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Trivia / Conan the Barbarian

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  • Doing It for the Art: The last few stories written by Howard include "Beyond the Black River," "The Black Stranger," and "Red Nails," novella-length stories that are not particularly commercial ("The Black Stranger" wasn't even published during Howard's lifetime) but are considered some of his best and the clearest examples of the themes he was exploring. But in the same time period he also wrote "The Man-Eaters of Zamboula," a decidedly more commercial, less thought-provoking tale with a scene (the nude Zabibi avoiding the snakes) that seems to have been constructed specifically for one of Margaret Brundage's Weird Tales cover illustrations (which it did indeed get).
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  • Executive Meddling: During the Conan Marvel run, Roy Thomas was always dealing with interference from the Comic Book Code Authority who notably once sent back two pages of notes for the adaptation of The Frost Giant's Daughter. Conan being a killer, thief, and sexually provocative was hard to get past their "for children only" attitude toward comics.
  • Franchise Killer: The second film, Conan the Destroyer, undid all the lingering good will from John Milius' first film. It wasn't even the negative critical reception of the second movie that killed the franchise; it actually was successful at the box office, just less than the first one. This prompted the production of the Red Sonja movie - now that was a big flop. Schwarzenegger called it "the worst movie I've ever made" and may have had a hand in making him move on to other projects - when a third Conan movie was considered, he was already busy with Predator.
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  • Genre-Killer: Conan the Destroyer is one of two movies that effectively killed the Sword And Sorcery genre in film and media for quite some time (the other one being Red Sonja).
  • Name's the Same: Contemporary writer Clark Ashton Smith has a prehistoric fantasy setting called Hyperborea. However, Clark's setting is dark comedy set in prehistoric Greenland. Howard's Hyborian Age is roughly set in what will become Eurasia and focuses on heroic fantasy.
  • Outlived Its Creator: The series started in 1932 and the creator Robert E. Howard committed suicide in 1936. Many other writers continued writing short stories, comics, and novels into the 21st century.
  • Out of Order: Howard's original stories were written as they occurred to him (as if Conan himself were relating them), not in chronological order. Hence why the first story already has Conan as a king.
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  • Science Marches On: The concept of continental drift was new and little-understood at the time Howard was writing, so the idea that the European landmass could have been vastly different merely thousands of years ago wasn't as unlikely as it seems to today's reader. We also know a great deal more today about anthropology and ancestry than what was incorporated into the stories.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • As mentioned above, the classic Frank Frazetta covers adorned L. Sprague de Camp's semi-canonical Conan stories. De Camp, not known as a continuity zealot, objected to the clearly inaccurate but thoroughly memetic depictions of Conan as a long-haired, loincloth-wearing savage, and wanted Frazetta fired... in which case the famous image of Conan would have never come to light.
    • Besides Jason Momoa, the other two main contenders for the lead in the Conan reboot were Kellan Lutz and Jared Padalecki.
    • Around 2001 and 2002, John Milius (the man who wrote and directed the 1982 film) wrote a script titled King Conan: Crown of Iron that was intended to be a true sequel to the original film (as opposed to Conan the Destroyer, which was considered a disappointment to most fans of the original). The film entered the pre-production stages and Schwarzenegger was set to star in it. However, when Schwarzenegger was elected Governer of California in 2003 the project was put on indefinite hiatus and eventually canceled.
    • Marvel Comics were getting a lot of requests for literature to be given a Comic-Book Adaptation. Properties considered were The Lord of the Rings and Thongor, a Sword and Sorcery hero created by Lin Carter, one of the most prolific writers of Conan pastiches. Both ideas were turned down by the respective holders of those estates. Then Roy Thomas noticed the address of the copyright holders to Conan on a Conan book... and now you know the rest of the story!
    • Roy originally planned an adaptation of Conan of the Isles, the "last" Conan story, to be told over three issues of Conan the Barbarian Annual. However, his departure from Marvel meant that the story wouldn't be fully told in comic form until it was published as Marvel Graphic Novel #42.
    • A similar situation happened with the Comic-Book Adaptation of Hour of the Dragon, the only full Conan novel by Robert E. Howard. It was originally going to be posted in all 5 issues of Giant-Size Conan, but the slipping sales on that title meant the novel's adaptation was completed in Savage Sword. Giant-Size Conan #5 was a reprint of the Conan/Elric crossover, with a new cover by Jack Kirby.
    • Speaking of MGN, Roy had plans for a new story about Belit to be published in the title in 1993. The title only had one issue that year (a The Punisher/Black Widow crossover), and was cancelled that year. The story was eventually published in parts in Conan the Savage, a Spiritual Successor to Savage Sword of Conan.
    • Out of fear that they wouldn't get the rights to Conan, Roy and Barry created a similar character named Starr the Slayer. He looked exactly like Conan but with a different coloration and it seemed his stories would have featured him as king only.
    • According to Schwarzeneggar's autobiography, the 1982 film was originally going to be more faithful to the original stories, but Universal balked. He also notes that the original script for Conan the Destroyer was closer in tone to the first film.
    • Red Sonja was (allegedly) going to be a third Conan film (or a Spin-Off, it's unclear) before Conan the Destroyer underperformed.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Conan Wiki.

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