Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dark Horse Comics,"Queen of the Black Coast"

I am a fan of all things Robert E. Howard, particularly Conan. I do not disdain pastiche, but I avoid bad pastiche. For that reason, when I want good Conan pastiche, I prefer it served in comic books.

Over the many years of my reading Conan comics and comics in general, I have read some great stuff and some not so great stuff. For me the Golden Era of Conan comics is with no doubt the black and white pages of Marvel comics The Savage Sword of Conan.

However, I have been reading the Dark Horse Conan, and all of their adaption of Robert E. Howard's creations since they began publishing them. Over all, they have done an admirable job. I have had mixed reactions to some of their stories and art choices, but it is good enough, I keep coming back for more.
Of particular interest to me is for months now, DH has been teasing their fans of an upcoming adaption of "Queen of the Black Coast". While I enjoy a well done Howard creation pastiche, I always welcome a new adaption of a Howard classic.

Having just read issue one of Conan the Barbarian, I can say that this will be an interesting adaption; however, I think some fans will hate it for the reason that I am digging it. Let me explain.

Artistic representations of Conan have changed very little over the years. This is due to the art of Frank Frazetta and John Buscema. Both did such an excellent job of capturing the visual imagination of Conan and comics fans, that their depictions of Conan stand over all other new comers. In other words, all depictions of Conan will be weighed against theirs. This is despite that fact that for thirty years Conan was not drawn to look any thing like Frazetta or Buscema's renderings (to see what I'm talking about, click here).

This adaption of Queen of the Black Coast will be illustrated by Becky Cloonan. I am not familiar with her previous work, but I am such a fan of the inherent sexiness that she is installed in her renderings of Belit thus far, that I will be seeking out her past and future work. To see what I mean, check out these interior pages from issue one.

Cloonan has not only made Belit sexy, she has also made her a bit scary. There is an under current of the forbidden or taboo in her drawing of her.

Frankly, this Belit appeals to me.

As I stated earlier though, some will not like her art, and it is specifically her interpretation of Conan that they will not like. Here is another interior image, this time of Conan.

Cloonan's Conan does not fit the mold made by Frazetta and Buscema. Her Conan is not a mountain of muscle. That will be the biggest complaint. At first I looked at her Conan and thought, this is not Conan; however, I am a big enough fan of her Belit, that I am willing to try to accept this rendering of Conan.

I think she has captured his youth well. This adventure takes place when Conan is still in his 20's. He is reckless, but has enough experience that when he boasts, he is not simply crowing, so to speak. Cloonan is concentrating on his roguishness and not his brawn. It is not an approach that most Conan artists would take, but I think it may be refreshing.

I am looking forward to issue 2, as it should more prominently feature Belit.

No comments:

Post a Comment