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Is Roy Thomas A Howardian Writer?

best pastiche author?

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#1 ollonois

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 12:39 AM

I think is in a spanish forum, or maybe in the reh forum... <_< ...??? that I read that Roy Thomas is the best author of pastiches and a very howardian writer, do you believe so? are his comics really better than,say, Conan and the road of the kings by Karl Edward Wagner? his adaptations of REH are some of the best comics I have read but his own stories, being interesting and really entertaining, are slightly more De Camp or Lin Carter for me, I mean more swashbuckling and adventure than real barbarism or blood and thunder
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#2 emerald

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 04:21 AM

I think is in a spanish forum, or maybe in the reh forum... <_< ...??? that I read that Roy Thomas is the best author of pastiches and a very howardian writer, do you believe so? are his comics really better than,say, Conan and the road of the kings by Karl Edward Wagner? his adaptations of REH are some of the best comics I have read but his own stories, being interesting and really entertaining, are slightly more De Camp or Lin Carter for me, I mean more swashbuckling and adventure than real barbarism or blood and thunder


I think Roy is, first and foremost, a comic book fan and that his writing outside of Marvel's Conan mags was not generally Howardian at all, but that he was able to bring REH's vision and world-view to the four-color page as well as he did because he respected Howard's work and wanted to bring it to comics as accurately as possible under the circumstances.

But there were circumstances. Sometimes I think too many modern readers dismiss Thomas's achievement with Conan, who seem unaware of the times in which Thomas first brought the barbarian to comics.
Given the compromised literary status of REH at the time, the conditions Thomas had to work with at Marvel (where nobody seemed to have a clue about REH save himself), the irritating strictures of the Comics Code, and the demands of turning out story after story, month after month, for years on end, I wonder how many other authors might have been able to produce anything nearly as consistent, enjoyable and REH-friendly.
Please note what became of the Marvel comic after he left.

So I don't think you could call Thomas the most Howardian author ever to write Conan pastiche, but comparing his work to Wagner's Road of Kings isn't quite fair-- that's a single story, and a fine one, but written by a guy who was free of the constraints and demands that Thomas dealt with on a routine basis.

This was a Marvel Comics Conan, and yes, it was an ongoing serial story and it's darkness and violence were subdued compared to the original, but given what it was and when it was created it could not have been anything else.
Yet compared to most of the other comics on the stands at the time it was a scarlet revelation. Just about everything else seemed like weak tea compared to it. I know there are those who dislike hearing it, but I think Roy Thomas did more to popularize and spread the word about Conan and REH than anyone.

#3 Dan N.

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 06:04 AM

Roy Thomas also put out a pretty good Conan coffee table book that's a bit dated now, but has some great artwork and is overall an excellent way to get a feel for the Hyborian Age. And it's also on sale on Amazon for ten bucks. http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B003D7JYF4/ No, I'm not getting any profits out of that. I bought one and I'm quite pleased with it. It does an okay job separating the original Howard material from what has come after. It's not what I'd turn to if I wanted to write an essay about Conan, but it's good eye candy and something to thumb through when I don't have time to sit down and read a whole story.

Now I really do sound like an ad. Well, I figure I'm being an ad for something Conan-related, so I'm at peace with that!

#4 Ironhand

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 09:25 AM

Thomas may not be the best pastichier who ever lived, but he was better at pastiching Howard than deCamp and/or Carter, and they were pretty good. And he was infinitely better than any movie director who ever directed a Conan movie.

Edited by Ironhand, 04 May 2012 - 09:26 AM.

"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#5 ZackDavisson

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 07:27 PM

I have that Conan book too! I also recommend it!

I don't know about being a "Howardian writer," but I know Roy Thomas loves and respects Howard as much as anyone alive. He was crimped by the Comics Code Authority, and what was allowed at the time ... he goes into detail about that in the introductions to some of the collections.

