- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Dark Horse Books (Sept. 30 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1593070160
- ISBN-13: 978-1593070168
- Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 0.9 x 26 cm
- Shipping Weight: 381 g
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #269,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Chronicles of Conan Volume 1: Tower of the Elephant and Other Stories Paperback – Sep 30 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
These reprints from Marvel's Conan the Barbarian (originally published in the early 1970s) shows the best and worst of sword and sorcery adventure. At its best, S&S fiction enables readers to identify with heroes who fight against vast, cosmic forces. At its worst, it features muscle-bound louts in fur skivvies who bellow insults at each other while waving enormous, phallic weapons. Robert E. Howard, who created Conan in a series of pulp magazine tales, achieved the former level more often than he sank to the latter. Eventually, Thomas and Windsor-Smith did, too. Thomas's informative closing notes explain how, under Stan Lee's editorship, he got permission to write a Conan comic in collaboration with young artist Windsor-Smith. He admits to glitches in the writing and blemishes in the art, but correctly states that the comic hit its stride by issue #4, an adaptation of Howard's "Tower of the Elephant." This archetypal Conan story sets the quick-thinking, tough outsider against a corrupt, over-sophisticated society. The young barbarian is exasperated by the superior attitudes of the experienced rogues in the slums of a decadent metropolis, so he decides to test himself by robbing a powerful, evil sorcerer. This comics adaptation isn't without flaws, but Thomas does preserve Howard's escalating sense of menace and strangeness. Windsor-Smith's pencils do justice to the mood too, making Conan believably muscular enough to prevail against human or superhuman foes. The stories in this deluxe collection are much more spirited and solid than those featured in the original printing.
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About the Author
Roy Thomas is a comic book writer and editor. He is a former editor in chief of Marvel Comics. He is known for his work on Conan the Barbarian, The Avengers, X-Men, and a number of other beloved titles.
Barry Windsor-Smith is a comic book writer, illustrator, and painter. He was educated at East Ham Technical College and later went on to write for Marvel, DC, Valiant, Dark Horse, and other comic book imprints. Windsor-Smith is best known for his work on Avengers, Iron Man, Conan the Barbarian, and Red Sonja. He is a member of the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.
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In this series, I found "Lair of the Beast-Men" and "Zukala's Daughter" fun to read, but I can't complain about any of them, this was a good set. In a subsequent comic, Zukala returns (in chronicles 3). I like that about these books, and there is coordination for the series, making it better to read them in sequence than randomly and I also noticed that there are additional supplementary books.
Conan battles against beast, and he battles with a decietful women that he had rescued. He does not find his kingdom in this set. With all of this trouble in the Hyborian age, it almost equals what we face, but Conan is not detered. I enjoy finding out what is going to jump out and challenge him. We discover some characteristics of Conan over time such as his distrust of magic or his sense of loyalty and pride, but I don't know how close of an approximation he is to the barbarian king in history. I am a novice yet as far as it goes. I heard that the original story teller used history as a background for his fantasy world.
The key in these first eight issues of "Conan the Barbarian" are when Thomas and Windsor-Smith work from some of Robert E. Howard's original stories. Issue #4, "Tower of the Elephant" is prominent in the title of this collection because it is the first classic "Conan" comic book, but the adaptations of "The Grey God Passes" (#3), the poem "Zuakal's Hour" (#5), "The God in the Bowl" (#7), and a synopsis by Howard that Thomas uncovered (#8), were all crucial in helping the team find their voice and look in these comics. Just as the writing by Thomas becomes more than standard comic book fare, so does the artwork by Windsor-Smith because more stylized. Sal Buscema's inking of Windsor-Smith's pencils clearly defines this period, but I like the pages done by Dan Atkins a little better. Frank Giacoia's inks were just too different, but the final story, inked by Tom Sutton and Tom Palmer, hints at what we would see when Windsor-Smith would ink himself (did I mention I have the splash page of issue #8 as a black light poster?).
I have been happy to pick up the Marvel black and white reprint collections in the Essential series, but Conan is the exception to the rule. I do not want to take my comic books out of their bags, but with the remastered color of these comic books these reprints look a whole lot better than the originals. With its exotic locales, strange creatures, and gaudily dressed characters, "Conan" is a comic that especially benefits from remastered color. The results are extremely impressive.
Both Thomas and Windsor-Smith continue to make great improvements over the next dozen issues of "Conan the Barbarian," so I look forward to Volume 2 of "the Chronicles of Conan." Hopefully Dark Horse can reprint Thomas and Windsor-Smith's black and white Conan stories that they did in "The Savage Sword of Conan," especially "Red Nails," the splash page of which I had blown up on a giant poster board and colored in myself. I treasure that almost as much as the Windsor-Smith print we have in our bedroom that is signed and enscribed with our names and the date we got married.
While Smith's early work is a bit derivative or evocative of Jack Kirby, it's fascinating to see his stylistic development nevertheless.
Roy Thomas did the fantasy world a great service adapting Conan onto the comics page, with his crisp writing that shows he has a keen ear for the spirit of Robert E. Howard's work.
Pour yourself a flagon of wine and savor these Conan classics, by crom!
How about it Dark Horse; why'd you drop the ball? Whose brilliant idea was it to omit the covers?
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