He’s been a barbarian, a slave, a wanderer, a thief, a sellsword, a commander, a pirate, an adventurer and a king but one thing he has not been is boring. His name is Conan, sometimes Conan The Cimmerian while other times Conan The Barbarian. But he has always been a source for a great adventure and at the heart of a thrilling story. In this article, I go over why that is best without spoiling any of his stories.
But First Some Backstory…Where Have We Seen Conan?
Originally written by Robert. E. Howard in the 1930s, Conan started off as a sensational pulp fiction hero and is an icon in the literacy world to this day. The original tales led to a comic book series by Marvel Comics that started in the 70s, which was later followed by the phenomenal graphic novel run by Dark Horse comics. Marvel also recently reacquired the rights to reboot their Conan comic serials.
There have also bee some film adaptations. There were two films made in the 80s starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Earl Jones. This was followed by a 2011 reboot featuring Jason Momoa.
Needless to say, the character is still going strong after a lifetime since its original publication and with good reason too!
The Man Himself
What exactly makes this character so fun to read about? Well, firstly, he’s unapologetic and so are the stories. Conan is a character who cares little of what people think of him and he’ll do what he wants, when he wants and how he wants, which leads him into some peculiar predicaments that always make for a fun story.
He isn’t the ‘do no foul’ hero. For a character with the word ‘barbarian’ attached to his name, it is easy for one to assume he’s dumb and only good at swinging a sword. At times he can be, but for the most part Conan is a student, which makes him smarter than the rest as he is always studying someone or something, whether it be enemies or allies.
His mistakes and downfalls are perfectly human and I think everyone has been a victim to their own egos or naivety. In the Dark Horse run (which sported some amazing artwork), we saw Conan learn from every encounter he had with people from various cultures. He made some terrible mistakes but also learnt from them, even though sometimes it took a few grueling lessons for him to do so.
Often times I think to myself, “What is he thinking?” and a few pages later he’d be asking himself the same thing and that always makes for a good read. But at the same time he is a man who understands and knows his strengths and is confident in them but in the same breath will admit he is unfamiliar with a lot of things with an urge to learn what he can from who he can. His willingness to learn is what makes him, in my mind, one of the best-developed characters I have read about.
As someone who writes their own stories, I can’t help but admire Conan as a character. Whether he is trying to break into a jewel-encrusted tower or trying to avenge his fallen comrades, he has a certain charm. Some refer to him as the typical ‘man’s man.’ He embodies masculinity.
There’s no denying that from the way he looks to the way he behaves. When he enters a room, people notice. When he speaks, people listen but the same can be said for the villains in his stories. There is a constant battle between Conan and Magic. It is something that makes him feel uneasy yet he always encounters evil people who try to use it against him which leads to some interesting stories.
There is a lot to be said about whether Conan is still relevant in today’s social-political spectrum but I feel that would be a lengthy article on its own.
For fans of the character reading this, which stories do you like from the adventures of Conan? And for those who don’t know his stories, are you interested in learning more?