The Newcomer's Guide to Robert E. Howard

Everything you need to know

The Newcomer’s Guide to Robert E. Howard

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About the same time that Mark Finn was writing his New Manifesto, I’d been creating my own attempt at forming an introduction to newcomers of Robert E. Howard and his work. This will always be a work in progress, as there’s always a new discovery, perspective or explanation for the mysteries and intricacies of the Man from Cross Plains’ life and art. It’s basically taking some of the elements of the Manifesto and adding my own thoughts and expansions, and footnotes/annotations/citations will be added when I can track them down. Since the article’s quite long, I’m going to try and figure out hyperlinks like on a wiki too.

The Newcomer’s Guide will also be less confrontational than the New Manifesto for a very specific reason: covering all bases. Some people will be convinced to reassert their beliefs through reevaluation in the face of righteous indignation, while others will simply write off the New Manifesto as the rantings of a sensitive fanboy. Therefore, I think it important to have two approaches. I don’t disagree with Mark on any of his assertions, but that doesn’t mean Mark, or any one man, can speak for all of REH Fandom, who have opinions, beliefs and interpretations as varied as any fandom could have. As the great Rusty Burke said, getting Howard fans to agree on something “is like herding cats. Big nasty saber-tooth cats.”

Think of Mark Finn’s New Manifesto as the bad cop, and Newcomer’s Guide as the good cop.

Remember, this is still quite incomplete: it will be updated over time.

Written by alharron

22 December, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Red Sonja: Frequently Asked Questions

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Isn’t Kalidor just Conan?  Why didn’t they call him Conan anyway?

By the time Red Sonja was made into a film, the character trademark was owned by a new company, Red Sonja LLC. The film was made by a different company from the folk who did Conan the Barbarian. Therefore, the Conan name couldn’t be used.

Does Sonja really call Queen Gedren a man?

Nope, she says “You are mad.”  Chalk it up to Bridgette Nielson’s accent.

Written by alharron

27 December, 2010 at 8:20 am

Posted in Red Sonja (1985)

Red Sonja, Conan, and Robert E. Howard

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Did Robert E. Howard create Red Sonja?

Technically, Roy Thomas is the creator of Red Sonja. Thomas relates the creation of Red Sonja in his afterword for The Chronicles of Conan Volume 4: The Song of Red Sonja and Other Stories: she was inspired by Robert E. Howard’s character Red Sonya — note the spelling — in the historical adventure “The Shadow of the Vulture,” as well as certain elements of Howard’s other redheaded sword-woman, Dark Agnes.

How does Red Sonja relate to Conan?

Ostensibly, Red Sonja and Conan are contemporaries, both sharing the Hyborian Age setting. However, the Red Sonja trademark is owned by a different company than the one who owns the Conan trademark.

So does this mean Rose McGowan can be Marique in Conan the Barbarian (2011) as well as Red Sonja?

Pretty much, yeah.

Written by alharron

27 December, 2010 at 7:34 am

Posted in Red Sonja

Kull the Conqueror

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So, it exists.


Is it any goo-


Not even in a campy, fun, light-hea-


Not even as a bad mo-


Come on, it can’t be less faithful to the source material than Conan the Barbarian, can it?

Oh, it can. Sweet Valka, it can…

Written by alharron

27 December, 2010 at 7:32 am

Conan the Barbarian (2011) and King Conan: Crown of Iron

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Is this the King Conan movie I’ve been hearing about?

No. King Conan: Crown of Iron was written by John Milius, and intended to continue where Conan the Barbarian left off (ignoring Conan the Destroyer). It was to be the second film of a projected trilogy, preceded by Conan the Barbarian and followed by King Conan: Beneath My Sandalled Feet. Crown of Iron has been in development for twenty years, and came close to being produced a number of times: however, various obstacles transpired to keep the film in development hell. After a deal with the Wachowski Brothers and Warner Brothers fell through, the project was abandoned. Another project intended to be the third Conan film eventually became Kull the Conqueror.

Written by alharron

27 December, 2010 at 7:28 am

“Conan the Adventurer” (The Animated Series)

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Wasn’t there a cartoon in the ’80s? Conan the Adventurer, I think?

