Monday, October 3, 2016
The King Of Swords!
Kirby drew Conan very few times, but one time was in his seminal book Heroes and Villains, a collection of Kirby pencil splashes which have been the source of countless inkings and re-inkings over the decades by many talented folks.
He included Conan in this illustration for one of Marvel's myriad subscription ads as the Cimmerian is nestled in with Spidey, The Thing, Howard the Duck and many other Marvel luminaries of the day.
Johnny Romita either heavily inked this piece or re-drew it entirely for the final product.
Kirby produced exactly one Conan cover, for the fifth and final issue of Giant-Size Conan the Barbarian which reprinted Conan's crossover with Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone. This gave the King the chance to draw two S&S icons though Conan's head has been clearly redrawn by the production staff at Marvel.
The evidence is clear in the original artwork seen here. I frankly prefer Conan's somewhat more wistful expression in the Kirby original to his more aggressive mood in the fixed-up version.
Perhaps one of the King's greatest contributions to the genre of Sword and Sorcery was Thundarr the Barbarian, which he designed for Ruby-Spears animation. That cartoon blended the apocalyptic post-holocaust sci-fi genre with the magical S&S to offer up something which had been never seen on home TV's before.
There is an exception to this though - Tales of Asgard. Though not technically Swords and Sorcery, the series which ran in the back of the Thor comics for years do indeed have many of the same tropes as classic S&S, especially some of the later story lines. Look for much more on Jack Kirby and his work on that series thoughout the month.