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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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?
… 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.
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!
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.
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.