Thursday, November 30, 2017

Admittedly, it's not a name that rolls off the tongue.

When I found these in the dollar bin, I thought they were just another attempt to cash in on the sword-and-sorcery, barbarian comics of the seventies. Or a clever way to burn off some Conan the Barbarian fill-in issues, by changing some of the names, hair color, etc. Imagine my surprise at finding out this guy could've been Conan!

From 1973, Creatures on the Loose #23, "Where Broods the Demon!" Written by George Effinger, pencils by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta; Creatures on the Loose #24, "Red Swords, Black Wings!" Written by George Alec Effinger, pencils by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta; Creatures on the Loose #25, "The Wizard of Lemuria!" Written by George Effinger and Tony Isabella, pencils by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta; and from 1974, Creatures on the Loose #27, "In the Crypts of Yamath!" Written by Gardner Fox, pencils by Val Mayerick, inks by Vicente Alcazar.

Per the Wikipedia page for Conan comics, Roy Thomas mentions thinking Marvel wouldn't be able to get the rights for Conan, so he was trying to get Lin Carter's character Thongor instead. When they hit a delay with Carter's agent, Thomas went after Conan again, and this time got him. He mentions that he offered more than was approved for Conan, so then the book's first choice of artists, John Buscema, was priced out; and they had to go with a more budget choice: Barry Windsor-Smith! It becomes a "What If" scenario: if Thongor had been published first instead of Conan, would it have been drawn by Buscema? Would Thomas have still written it, and would it have taken off?

That's actually a bit more interesting to think about than these actual comics, really. And I've mentioned before, when looking at some Warlord issues he inked, that I usually didn't have a problem with Vince Colletta, but his issues seem less polished than #27 with Vicente Alcazar inks. (Or maybe Mayerick's art was coming together, but I think the former.) Thongor himself seems fairly Conan-like, although a bit more willing to associate with wizards; and his world had at least some airships that would be reminiscent of John Carter of Mars. His epithets aren't as well-formed as Conan's either; since he calls out to the nineteen gods, the "seven gods of Zangabal!" his sire "Thumitar," and "Gorm!" all in the space of a single issue!

I hadn't seen these comics before, but I had read the title before and after this! Some years back, we looked at Creatures on the Loose #21 with John Carter precursor Gullivar Jones. Thongor would continue until Creatures on the Loose #29, then the title would be taken over by Man-Wolf.

No comments: