Tentacle Tuesday: Conan-o-rama

There’s some sort of Conan-mania around these parts. I’ve never understood the fascination with the Barbarian Hero (associated terms, in case you go barbarian-spotting: loin cloths or Pelts of the Barbarian, taut rippling muscles, oiled back, impressive weapons, the beard of a grizzly bear – or inexplicably clean-shaven at all times – and glorious manly manes), but clearly others go for sword-and-sorcery stuff in a big way. Conan sure puts the ‘sword’ in… err… well, he puts the sword into *everything*, slashing, hacking and dismembering his way through tedious comic after tedious comic.

He also runs into tentacled monsters, like, every 5 seconds. It seems that whatever tentacles existed in the Hyborian Age, they all made a point of appearing in concentrated clusters in whatever geographical area Conan was passing through. I understand, it’s difficult to come up with a decent monster for an Epic Fight Scene every month. Tentacles were clearly Plan B for days when nothing more exciting came to mind.

I’ve actually skipped some Tentacle Tuesday-relevant covers of this Conan the Barbarian series (275 issues published between October 1970 and December 1993) because they were just too ugly… or too boring. Can you imagine a cover with tentacles on it that’s boring?! Well, I can, now.

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 Conan the Barbarian #25 (April 1973), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Ralph Reese. I actually sort-of like this cover. Nice totems!
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Conan the Barbarian #32 (November 1973), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Ernie Chan. “Give the woman tentacles, but make sure she has huge boobs, too. And make them flesh-coloured, otherwise it’s too weird. And give her fangs because she’s also a vampire.
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Conan the Barbarian #41 (August 1974), penciled by Gil Kane and John Romita (?), inked by Ernie Chan and John Romita.
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 Conan the Barbarian #45 (December 1974), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Neal Adams. What a cutie! I bet he was just minding his own business in a cave when he was rudely interrupted by Conan and his blondie.
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Conan the Barbarian #86 (May 1978), art by John Buscema.
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 Conan the Barbarian #116 (November 1980), penciled by John Buscema and inked by Klaus Janson; the latter information has been suggested by co-admin RG, whose artistic eye I unreservedly trust. To quote him directly: «another misattribution from the GDC. They think it’s Neal Adams inking, toss in Dick Giordano’s name to try and explain away the too-thick-for-Adams lines, and still get it wrong. Giordano’s inking is sloppy and random, never ‘organic’. This, despite clearly being a rush job, isn’t botched. The main inker: Klaus Janson, then-member of Adams’ Crusty Bunkers, and an inker with a very distinctive style. Dead giveaway, if you need just one: Conan’s left boot, bottom right corner. It’s likely a group effort, but there’s no trace of Adams nor Giordano on this page. Adams does pop up later, mostly inking Conan faces and some figures.» See how hard we work to bring you not only entertainment, but also edification?
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« Is that you, Conan? » Conan the Barbarian #117 (December 1980), art by John Buscema. Why is Spidey’s face in the bottom left corner?* Everyone looks half-hearted on this cover – the tentacles are only making a half-assed attempt at grabbery, Conan’s in the middle of some sort of intricate ballet footwork, and the girl seems a little bored. It’s not a good sign when I start reminiscing about the good old Gil Kane covers… I don’t even like Gil Kane (although I’m gradually warming up to him, I admit).
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Conan the Barbarian #136 (July 1982), art by John Buscema. I’m fascinated by the sword’s arc: what direction is it going in? From the bubbles, it’s a swing backwards, but why is the tentacle in the path of that art unaffected? And why is Conan swinging backwards? That child’s face is enough to give one nightmares.

In the mood for more Conan? Visit another Tentacle Tuesday entry, the Savagery of Conan’s Savage Sword, for a gallery of painted Conan covers, replete with mostly nude cuties and of course a great heaping helping of tentacles.

~ ds

*because it’s a direct sales edition, as opposed to a newsstand edition, which would bear a barcode.

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