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#1224826 - Sat Jan 06 2018 03:12 PM Barry Smith CONAN or John Buscema CONAN?
Wonder Boy
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Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
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Loc: A glorious bold new America
It's kind of fashionable to reflexively say Barry Smith, but there are a number of great stories in the later run by Thomas/Buscema. Particularly in the SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN issues that were around 50 pages, where the extra length allowed the stories to really flow.

I'll list one of each that I love. From the CONAN THE BARBARIAN color comic, issues 19 and 20, "Hawks From The Sea", and "The Black Hound of Vengeance". That nicely explores issues of religion, of Conan's uncivilized nature that separates him from the others he fights alongside, in some ways more savage, in some ways more noble. And with intelligence as well as bloody battle scenes, the tragedy of war.

From Buscema, one that stands out for me is "The Haunting of Castle Crimson" in SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN 12. A tale of the supernatural, revenge, and some wonderful twists, that ends with remarkable optimism for a Robert E. Howard Conan story. And Buscema's art is beautifully embellished by Alfredo Alcala, as Buscema's work is in most of the first 35 issues or so of SAVAGE SWORD. Buscema's work, particularly on SAVAGE SWORD, has a more pulpish feel to it.

I think both Smith and Buscema often suffered on their Conan stories from bad inkers. Most of Barry Smith's work is inked by Sal Buscema, who would not be my first choice over Smith. But as a new guy on his first series, he was probably not in a position to make demands in that department. It was very fortunate that Dan Adkins was inking the "Hawks From the Sea" issues, where Smith had reached peak form, with scripting to match.

Unfortunately on Buscema, he was most often inked by Ernie Chan. Others have raved about what a great combination they were, I fail to see it. And would always prefer another inker on Buscema. Preferably Alcala, Dezuniga or Nebres.

So who do you prefer on Conan? And on what stories?
Thanks to Dark Horse, all these issues are back in print, in collected trades.


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#1224834 - Mon Jan 08 2018 07:43 AM Re: Barry Smith CONAN or John Buscema CONAN? [Re: Wonder Boy]
the G-man
Offline Officially "too old for this shit"

Registered: Fri May 16 2003
Posts: 43458
Loc: the right
Buscema Conan is the character I picture in my head.
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#1224835 - Mon Jan 08 2018 11:37 AM Re: Barry Smith CONAN or John Buscema CONAN? [Re: the G-man]
Wonder Boy
Online   content brutally Kamphausened

Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
Posts: 18577
Loc: A glorious bold new America


I'd agree.

Much as Smith's Conan is an artist tour-de-force, with outstanding R.E. Howard adaptations, Buscema refined what could be considered the definitive Conan.

Even an artist of Neal Adams' caliber, when he drew the character, conformed to the Buscema image of the character.

I'm disappointed over the last 20 years or so that another artist, if not surpassing Smith or Buscema, hasn't at least presented another memorable interpretation of the character. The last that really did it for me was Rafael Kayanan. In particular a sequel in SAVAGE SWORD aound issues 210-215 that was a sequel to "Red Nails". While an original, Kayanan's art was also visually consistent with Smith's "Red Nails". There was a magazine called CONAN THE SAVAGE that followed SAVAGE SWORD's cancellation that presented a number of artists in one-shot fashion, most of whom could have done a memorable run.

Buscema illustrated CONAN THE BARBARIAN and SAVAGE SWORD for about 15 years, certainly plenty of time to leave a memorable imprint on the character.

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