Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Coming Of Conan!


The intoxicating cover by Barry (Not-Yet-Windsor)Smith and the late John Verpoorten for Conan the Barbarian #1 has been featured here a few times. I love how Smith approached this project with gusto and panache. He's unafraid to throw all his youthful vigor into an image which, while it might lack grace in some places, is not shortchanged in action or drama. In a wonderful variation of the classic Frazetta pose which decorated the first Lancer Conan paperback, this image of Conan is active, but nonetheless stands astride a beautiful woman who lingers around his knees. The action around him is furious and chaotic. This scene might in fact be a moment before the classic sedate and ominous Frazetta image.


The closest we'll likely get to seeing Barry Smith's original artwork is this cover for Marvelmania Magazine minus the Verpoorten inks. Here there is a  a raw energy to the black and white presentation which is seen in full.

The classic cover has been reprinted dozens of times by Marvel and other publishers around the world. Here are some I have been lucky enough to gather up from across the globe. 













Here's a painting which uses Smith's art as its inspriation.


And here is a recent homage by John Romita Jr. for a cover of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. It has some of the vigor of the original, but misses its charm somehow.

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6 comments:

  1. Oh dear! The faces on that Romita Jr one are terrible. Not one of his best, I'm afraid.

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    1. John Romita Jr. is overrated in my estimation. I find his work cold and uninteresting a lot of the time. He's deconstructed his style, almost in the spirit of Kirby but minus the creativity and soul.

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  2. Nice to see the 1975 UK version but it's a mystery why they called it "Savage Sword of Conan" rather than its' U.S. title Conan the Barbarian. Anyway the UK Savage Sword # 2 was the first time I ever encountered Conan and I've been a fan ever since. I like Barry Smith's art but the John Buscema version of Conan is the definitive version for me.

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    1. Big John's Conan is my favorite Conan, but for I have to give Barry Smith the nod for popularizing the character. Buscema did ten times the material Smith did at least but Smith's remain resonant. Buscema was just so damn good all the time it hurt him, in that his work is taken for granted.

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  3. I remember the encounter between Smith-Conan and Frazetta-Conan that took place in 1971's SKULL Comics #3 .

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    1. Don't know that one. I have some research to do. Thanks.

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