Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Conan and the Halls of the Dead

I finished another one of the Conan trade paperbacks the other day. The last one that had the original team of Busiek and Nord together; Truman actually takes over in this book, and Mike Mignola (of Hellboy) fame penned an episode too. By the next trade, Busiek is completely not to be found, and Cary Nord himself leaves off in favor of Argentine artist Tomás Giorello. Since the combination of Nord and Busiek was a big part of what attracted me to the books in the first place, I never bought beyond that. I do, however, have the next two from Interlibrary Loan from my public library, so I'll be talking about them soon too.

The main story here, the Halls of the Dead, is a pastiche. Howard wrote it up as a quick outline or sketch of a story that he never actually composed. Mike Mignola stepped in and made it very overtly "Lovecraftian"; the halls of the dead, not only guarded by strange undead people, but also by these red frogs, who seem to congretate around a gigantic three-eyed vaguely froggish creature that swallows Conan with a tongue that looks like a fat octopus, and then keeps coming even after Conan cuts himself out.

It's very much like something Howard would have written... but didn't, and it's a nice nod to Howard's fellow "Three Musketeers" of Weird Tales; I couldn't help but think of Clark Ashton Smith's froggish god Tsathoggua throughout the story.

Tim Truman is, although no Kurt Busiek, a notable Howard fan, and while I previously wrote him off as "not the original" I'm actually excited to see what he can bring to the next trade paperback in the series, which is centered around the classic Howard tale "Rogues in the House."

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