The Newcomer's Guide to Robert E. Howard

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Archive for the ‘Television Adaptations’ Category

“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.

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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.

Yup.

But Conan’s going to become King of Aquilonia.

Right.

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

Aye.

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

Yeah.

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

Indeed.

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?

Sulinara.

Who?

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.

Huh?

In this series, Conan is voiced by Phil Hayes.

… But they already have Michael Donovan on the show!

Yeah.

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

“Conan the Adventurer” (Live Action)

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Come to think of it, wasn’t there a ’90s tv show too?

Yes, there was. In some markets, such as the United Kingdom and Europe, it was simply called “Conan.”

Is it faithful to Robert E. Howard?

… Do I really have to answer that?

Yes.

No, of course not, what kind of ridiculous question is that?

Ok, ok. Is it at least faithful to Conan the Barbarian?

No, it isn’t even faithful to Conan the Barbarian. In addition to retconning Conan’s discovery of a sword which is quite clearly nothing like Jody Samson’s magnificent Atlantean sword, there are constant myriad inconsistencies with the 1982 film: instead of a slave pushing a wheel, he’s a prisoner pulling a wheel; instead of his people being wiped out, they are enslaved, and so on.

Written by alharron

22 December, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Conan and the Myth of the Special Sword

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So what’s the story with the Atlantean Sword?

There isn’t one. Conan didn’t really have a favoured sword.

But Conan the Barbarian

Forget Conan the Barbarian for a minute.

… But in Conan the Adventurer

Forget that too.

… I mean, the live action-

Forget that too!

Ok, then what was Conan’s favourite weapon in the Howard stories?

There was none. Conan’s favourite weapon was the one in his hand in that story, and that varied from location to location. In “The Tower of the Elephant,” it was a simple dagger; in “Queen of the Black Coast” it was an Aquilonian broadsword; in “The People of the Black Circle,” it was a tulwar; in “Beyond the Black River,” it was an axe; in The Hour of the Dragon, goes through a dozen weapons.

The idea of Conan being partnered to a particular weapon subtly ties Conan to other hero/sword combos in history, mythology and myth, to the point where the two are inseparable. Bring up Excalibur, and one immediately thinks of King Arthur; a mention of Stormbringer conjures Elric; Anduril recalls Aragorn, Hrunting evokes Beowulf. There was no such duality in the original Howard stories: there, swords and other weapons were tools to be used, not symbols to be venerated or scrutinized.

The special sword of great power, antiquity or quality is central to the mythology of Conan the Barbarian, as well as in the live action and animated series, but it has no basis in the original stories.