#6 Kane

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 07:47 PM

I'll have to agree with the over all opinion. Thomas was a better pastiche writer then a number of others who penned a Conan story. But not only the Comic Code, but having to fit in a monthly story and meet editorial demands did, imo, limit what he was able to do with the character.
I think it might have been interesting if he had a chance to write just write a Conan pastiche as a novel. No limits, no Code, no restrictions. In that case I believe we would be holding his novel on the same level as the better pastiche writers out there.
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#7 Dave the Rage

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:53 AM

Late to the discussion, but my pennies worth would say that Roy would do a good piece or story of Conan. He to me seems to make Conan speak with how I would imagine him speak, using the right words and actions when he writes about his adventures. One thing that comes to mind is that he has wrote so many different stories about conan which I still reread today happily. If we look at his contributions to Conan, then his stories have a bigger scope than any of the other writers in the past and current, he has given us more and deserves recognition for this imo.

I would so love to see if write an epic Coinan story as big as any novel out there, maybe even a series so we can judge him against other good Conan pastichers. Would be great :)
?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

#8 Roquefort Raider

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 08:51 PM

I think is in a spanish forum, or maybe in the reh forum... <_< ...??? that I read that Roy Thomas is the best author of pastiches and a very howardian writer, do you believe so? are his comics really better than,say, Conan and the road of the kings by Karl Edward Wagner?


Well, I don't know about being Howardian per se, because Howard had so many facets to his character and to his writing. It would be pretty hard for anyone to be a truly Howardian writer without losing one's own voice and originality; it would demand too much imitation. When it comes to adventure and to the historical feel, though, I think Roy is indeed the best of the Howard pastiche writers. As far as I'm concerned, he wrote scores of Conan stories that were far superior to Wagner's road of kings. The Tarim war, the Bêlit and Tsotha-Lanti origin stories, the Turanian army episodes... they were all classics.

Roy was less into straight horror than Howard, that's true; he did emphasize the swashbuckling. But for my money, nobody apart from Howard himnself ever rendered the Hyborian age, in all its pseudo-historical glory, as well as Thomas did.

#9 Dave the Rage

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 09:12 PM


I think is in a spanish forum, or maybe in the reh forum... <_< ...??? that I read that Roy Thomas is the best author of pastiches and a very howardian writer, do you believe so? are his comics really better than,say, Conan and the road of the kings by Karl Edward Wagner?


Well, I don't know about being Howardian per se, because Howard had so many facets to his character and to his writing. It would be pretty hard for anyone to be a truly Howardian writer without losing one's own voice and originality; it would demand too much imitation. When it comes to adventure and to the historical feel, though, I think Roy is indeed the best of the Howard pastiche writers. As far as I'm concerned, he wrote scores of Conan stories that were far superior to Wagner's road of kings. The Tarim war, the Bêlit and Tsotha-Lanti origin stories, the Turanian army episodes... they were all classics.

Roy was less into straight horror than Howard, that's true; he did emphasize the swashbuckling. But for my money, nobody apart from Howard himnself ever rendered the Hyborian age, in all its pseudo-historical glory, as well as Thomas did.

He used Howards original stories with permission from the late Glenn Lord to start off the Conan franchise with MArvel with BWS.
Roy Thomas managed to talk Glenn Lord into allowing him to adapt one of Howard's most colourful literary pieces, The Tower of the Elephant and Barry Windsor Smith enjoyed this story out of most, Roy states, 'Tower of the Elephant which had quickly become my favourite tale of all as an issue of Conan'. The next one being 'The Grim Grey God Passes', also ''The Blonde Goddess of Bal-sagoth'. Roy wrote,'...I was furiously reading everything by REH I could get my hands on, much of it unpublished and courtesy of Glen Lord,...'.

Roy talks about reading The Howard Collector, published by Glenn Lord in order to copyright Howard's materials in his possession. He found nice little gems in there to work from, 'Two against Tyre' and with Glenn's blessing he changed the heading to 'Two against Turan' and created another solid Conan story and tried sticking to timelines already set by Howard and others.

