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REH's Conan, How To Save The Franchise...


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#21 Kylel Ironclaw

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 03:30 AM

The best thing to do, I think, is adapt the stories as closely as they can, but not for film release. The problem is that Conan was not written for children, so it's a tough license to place. If you rework it to fit into the blessed "PG-13" slot, but then you change what's fundamental about it (same with the cartoons and the previous TV show, really). Unless it's a very anticipated release, "R" films usually don't do as well.

Take the "Spartactus" route and have a mini-series produced on a channel where what's on the page doesn't have to be cut back due to censors. Since it's not working on a release for the big screen, it would also have to cost less to ultimately get the same product. It worked wonders for Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and True Blood. With a miniseries, you can deliver a product that doesn't have to fit a single story into ~2 hours.

Hell, if they took a page from the Dark Horse comics and adapted how the story has progressed directly to the TV screen, it would be at least decent. I couldn't guarantee it would redeem what the license has been through before, but at least it would be a statement that "hey, this is what we're doing, as true to the source material as we can get. Take it or leave it." The core audience will always be there, but it's up to the average person to accept or reject what it's all about.

#22 Taranaich

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:36 AM

"Hour of the Dragon? What, did Michael Bay come up with that crappy title?"


"But there aren't even any dragons in the story! What a stupid title!"

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

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#23 Almuric

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 04:19 PM


"Hour of the Dragon? What, did Michael Bay come up with that crappy title?"


"But there aren't even any dragons in the story! What a stupid title!"


That was my second choice. :P
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Turlogh shook his head. "Not so long as the race lasts."


--- The Dark Man, by Robert E. Howard

#24 amster

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:04 PM


"Hour of the Dragon? What, did Michael Bay come up with that crappy title?"


"But there aren't even any dragons in the story! What a stupid title!"


That's what L. Sprague deCamp said. <_< Seriously, he did.
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--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#25 Dave the Rage

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 07:09 PM

AoC has a dragon in it, and I have killed it so many F^&ken times, and it keeps coming back!!! WTHell Funcom sort it out...... ;)
?I do not accept as matter of belief certain things in this history, or rather fiction; for some things are diabolical superstitions, some are poetical inventions, some have the semblance of truth, some have not; and some are meant for the entertainment of fools.? Book of Leinster ? 12th century

#26 duaneshadow

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 12:03 PM

I saw a volume of Conan stories in a Penguin Classics edition rubbing shoulders with Hemingway and Scott - Fitzgerald. That was a while ago though. An indication of his slow acceptance into the hallowed halls of literature.
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#27 RJMooreII

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:58 PM

I almost feel that people seem to think misunderstand the audience for Conan and the nature of the work. He's usually marketed as a kind of bully-boy tough guy, but it's more or less quasi-religious existential weird fiction that just happens to be so well written it's pretty suspenseful. Conan, I think, gives a really honest view of an ancient sense of worth and heroism that a pre-classical man, of basically decent character and incredible accomplishment, would be like. Conan reflects something of the Epic of Gilgamesh; the Pre-Nicene mythology so to speak.

Weird fiction is always about life at the edges of time, space, dream, geography. Conan is a bit of an existential trip to a world very much like our own but on which the vigorous dreams of modern man have been painted as a lurid past.

What will 'save' the franchise? This franchise is in no need of saving. We should just not be surprised when people misunderstand how awesome REH's work is. They are adopting bits of his cult into their culture. There is nothing wrong with virtually naked barbarians stabbing sorcerers. Seems like a legitimate genre. But what often gets lost is the subtext of what the relationship of temples to cities, nobles, and strangers was. Anthro-history in Howard's stories always get left out in favor or flash, I find.

Edited by RJMooreII, 15 April 2012 - 09:04 PM.

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#28 amster

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:25 PM

What will 'save' the franchise? This franchise is in no need of saving. We should just not be surprised when people misunderstand how awesome REH's work is. They are adopting bits of his cult into their culture.


I have to say that this is a real bone of contention with me when talking about the ignorant masses and their indifference or outright derision when it comes to Robert E. Howard, and more recetnly Edgar Rice Burroughs and the John Carter film. As you said, they've adopted these into their culture without even knowing it, and often won't even acknowledge it when it's pointed out them. With Conan, it's "looks like Xena meets the Scorpion King", and with John Carter it's "looks like Attack of the Clones meets Avatar", but what they fail to comprehend is that the creators of these franchises were only able to do so by standing on the sholders of Howard and Burroughs.
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--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#29 RJMooreII

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 10:48 PM


What will 'save' the franchise? This franchise is in no need of saving. We should just not be surprised when people misunderstand how awesome REH's work is. They are adopting bits of his cult into their culture.


