
  • Best Penciller (Dramatic): John Buscema[19]
  • Superior Achievement by an Individual: Roy Thomas[19]

Collected editions

  • Essential Conan collects Conan the Barbarian #1–25, 530 pages, July 2000, Marvel Comics, ISBN 978-0785107514
  • Dark Horse Comics published the Chronicles of Conan series, which comprises 34 volumes released between 2003 and 2017 that collects most of the series and all of the annuals.
  • The Barry Windsor-Smith Conan Archives
    • Volume 1 collects Conan the Barbarian #1–11, 200 pages, February 2010, Dark Horse Comics, ISBN 978-1595824417
    • Volume 2 collects Conan the Barbarian #12–16 and #19–24, 288 pages, May 2010, Dark Horse Comics, ISBN 978-1595825063

See also


  1. ^ McMillan, Graeme (January 12, 2018). "Conan the Barbarian Comics Moving Back to Marvel". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 14, 2018. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  2. ^ Hilgenberg, Josh (August 24, 2018). "Jason Aaron & Mahmud Asrar Bring Conan the Barbarian Back to Marvel in January". Paste. Archived from the original on September 3, 2018.
  3. ^ Conan the Barbarian at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Roy Thomas at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ a b c Manning, Shaun (April 17, 2010). "C2E2: Roy Thomas Reunites with Conan". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 20, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  6. ^ Thomas, Roy, interview (July 2007). "Writing Comics Turned Out to Be What I Really Wanted to Do with My Life". Alter Ego. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. 3 (70): 5–6.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Comic World (UK) #37, March 1995, reprinted in Comic Book Artist #21. August 2002, p. 31b. Interview conducted October 2, 1994.
  8. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 148. ISBN 9780810938212.
  9. ^ Cronin, Brian (June 7, 2013). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #422". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014.
  10. ^ Thomas, Roy; Moorcock, Michael; Cawthorn, James (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Buscema, Sal (i). "A Sword Called Stormbringer!" Conan the Barbarian 14 (March 1972)
  11. ^ Thomas, Roy; Moorcock, Michael; Cawthorn, James (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Buscema, Sal (i). "The Green Empress of Melniboné" Conan the Barbarian 15 (May 1972)
  12. ^ Daniels p. 150: "One especially felicitous extrapolation was Red Sonja, a minor Howard character transformed by Thomas into a companion for Conan."
  13. ^ Sacks, Jason (September 6, 2010). "Top 10 1970s Marvels". Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on August 3, 2013. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  14. ^ Conan Annual at the Grand Comics Database
  15. ^ Giant-Size Conan at the Grand Comics Database
  16. ^ Thompson, Don (1971). A Decade of Comics Fan Awards, 1961-1970. Mentor, Ohio: D. & M. Thompson. p. 16.
  17. ^ a b "1971 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. n.d. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015.
  18. ^ "1973 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. n.d. Archived from the original on September 8, 2015.
  19. ^ a b c "1974 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. n.d. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015.

External links

Canadian comics

Canadian comics refers to comics and cartooning by citizens of Canada or permanent residents of Canada regardless of residence. Canada has two official languages, and distinct comics cultures have developed in English and French Canada. The English tends to follow American trends, and the French Franco-Belgian ones, with little crossover between the two cultures. Canadian comics run the gamut of comics forms, including editorial cartooning, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, and webcomics, and are published in newspapers, magazines, books, and online. They have received attention in international comics communities and have received support from the federal and provincial governments, including grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. There are a comics publishers throughout the country, as well as large small press, self-publishing, and minicomics communities.

In English Canada many cartoonists, from Hal Foster to Todd McFarlane, have sought to further their careers by moving to the United States; since the late 20th century increasing numbers have gained international attention while staying in Canada. During World War II, trade restrictions led to the flourishing of a domestic comic book industry, whose black-and-white "Canadian Whites" contained original stories of heroes such as Nelvana of the Northern Lights as well as American scripts redrawn by Canadian artists. The war's end saw American imports and domestic censorship lead to the death of this industry. The alternative and small press communities grew in the 1970s, and by the end of the century Dave Sim's Cerebus and Chester Brown's comics, amongst others, gained international audiences and critical acclaim, and Drawn and Quarterly became a leader in arts-comics publishing. In the 21st century, comics have gained wider audiences and higher levels of recognition, especially in the form of graphic novels and webcomics.

