Conan from the cover of Weird Tales, c.1934. Art by Margaret BrundageReal Name: Conan

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Warrior, mercenary, later king

Affiliations: Red Sonja (comics only), Shubal, Subotai, Valeria

Enemies: Thoth Amon, Thulsa Doom, Karela the Red Hawk

Known Relatives: Conn (son), Radegund (son), Taurus (son), Ra Morgana (daughter), Conobar (son), Kang Sho (son), Corin (father), Greshan (mother), Drogin (maternal grandfather), Corum (paternal grandfather), Siobahn (sister), Humber (cousin), Locrin (cousin)

Aliases: The Barbarian

Base of Operations: Mobile across Hyborian Earth; originally from Cimmeria

First Appearance: Phoenix on the Sword (Weird Tales magazine, December 1932)

Powers/Abilities: Conan is extremely strong, and incredibly fit. He is one of the most capable fighters in history, both armed and unarmed, and can shrug off injuries that would kill a lesser man. While no genius, he is smarter than most people give him credit for, and his quick wit has often allowed him to overcome more powerful foes. He is a good rider and a capable sailor.

History: "Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars - Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia,Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the earth under his sandled feet." - The Nemedian Chronicles

Conan is a barbarian hailing from the frozen north, a land called Cimmeria. He left his home at an early age to wander the ancient world seeking his fortune as a mercenary and freebooter. Eventually he became the mighty king of Aquilonia.

Comments: Created by Robert E. Howard, who also created Solomon Kane and Kull the Conqueror.

Visit the official Conan website.

Conan as he first appeared within the pages of Weird TalesConan first appeared in short stories published in Weird Tales magazine. His first story was a rewrite of an unsold King Kull story, By This Axe I Rule.

Cover art was generally provided by Margaret Brundage, with interior art of Conan provided by an artist I have failed to identify.

Howard also finished four Conan stories which were not published until after his death -

There were also some stories Howard began but didn't finish

Art by John ForteIn the 1950's Conan first made it into book form, when Gnome Press began a series of collected editions of the short stories in hardcover. They reprinted all the original stories, as well as publishing two of the Howard tales not published before his demise (Frost Giant's Daughter, God in the Bowl), a rewritten version of a third one (Black Stranger), several reprinted King Kull stories, one book of "new" stories - Tales of Conan (actually the tales within were Robert E.Howard stories which didn't feature Conan, revamped by L.Sprague deCamp to include the barbarian), and one book which actually was new - The Return of Conan.

Frank Frazetta's interpretation of ConanThe next set of Conan books, published by Lancer between 1966 and 1973, provided Frank Frazetta cover art which influenced all subsequent depictions of Conan. This series reprinted all the previous stories, and included several new ones, and it managed to bring Conan to a wide audience for perhaps the first time.

With the exception of The Black Stranger (which was included in the above in it's rewritten form as The Treasure of Tranicos), these mark the nearest thing to a definitive collection of early Conan stories, and these collections have been reprinted many times, by Lancer, then Ace (in the U.S.) and Sphere (in the U.K.)

In 1974 Donald M.Grant began an ongoing series of reprints of Howard's Conan stories, published in a format closer to their original Weird Tales style than the later collections. Since these have not included any new tales, I'm not going to go into detail on them here, except to mention that the unfinished story fragments which had been completed by other authors were presented within these books in their original (e.g. unfinished) forms. Berkley books also ran a series of similar reprints.

In 1979 Ace and Bantam books ran out of reprints of the Lancer editions, and so began a series of new novels by a variety of authors. These were:

Ace also published two collections of articles about Conan, edited by deCamp:

Then it was the turn of Tors books, who in 1982 began a series of new Conan novels:

Tors also published the original version of The Black Stranger in Echoes of Valor (February 1987), edited by Karl Edward Wagner. Echoes of Valor II (August 1989) contained both The Frost King's Daughter and a modified version of same, where the lead had been rewritten as Amra of Akbitana.

Outside of the books, Conan has arguably had his greatest impact in comics, starting in 1970 when Marvel Comics launched Conan the Barbarian, written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith. Their interpretation of the character would arguably be as influential as Robert E. Howard's. The Marvel version of Conan appeared in:

The original comics have been reprinted a number of times, in Conan Classics (11 issues), Essential Conan (reprinting Conan the Barbarian #1-25), Conan Saga (97 issues), and most recently as collections (The Chronicles of Conan) by Dark Horse Comics (7 volumes to date). Marvel also launched a Conan newspaper strip in 1978, which lasted a couple of years.

Conan also turned up a few times in other Marvel Comics, meeting that company's superhero characters in Fantastic Four I #405, What If I #13 (met Spider-Man); What If I #39 (where he fought Thor); What If I#43 (met Captain America); What If II#16 (met Wolverine and X-Men), and in Incomplete Death's Head #11 (met a slew of characters).

A few years ago Marvel lost the license it had held since 1970 to Dark Horse Comics. Since then Dark Horse have published the aforementioned collections of old Marvel material, plus a Conan the Legend one-shot and the first few issues of a new Conan title. There has also been a Graphic Novel, Conan the Cruel, published by SQP, Inc.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as ConanIn 1982 the first of two Conan movies was made, based more on the Marvel Comics interpretation of the character than the novels. Arnold Schwarzenegger played the character in both movies (Conan the Barbarian, 1982; Conan the Destroyer, 1984).

