Roy Thomas reflects on “Conan”
Missouri-born comic book writer and editor Roy Thomas broke into comics in the mid-1960s, and went on to write some of the comic industry’s best-known characters, from the Avengers to the X-Men to Batman. But among his best-loved works are his comic-book adaptations of the Robert E. Howard pulp tales of Conan the Barbarian. The success of the Marvel Comics Conan led to the Arnold Schwarzenegger films of the 1980s, which had some involvement from Thomas.
“Conan” remains a popular property — the latest film, “Conan the Barbarian,” starring Jason Momoa, was released on DVD this week, and the Thomas-written 12-issue series “Conan: Road of Kings” is currently being released by Dark Horse Comics.
Robert E. Howard, the author and creator of “Conan,” launched the character in the 1932 issue of the pulp magazine “Weird Tales.” Howard was born in Peaster, Texas, in 1906 and lived in Texas and western Oklahoma as a youth before settling in Cross Plains, Texas, in 1919.
Marvel Comics introduced its version of Conan in 1970, written by Thomas and drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith. Marvel Comics, headed up by editor Stan Lee, had plenty of success with superhero characters like Spider-Man in the late 1960s, but Thomas and others thought the company should tackle other genres as well.
“I felt we needed to branch out and do other fields, and our readers wanted us to as well, and were telling us that in
letters,” Thomas said in a recent telephone interview. “Stan and I decided we should go after a sword and sorcery hero of the Conan variety, and luckily we ended up with Conan, which was the best thing that could have happened either to us, to me personally, to Marvel Comics, or for that matter, given how things have gone since then, to the Robert E. Howard estate and to Conan.”
Thomas’ first artist on “Conan the Barbarian” was Windsor-Smith, but he wasn’t the first choice for the book. The London-born artist had been in the U.S. working for Marvel, but legal requirements had moved him back to the U.K. Since he was a relatively new artist, he was available more cheaply than Thomas’ first choice, artist John Buscema.
“The publisher wanted to get back the little bit of money he was paying for the rights,” Thomas said. Given the budget, Thomas “wanted somebody who I thought would really throw himself into it and have some enthusiasm for it.” He thought Windsor-Smith would have that enthusiasm.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 90847Oklahoma weather: Severe storm updates
- 38051Oklahoma devastated by second round of twisters
- 21842Oklahoma tornadoes: 'It took it all'
- 19892Oklahoma State football: Limiting Wes Lunt's transfer options makes Mike Gundy look bad
- 13823Oklahoma City tornado so large, may not be recognized, officials say
- 12196Several kids pulled out of Oklahoma school rubble alive
- 11468How to help tornado victims
- 10241At least 51 die in Oklahoma tornado, official says
- 7892Fatal fire: Two arrested in Oklahoma City death of 7-year-old boy
- 7794Oklahoma storms: 2 Shawnee men victims of deadly tornado
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients