Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Crom Bless Us, Every One

Best Christmas ever? Easy. 1973. That's when I first met Conan. My Aunt Eula, (Don't laugh. She had sisters named Myrtle and Sue.) knowing that I loved comic books, went to the drugstore and bought me 10 comics at random. She had no idea what I collected and in 1973 I was a dyed in the wool DC Zombie. I only read comics starring members of the Justice League of America. None of those fly by night, catch penny Marvel comics for me. Aunt Eula of course, had no way of knowing this and if I remember correctly, at least eight of those ten comics were Marvels. I know there was an issue of Spiderman, a Captain America, a Hulk and a Fantastic Four. I probably didn't hide my disappointment too well. Kids generally don't.
Anyway, among the comics was a title called Conan the Barbarian. It was issue #36. I remember going to the dictionary and looking up the word barbarian because I didn't know what it meant. The dictionary wasn't actually very helpful.

1 : of or relating to a land, culture, or people alien and usually believed to be inferior to another land, culture, or people2 : lacking refinement, learning, or artistic or literary culture

Anyway, I can recall staring at that cover for a long time, trying to figure out what this Conan guy's deal was. You have to remember, this was long before AHnold made Conan a household word. He looked a little like Tarzan with the dark hair and the lack of trousers. I liked the ax and he was fighting a monster like something out of a Sinbad movie. Marvel or not, this guy had possibilities. The scantily clad babe on the cover probably didn't hurt any either, as I was closing fast on puberty. So I read that issue and things have never been the same since. As you can tell from some of the posts here, I ended up being really taken with Conan. I sought out the books the comics were based on and through them discovered the genre of Sword & Sorcery and other writers like Fritz Lieber, Lin Carter, Michael Moorcock, and so many others.
Oh and it turned out I liked the rest of the Marvel comics too, but that's a story for another time.

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