Conan the Barbarian
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|Conan the Barbarian|
Illustration of Conan by
Conan the Barbarian (also known as Conan the Cimmerian) is a fictional
Conan the Barbarian was created by Robert E. Howard in a series of fantasy stories published in Weird Tales in 1932. For months, Howard had been in search of a new character to market to the burgeoning pulp outlets of the early 1930s. In October 1931, he submitted the short story "People of the Dark" to Clayton Publications' new magazine,
In February 1932, Howard vacationed at a border town on the lower
Having digested these prior influences after he returned from his trip, Howard rewrote a rejected story, "
"The Phoenix on the Sword" appeared in Weird Tales
The publication and success of "The Tower of the Elephant" spurred Howard to write many more Conan stories for Weird Tales. By the time of Howard's suicide in 1936, he had written 21 complete stories, 17 of which had been published, as well as a number of unfinished fragments.
Following Howard's death, the copyright of the Conan stories passed through several hands. There is a report of a Miss Merriman who was helping Doctor Howard clean up Robert's papers finding a written will. She handed it to Dr. Howard and it was never seen again. As such, Dr. Howard then inherited all of Robert's writings and books. As he aged, Dr. Howard moved to Ranger to help his friend Dr. Kuykendall at his clinic. He passed in 1944 while living at the clinic and he left all his worldly goods to Dr. Kuykendall for his kindness. To be sure, Dr. Kuykendall was ignorant of publishing and had no idea of the potential value of the writings he inherited and basically trusted the Howard's old agent Otis Adelbert Kline to guide him. As this was just going into the WWII years the market was poor for this type of fiction so it netted him little except for the release of the 1946 Arkham House book Skull-Face & Others.
However, the Conan stories were so dynamic that they were never destined to be too long out of print. In 1950, 14 years after the last Conan tale appeared in Weird Tales, a returning G.I. Marty Greenberg, started Gnome Press Publishing to preserve some of the great stories from the pulps and introduce new SF writing by such as Asimov, Heinlein and de Camp. Between 1950 to 1957 Gnome published all of the 17 original Weird Tales stories plus extra found and edited by de Camp, and unsold eastern tales that de Camp converted to Conan tales plus one story submitted by Swedish writer Bjorn Nyberg. After that, it was but another 8 years until paperback versions appeared courtesy of Lancer Books, a deal brokered by L. Sprague de Camp. The Lancers ran from 1965 to 1973 when Lancer went bankrupt for some rather strange reasons, leaving the final Conan paperback unpublished, although a cover proof had been created. De Camp with the help of Lin Carter had completed a number of drafts, synopses, and created new stories to add to Conan's adventures. The bankruptcy kept the rights to the stories in legal limbo for four years when Prestige Books acquired the assets from the auction. Of note were the highly successful images of Conan by fantasy artist Frank Frazetta on most of the Lancer covers.
In the meantime as of January 1974 Sphere Books in the UK started printing the series of 12 books. The latest printings of the Sphere books found to date by Mr. Scotty Henderson, a Howard scholar and researcher, is September 1989 with the various books managing print runs of 8 to 13 printings.
Shortly Prestige approached Ace books to print and distribute the books as they did not have the resources. Just prior to that, Glenn Lord, who had become the estate agent for the Howard heirs found a loophole in the contracts and hired Karl Edward Wagner to edit a series of original pure Howard books via publisher Berkley Books. They issued three volumes using the earliest published form of the texts from Weird Tales,[
In 2000, the British publisher
The two volumes were combined and the stories resorted into chronological order as The Complete Chronicles of Conan: Centenary Edition (
In 2003, another British publisher, Wandering Star Books, made an effort both to restore Howard's original manuscripts and to provide a more scholarly and historical view of the Conan stories. It published hardcover editions in England, which were republished in the United States by the Del Rey imprint of