Monday, August 22, 2011
Conan The Cartoon!
I found the first season of Conan the Adventurer at my local discount store, and for a mere fifteen bucks I took a chance on this cartoon. I've never seen an episode to my knowledge, but I do like Conan of course and I'd heard decent things about this series.
I was impressed immediately by the talent involved. Russ Heath is in the credits as is Nicola Cuti. Add to that the clear and abiding influence of Will Meugniot and you have a very tasty cartoon indeed, with an impressive pedigree.
Conan for the cartoon purposes has to be pretty much deconstructed, as the violence won't play at all on modern American television, but the changes seemed consistent with the atmosphere of the character if not especially Howardian in tone.
Conan is on a quest for "star metal" from meteorites which have landed and which his own father fashioned into weapons. He himself wields a sword of the stuff and the metal can dispatch some nasty snake-men into a vortex which leads to another dimension where Set lies in wait while his servant Wrath-Amon works to bring him to Earth. Conan meets up with allies along the way and it's this gaggle of do-gooders which give the show its flavor.
Zula, a black prince of the Kush is Conan's main ally early in his quest to restore his family who have been turned to stone. He also meets Jezmine, a circus acrobat and beauty; Greywolf, a masked magician from a city of magicians; Falkenar, a flying oriental zen-warrior; and Snagg, a brash Vanirman with a combative personality. Also on board is Needle, a baby Phoenix who supplies the obligatory comedy relief, and despite my unremitting loathing for these types of characters, I found Needle not to be too awful.
The key to the whole show is pacing. They keep it moving with no one being on screen long enough to grate. The stories echo the original Howardian canon, especially one that takes Conan into a tower in Shadizar to battle a giant spider.
But by and large this is another type of story with the teamwork being the key to success most of the time. I found I rarely got bored with any of the elements, something that can happen all too often in cartoons of this vintage.
There are thirteen episodes in this first season, and triple that in the next season. The production team changes, and sadly I fear so will the quality. I might give it a try given the impressive outing of this show, but I dread what I might find.