Comic Book / Conan the Barbarian

From out of the earth's dark, forgotten past-- thru the timeless terrors of the Hyborian Age-- stalks the mightiest hero of them all--!
Original in-house advertisement for the Marvel series.

During the resurge in popularity Robert E. Howard's most popular character enjoyed back in The '70s, Marvel Comics was quick to take notice of this, and got the license from Conan Productions. note  In October, 1970, the very first issue of Conan the Barbarian hit the shelves, quickly becoming one of Marvel's top-sellers. Spin-offs soon followed, each becoming popular in their own right, with The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian occasionally overtaking its sister title in sales.

However, what with certain cinematic failures i.e. Conan the Destroyer and the Red Sonja movie, Conan's popularity waned. During The Dark Age of Comic Books, Conan's main ongoing and Savage Sword were eventually cancelled after a combined 510 issues, to be replaced with other ongoings whose issue numbers barely lasted into double figures. Marvel soon gave up on giving Sword and Sorcery's greatest hero his own title, shunting him off into a few miniseries, the last of which was printed in 2000.

Dark Horse Comics then picked up the license in 2003, having previously made several miniseries based on lesser REH properties, such as Cormac Mac Art and Almuric. They took a slightly different approach to the character, putting out one ongoing, with the occasional miniseries on the side.

Final interesting piece of trivia: It was in fact the Marvel comics series that popularizednote  the franchise's title as specifically "Conan the Barbarian" - that title being specifically chosen by Thomas to not conflict with the paperback short-story collections with titles like Conan The Adventurer and Conan Of Cimmeria.

    The Marvel franchise (not including reprints) 
  • Conan the Barbarian vol. 1 (1970-1993). 275 issues.
  • Savage Tales vol. 1 (1971-1974). Anthology title, Conan was the main character for 5 issues.
  • Conan Annual (1973-1987). 12 issues.
  • The Savage Sword of Conan (1974-1995). 235 issues.
  • Giant-Size Conan (1984-1975). 5 issues.
  • King Conan (1980-1983), later renamed Conan the King (1984-1989). 55 issues.
  • Conan the Barbarian Movie Special (1982). 2 issues.
  • Graphic novels (1985-1992). 7 issues.
    • The Witch Queen of Acheron (1985)
    • Conan the Reaver (1987)
    • Conan of the Isles (1988)
    • Conan: The Skull of Set (1989)
    • Conan the Barbarian: The Horn of Azoth (1990). Based on a rejected script for the film Conan the Destroyer.
    • Conan the Rogue (1991)
    • Conan: The Ravagers out of Time (1992). Crossover with Red Sonja and Kull. Involves Time Travel.
  • The Handbook of the Conan Universe (1986). One-shot publication.
  • Conan the Adventurer (1994-1995). 14 issues.
  • Conan (1995-1996). 11 issues.
  • Conan the Savage (1995-1996). 10 issues.
  • Conan vs. Rune (1995). One-shot publication. Crossover with The Ultraverse,
  • Conan the Barbarian vol. 2 (1997). 3 issues.
  • Conan the Barbarian: The Usurper (1997-1998). 3 issues.
  • Conan: The Lord of the Spiders (1998). 3 issues.
  • Conan: River of Blood (1998). 3 issues.
  • Conan Return of Styrm (1998). 3 issues.
  • Conan Scarlet Sword (1998-1999). 3 issues.
  • Conan: Death Covered in Gold (1999). 3 issues.
  • Conan: Flame and the Fiend (2000). 3 issues.

    The Dark Horse franchise (not including reprints) 
  • Conan #0: The Legend (2003). One-shot publication.
  • Conan (2004-2008). 50 issues.
  • Conan And the Daughters of Midora (2004). One-Shot publication.
  • Conan And the Jewels of Gwahlur (2005). 3 issues.
  • Conan And the Demons of Khitai (2005-2006). 4 issues.
  • Conan: Book of Thoth (2006). 4 issues.
  • Conan: Free Comic Book Day Edition (2006). One-shot publication.
  • Conan And the Songs of the Dead (2006). 5 issues.
  • Hyborian Adventures: SDCC Free Giveaway (2006). One-shot publication.
  • Conan And the Midnight God (2007). 5 issues.
  • Conan the Cimmerian (2008-2010). 26 issues.
  • Conan: The Weight of the Crown (2010). One-shot publication.
  • Conan: Road of Kings (2010-2012). 12 issues.
  • King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel (2011). 4 issues.
  • Conan: Island of No Return (2011). 2 issues.
  • King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword (2012). 4 issues.
  • Conan the Barbarian vol. 3 (2012-2014). 25 issues.
  • Conan: The Phantoms of the Black Coast (2012-2013). 4 issues.
  • King Conan: Hour of the Dragon (2013). 6 issues.
  • Conan and the People of the Black Circle (2013-2014). 4 issues.
  • King Conan: The Conquer (ongoing, started in 2014). 6 issues.
  • Conan the Avenger (ongoing, started in 2014).

These comics have all included these examples:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Pretty much every other Conan comic that wasn't a direct adaptation of an REH story or a pastiche. This became more out of necessity from The '80s onwards for Marvel, as pretty much every good Conan story had already been adapted. Dark Horse do more or less the same thing.
  • Bash Brothers: Zula, Pallantides, Trocero... the list goes on.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: Conan occasionally slipped into this in a few issues.
  • Canon Immigrant: Red Sonya was a musket-wielding 16th century Ukranian in the Howard story that introduced her, but was retconned into being a Hyborian Age swordswoman in the comic books decades later. Thulsa Doom was a villain in the Kull of Atlantis stories before he was adapted into the villain for The Movie - and even then, he had more in common with the Conan adversary Thoth-Amon (a priest of Set with a fancy for snakes) than he did with his namesake (a semi-immortal necromancer with a skeletal face.)
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Not just or Howard's or Sprague de Camp's adventures, but occasionally of other sword & sorcery stories released around the same time as the original Conan stories, with Conan replacing the heroes in those stories.
    • There were also adaptations of the Conan movies. Conan the Destroyer had two! (The first is an adaptation of the movie Thomas and Conway wrote, the second an adaptation of the movie we actually got.)
    • Dark Horse have also gotten in on the act...
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Zenobia had two; one in Conan The King, another in Dark Horse miniseries Conan & The Midnight God.
  • Darker and Edgier (Hotter and Sexier, Bloodier and Gorier): Marvel's black-and-white The Savage Sword of Conan and the later Dark Horse titles compared to Marvel's Comics Code-constrained Conan the Barbarian.
  • Depending on the Artist: Conan's build may be leaner or bulkier, as shown by pre- and post-Frazetta covers. In the comics, shown by Marvel's Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema. Dark Horse usually go with a happy medium...
  • Name's the Same: Both Marvel and Dark Horse put out a Conan ongoing called... Conan. Dark Horse's effort produced over 50 issues, with superb art. Marvel's... didn't.

These tropes happened specifically in the Marvel Comics run: