Conan the Cimmerian is one of the most iconic characters in American fantasy. Howard came up with the character while on vacation to the Mexican border in February 1932, although he had used the name in an earlier work.
The first Conan short story, both in terms of writing and publication was "The Phoenix on the Sword". It was a rewrite of an unsold Kull story called "By This Axe I Rule!" with a completely new secondary plot and an added weird (the contemporary term for fantasy) element. It was published in the December 1932 issue of the pulp magazine Weird Tales. The character and his setting (The Hyborian Age, which Howard formalised in an essay after writing the third Conan story) was a success in the magazine and this popularity has continued to the present day. By the time of Howard's suicide in 1936, he had written twenty-one complete tales, seventeen of which had been published, as well as a number of unfinished fragments.
Conan is a black-haired and blue-eyed proto-celtic Cimmerian. He is often described as physically massive but also possesses cat-like reflexes and agility. Despite most portrayals in other media, Conan possesses guile and intelligence. Over the course of his career he has picked up a knowledge of linguistics and cartography that exceeds most scholars of the age.