So I did another podcast thing.
I was a panelist again on Radio Vs. the Martians! If anything, recording this episode was even more fun than the last time I did the show.
This time Mike and Casey invited me to join them and occasional CSBG writer Pol Rua on the panel to talk about Conan the barbarian, which as regular readers of this column know, is a topic I have no trouble going on about at length… and Pol’s pretty knowledgeable on the subject as well. But mostly we were just delighted to have the chance to shoot the breeze at all– we were in Tacoma and Pol’s down under in Brisbane, so we don’t really get to hang out. Even over the phone it was almost as hilarious as it was having Pol actually here at the CBR Northwest dinner a few months ago, and I think that sense of fun comes across in the show. It must have been hell to edit because we kept making each other laugh and burying the actual words; Mike did an amazing job cleaning up the audio.
The episode is here. Go check it out– fair warning, it’s almost two hours– and when you’re done, I have a couple of footnotes.
Corrections first. I made sure to note it on the site itself, but in my attempt to credit the inventor of the “Fuck Yeah! Files” feature at Dave’s Long Box, I said “David Campiti” when my brain was trying to tell me to say Dave Campbell. I don’t know why I got as far as the first syllable “Cam” and then completely screwed it up. The two have almost nothing in common except they’re from comics. But anyway, it’s Dave Campbell who does the blog that gave us the FUCK YEAH! moment. Apologies to both Daves.
Also, when I said “Viking Press hardcovers” I meant the Donald M. Grant hardcovers. Again, I have no idea how that odd little brain fart came to be except that maybe I somehow cross-connected my lovely Grant edition of Tigers of the Sea, Howard’s book about Vikings that Julie got for me a couple of years back at the Antiquarian Book Fair, with the actual Viking Press imprint.
But for the record, it’s Donald M. Grant that did all those beautiful books. (Complete list here.)
Apart from that, I think everything else we cited as factual is pretty accurate. As for all the opinionating, well, of course, your mileage may vary. But we tried to keep it upbeat and amusing.
Talking about the choice I made back when I was thirteen in order to get my first issue of Savage Sword past my mother– Conan was relatively palatable compared to the other Marvel magazine on the rack, which was Marvel Preview #7, featuring Satana the Devil’s Daughter– got me so nostalgic that I came home and pulled out both comics again. (The Marvel Preview I finally scored about three years ago, though you can find the Satana story in Essential Marvel Horror volume one and I’d already had that one for a while.)
I remembered knowing even back then that I was getting away with something when I got the parental okay on Savage Sword #14, but I’d forgotten how much. Turns out it was a lot.
On the whole, “Shadows in Zamboula” as adapted by Roy Thomas and Neal Adams is really quite naughty. The cannibals are incredibly politically incorrect– I think this may be the most racist Howard ever got in a Conan story– and Adams’ depiction of them is thoroughly creepy. If this had been published in the age of the internet it would have been incendiary.
But more relevant to thirteen-year-old me, my mother would have had a fit over the topless dancing girl, despite her strategically-placed tresses.
Of course, I knew to keep it out of sight. Honestly, Mom probably would have freaked out over Solomon Kane and the werewolf too. Mom’s freak-out bar was set pretty low.
Man, that was the hell of a comic. I’d completely forgotten about the Kull glossary and the Brunner pin-up, too.
But I remembered David Kraft’s book review of Worms of the Earth for almost forty years… which was why I gloated so, a few months ago, when I found a pretty nice edition of that volume from a dealer for about five dollars.
That, Almuric, and the aforementioned Tigers of the Sea make three of the Howard hardcovers (from Donald M. Grant dammit!) here in the library now.
They’re on the short list when we’re out bookscouting, it’s one of those little grail quests I pick at. The Antiquarian Book Fair is coming up in a couple of weeks and maybe we’ll find a couple there for not too much money. (And maybe I’ll sprout wings and fly to Hawaii, which is about as likely. But one can hope.)
The other interesting thing I discovered, when I pulled out that Satanic copy of Marvel Preview, is that it’s become a stealth collector’s item in the three years or so since I acquired it. I think I paid about two bucks for mine, it was part of a miscellaneous eBay lot I picked up a while back. It’s gone up quite a bit since then. Not because of the Devil’s Daughter– though that story by Chris Claremont and Vincente Alcazar is pretty good, and, ironically, quite a bit tamer on the Hatcher’s Mom scale than “Shadows in Zamboula.”
No, it’s shot up in price because the backup story from Bill Mantlo aqnd Keith Giffen, concluding “The Sword in the Star,” happens to be the first appearance of current Marvel movie sensation Rocket Raccoon.
If anyone had asked me back in the day which character from this comic would end up a big deal in Hollywood, I think it would have taken me seven or eight guesses before I even got to the raccoon. Which just goes to show you how crazy it is to ever try and call these things, but we keep trying. It’s kind of nice to find out I own such a coveted collector’s item, although I really can’t believe this guy is seriously going to get THAT price.
In any case, I can’t help wondering… if Mom had known it was such a good investment, would she have unclenched about it at all? “Collector’s Item” might have sold it…
Oh well. Considering how much fun I’ve had with Robert E. Howard’s books as well as sword-and-sorcery fiction just generally in all the years since then, it probably worked out for the best.
See you next week.
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