The Return of Conan the Barbarian

Posted on October 29, 2007

Conan the Barbarian is making a comeback. We have a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in our heads as Conan -- he really seemed to embody the character created by Robert E. Howard. Now there is a new video game, a coffee table book, comics reissues and a live feature film planned.

  • A new Conan video game (THQ, $60, for Xbox 360 and PS3) arrives next week; an online role-playing game, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (Eidos, for PCs), is scheduled to be released in March. "I think Conan has on and off been a success since (Howard's) inception in the '30s, and (in recent years) the license was mismanaged," says Jorgen Tharaldsen of game developer Funcom. "He is the original American fantasy hero."

  • Conan the Phenomenon ($29.95), a new 200-page coffee-table book from Dark Horse Comics, has scores of classic images from illustrators such as Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo, as well as a detailed history of Conan and of Howard, who died in 1936. "It covers Conan as a pop-culture figure in all these different media over the years," says Dark Horse's Scott Allie.

  • Also from Dark Horse: The Savage Sword of Conan, a 542-page collection of the original Marvel Comics magazines, due Dec. 19 ($17.95), as well as continuing reprints of Marvel's original Conan the Barbarian comics and a new monthly series started in 2004. "The (Marvel) comics created the foundation for the movies," Allie says. "We felt it was important to reprint them."

  • A movie, in development by Millennium Films (16 Blocks, The Black Dahlia), is planned for 2009. Malmberg, who is producing, wants to restore Conan to Howard's original noble savage, "a barbarian who is confronted with civilization as his life progresses and (who) has a much stronger moral code than the so-called civilized people."
  • Somehow the resurgence of Conan just seems appropriate in today's world. A Barbarian fits right in with today's pop culture. Although the current crop of misbehaving starlets might give him a run for his money in the category of breaching society's rules. Hopefully, the new Conan will continue to keep his loincloth on.

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