The Conan Companion

Sunday , 17, May 2020 1 Comment

There are few truly enduring characters of popular culture: Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, James Bond are first string. Doc Savage, The Man with No Name, Batman are in the list. You can’t argue with the inclusion of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian. The character is primal which probably accounts for the continued popularity in prose and comic-books.

Conan the Cimmerian has a now long history of presentation in the paperback book form. Richard Toogood’s The Conan Companion is a history that gives some degree of the sometimes tangle publishing of the character. An introductory piece “Crom’s Tomes” appeared in The Paperback Fanatic 41 in 2019 at 10 pages. The Conan Companion is full 8.5 x 11 page at 107 pages, softcover.

Comic-book legend Roy Thomas provides a one-page foreword. Toogood has a two-page introduction on the genesis of this book and explanations on what is included.

The emphasis of this book is on Conan the Cimmerian in English. Rich would love to do a globe encompassing project but that was beyond his finances.

Chapters are devoted to the path to the paperbacks, Lancer Books, Sphere, Berkley, Ace, Bantam, Tor, Legend, Millennial, and an afterward. The book is profusely illustrated with high-quality reproductions of often iconic paperback book cover art by Frank Frazetta, Ken Kelly, Blas Gallego. The text accompanying the pictures tells the tale of back-door deals, corporate mergers, and in-fighting among copyright holders with some comments along the way. Drama and beauty are contained in this history of the paperback Conan.

I learned a few things about the U.K. editions. This book works as a history of paperback art from the 1950s through today. Rich has an opinion on some subjects (i.e. L. Sprague de Camp) and is not bashful to give it. Some of you might remember his letters to the Conan comic-books in the 1980s and 90s.

I had a small hand in this book with at least one scan. Rich needed one for an issue of Planet Stories and I happen to have an almost complete run of Planet.

This book goes next to Roy Thomas’ Conan: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Savage Barbarian and Paul Sammon’s Conan the Phenomenon. The Conan Companion is a popular culture history that anyone can enjoy whether someone who knows nothing about the character, a long time fan, or even a professor!

You can order at Amazon. Cost is $14.92.

One Comment
  • John E. Boyle says:

    I have Roy Thomas’s book but this looks interesting. Maybe I should take a look at Mr. Toogood’s other work.

    Thanks for the tip!

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