Conan Art Gallery

Hyborian Art Gallery

Having hit up a number of comic book groups over the last few months for contributions to the Hyborian Age Art Gallery, I thought I’d take a different approach and start “googling” a few art/Conan/Hyborian related terms to see if I could find some other possible candidates for art contributions that I might miss if I stuck exclusively to the comic groups.  I found a lot of awesome illustrators out there, several of which I thought were prime candidates for the project, including Miguel Serrano of by Miguel Serrano

John Buscema TributeMiguel, Conan and Howard fan, has some excellent illustrations of grim and gritty Hyborian Age stuff; just the way I like it.  Of course, after taking a look at some of his illustrations, I hastily contacted him about doing a full illustration for the gallery… he accepted!
I’m now anxiously awaiting to see what Migue comes up with for the gallery.

Here’s another recent illustration that Migue posted over at his blog Creative Viking. Take a minute and visit his blog and click his thumbnails to see the larger versions… it’s certainly worth it!

**UPDATE** So I was taking my own advice and going and checking out Miguel’s blog. I’ve clicked on all his images before, but I guess I never noticed what was at the BOTTOM of one of his pictures. The “ghostly” (for lack of better descriptive words) picture is awesome by itself, but it’s the bottom of the picture, and then the connection of WHO the ghosts are that make this image SOOO much cooler! An awesome picture in my opinion. Well done Miguel!

Robert E. Howard

My favorite portion from the movie adaptation of Novalyne Price’s exceptional Howard memoir One Who Walked Alone is when Vincent D’Onofrio is describing his character Conan to Novalyne. I found this particular scene from The Whole Wide World on YouTube. Here it is in all its glory:

I loveto watch that part. That description is so real that it nearly has me tasting blood in my own mouth after I watch it. There is another part in the movie as well, where Novalyne and Bob are discussing the topics in which they like to write about, and Bob mentions that he wants to write about “another age, another way of life” , and “man struggling to survive”, and that that kind of writing is ‘his formula’. That’s exactly how I like my Hyborian age; grim, brutal, survival of the fittest, and so in-your-face it’s nearly tangible.

Oftentimes when I’m soliciting artwork for my hyborian art gallery, I try to scare up some reference photos to complement the descriptions I give the artists. That way, the artist has a general idea of what I’m thinking about the project beforehand; whether they choose to follow that vision or not is entirely up to them.

The image I most often send to artists though, is one I always hope the artist will consider in the atmosphere of the commission. I send it for nearly every piece commissioned, regardless of what it is I’m requesting to have drawn. That piece of art is an illustration of Conan by the late Darren Goodacre. Here it is:

Darren Goodacre Conan
Without a doubt, Darren’s illustration here is one of my all time favorite Conan inks, and every time I see the movie the Whole Wide World, and hear Vincent’s description of Conan, I am reminded of this piece, which I think encapsulates that description perfectly. Likewise, every time I see this image (and I look at it daily pretty much), I am reminded of that passage in the movie. Listen to the audio clip above while you’re looking at the Darren’s illustration, and I think you’ll see what I mean.

BedouinI have a whole slew of art ready to put into the Images of the Hyborian Age gallery, and a lot of new artists currently putting pencil to paper for new commissions as well. I don’t want to name names, but you can expect to see a series of commissions coming up by an awesome pinup artist from the old Savage Sword comic during the 80s, and at least one commission coming up by an artist from the current Dark Horse series as well, among several others.

Snake CharmerI’ve been working on several writeups for the existing art I have, and I haven’t completed them yet. As such, the addition to the gallery that I had hoped would be up this week, probably won’t be up until next week. That’s ok though, because I have something that should tickle your fancy. After viewing Edbon Sevilleno’s fantasy art gallery, I contacted him about doing a few commissions for the Hyborian Age Gallery. He agreed, and his enthusiasm for the project was certainly noticeable just from the quantity of concept art he kept sending me. With Edbon’s permission, I’ve decided to share it with you. It’s certainly interesting to see all the individual elements Edbon drew before ultimately combining them into one finished picture.
Here are some of the other elements:
Snake Charmer
Ultimately, all these individual elements were combined into one final piece,representing a Turanian/Iranistani souk. Here’s the concept art for that:
Turanian/Iranistani Souk

Still, we needed a central figure to pull together and round out the drawing. Edbon came up with this nice illustration of a Turanian Bedouin. I thought his concept art was perfect:
Turanian Bedouin

And that’s it! The finished product, which I’ll be posting directly to the gallery later, combines all of these elements into a finely detailed illustration of a Turanai/Iranistani Souk. Ultimately we discussed a few commissions, so I’ll end this post with some concept art from the additional ones he was working on:

Desert Fortress
Horse Archer

Michael Phelps - Barbarian Award recipientNot to be confused with the infinitely more prestigious Cimmerian Awards given out by the fine folks at The Cimmerian (where you actually win something), I am going to start awarding my own “Barbarian Award” for those demonstrating conduct barbaric in nature.

Congratulations to Michael Phelps, for overcoming the odds and achieving what many thought was impossible! Eight gold medals in a single Olympics!
John Edwards - Barbarian Runner upI have to admit though… after I saw this picture that at first glance appeared to be Phelps wearing a fancy dress, I just about passed him over for the award. Thankfully it’s just Phelps wearing all the loot he plundered at the expense of the French. Kudos to you Michael Phelps, you’re one of life’s winners.
Runner Up
John EdwardsRunner up for this edition of the Barbarian Award is Senator John Edwards, for displaying the truly barbaric behavior of pillaging his interns while raiding. When the cat’s away (or terminally ill), the mice will play, eh John?