Excert from a written piece I did on the late Glenn Lord above, but Roy Thomas would not have been able to write these great stories without using Howard's originals stories, it shaped him to be a good writer for the future of Conan stories. He was the best because at the time because of the adaptations of the REH stories, but some of the modern ones like Road of Kings was good, but no where as good as Garden of Fear etc....imo.
?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

#10 ollonois

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 12:38 AM

hey I mention Conan and the road of the kings by Karl Edward Wagner not as a random example but as the best pastiche novel in my opinion
For I am the Bringer of War
I am The Bearer Of The Black Sword
and my name will be known to all
Lord Elric of the Bright Empire of Melnibone
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#11 Dave the Rage

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 01:59 AM

hey I mention Conan and the road of the kings by Karl Edward Wagner not as a random example but as the best pastiche novel in my opinion

It was indeed a good novel, but Roy Thomas has not wrote a novel yet of Conan, as he done just pastiche Comic scripts. Would love to see him do a novel thouhg, would maybe be as good as any imo.
?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

#12 ollonois

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 01:51 PM

comic writers like Bruce Jones or Chris Claremont have written novels, could be interesting to read a Conan novel write by Thomas
For I am the Bringer of War
I am The Bearer Of The Black Sword
and my name will be known to all
Lord Elric of the Bright Empire of Melnibone
The Dragonlord

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#13 Ironhand

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:20 AM

DH should hire Thomas IMMEDIATELY to write a QotBC story arc for them. With different artists.

Edited by Ironhand, 14 June 2012 - 07:21 AM.

"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#14 RJMooreII

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 11:29 PM

DH should hire Thomas IMMEDIATELY to write a QotBC story arc for them. With different artists.

Yeah, I stopped buying after issue 1. 'Conan the Teen Titan' makes my stomach reel.
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#15 Dave the Rage

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 12:19 AM

DH should hire Thomas IMMEDIATELY to write a QotBC story arc for them. With different artists.

Just a thought, would you consider reading a Queen of the Black Coast rewrite by Thomas as an expanded novel of his years with Belit on the sea? (as an expanded novel like story?)
?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

#16 deuce

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 12:29 AM


I think is in a spanish forum, or maybe in the reh forum... <_< ...??? that I read that Roy Thomas is the best author of pastiches and a very howardian writer, do you believe so? are his comics really better than,say, Conan and the road of the kings by Karl Edward Wagner? his adaptations of REH are some of the best comics I have read but his own stories, being interesting and really entertaining, are slightly more De Camp or Lin Carter for me, I mean more swashbuckling and adventure than real barbarism or blood and thunder


I think Roy is, first and foremost, a comic book fan and that his writing outside of Marvel's Conan mags was not generally Howardian at all, but that he was able to bring REH's vision and world-view to the four-color page as well as he did because he respected Howard's work and wanted to bring it to comics as accurately as possible under the circumstances.

But there were circumstances. Sometimes I think too many modern readers dismiss Thomas's achievement with Conan, who seem unaware of the times in which Thomas first brought the barbarian to comics.
Given the compromised literary status of REH at the time, the conditions Thomas had to work with at Marvel (where nobody seemed to have a clue about REH save himself), the irritating strictures of the Comics Code, and the demands of turning out story after story, month after month, for years on end, I wonder how many other authors might have been able to produce anything nearly as consistent, enjoyable and REH-friendly.
Please note what became of the Marvel comic after he left.

So I don't think you could call Thomas the most Howardian author ever to write Conan pastiche, but comparing his work to Wagner's Road of Kings isn't quite fair-- that's a single story, and a fine one, but written by a guy who was free of the constraints and demands that Thomas dealt with on a routine basis.

This was a Marvel Comics Conan, and yes, it was an ongoing serial story and it's darkness and violence were subdued compared to the original, but given what it was and when it was created it could not have been anything else.
Yet compared to most of the other comics on the stands at the time it was a scarlet revelation. Just about everything else seemed like weak tea compared to it. I know there are those who dislike hearing it, but I think Roy Thomas did more to popularize and spread the word about Conan and REH than anyone.


Right on, Mr. Hocking. B)

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