Saturday, 1 June 2013

Review: King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon #1

Script:  Timothy Truman, Artist Tomas Giorello, and Jose Villarrubia.  Covers by Gerald Parel and SanJulian

Written by Robert E.Howard, 'The Hour of the Dragon', first published in serial form in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1935 through 1936.  Many years later the story was released in the 50's under the title, 'Conan the Conqueror'.  It then was reproduced and sold over the coming decades by various book sellers and has been published right across the world in many languages. It has also been translated into Japanese, Italian, Finnish, French, German, Swedish, Czech, Russian, Sinhalese and Spanish.   Then Dark Horse decide to recreate it once more in the form of a comic book, and here it is released at the end of May 2013, under King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon.  

My first thoughts as I open the pages late at night with the lamp light reflecting off the shiny gloss paper is nice, detailed, exquisite and lightly captioned.  Though because of the lightly captioned first few pages, you get to concentrate on the art rather than the text.  The details in the cracked old face of Conan, scarred upper lip and wise eyes stare out from the panels to draw you in.   King Conan locked in his thoughts of his love for Zenobia, his saviour from days gone by.  As he gently lays a red rose to signify his soft inner loving side for his queen on her sarcophagus.  Brilliant and moving scene already from Truman the script writer, whose ideas run smoothly with Howard's like whisky and ice in my drink.  Then in an instant the old rage of the brutal barbarian appears, the swift hand to steel put to the throat of an unseen shadow that lurked behind the king, that shadow was his scribe Pramis, he who was to put ink to paper to record King Conan's time as a young man finding his way in the primal land of Hyboria.  Giorello's draws a nostalgic Conan peering back into his youth through wise eyes is really breath taking to say the least, with the crown of Aquilonia squeezed from the life off Numedides upon his head.  The way Giorello draws this crown is impressive and really looks like Conan was made for the it.  Normally artists would portray a crown looking silly, lopsided, less deserving of the weakling that adorns it, but Conan wears it like a lion wears a mane, with pride and power.  When the wizard peers into the mist mirror to catch a glimpse of this heathen barbarian from the North, Truman captures Howard's text beautifully, and with the artists take of Conan on the throne, it is really one the best depictions of Conan as king as I ever seen in a comic by far.   I think I have found another fav in modern times called Tomas Giorello to add to my collections such as Nord and Kayanan.  

The story starts to unfold quickly, lots of speech text and narration to get the reader up to speed on the past and what happened to this point.  Some filling in or padding by Truman though still sticking with the original story at best, as any adaptation writer could do in respect of the source material.  As an example, the plague sweeping across the lands finally killing the old king and his off spring in Nemedia was captured in one panel, which worked well and was suffice to allow a keen eyed north man such as Conan to see that this was more than coincidence and sorcery was at hand, and also draw the reader into the thickening plot to dispose the king!   

I could go on and on as I truly feel that Dark Horse have the real jewel of Ahriman in their grasp on this title, but I do not want to spoil the cliff hanger and the rest of the comic to the fans that have not read it yet.  suffice to say that this work by dark Horse for me will go down in my book of excellence so far with just one issue.  It will rid the stain of other lesser Conan titles that have failed to tell Conan to a modern mass in a constructive Howard way for me.  I just hope that the sales go well and the fans of Conan spread this title far and wide and make it   become the mast head of what Conan should be in the modern age as the future unfolds.

David Houston June 01 2013.  

PS:  I never do reviews as you can well tell.  I primarily draw pictures, so this was my silly attempt to try and promote such an inspiring title to fans and new fans of Conan.  If it causes one person to spend money on this title I will feel relieved that my prattling has done some good in the end for Howard's greatest creation.  :)

Sunday, 5 May 2013

A new page of art for new comic strip, chapter one done and 3 more to go for 24 page strip.  If I get me finger out, seems when no money is involved motivation can be an issue.  :)

Friday, 19 April 2013

This was adapted from Robert E.Howard poem based on boxing. Howard loved boxing and found pleasure in writing about the pugilist sport and doing great boxing yarns. One of his characters was called Steve Costigan, a bare knuckle boxing fighter.   Appeared in TGR #16 the last of the series.

A soon to be released book of his boxing yarns can be found here on this site below:

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

This is Fantasy Unlimited Fanzine created by three Belfast boys growing up in the troubles of bombs and bullets.  We decided to get together to put our creative minds into producing something for the general fantasy fan out there as we had no vehicle at the time to submit our art and stories.  Three different young lads in our teens with no outlet so we decided to fund our own fanzine with our own money and used a friends mum to help us type and print the fanzine.  Thank you Jim's mum (I think it was Hazel, canny remember now) for taking the time to help us out and letting us use the sitting room for many cups of tea and cookies.  We asked the local shops if we could sell it from their counter for an advert of the fantasy and book shops, they kindly agreed.

This is the culmination of fantasy/sci fi fans that wanted to get a piece of the action in Belfast when the fantasy scene was just taking off.  Hopefully in away, I hope now and we hoped then that we would get more people into fantasy / scifi and hopefully get more involved.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Created by Stephan Alsop, a character that seems to be a parody of Arnold's Conan but not as stupid and as weak.  Penciled then inked and with Parker inks and digitally coloured using Trust Tablet and Gimp 2. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Solomon Kane

Took a few days to paint this one of Solomon Kane.  I checked out some old 17th Century clothing and tried to make Solomon more styled on the puritan clothing of priests and holy men etc.  The small beards seem to be the style of the period even for the English aristocracy. 

The Solomon Kane below this was a quick sketch done with a Biro writing pen for the outlines and shadows and filled in with Parker inks.  The cross idea of the layout was a last minute idea as I thought it suited Solomon's soul.  He looks up to the sky and vows revenge for this heinous crime of mother and  daughter hanged.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Cromsblood coloured my Solomon Kane recently and did a superb job on it, that I wanted to show it too others and let them see how it was brought to life.  Colouring is not an easy task at all, with adding layers working out lines of art, it is almost like programming where you have to decypher what is on the page and needs to be broken down into its parts to create a finished piece.  He did a fine job with this indeed :).

Cromsblood website can be found here: 

Please visit and check out all things interesting and Conan. :)