There are a lot of crappy comics out there. I consider myself somewhat easily amused, and overall, not that difficult to impress, but man, there are a LOT of crappy comics out there.

Before getting into what comics I have enjoyed the most over the last 18 months, I should put a disclaimer out there that I am not an avid collector of comics. In the 80s and 90s the only titles I collected were The Savage Sword of Conan and Conan Saga, anything outside of those typically didn’t hold my interest. Largely this was because I’ve never really had an interest in “super heroes”, which seemed to be the main things going at the time, and most of the story lines I considered predictable if not juvenile, even as an early teenager.

With the release of the new Conan comic by Dark Horse some years ago, I of course began picking up all things Conan again (the main title, the spinoffs, the one shots, etc), and eventually began to dabble into other comics as well.  I currently collect around 10-20 titles…small potatoes no doubt.  Having said that, my reviews probably lose some cred with those avid collectors, given my relative newness into collecting, and the size of my stash.  Really, my only criteria for my “best” picks, were:

  1. Did I enjoy the story
  2. Did I enjoy the art

Personally, I don’t think that those two criteria should be difficult to meet for “professional” artists and writers, especially when you consider that the average story is probably only 20-30 pages long, and mostly art (as opposed to a novel of hundreds of pages, with no art).  Is it really that hard to keep a readers attention over such a short period… for a “professional”? Stupid question no doubt, I’m sure it’s very hard… in fact it must be terribly difficult, because a large percentage of the comics I receive are pretty close to crap.

Every month I’m continually reminded of how poorly the comic industry has done in maturing with its readers.  Half the books I read are dumbed-down, poorly-written tripe.  The comic industry has failed to mature at the same rate that their readers have.  The success of the new Batman movie illustrates this point more than I ever could with words.  Those same small boys that collected books in the 70s-90s are all grown up now, and interested in comics that are much more mature (e.g. The Dark Knight), yet comic book publishers continue to publish material that would make an 10 year old smack the cover shut saying, “I’m too old for this”. I just don’t get that… anyway, here are the comics I enjoyed (or am currently enjoying) the most out of my stack.

My Best Picks (In no particular order)

The Other Side
Jason Aaron / Cameron Stewart

The Other SideThe Other Side was a short run comic portraying the Vietnam war from both the perspective of an American and Vietnamese soldier.  The art was well done, but the script, which switches back and forth from the G.I. to the V.C. was the carrier of this series.  Highly graphic, and suggested for mature readers, it was one of my favorites of 2007, I’ve gone back to read this one a few times, which is not something I will typically do.

Various Roy Thomas Adaptations
Roy Thomas et al.

Last of the MohicansI like Roy Thomas’ writing. I consider his The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Savage Barbarian one of the coolest non Howard Conan books that I own. As I mentioned above, in the 80s and 90s I enjoyed the Savage Sword comics a lot. His recent adaptations of Treasure Island, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Man in the Iron Mask I thought were first rate.  The art was well presented in these series as well, especially on the covers.  Of course, everyone should read the originals of these as well.

Tim Truman, Kurt Busiek, Tomas Giorello, Cary Nord, et al

Dark Horse ConanThere have been too many names working on the Conan title to list them all, but overall, the comic, and most of the spin offs have been very good in terms of meeting the two criteria of being entertaining, and having quality art. Truman and Giorello have really taken this title to the next level with the relaunch of Conan The Cimmerian a few months ago. It’s gritty, people die, and the art is knockout. Of course that’s not to say that the Busiek/Nord combo didn’t do a splendid job as well, as Nord draws some of my favorite Conan sketches ever (… must get him to do a gallery picture for us).

Brian Azzarello

LovelessLoveless was by far one of my most favorite titles of 2007, exceeding even Conan some months in my anticipation to receive and tear through the title. Well written with plenty of engaging events and cliff hangers, it was a great addition to Western comics. The art could occasionally be difficult to determine which character was which, but overall a very strong title. Unfortunately it was canceled a few months ago which hurt my already dwindling pile of quality monthly reads.

Jonah Hex
Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray

Jonah HexJonah Hex is a title that I always look forward to. It has on occasion had issues were the art was a near miss for me, but overall the title is still strong. Jonah will generally take an ass whoopin’ just about every issue before he pays someone back. A recent issue featuring the art of Rafa Garres was exceptionally nice and I hope to see more of his work on future Hex titles, and other titles as well (and add a commission from him to the Images of the Hyborian Age gallery).

Fear Agent
Rick Remender & Tony Moore

Fear AgentI’m not much of a sci-fi fan.. aliens and laser guns never did do much for me…. but shotguns do… and Fear Agent has to be one of the top titles of last year. Surprisingly serious when it needs to be, while still having enough humor and wit to not take itself too seriously and to laugh-out-loud about… it’s the perfect mix of a flawed hero kicking some alien ass. The art isn’t half bad either.

The Lone Ranger
Brett Matthews & Sergio Carriello

The Lone RangerI didn’t have high hopes for The Lone Ranger, but I gave it a shot, and so far, I’m glad I did. The story has matured substantially over what you might remember from the old T.V. show, making it into a strong contender as a comic featured in the Old West. This is an engaging comic suited for people that don’t prefer their heroes and villains to be black and white.

Brian Wood & David Gianfelice

NorthlandersNORTHLANDERS! Probably my favorite comic right now. Northlanders is the perfect mix of a great story coupled with nice art and tailor made for comic readers looking for a mature read. Lots of sword swinging, it’s Conan 9000 years later. Tough to put down, the covers and interiors are are always very nice.
My worst picks later.

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