There was a cartoon called Conan the Adventurer, but it was made in 1990.

Written by alharron

27 December, 2010 at 7:28 am

Conan and the Young Warriors

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I seem to remember a Conan the Adventurer spinoff – was that just a horrible nightmare?

I’m so sorry, but Conan & The Young Warriors actually happened.

What was it about?

Mitra, give me strength… Conan the Babysitter and the Young Warriors takes place after the conclusion of Conan the Adventurer. After Conan vanquished the machinations of Wrath-Amon and banished Set to the Abyss forever (I need a painkiller right now), it seemed his adventuring days were over, and he planned to settle down back home in Cimmeria. Luckily, this astronomical deviation from the canon is averted as he takes on a different astronomical deviation from the canon, as he is tasked to train three “chosen ones” blessed with mysterious powers into becoming mighty warriors, so they will one day be ready to rule over all of Hyboria.

You’re making this up.

I wouldn’t even try to make this up.

So, who are these three warriors?

They’re kids.

… You said you weren’t making this up!

I’m not. I really wish I wasn’t, but I am not.

Well, who are they?

The eldest, Draegen, was raised in Aquilonia. His super duper magical star stone is worn in his headband, and it allows him to put on a magic suit of armour: his favoured weapon is the whip. The middle child, Brynne, was raised as a thief in Zamora. Her mega awesome magical star stone is worn on a ring, and lets her cast illusions: her chosen weapon is the bow. The littlest, Navah, was raised by the Eagle Picts–I swear to Set–and he has a pet mongoose called Tiki. His groovy woovy timey wimey star stone is worn in an amulet, and lets him take control of animals; his weapon of choice is the sling. Oh, and they’re all adorable, blonde, blue-eyed little tykes.

… So, to recap, Conan has to train three kids to become the rulers of Hyboria.


But Conan’s going to become King of Aquilonia.


… Meaning that he’s essentially training one of these kids to usurp him.


And one of these blond, blue-eyed Hyborian kids was raised by Picts.


Picts, who make a point of killing any non-Pict they see in their lands.


And he has a pet mongoose.

Got it.

I’m trying very hard not to dash my brains out against the wall.

If I had to suffer through this, so are you.

Well, there has to be some sort of silver lining — is Needle in it?

No, thank Crom, but trust me, the kids do more than enough irritating to make up for his absence.

Well, if Wrath-Amon has been defeated, who’s the bad guy?



Some evil sorceress who wants to take over the world, of course.  She’s notable for being half-Serpent Man, which the writers take entirely too literally, since her left hand is green and scaly, while her left eye has a slit pupil. Making her a bilateral Human-Serpent Person hybrid. Which is as ridiculous as it sounds.

What Robert E. Howard story did she appear in?

Please, this is difficult enough for me to get through without you teasing me.

Sorry, sorry. So, any other characters I should know about?

Well, there’s Graak, a big green winged demon thingy who’s bound to Sulinara through some demonic pact, voiced by Michael Donovan.

Oh, hey, at least they have the same voice actor for Conan!

Except they don’t.


In this series, Conan is voiced by Phil Hayes.

… But they already have Michael Donovan on the show!


And he’s voicing a regular character!

I know.

So why on earth isn’t he playing Conan?

I have no idea whatsoever.

Does Hayes at least sound like Michael Donovan?

Not really: he sounds, if anything, like a younger Conan, despite the series obviously being set after Conan the Adventurer. And to add insult to injury, Graak just sounds like Conan anyway.

… That’s ridiculous! It’s like bringing back Pete Cullen in Transformers, but not having him voice Optimus Prime, and instead voicing some other character who sounds just like Optimus Prime, while Optimus Prime sounds like – I dunno – Cliffjumper or something!

It is all those things.

Written by alharron

27 December, 2010 at 7:27 am

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

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Dude, there were only two Conan movies, and only one of them was good. How can you make a whole MMO out of two movies?

I don’t know, but Funcom have a lot more than two films to draw from. Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures draws not just from the films, but primarily from the 21 stories written by Robert E. Howard, as well as taking inspiration from the Dark Horse comics.

Written by alharron

27 December, 2010 at 6:53 am

The Hour of the Dragon: Novel or Novella?

