In a trio of Robert E. Howard-related announcements that included a new Kull miniseries by David Lapham and a Solomon Kane mini by Bruce Jones, Dark Horse revealed at Comic-Con International in San Diego that it would launching an anthology series featuring REH heroes including Conan, Kull, and Kane but also lesser-known characters like Dark Agnes, El Borak, Bran Mak Morn, and Sailor Steve Costigan. “Savage Sword” will launch in December in a series of 80-page perfect-bound comics which will include original adventures and classic, recolored reprints in each issue, as well as bonus material. The title, of course, hearkens back to classic Conan magazines, and the first issue of the anthology will feature work by Paul Tobin, Wellinton Alves, Mark Finn, Tim Bradstreet, Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor Smith, Tim Conrad, Gil Kane, Esad Ribic, and many more. For more information, CBR News spoke with writer Paul Tobin, who is providing a new Conan story to the inaugural issue of “Savage Sword.”
Introducing the core of the new anthology, Tobin said, “Editor Samantha Robertson is bringing in new stories with a mix of Howard’s characters, so while there’s going to be plenty of new material concerning Conan, Solomon Kane, Kull, and so on, the title is also going to feature characters like Dark Agnes and Sailor Steve Costigan. That’s going to be fun, too, for while it’s amazing to work on icons like Conan, it’s fun to be part of a team that’s establishing the looks and feels of ‘lost’ characters as well.”
Tobin is leading off the new “Savage Sword” anthology series with a story featuring perhaps Howard’s most famous creation, Conan. “It’s a focus on Conan’s days of thievery… an aspect of his personality that I’ve always loved,” Tobin told CBR. “There are plenty of hulking brutes who can mow down their enemies with great swipes of their broadsword, and that’s certainly a major part of Conan’s skill set, but what I always liked was that he can ALSO sneak his way past any guard, climb any tower, and pull any heist. In my story, he sets his sights on liberating a very special jewel. Then things go wrong. Then they go worse. Conan has to show off his sword arm in order to come out of this one.” Tobin’s story will run through the first three issues.
The writer said he enjoys writing about Conan’s “younger, wilder time–not that he ever really settles down.” “He’s hardly the type to paint the picket fence and make sure the cupboard has plenty of decaffeinated coffee,” Tobin said. “I love the younger time periods because he has that whole thieving thing going on… I like a wry rogue who can still cleave off a few deserving heads.”
The artist for Tobin’s Conan serial is Wellinton Alves, who recently worked on Marvel’s “War of Kings: Ascension” miniseries. “Wellinton is an amazing artist that’s perfect for Conan material–and he’s excited to be working with Conan. That always makes for a great partnership,” Tobin said.
Tobin, too, is excited to be working with Conan. “I was (and am) a huge fan of the ‘Savage Sword of Conan’ magazines. They were a big influence in my developing years,” he told CBR. “While my mom was grocery shopping I’d be flipping through the latest issue of ‘National Lampoon,’ or ‘Mad Magazine,’ or, best of all, those John Buscema issues of ‘Savage Sword of Conan,’ inked by a iconic group of artists, featuring lush women, exotic locales, and the World’s Best Problem-Solver.”
With this and his “Predators” movie adaptation, Tobin has been tackling some pretty bloodthirsty characters of late, in stark contrast to the “Marvel Adventure” titles for which he is known. “It’s always about character, for me. In some ways, my writing won’t be all that different; it’s just that while Spider-Man’s problems might have to do with a tough history test or a gang of mobsters, Conan’s problems are more along the lines of enraged temple guards and evilly debauched sultans,” Tobin said. “And while Peter Parker has his responsibility, Conan has his sword. Deep down, though…they both have strong senses of honor. There’s so much to work with in Conan’s personality.”
As to the possibility of doing further stories in “Savage Sword” after his three-part serial ends, Tobin said, “I’ll do as much Conan material as editor Samantha Robertson wants me to do. Same with Solomon Kane. Additionally, I’d love to work with Dark Agnes, or Kull, or heck… any of them. Howard did solid work with the presentation of, ‘This is who this character is.’ They’re all so cleanly presented, and that makes them a joy to work with.”