Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Pre-Conan Barbarian!

Jim Steranko

John Romita

John Romita & Ernie Chan

Gil Kane & Frank Giacoia

John Romita & Tony Mortellaro

Vincente Alcazar

John Romita & Tony Mortellaro

Gil Kane & Ralph Reese

Above is a gallery of Marvel's Thongor series which ran in the former monster-reprint book Creatures on the Loose. Ironically this is a seminal series for fantasy fans because it also ran the first episodes of Gullivar of Mars and debuted King Kull in that great one-off story by Berni Wrightson.

Also heavy on the irony is that it was in fact Lin Carter's Thongor that started the whole barbarian-in-comics surge that in many ways defines the Bronze Age. Figuring there was no way Marvel could afford to license Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian, Roy Thomas began his search looking for ways to get hold of the lesser known (and presumably cheaper) Thongor. When he found out Conan could be done, he dropped poor Thongor, but with this series at last got Lin Carter's homage to both REH and ERB onto the comics page.

As it turns out, Thongor is a pre-Conan hero in another way too, as in the vast scope of the Marvel Universe history as defined here, his adventures pre-date Conan's by some vast number of years, but are connected. Not bad for a largely forgotten knockoff from a then meager genre.

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  1. I know it's a while since this was posted on your blog however, I'm wondering why people say Thongor came before Conan in Marvel Comics when it clearly isn't the case. Conan 1 came out October 1970 whilst Creatures on the Loose ( formerly Tower of Shadows) 22 was published in March 1973. It even says it on the cover of COL #22 "from the house of ideas that gave you Conan and Kull"

    1. I am answering this long after you posted it, but the reason is Roy looked for and got the Thongor license before he got the Conan and then punted a bit when the Conan material became available.

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