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Does The Hour of the Dragon count as a novel or a novella?

The problem with defining a novella is that there are wildly different schools of thought as to whether a work is long or short enough for consideration. In fact, most of the time, it’s up to the individual publisher: for some anything above 40,000 will be considered, while others it’s 70,000. I’ll compare The Hour of the Dragon to several different criteria, to see if it qualifies: the categories for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the RITA Awards, the British Fantasy Society, Lee Masterson, .

The Hour of the Dragon has 72,899 words.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Definition: 17,500 – 39,999 words
Romance Writers of America Definition: 20,000 – 40,000 words
British Fantasy Society Definition: 10,000 – 40,000 words
Lee Masterson Definition: 20,000 – 50,000 words

So from the above definitions, we can see that The Hour of the Dragon is well beyond the boundaries of novella, and into novel status. But is word count all there is? According to Mantex, it’s a more involved process.

A novel can have plots and sub-plots, a teeming cast of characters, and take place in a number of locations. But a novella is more likely to be concentrated on one issue, with just one or two central characters, and located in one place. Artistically, the novella is often unified by the use of powerful symbols which hold together the events of the story

This certainly does not apply to The Hour of the Dragon: there is a wide cast of principal characters aside from Conan himself, there are many sub-plots and parallel actions, and it takes place in a great variety of locations. Even some of the longer Conan stories are pushing that distinction, with many having more than one or two highly important characters, and taking place in many locations. There are other features of the novella featured in the article that could apply to The Hour of the Dragon, in that there is a sense of unity and seriousness – but then, the sheer length of the story would seem to preclude it.

Overall, I would say it’s fair to consider The Hour of the Dragon to be a novel.

Written by alharron

26 December, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Conan the Barbarian (2011) Behind the Scenes

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So who’s directing the film?

Marcus Nispel.

I thought it was Brett Ratner?

Brett Ratner was never officially tied to the Conan film, but was apparently in talks with the producers, and the internet was shortly aflame with indignation at the prospect.

What production studio is making the film?

Four production companies are involved in financing and producing Conan: Lionsgate, Millennium Films, Nu Image Films, and Paradox Entertainment.

Will they use Basil Poledouris’ theme for this new film?

No. In an interview for, Howard scholar and editor Patrice Louinet said “I can tell only tell you that it won’t be rock music (as in 300 or Clash of the Titans.) It won’t be a Poledouris 2 either.”

Who’s doing the visual effects?

Shaun Smith and Scott Wheeler, the creature designer and makeup artist of 300, have signed on.

When is it coming out?

19th August, 2011.

Written by alharron

23 December, 2010 at 12:35 am

Conan the Barbarian (2011): A New Cimmerian

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So who’s playing Conan?

Jason Momoa. Even now, a number of websites erroneously claim Kellan Lutz or Roland Kickinger is the “front runner” for the role, and some even claim them to have won it, despite the fact that principal photography for Conan ended in May.

Isn’t Jason Momoa black?

No. Jason Momoa is of mixed ancestry: his father is Native Hawaiian, while his mother is German/Irish/Native American. Don’t let the dreadlocks and goatee on Stargate Atlantis fool you: production photos reveal a barbarian not unlike Howard’s own descriptions.

Well, if they couldn’t get Arnold, why didn’t they cast Roland Kickinger, The Rock, Triple H, or another body-builder or wrestler?

The role of Howard’s Conan is a good deal more complex than the popular conception of the “big dumb barbarian” stereotype. Conan is cunning, intelligent, knowledgeable and emotive. Arnold, while underrated as an actor (he won a Golden Globe for his first major acting role in Stay Hungry) was still inexperienced and raw: combined with Milius and Stone’s hugely divergent character rewrite, the Conan of Conan the Barbarian was very different from the character Howard created.

Conan in Conan the Barbarian was many things, but he was at least crafty, resourceful and given to moments of refreshing insight. By the time of Conan the Destroyer, however, he was reduced to an insulting caricature, a stupid barbarian who cannot count to six or make decisions without a full five seconds to consider it.

Besides, Momoa’s pretty buff in the role:

Written by alharron

23 December, 2010 at 12:24 am