Savage Sword of Conan
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The Savage Sword of Conan was a black-and-white magazine-format comic book series published beginning in 1974 by Curtis Magazines, an imprint of American company Marvel Comics, and then later by Marvel itself. Savage Sword of Conan starred Robert E. Howard's most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian, and has the distinction of being the longest-surviving title of the short-lived Curtis imprint.
|Savage Sword of Conan|
Cover of The Savage Sword of Conan #1 (Aug. 1974).
Art by Boris Vallejo
|Publication date||August 1974 – July 1995|
|No. of issues||235|
|Volume 1||ISBN 1593078382|
As a "magazine", Savage Sword of Conan did not have to conform to the Comics Code Authority, making it a publication of choice for many illustrators. It soon became one of the most popular comic series of the 1970s and is now considered a cult classic. Roy Thomas was the editor and primary writer for the series' first few years (until issue 60), which featured art by illustrators such as Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom, Pablo Marcos, and Walter Simonson. Painted covers were provided by such artists as Earl Norem, Bob Larkin, and Joe Jusko.
Savage Sword of Conan was published under the Curtis imprint until issue 60, when it became part of the Marvel Magazine Group. Stories from the comic were reprinted in the Marvel UK title of the same name. The original run of Savage Sword of Conan ran until issue #235 (July 1995).
Marvel Comics reacquired the publishing rights in 2018, and started a new run of Savage Sword of Conan beginning in February 2019.
The adventures in Savage Sword of Conan are not always consecutive (as they are in the color Marvel title Conan the Barbarian), and they cover different eras of Conan's life. The Savage Sword stories mostly feature an older Conan, and adapt R. E. Howard stories and pastiches starting from "Black Colossus" (according to the Miller/Clark chronology), thus following the Roy Thomas stories in Conan the Barbarian.
The first issue leads off with Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith's adaptation of one of Howard's shortest but most well-known Conan tales, "The Frost Giant's Daughter". This is one of Conan’s earliest tales chronologically. Still a teenager, he encounters a beautiful woman in the frozen north who leads him into an ambush by her giant brothers. Issue #2 featured another Howard adaptation, "Black Colossus", in which Conan faces off against a three-thousand-year-old sorcerer. This story teams long time Conan penciler John Buscema with his frequent partner Alcala. The cover of issue #5 sports a Boris Vallejo painting of Conan being crucified, from the story "A Witch Shall Be Born". This story features Conan at his most resilient, surviving a desert crucifixion to get revenge on the man who put him there.
Issues #6-10 included "People of the Dark", a 30-page tale scripted by Thomas and drawn by Alex Niño; the continued adaptation of Howard’s only full-length Conan novel, The Hour of the Dragon (the first parts having been printed in Giant-Size Conan #1-4); and the adaptation of "Iron Shadows in the Moon", by Buscema and Alcala, where Conan goes from chief of the Zuagirs to pirate captain of the Red Brotherhood.
The next three years of the title featured numerous adaptations of Howard stories (many by the art team of Buscema and Alcala), including "Shadows in Zamboula", "The Devil in Iron", "The People of the Black Circle", "The Slithering Shadow", "The Pool of the Black One", "The Tower of the Elephant", "Jewels of Gwahlur", "Beyond the Black River", "The Scarlet Citadel", "The Flame Knife", "Hawks Over Shem", "The Treasure of Tranicos", and "Wolves Beyond the Border".
A later issue (#204) adapts Howard's "Drums of Tombalku".