Friday, January 13, 2012

Conan the Progenitor

Robert E. Howard's most famous character, Conan the Cimmerian, is arguably the granddaddy of all Shouty Men in Shiny Armour -- or at least of pulp fantasy heroes. But this fantastic Tomás Giorello art (the cover to Dark Horse Comics' first King Conan issue, adapting the classic original Conan story, "The Phoenix on the Sword") is a rarity in that it shows Conan in shiny armour. Most people (this blogger's mother included; it was an argument with her over whether Conan counts as a SMISA that prompted this post) always and only picture him as the naked muscle man. It's true he seems to fight best in just a breechclout, but I found a few good examples of our favorite barbarian in armor in some of Howard's earlier stories.

Sometimes his armour doesn't match too well, in true barbarian fashion:

His horned helmet was such as was worn by the golden-haired AEsir of Nordheim; his hauberk and greaves were of the finest worksmanship of Koth; the fine ring-mail which sheathed his arms and legs was of Nemedia; the blade at his girdle was a great Aquilonian broadsword; and his gorgeous scarlet cloak could have been spun nowhere but in Ophir.
- from "Queen of the Black Coast"

At other times, he sports a more "put-together" look:

At her command they brought harness to replace Conan's chain-mail -- gorget, sollerets, cuirass, pauldrons, jambes, cuisses and  sallet. When Yasmela again drew the curtains, a Conan in burnished steel stood before his audience. Clad in the platearmor, visor lifted and dark face shadowed by the black plumes that nodded above his helmet, there was a grim presence about him that even Thespides grudgingly noted. A jest died suddenly on Amalric's lips. "By Mitra," he said slowly, "I never expected to see you cased in coat-amor, but you do not put it to shame. By my fingerbones, Conan, I have seen kings who wore their harness less regally than you!"
Conan was silent. A vague shadow crossed his mind like a prophecy. In years to come, he was to remember Amalric's words, when the dream became reality.
- from "The Black Colossus"

But be advised, Shouty Men in Shiny Armour isn't just about those; that's just a cool title for a pulp fantasy lovers' blog. We couldn't help being pleased, though, to see that one of our favourite heroes actually deigns to embody the name so splendidly!

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