In French Canada indigenous comics are called BDQ or bande dessinée québécoise (French pronunciation: ​[bɑ̃d dɛ]) Cartoons with speech balloons in Quebec date to the late 1700s. BDQ have alternately flourished and languished throughout Quebec's history as the small domestic market has found it difficult to compete with foreign imports. Many cartoonists from Quebec have made their careers in the United States. Since the Springtime of BDQ in the 1970s native comics magazines, such as Croc and Safarir, and comics albums have become more common, though they account for only 5% of total sales in the province. Since the turn of the 21st century cartoonists such as Michel Rabagliati, Guy Delisle, and the team of Dubuc and Delaf have seen international success in French-speaking Europe and in translation. Éditions Mille-Îles and La Pastèque are amongst the domestic publishers that have become increasingly common.

Claw the Unconquered

Claw is a fictional character, a sword and sorcery hero published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Claw the Unconquered #1 (June 1975), in which he was created by writer David Michelinie and designed by artist Ernie Chan.Similar in many ways to Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian (and, more particularly, Marvel Comics's depiction of him), Claw is a wanderer and a barbarian in an apparently prehistoric age who battles various wizards, thieves, monsters, and warriors who cross his path. Unlike Conan, however, Claw has a deformed, claw-like right hand, the result of a curse which has been placed on his family.

Conan (Dark Horse Comics)

Conan, the sword-and-sorcery character created by Robert E. Howard, is the protagonist of seven major comic series published by Dark Horse Comics. The first series, titled simply Conan, ran for 50 issues from 2004 to 2008; the second, titled Conan the Cimmerian, began publication in 2008 and lasted 25 issues until 2010; the third series, titled Conan: Road of Kings, started publishing in December 2010 and ended in January 2012 after 12 issues; a fourth series, titled Conan the Barbarian, continuing from Road of Kings, lasted 25 issues from February 2012 to March 2014; a fifth series, titled Conan the Avenger, started publishing in April 2014 and ended in April 2016 after 25 issues; a sixth and final series, titled Conan the Slayer lasted 12 issues from July 2016 to August 2017. Another series, titled King Conan, which takes place during Conan's time as king, ran in parallel and launched in February 2011, concluding in 2016 with 24 issues. Dark Horse also published half a dozen one-shots and almost a dozen mini-series.

Dark Horse has also published collections of the original Marvel Comics Conan the Barbarian, The Savage Sword of Conan [the Barbarian] and King Conan series in graphic novel format.

The publishing rights for Conan the Barbarian returned to Marvel Comics in 2018.

Conan (Marvel Comics)

Conan is a fictional character based on Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian. He was introduced to the comic book world in 1970 with Conan the Barbarian, written by Roy Thomas, illustrated by Barry Smith and published by Marvel Comics.

The highly successful Conan the Barbarian series spawned the more adult, black-and-white Savage Sword of Conan in 1974 (published as part of Marvel's line of black-and-white magazines). Written by Thomas with most art by John Buscema or Alfredo Alcala, Savage Sword of Conan soon became one of the most popular comic series of the 1970s and is now considered a cult classic.

The Marvel Conan stories were also adapted as a newspaper comic strip which appeared daily and Sunday from September 4, 1978, to April 12, 1981. Originally written by Thomas and illustrated by Buscema, the strip was continued by several different Marvel artists and writers.

Marvel ceased publishing all Conan titles in 2000. In 2003, Dark Horse Comics acquired the license to publish the character. In 2018, Marvel reacquired the rights and started new runs of both Conan the Barbarian and Savage Sword of Conan in January/February 2019.

