Thursday, March 3, 2011

Epic Illustrated #34: "Death of a Legend" (Tribute to Robert E. Howard)

In 1936 Robert E. Howard, depressed over the imminent death of his mother, killed himself. He was just 30 years old. His stories of Conan, epics of adolescent fantasies and fears, were forgotten for nearly two decades. Then gradually they began coming back into print, first as hardcovers and then, with striking covers by Frank Frazetta, as paperbacks.

Conan found his widest and most enthusiastic audience in the 1970s, thanks to Roy Thomas and Marvel Comics. Thomas began as a fan and by 1970 he was an editor and writer at Marvel, concentrating on superheroes. Although he is often given sole credit for deciding to adapt Howard's barbarian to the comic-book format, artist Gil Kane maintained that he was the one who originally got Thomas and Marvel interested in experimenting with the character. At any rate, Conan the Barbarian hit the newsstands in the fall of 1970.


Cover: Arthur Suydam
Script: Roy Thomas
Pencils and inks: Sandy Plunkett


Mike said...

I'm glad that you posted this, but it isn't clear exactly why he took his life. He wasn't upset over the death of his mother as you stated since he died before she did.

The Executioner said...

You're quite correct, my friend, and I knew that, too. I shall include the word "imminent" or "impending" to better clarify things.

A more detailed account courtesy of Wikipedia: "In June 1936, as Hester Howard slipped into her final coma, her son maintained a death vigil with his father and friends of the family, getting little sleep, drinking huge amounts of coffee, and growing more despondent. On the morning of June 11, 1936, told by a nurse that his mother would never again regain consciousness, he walked out to his car in the driveway, took the pistol from the glove box, and shot himself in the head."

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