Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Savage Memories #6

My last Savage Memories post pretty much closed out the really golden days of discovering Savage Sword of Conan. After that I always seemed to be able to find the magazine and I bought it regularly for the next few years, but the mania had passed. I don't know that you can be that crazy about something once you pass adolescence. I remember Ray Bradbury talking about his love for the Buck Rogers comic strip and how he lived in anticipation of each day's strip. That was me and the Conan comics.
However, there were some later issues that stand out in my mind. Issue #20 featured an adaptation of the Robert E. Howard story The Slithering Shadow. The artwork on this issue was fantastic. John Buscema's pencils were at their Conan peak and Alfredo Alcala's inks brought dimension and texture to Buscema's dynamic figure work. Plus, I love the Earl Norem cover, showing a Lovecraftian horror in all it's gibbering, slavering, glory. I need to devote an entire post to Norem's work on the covers of SSoC.
Issue #30 had an amazing art job by Frank Brunner on a Roy Thomas adaptation of REH's The Scarlet Citadel. Just gorgeous art and very creepy in some places.
Issue #24 was something of an oddity in that it adapted a Robert E. Howard story that Roy Thomas had already adapted in the color pages of Conan the Barbarian issue #4 with artist Barry Smith. Thomas wanted to give the story a longer and more in depth adaptation and he wanted to see how John Buscema would handle the story. Makes for some interesting comparisons with the earlier adaptation.
Issues #33 and #34 featured great art by two comics legends, even if they were adapting two less than stellar de Camp/Carter stories. Gene Colan did his usual fine work on issue #33 and Carmine Infantino penciled issue #34. Alcala inked Infantino and it's very interesting to see what he did with Infantino's design oriented art.
If I seem a bit focused on the artwork, remember that this was in the days when I was learning to draw and when I wanted to be a comic book artist. I spent a lot of time studying the art, so these things are imbedded in my brain. However I was also absorbing the stories. As I've mentioned countless times in other posts, the comic books were my introduction to Conan and to Robert E. Howard, and Roy Thomas's well done adaptations made me want to read the prose stories. Thus I'm a bit dismissive of those "REH Purists" who dismiss the comic books. Many many REH fans discovered Howard through the comics.
Anyway, those are the issues that stand out in my mind from 1976 to 1980. So what happened in 1980? Tell you next time.


Dougie said...

In the summer of 78, I wanted the British version of The Slithering Shadow so badly, I could barely stand it. It looked like Sin in Tabloid form. I left it too late to buy a copy from the wood-panelled newstand that used to sit in the middle of Glasgow Central Station. They had all sold out.
I wouldn't read get to read it for another twenty years in the Dark Horse SSOC reprint.

Dougie said...

Also, I'm sure the Sphere paperbacks position that story wrongly in the Conan chronology. Isn't Xuthal is mentioned in "The Devil in Iron" although he hasn't "been" there yet?

Charles R. Rutledge said...

It was pretty darn sinful for the day. heh. I don't recall the Xuthal mention in the Howard version, Dougie, but perhaps in the L. Sprague deCamp edited version.