Writer: Roy Thomas inspired by poem “Zukala’s Hour” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith
Conan is passing through a small village in Zamora on his way to Shadizar the Wicked. The sky starts to turn dark and the villagers flee. The daughter of Zukala is coming to collect the wizard’s tax. A tiger materializes and Conan fights it to save a woman and her son. The tiger pins Conan but doesn’t harm him. Instead he hears a voice saying that she will never harm him. Then the tiger leaves.
The villagers tell that the tiger is Zukala’s daughter Zephra who can turn into a tiger. She is eternally young like her father and can see the future. The villagers offer Conan the gold they are supposed to pay Zukala if he kills him. Conan agrees and goes to the castle. There he finds a masked man conjuring but a demon named Jaggta-Noga to collect his taxes. After it leaves Zephra finds Conan and tells him that she saw they were meant to be lovers. Zukala finds them and a fight starts with Conan damaging Zukala’s mask. Zukala flees but Jaggta-Noga returns and attempts to kill Conan but Zephra turns into a tiger and stops him. She is seriously injured and Zukala banishes the demon. Then he takes his daughter and the two vanish. Conan takes the gold and continues on to Shadizar.
“Conan the Marvelous Zukala and Daughter”
By Roy Thomas
Roy tells the story about how this issue came about. Based on a poem by REH. Also has some sketches for alternate scenes of Zephra dying at the end and Conan knocking out the demon. Ends with a beautiful color map of the Hyborian Age.
Another excellent story by Thomas and Smith. This one has all sorts of sorcery and demons. Roy really got a lot out of that short poem. Here we see Conan’s barbarian code of honor in defending helpless women and children. His mercenary side in taking the villagers offer. Good thing he just took the money he found at the castle because the good citizens planned to have an accident befall Conan if he won. Zukala would return in later issues and we would find out more about him.