Marvel Comics’ publishing rights to Robert E. Howard’s classic Cimmerian Conan have once again expired, as announced back in June, finding a new home at Titan Comics.
The character, made famous in the pages of Weird Tales magazine back in the 1930s, has seen a storied journey as his rights have bounced from one publisher to another. Howard, the father of the “Sword & Sorcery” genre, only wrote Conan for a few short years, completing 21 stories (and starting another 17) beginning in 1932, up until his suicide in 1936 at the age of 30.
Many of his unfinished works were completed by other authors (Wheel of Time‘s Robert Jordan among them) and published after his death. In the decades since Howard’s death, the character has seen numerous iterations but endured his popularity. Perhaps no print version though is more recognized than the one put out by Marvel Comics starting in 1970, written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith to start, and later by John Buscema. The look of Buscema’s Conan, which he drew on and off from 1980 till 1999, is, in my mind, the definitive version of the character.
The comic license for Conan would stay at Marvel for over 30 years before Dark Horse picked it up and started publishing Conan books in 2003. After an extended run with the character, Marvel reacquired the rights in 2018, where they have integrated him into the main continuity pretty heavily, teaming him with a team of Savage Avengers and teaming him up with Dr. Doom and Kang the Conqueror to stop classic Conan villain Kulan Gath.
Upon releasing the rights, Marvel chose to send the character back to his Hyborian Age, giving him a fitting send-off as he sacrifices his place in the present to send the rest of the team home, thus leaving the door open for a possible reunion down the road. But for now, Titan Comics will take the reigns.
As announced by CBR back on Halloween;
CBR can exclusively reveal that Titan Comics, working alongside entertainment studio Heroic Signatures, will be co-publishing a new, ongoing Conan the Barbarian comic book series. Launching in July 2023, the series will see the return of longtime Conan scribe Jim Zub (Thunderbolts, Uncanny Avengers), and feature the artwork of illustrator Roberto De La Torre (King-Size Conan, Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and colorist José Villarrubia (Promethea, Sweet Tooth). Sharing a first look at De La Torre’s art for the title, Titan promises, “This will kick off a brand-new, exhilarating series of comics of characters from across the Conan and wider Robert E. Howard mythos!”
Those names should be familiar to Conan comic fans. Jim Zub wrote on Marvel’s recent run of Conan the Barbarian, as well as recent work on Red Sonja, Thunderbolts, Murder World, D&D-based stories with Rick & Morty and Stranger Things.
For the art side of things, Roberto De La Torre will pencil the series. I love the look of De La Torre’s Conan, and he seems like a great choice for Titan’s launch. He worked on a lot of the recent Conan stuff at Marvel, including with Zub on Barbarian.
And the colorist will be José Villarrubia, who previously worked on King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel for Dark Horse back in 2012, and more recently on Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher: A Grain of Truth. He also did the original run of Sweet Tooth for Vertigo.
Before the new series in July however, Titan will release the old Roy Thomas stories in Omnibus form, much like Marvel and Dark Horse have done before.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN: ORIGINAL COMICS OMNIBUS VOL.1
Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith
Titan Comics, HC (776 pages) – $125.00
On Sale June: 14, 2023
SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN: ORIGINAL COMICS OMNIBUS VOL.1
Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema
Titan Comics HC (968 pages) – $150.00
On Sale June 28, 2023