Fans gathered at the Hollywood Things From Another World store to celebrate the release of Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #3, which features classic Conan stories as well as new comic adaptations of Howard’s prose.
Feasting on roasted ham and beef, the patrons were able to meet writers Josh Williamson (Sketch Monsters), Paul Tobin (Gingerbread Girl), Jeremy Barlow (Super-Size Me) and artist Patric Reynolds (Let Me In). Clean Plate Catering provided other modern Cimmerian dishes including succulent grapes, gruel (cheese grits) and chocolate Guinness cake.
Dark Horse Comics provided Conan-themed prizes for a free raffle. Posters for the event featured the issue’s cover and the four guests making their best barbarian faces. Fans and guests were photographed in front of a green screen with sword and shield, to be added to their own cover on TFAW’s Facebook page.
While not all of the guests had grown up on stories of Howard’s warrior, a few had fond memories, including Spider-Girl author Paul Tobin, who remembered weekly trips into town for groceries.
“I would head right for MAD Magazine and Savage Sword of Conan,” he recalled.
Jeremy Barlow (Dethklok) also read Savage Sword of Conan, but being a bit younger was concerned about the content.
“I would hide it from my parents,” he said. “There was something about the black-and-white art that made it seem different from regular comics.”
Barlow had read the comics and seen the 80s movies, but had not read any of Howard’s original stories before being hired on for the new Savage Sword anthology.
“I was expecting more of Roy Thomas’ flowery prose,” he remembered, “but when I started reading Howard, I found lean writing, almost Hemingwayesque.”
He also found that Howard wrote more than sword-and-sorcery. A longtime fan of the western, Barlow adapted a posthumously-published story based on Howard’s cowboy hero The Sonora Kid. To prepare for the task, he spent the summer reading Howard’s wild west tales.
“I thought it was going to be work,” Barlow said with a grin.
Artist Patric Reynolds, who is currently drawing The Northman Nightmare, a web-based prequel to the upcoming The Thing remake, was also taking a diverging path.
“It’s a detective story,” he said, “which is about the farthest you can get from Conan!”
The story, “Pinot Noir,” was the first pairing of Reynolds with Dear Dracula writer Josh Williamson, but it also marked another new experience for the artist.
“It was the first time I contributed to a story,” Reynolds said. “I felt like I could respond to Josh with ideas for changes to the layout.”
Editor Patrick Thorpe was also in attendance, feeling comfortable at a gathering of people he considered “family.” Also spotted among the crowd were a number of Portland comics folk that included Chris Samnee, David Hahn, Brandon Seifert, and members of the Angel Punk team Devon Lyon and Jake Rossman.