Home Forums Fantasy General Fantasy Conan – What Inspires You? Reply To: Conan – What Inspires You?


Will anyone mind if I post some relevant quotes from the other thread that spawned this one, just in case any new readers haven’t been following that thread? It’s quicker and easier than repeating the thoughts I voiced there in re-worded form. Basically, my line of thinking revolves a lot around the notion of “many Conans”, or rather “many Hyborian Ages”, each the result of a different interpretation.

Of course, as I have all the restraint of a drunk in a distillery, I may well end out pursuing the world of Hyboria in multiple scales. The travel pack is a good idea. One thing I’m not especially tempted by, for whatever reason, is large scale, army actions. The fates of dynasties and nations I can easily forego; instead give me small, sharp actions, with our favourite barbarian as a thief with a few companions, up against a wizard or a king and his bully boys – perhaps an eldritch horror or two – and I’m set. Nice and focused, just like AB’s been doing on the Crom’s Anvil site. I don’t want to hijack the thread, but currently I’m having great fun picking up characters in 28mm. The Otherworld demon idol is likewise exerting siren-like pull…

I’m collecting figures for two different Conan skirmish projects in 28mm and an additional one in 15mm. I’ve been amassing 28mm figures for Conan gaming for more than ten years, though I’ve not achieved much in the way of painting them. For several years that was the only project I had – I’d fooled myself that I’d scrapped all other projects so that the entirety of my miniature gaming hobby was the Hyborian Age in 28mm. Eventually I took up other projects again, and when I returned to assess my Conan hoard I came to feel that it was too eclectic a mix of figures. The brunt was historical figures but there were also some really fantastical fantasticals that jarred with the historicals. So, I split it into two projects. One uses mainly historical figures and is more in keeping with REH’s original vision. The other is much more OTT, drawing mainly from the films, the comics (both Marvel and Dark Horse), the artwork from the 60s onward (Frazetta, Vallejo, etc) and the video game visuals. The former project is more extensive than the latter. The 15mm project coalesced much more recently thanks to TWW. I suppose that in terms of style it’s more of an amalgam or a golden mean, but if I had to define the style as any one thing, the Marvel comics would be it. The Conan comics are just about the only thing Marvel ever made that I like.

Rhoderic, I find your approach to Conan fascinating. And strangely tempting. I tend to drift a little in the Fantasy direction myself: I love painting evil, frequently bald, sorcerous types, monsters and so forth – the bigger the better – and so to some degree that determines the figures on the workbench. Having said that, quasi-historical humans should always be the main features of a Conan story. Next up for yours truly are Picts: I’m using the Monolith plastics. I’m not sure they’re exactly what Howard had in mind, but they just look so very, very cool, at least to my eyes. I look forward to doing the warpaint.

I suppose the “central tenet” of my approach is that there’s numerous visual interpretations of the Hyborian Age (and the Atlantean Age that goes with it). We’re talking about 8-9 decades of interpretations – each made after its own “spirit of the age” – in several different visual media and partly different subcultures within the grand topography of fantasy fan culture. Even looking at just one medium, the comics, there’s a very distinct difference between the 70s-90s Marvel aesthetic and the noughties-onwards Dark Horse one (and there’s a few other, more obscure comic adaptations too). I like to call these “fur loincloth Conan” (Marvel) and “kilt Conan” (Dark Horse)   Each visual interpretation has bastardised REH’s vision in one way or another – even the original cover artists for Weird Tales magazine were “getting it wrong” from the start – but that’s not the point. The point is, each visual has worth in and of itself, and they can exist side-by-side as different, discrete things. I for my part can’t really decide which visual is my favourite, so I like to jump from one to another, because I can. My previous mistake with my 28mm project was trying to weld too many of them together into one thing. Taking Picts as an example, I think the Monolith boardgame ones would suit my deliberately OTT 28mm Conan project perfectly if only there were a few more poses of them. For my more down-to-earth 28mm Conan project, I’ve chosen Gripping Beast Skraelings (although now I can’t remember whether I’ve actually bought them or not, and they seem to be OOP now  ). For the 15mm project, the Copplestone Picts were part of what informed my chosen aesthetic in the first place.

Rhoderic, all that you say is interesting. Personally, my inspiration almost all comes, I realize now, from Frazetta’s paintings (and then, not all of them), with a few sprinkles of the first Arnie Conan film, along with, somewhat oddly, the old 80’s film, The Beastmaster (Conan for kids) I couldn’t agree more regarding those early Weird Tales covers. Most of them are quite ridiculous, looking more like Nick from The Great Gatsby, stripped and in shorts, than our favourite iron-thewed Cimmerian. Don’t even get me going about the women…Did they even read the stories?

I have some more thoughts on the general subject of Hyborian Age inspiration, I’ll try to convey them as best I can when I have the time.