Conan the Barbarian

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Name: Conan the Barbarian
Abbreviation(s): also known as Conan the Cimmerian
Creator: Robert E. Howard
Date(s): books:
Country of Origin:
External Links:
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Conan the Barbarian is a fictional sword and sorcery hero created by Robert E. Howard in 1932 for a series of fantasy stories published in Weird Tales magazine.

In 1938, The Hyborian Age, an essay by Robert E. Howard, was published posthumously. It set out the rules and lore for the Conan series. It has since been reprinted numerous occasions, both professionally and in fanzines.

Other authors and artists have adapted the character in books, comics, films, television programs (animated and live-action), video games, and role-playing games.

The 1982 film, "Conan the Barbarian" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger gave the character and franchise further mainstream attention.

Transformative Elements, Pastiches, and Additions

Howard and H.P. Lovecraft corresponded frequently, and both authors inserted things from each other's works into their own. After Howard's death, the copyright went through a few hands and ended up with L. Sprague de Camp, who in turn used Howard's fiction in creating his own pastiches. Some of these later editors reworked many of the original Conan stories and some of these references were diluted or removed. In their original form, Howard's unedited Conan stories therefore are of the Cthulhu Mythos.

from Far Realms #3 (1982), Keith Woods

In the 1970s, Marvel Comics featured Conan wearing a loincloth, something that Howard did not include.

A He Man

Conan himself is portrayed as a massive, super alpha man with a sullen face, something that Howard likely envisioned but that also became exaggerated through the decades, helped along by book covers by Frank Frazetta which can be viewed as male "bodice rippers."

Some fans view Conan as a male Mary Sue.

The character is utilized as short-hand in wider culture, as well as in fandom, for beefy, hulkish behavior and personality.

A female fan in 1979 wrote:

Hundreds of men read the Gor, Conan, Louis L'amour series. These are the male equivalent of the "warm, dumb, soppy, stuff". I do not know if it's nature or nurture but I've noticed men seem to read/write heroic fantasy and women are drawn to romance. [1]


The "Soundtrack": from "Conan the Barbarian"

The Star Trek: TOS zine, The Bloodstone, included this note from the authors:

an addendum tucked into the zine
While we were in the early stages of writing THE BLOODSTONE, we happened upon a soundtrack recording that fit the mood and themes of the novel so perfectly that we promptly adopted the music as a score for the novel. We thank Basil Poledouris for his beautiful soundtrack to CONAN, THE BARBARIAN (MCA 6108) — if you own the record and would like to share our source of inspiration, listen to each band with these revised theme titles in mind...[2]

Sample Fan Fiction

  • Assignment for Tomorrow, in That Savage Yesterday... by Stephen Mendenhalk (crossover with Star Trek: TOS, 1985, printed in Grip #21
  • The Eye of Argon, a 1970 sword-and-sworcery story by Jim Theis (The story introduces Grignr the Barbarian, "closely resembling Conan but worse-tempered, worse-spelt and harder to pronounce." [3]}})

Further Reading and Meta


  1. ^ from an LoC in Interstat #24 (1979)
  2. ^ from the editorial in The Bloodstone
  3. ^ Bottom of the Barrel, SFX magazine column by David Langford, October 1998