CONAN CLASSIC #1

“The Coming of Conan!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Barry Smith

On a battlefield in Vanaheim a young Cimmerian named Conan is working as a mercenary for the Aesir. They battle a group of raiders from Vanir. Conan manages to save the leader of the Aesir Olav. The Vanir are driven off. Their leaders Volff and Hothar abandon their men to escape. They come on a cave and find an old man and young girl. The man is called The Shaman. He offers to help the Vanir by defeating the Aesir in exchange for the capture of Conan.

So while the Aesir are battling the remnants of the Vanir, three winged demons attack both groups. Those that don’t flee are killed and Conan is captured. Taken to the cave he witnesses the Shaman as he calls on the Star Stone to show the Vanir its power. It shows the past and the glory of Valusia under King Kull. Then the cataclysm that destroyed the world. It shows Conan being crowned king. This disturbs the Shaman since Conan is not meant to have a future. It has the stone show more and it shows the future up to the space age. This drives the Shaman insane. Conan escapes and shatters the stone. It destroys the Shaman, the winged demons and the Vanir. At the end the young girl is turned into a winged demon. The Shaman pulled her from the stone to serve him and was going to use Conan as the victim to sacrifice so she could stay in our world. The girl disappears and Conan continues on for further adventures.

“Conan the Marvelous A Personal Preface by Roy Thomas

An article on how Conan came about. Readers were asking for a sword and sorcery book. A book was approved but with a pittance for a budget. At first Roy tried to get Thongor but the money was not enough. While reading the Conan books he came across the contact for the estate and figured he would try to get Conan. Glen Howard was more than cooperative and Roy gave more money than was authorized. So his only recourse was to write the issue and if the overpayment was noticed he would forfeit his salary. John Buscema was the first choice but once again the pittance of salary chose the new nineteen year old British artist Barry Smith. The rest is history.

This is the very first Conan comic. Thankfully back in the nineties they released the first issues as Conan Classic so I could get these without having to take out a bank loan. This is truly comic history. This issue was without a doubt the reason for the popularity of Robert E. Howard and not only his Conan but King Kull, Red Sonja, Solomon Kane and others. There would be no career for Schwartzenegger without this comic. I can see why this book was a success. The wonderful story and beautiful artwork established a truly unique idea in a sea of superheroes. The article shows the happenstance that gave us Roy’s writing. He would continue for ten years to solely write both the color comic and black and white magazine. He had such a passion for this character and it shows. Barry Smith cemented his career with this title. All because of the small pittance for a budget that gave birth to the greatest comic series in history.