In 2011, Jason Momoa starred in a new Conan the Barbarian movie, an attempt relaunch the franchise. Financially unsuccessful, it is unlikely to have a sequel, but there remains talk of a third Schwartzenneger as Conan movie being made, though thus far it hasn't gone past the discussion stage.

In 1992 CBS produced a cartoon version of the barbarian, Conan the Adventurer. It lasted 64 episodes, with Michael Donovan providing Conan's voice:

  1. The Night Of Fiery Tears

  2. Blood Brother

  3. Star of Shadizar

  4. Conan the Gladiator

  5. The Heart of Rakkir

  6. Men of Stone

  7. The Terrible Torrinon

  8. Greywolf of Xanthus

  9. Shadow Walkers

  10. The Claw of Heaven

  11. Serpent Riders of Set

  12. Windfang's Eyrie

  13. Seven against Stygia

  14. Tribal Warfare

  15. Curse of Axh'oon

  16. Master Thief of Shadizar

  17. The Vengeance of Jhebbel Sag

  18. The Red Brotherhood

  19. Thunder and Lightning

  20. The Crevasse of Winds

  21. Hanuman the Ape God

  22. Isle of the Naiads

  23. In Days of Old

  24. The Battle of Wrath-amon

  25. Earthbound

  26. The Treachery of Emperors

  27. A Needle in a Haystack

  28. Return to Tarantia

  29. The Book of Skelos

  30. Labors of Conan

  31. The Amulet of Vathelos

  32. The Final hours of Conan

  33. An Evil Wind in Kusan

  34. Blood of my Blood

  35. Dragon's Breath

  36. The Queen of Stygia

  37. Nature of the Beast

  38. City of the Burning Skull

  39. Son of Atlantis

  40. Conan rides again

  41. Down to the Dregs

  42. Dregs-amon the Great

  43. The Wolfmother

  44. Conan of the Kosaki

  45. Torrinon Returns

  46. The Frost Giant's Daughter

  47. Cornucopia of Grondar

  48. When Tolls the Bell of Night

  49. The Lost Dagger of Manir

  50. Thorns of Midnight

  51. The Vale of Amazons

  52. Bones of Damballa

  53. Turnabout is Foul Play

  54. The Once and Future Conan

  55. Sword, Sai, & Shuriken

  56. Full Moon Rising

  57. The Stealer of Souls

  58. Amra the Lion

  59. Escape of Ram-amon

  60. The Star-Metal Monster

  61. Into the abyss

  62. A Serpent Coils the Earth, Part 1

  63. A Serpent Coils the Earth, Part 2

  64. A Serpent Coils the Earth, Part 3

CBS followed Conan the Adventurer with Conan and the Young Warriors (1994), where Conan was now the mentor to three younger warriors. It starred Phil Hayes in the lead role:

  1. The Third Talisman

  2. Arena

  3. Dreamweaver

  4. Carnival of Cardolus

  5. Isle of the Lost

  6. The Covenant

  7. Wolf in the Fold

  8. Once a Thief

  9. Brothers of the Sword

  10. Feet of Clay

  11. Hand of Fate

  12. The Separation

  13. The Night of the Serpent

Between September 1997 and May 1998 a short-lived Conan TV series was aired, in the style of Hercules: The Legendary Journies. Ralf Moeller played the lead. The show lasted 22 episodes:

  1. The Heart of the Elephant

  2. The Heart of the Elephant Part 2

  3. Lair of the Beastmen

  4. The Siege of Ahl Sohn-Bar

  5. A Friend in Need

  6. The Ruby Fruit Forest

  7. The Three Virgins

  8. Ransom

  9. The Curse of Afka

  10. Impostor

  11. Amazon Woman

  12. Homecoming

  13. The Taming

  14. Red Sonja

  15. Shadows of Death

  16. The Child

  17. The Crystal Arrow

  18. The Labyrinth

  19. The Cavern

  20. Antidote

  21. Lethal Wizards

  22. Heir Apparent

TSR's Conan gameIn the mid-1980's, TSR Games published two Conan adventures for their Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game, to tie in with the movies

The success of these led them to release a separate Conan Role Playing Game, along with scenarios

TSR also published three "Endless Quest" Books for Conan:

GURPS ConanMore recently Steve Jackson Games has published some Conan adventures for its GURPS game

Mongoose Publishing's Conan gameThe current publisher of a Conan RPG is Mongoose Publishing, who released Conan - The RPG in 2004.

Conan was allegedly the inspiration for He-Man. The story goes that Mattel originally wanted a Conan cartoon, until they saw the violence level of the movies, at which point the cartoon character was remolded into a more child-friendly hero. However Andrew Reyes has heard otherwise. "There's the old yarn about toy company Mattel creating He-Man based on a proposed Conan cartoon or film license. It's been reported as true -- but it isn't.

In ToyFare Magazine's September 2005 issue, there's an interview with Roger Sweet, who designed (among other things) the Barbie Magical mansion and the Boeing 747's flight deck and interiors (!). In the interview, he discusses the creation of He-Man and debunks the Conan origin story; the first Conan movie came out two years after he'd created the He-Man prototype for Mattel. There's no link between the two franchises besides Frank Frazetta's artwork, which was an inspiration for He-Man.  

Sweet wrote a book called "Mastering The Universe - He-Man and the Rise and Fall of a Billion-Dollar Idea". He probably discusses the Conan/He-Man myth to some extent."

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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