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 the Adventurer (comics)

Conan the Adventurer was a comic book series published by Marvel Comics for 14 issues from 1994 to 1995. Written by Roy Thomas and illustrated in most cases by Rafael Kayanan, it follows the travels of a young Conan the Barbarian, seeing the world for the first time. It was aimed at a younger audience than the earlier Conan books.

Conan the Barbarian (disambiguation)

Conan the Barbarian is a character created by Robert E. Howard.

Conan the Barbarian may also refer to:

Conan the Barbarian fictional universe, see Hyborian Age

Conan the Barbarian (1955 collection), a 1955 collection of stories about the character published by Gnome Press

Conan the Barbarian (comics), 1970s Marvel comic series

Conan the Barbarian (1982 film), a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger

Conan the Barbarian (1982 novel), a novelization of the 1982 film

Conan the Barbarian (2011 film), a film starring Jason Momoa

Conan the Barbarian (2011 novel), a novelization of the 2011 film

Conan the Barbarian (2011 collection), a collection of stories about the character published by Ballantine Books

Conan the Barbarian (2012-2014), an ongoing comics series from Dark Horse Comics by Brian Wood

John Buscema

John Buscema (; born Giovanni Natale Buscema, December 11, 1927 – January 10, 2002) was an American comic book artist and one of the mainstays of Marvel Comics during its 1960s and 1970s ascendancy into an industry leader and its subsequent expansion to a major pop culture conglomerate. His younger brother Sal Buscema is also a comic book artist.

Buscema is best known for his run on the series The Avengers and The Silver Surfer, and for over 200 stories featuring the sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. In addition, he pencilled at least one issue of nearly every major Marvel title, including long runs on two of the company's top magazines, Fantastic Four and Thor.

He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2002.

List of multimedia franchises

A multimedia franchise is a media franchise for which installments exist in multiple forms of media, such as animes, books, cartoons, comic books, films, mangas, television series, and video games. Multimedia franchises usually develop due to the popularization of an original creative work, and then its expansion to other media through licensing agreements, with respect to intellectual property in the franchise's characters and settings, although the trend later developed wherein franchises would be launched in multiple forms of media simultaneously.In order to qualify for this list, a franchise must have works in at least three forms of media, and must have two or more separate works in at least two of those forms of media (a television series or comic book series is considered a single work for purposes of this list; multiple spin-off series or reboots of a previously ended series are considered multiple works). For example, a television series that spawned one film and one novelization would not qualify; a television series that had a spin-off series, or was remade as a new series, and which spawned two films and one novelization does qualify. This list does not include public domain works from which adaptations have been made in multiple media, but which do not involve licensing or other means by which an author or owner controls the franchise. A franchise may be included if it obtained multimedia franchise status prior to works within the collection entering the public domain.

Note: In the following table, the initial media through which the franchise characters or settings became known is shown in boldface. Only works of fiction are only considered part of the series; a book or a documentary film about the franchise is not itself an installment in the franchise.

Official Handbook of the Conan Universe

The Official Handbook of the Conan Universe is an encyclopedic guide which details the fictional universe featured in Conan publications of Marvel Comics. The one-shot was published in comic book format in 1986, followed by reprints in 1993. Main author and researcher was comic book writer Alan Zelenetz.

Savage Avengers

Savage Avengers is an upcoming Marvel Comics series (May 2019) where Conan the Barbarian will team-up with Wolverine, the Punisher, Venom, Elektra, and Brother Voodoo. There will be a preview of the series in the May 2019 Marvel’s “Avengers” Free Comic Book Day issue. The premise of the story is that these heroes must work together when a threat emerges when the evil wizards of Conan’s world start trading spells with the Hand in Japan.

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.

Two Against Tyre

"Two Against Tyre" is a story based on an unpublished story featuring Eithriall the Gaul, one of the lesser-known characters created by Robert E. Howard. The story celebrated the pageantry of medieval knighthood, the exoticism of the Orient, the ferocity of the invaders from the steppes, the mysteries of the seraglio and the rise and fall of great dynasties. It was adapted by Marvel Comics into the Conan The Barbarian comics episode Two Against Turan, with major changes in the story line.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.