I have to say that this is a real bone of contention with me when talking about the ignorant masses and their indifference or outright derision when it comes to Robert E. Howard, and more recetnly Edgar Rice Burroughs and the John Carter film. As you said, they've adopted these into their culture without even knowing it, and often won't even acknowledge it when it's pointed out them. With Conan, it's "looks like Xena meets the Scorpion King", and with John Carter it's "looks like Attack of the Clones meets Avatar", but what they fail to comprehend is that the creators of these franchises were only able to do so by standing on the sholders of Howard and Burroughs.

Well, even moreso, the subtlety and refinement of having dealt with original sources and iunderstanding context makes people like Howard and Lovecraft so differerent from their many imitators today; literary merits aside they are really writing a different kind of fiction that feeds on both american dime novels and ancient mythology. Sometimes I feel like taking Howard seriously in a film would almost be cast pearls before swine.
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#30 Dave the Rage

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:35 AM

I almost feel that people seem to think misunderstand the audience for Conan and the nature of the work. He's usually marketed as a kind of bully-boy tough guy, but it's more or less quasi-religious existential weird fiction that just happens to be so well written it's pretty suspenseful. Conan, I think, gives a really honest view of an ancient sense of worth and heroism that a pre-classical man, of basically decent character and incredible accomplishment, would be like. Conan reflects something of the Epic of Gilgamesh; the Pre-Nicene mythology so to speak.

Weird fiction is always about life at the edges of time, space, dream, geography. Conan is a bit of an existential trip to a world very much like our own but on which the vigorous dreams of modern man have been painted as a lurid past.

What will 'save' the franchise? This franchise is in no need of saving. We should just not be surprised when people misunderstand how awesome REH's work is. They are adopting bits of his cult into their culture. There is nothing wrong with virtually naked barbarians stabbing sorcerers. Seems like a legitimate genre. But what often gets lost is the subtext of what the relationship of temples to cities, nobles, and strangers was. Anthro-history in Howard's stories always get left out in favor or flash, I find.

I felt the same about Conan and what he has become since Holywood rolled him in mud of womanising, drinking, heroic do gooder! He is nothing like that according to Howard, and by far not a stand up guy as thomas and some pastichers have portrayed. He is a savage from the hills, thrown into a world to make ends meat in a tribal fuedal environment. He steals from the rich and feeds himself and his brethern who befriend him and sacrifices his blood for ends meat daily. I don't agree with your sentiments on him being decent, that is a civilised term to him, Howard would see him as like a wild beast that does not know decent, but just follows the code of the nature of his existance, kill or be killed etc. I hate when people try to cast him as hero and do good'er. I like him cast as what he was cast by Howard, hard nosed, determined, and focused too the end, destroying all in his wake. Hercules and beowulf may have give Howard inspiration but Conan is his creation and he fed the people of the Hoovervilles and recession hit Texans and further a field with a different type of anti hero (even that annoys me the term anti-hero). He presented man as it should be, violent, ragefull and a power to respect with no worth or value but steel and arm to wield it. Men today put weight in bank balance and the car they drive, and forget the one instinct that Conan had plenty off, intelligence and guile which personified Howard more. That comes out in Conan stories, from fighting winged bats to wolves, picts and beasts from the underworld. Howard was basically giving a message of Conan being more than brawn and steel, packaged in determination and will power to succeed or die in the trying. He sculpted Conan well before he left his mortal coil indeed, but not as a symbol for hero's and do gooders, more for us to realise if this world fell to shit as his did then, we would pick up steel and use the same will power in our own endeavours to come and succeed or die trying. :)

(Turned into a speech lol there soz) :P

I hold Howard's writing above even the greats, Hemmingway and Yeats, I believe his message goes to the core of my DNA in some way. It feeds a passion that no other writer has ever done for me, seriously. I love other writers and enjoy some contemporary ones like China Meville to name one, but Howard I reread every now and again, I dont the others, why is that? Maybe because his stories are short, but they cast so many different visuals in my mind, they remind me of getting high as a youth, as no other high was ever the same lol. Howard's stories do the same thing to me, fun at the time until the next time which I will no doubt read again and feel some different part of me touched mentally.

