On the cover of Conan the Barbarian King-size Special Issue, #1, in a red circle, it says: “SPECIAL ACADEMY AWARD ISSUE! TWO OF THE GREATEST CONAN SAGAS EVER TOLD!” A pretty compelling claim, but it wasn’t the awards that drew me in, it was Conan himself.

The comic book in question was released in July 1973, so I was still eight years old when I bought it. Already a Marvel Comics fanatic, especially enamored of the Fantastic Four (which was the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine, actually), I had seen the name CONAN in the little ad lines on the bottom of the pages of other comics, had caught glimpses of him in ads, but never really understood who he was, and what he represented. I knew he was an uncharacteristic break from the ever-unfolding Marvel Universe, and that was what made me skeptical of him.

Then I saw that comic book.




Marvel Comics' King-Sized CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1, 1973

Marvel Comics’ King-Sized CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1, 1973


The cover paining by Barry Windsor-Smith is without a doubt one of the greatest pieces of fantasy art of all time. Here’s Conan the Barbarian staring straight at me—right into my eight-year-old eyes, challenging me, threatening me, welcoming me in a way that only an eight-year-old boy frightened of everything around him but his own imagination could be welcomed. Here is Conan, inviting me to fight him, to fight beside him, to be him. How on Earth could I have done anything but accept?

Read the rest in…

Editor and author Philip Athans offers hands on advice for authors of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and fiction in general in this collection of 58 revised and expanded essays from the first five years of his long-running weekly blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook.

—Philip Athans

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Or contact me for editing, coaching, ghostwriting, and more at Athans & Associates Creative Consulting.



About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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7 Responses to HI CONAN, IT’S ME, PHIL

  1. Wulfgar says:

    Back when comic art was just that…My first comic was a FF back in the early eighties…just before everything went crazy with multiple covers and crazy high prices. I blame the Dark Knight for that…
    But, please, Make Mine Marvel!
    Nice post here….

  2. Ah, nice post. My introduction to adult fantasy had to be Clifford Simak (The Talisman) and Rbert Silverberg (Lord Valentine’s Castle) when the librarians finally let me wander out of the kid’s section. I was late coming to Conan.

    Then there was a VERY adult fantasy called “Planet Story,” I believe, with these incredible Heavy Metal style illustrations. I still don’t know what that was doing in the teen section of Meaford Public Library.

    BTW – “Lair of the Beat-men”? There’s a Conan story I’d like to see!

  3. (BTW, just googled that Planet Story book – I had the title right and it’s Harry Harrison. Who knew?)

  4. Philip Athans says:

    That’s “Lair if the BeaSt-men,” not Beat-men. Thanks, Don! FIXED! Editor, edit thyself.


  6. Pingback: WHY I LOVE BARBARIANS « arronnovels

  7. Pingback: ARRON’S LONELY BLOG | Fantasy Author's Handbook

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