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A brief history of Conan the Barbarian

Brian Phillips:

The Conan franchise didn’t succeed in spite of its tie to Depression-era Texas. It succeeded because of it. Its beginnings in Howard’s tough, weird environment let it build, and then continually renovate, an awesome story around a strain of American neurosis — the idea that civil society is about to collapse, and then it’s just you and the road and your sword. That’s a fantasy that tends to spring up in hard times, obviously, when cultural decline is combined with a suspicion of collective action. It’s probably unrealistic to hope that the new Conan will justify itself in terms of the debt-ceiling deal. But either way, Howard’s sullen killing machine, with his ​“gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth,” will keep winding his bizarre path through American history. Case in point: President Barack Obama collects the comic books.

The comparison/​contrast with The Lord of the Rings is quite interesting. Via More Than 95 Theses.


Read more about Brian Phillips, Conan, and Robert E Howard.

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