When you talk of modern times, I can't see Conan being a free man if he existed today, this mad house of so called civilisation would be the destruction of him as we are but sheep now in the new world order, poked, proded and injected with crap to make Conan run the hell out of concrete jungles and head for the Brazillian rain forests......while they last. :)

The movie franchise is just a corner of Howard's universe that he created for us as fans, like many of his yarns, some are great some are ok, the same can be said of many attempts to bring Conan to the screen. In reality we will always have misses till the masses get to see Howard's yarns as more than what they are perceived as, little stories from pulp mags. If scholars can see their worth that have studied REH and think he deserves a higher placing in the echelons of HArvard or Oxford, then they need to look deeper and see that his stories where a perceptive take of the age that Howard lived in, mixed with wonder and imagination of a genious whose minds eye touched into the fathomless depths of mankinds past, which he put to paper for us all. He was intune with his fibre and every nucleus bled his will onto paper, he burnt himself out giving us these great tales. To me he deserves to be placed higher than that of the greats....he give his all to them stories and his life.

Hereth ended the sermon.....as he cracks open another brewsky.

Edited by Dave the Rage, 03 May 2012 - 12:46 AM.

?I do not accept as matter of belief certain things in this history, or rather fiction; for some things are diabolical superstitions, some are poetical inventions, some have the semblance of truth, some have not; and some are meant for the entertainment of fools.? Book of Leinster ? 12th century

#31 Spartan198

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 07:45 PM

While I love swashbucklers like The Musketeer (Or even Pirates of the Caribbean) and the Prince of Persia movies, that sort of family friendly cartoonish violence just wouldn't work for Conan.

But if you give the games a try, you'd see the violence level for the movie was toned down significantly and is a deviation from the source material. Warrior Within, in particular, had dismemberments, decapitations, enemies getting halved both down the middle and at the waist, complete with gore, and one very prominent close up of the protagonist calling one of the antagonists a "bitch". The movie might have been made family friendly, but the game franchise it was based on definitely is not.

Edited by Spartan198, 12 May 2012 - 07:47 PM.

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#32 ollonois

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 04:11 PM

when HPL was published in Spain in the 70's happened a curious thing, the young and not so young people of that times fans of progressive rock, underground art, hippies and pseudo hippies bought massively the books, it was a kind of fashion people who didn't read fantasy were casual readers of Lovecraft, but this were other times

Edited by ollonois, 13 June 2012 - 04:11 PM.

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#33 Mark Finn

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 09:39 PM

Having just come back from Howard Days, my regular pilgrimage, I have a couple of thoughts about this. One arena that Howard has been critically under-represented is the field of academic critique and criticism. There are a number of reasons for this, chief among them is the idea put forth by de Camp and his followers that the Conan stories aren't especially deep and meaningful and that they should be thought of as mere escapism. This of course is bull-pucky. But it kept Conan out of the college classrooms (though I do think that the Conan comics were at home in the underground) in the sixties and seventies when Tolkien and other fantasy authors were first being discussed.

That's changed quite a bit and it's because in the last ten to fifteen years a large group of standardized texts have emerged so that we are all talking about the same stories, written the same way. Also, there is a tremendous upswing in pop culture studies with critical books and magazines appearing to seriously discuss all kinds of popular culture--even the stuff we don't like at all. Here's where Howard is finding a foothold, and I think that as more people are shown in print and discussion that this work has serious messages and themes are are repeatable, examinable, and credible, you'll start to see a his work being taken more seriously by pop culture in general. Kind of a diffusion process.

Having written several of these papers, I can assure you that interest is high to see Howard's work presented in such a light, at least among the academic community. Something to consider.
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#34 Libaax

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 12:11 AM

I did take a literary class recently that talked about modern fantasy history and writers. I could see clearly the damage that De Camp and other who dimissed Conan stories early did. The teacher mentioned pioneers like Lord Dunsany, Morris,MacDonald and then Tolkien but heroic fantasy/S&S was jumped over like the subgenre, Howard and co didnt ever happen. Several of the students reacted why Sword and Sorcery, Howard,other early S&S wasnt mentioned.

More interest in academic community can make Conan stories more fantasy literarture respected. There is critical respect with Penguins,American Library and other critics but there needs more academic works.

So in the future Howard and Conan and co are beside Lord Dunsany,Tolkien etc

Edited by Libaax, 14 June 2012 - 12:12 AM.