Friday, January 20, 2012

Speaking of Conan...

A commenter on another blog (cough) has started perhaps an interesting discussion, prompted by my reaction to the exquisitely entertaining experience of reading the early Conan short stories and novellas presented in the Del Rey compilation The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian. Why not check it out and join the fun?

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!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year, New Reading Lists

Kate Sherrod here, one of the co-founders of SMISA, with a confession to make.

I've never read any of the original or later pastiche Conan books or stories. Until now.

For one of my first reading efforts in this blighted new year is to read ALL OF IT. All of Robert E. Howard's original short stories. All of Harry Turtledove's Conan novels. All of L. Sprague deCamp's pasticherpieces. Every shred. In publication order, if possible.

And then (another embarrassing announcement), I'm going to move on and read all of Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories.

That should adequately fill the time while I wait for the next installment in fellow SMISA founder Jennifer Williams' Copper Promise series. Which is somewhat delayed, as she's been down with the crud, poor lamb.

I mean, come on, Jennifer! Shouty Man up! Strap on that plate! Bust those bugs into another dimension.

Yeah, that's better.

Anyway, what Shouty Men in Shiny Armour fiction are you most looking forward to this year?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Alright, so Idris Elba doesn't do a lot of shouting in Thor - he mainly does a good line in glowering and growling - but, damn, his armour is shiny. He's also rocking those contact lenses.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Shouty Women in Shiny Armour

Just by way of demonstrating that we at SMISA are not sexist -- far from it -- we gladly share with you the epic battle between Red Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen) and Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman) in 1985's Red Sonja. This classic bit of fantastic schlock features LOTS of Shouty Women in Shiny Armour and as a bonus, a Shouty Child in Shiny Armour. Score!

Sorry for the Russian overdubbing, though if you ask us, that kind of makes it even more awesome.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Shouty Men in Shiny Armour - not always all that serious

Who doesn't love Danny Kaye in The Court Jester? A 1955 classic based on Sylvia Fine's The Maladjusted Jester, it took the piss out of the Robin Hood schtick decades before Mel Brooks put men in tights, and took on the romance of knighthood to boot. We won't spoil for you why Kaye's character is being rushed through this ceremony; just enjoy for now, and then hurry off and see the whole film if you haven't.

Yea, verily, yea.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Nordic Shiny

Nuff said.

Brian Blessed in BLACKADDER

Was there ever a shoutier man in shinier armour than Brian Blessed's classic turn as the highly fictional King Richard IV in Blackadder?

Honest question. Was there?


In Which Dissent Is Handled

"Off with his head," the angry queen did shout.
"Which one?" inquired her faithful headsman, "He
Has several." "The one that's speaking out
Against my reign!" "That narrows it to three."
"Off with his head," the queen said, pointing at
Her headsman. "I will give a shiny sword
With rubies in its hilt to whom'er that
Back-talking knave do slay." No one stepped for'ard --
That is until a wizard slinked into
The crowd. "Ah! Here he is, thank you, fair dame
For finding him," quoth he. "This is for you."
He tossed the queen a purse, then burst in flame
And he and his eight-headed slave were gone.
"Whate'er it takes to keep the peace. Move on."


My first post on this blog would have to be about Excalibur. It's a film that showcases everything we want to talk about; shiny armour, shouting, shiny swords, men with shiny armour and swords, shouting... In fact, I remember it as a film where everyone shouts all the time, particularly if they're in a forest (which is quite often) or someone is a bit narked about something (all the time). It's also memorable for Nicol Williamson's wildly crazy turn as Merlin, who appears to be acting in a different film entirely, probably one all about how great Merlin is.