Monday, February 11, 2008

Robert E. Howard

As a young lad (like most other adolescent boys & girls) I enjoyed science-fiction and science-fantasy and a genre which is often called sword & sorcery. I reveled in reading Asimov, Heinlein, LeGuin, Blish, Strugatski, Bester, Brunner, Burroughs, Lovecraft, Tolkein etcetera.... I also read about Conan of Cimmeria's exploits well before Schwarzenegger donned a scabbard & sword.

Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) was an American pulp writer of fantasy, horror, historical adventure, boxing, western, and detective fiction. Howard wrote "over three-hundred stories and seven-hundred poems of raw power and unbridled emotion" and is especially noted for his memorable depictions of "a sombre universe of swashbuckling adventure and darkling horror."

He is well known for having created — in the pages of the legendary Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales — the character Conan the Cimmerian, a.k.a. Conan the Barbarian, a literary icon whose pop-culture imprint can only be compared to such icons as Tarzan of the Apes, Count Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond.

Between Conan and his other heroes Howard created the genre now known as sword-and-sorcery in the late 1920s and early 1930s, spawning a wide swath of imitators and giving him an influence in the fantasy field rivaled only by J.R.R. Tolkien and Tolkien's similarly inspired creation of the modern genre of High Fantasy.

As a seminal figure in the history of modern fantasy, Howard remains a highly read author, with his best work endlessly reprinted. He has been compared to other American masters of the weird, gloomy, and spectral, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Jack London.
*source: Wikipedia

Of course I bought and read all the Conan books which were illustrated by Frank Frazetta. Two covers in particular caught my eye. And so as a 12 year old would-be illustrator I copied as best I could in pastels the Frazetta cover art. The reproductions pale in comparison but I think clearly show my love (at an early age) for this genre:



Shann Palmer said...

I loved Conan, the books, the movies, all sci-fi, most fantasy (never got into the Dragons of perth and that ilk)

Nick said...

Neither did I, but there was something about the Howard short stories that enthralled me (and others) as a young boy.

doc said...

hey this is doc from the itunes podcast: Heroes of Science Fiction and Fantasy, enjoyed your article along with the great art. My friend had these two posters hanging in his room 30 years ago. Thanks again for a great article, keep them coming. website voicemail 1-206-333-1297