Savage Pen of Ernie: Volume 20 or Imhotep and Conan go on a Road Trip

savage-sword-vol-20-cover

Those few of you reading my musings, may have noticed by now that rather than do a typical review of something I have read I tend to ramble about some observation I have made or some thought that the work in question has provoked.

Here, my first thoughts are: John Buscema (artist) and Ernie Chan (inker) are an amazing team! Honestly, even without Roy Thomas’s text, these massive volumes would be worth buying if just to drool over the incredible artwork contained within.

Buscema is a master anatomist with a loose and flowing style. He captures action and pins it to the page, but his illustrations look as though they might wrench free and leap off the page at any moment. Even in repose, the characters look like they are about to burst into action. When he inked his own work, I found it a bit loose and lacking in detail.

However, Ernie Chan’s inks were incredibly detailed, and I find their combined efforts spell-binding.

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Nor was the inker, ER Cruz a slouch, either. Below is a sample page from an adaption of Conan and the Spider God by L. Sprague DeCamp.

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Moving past the most excellent artwork, and I should mention that this volume also contains work by the very talented Rafael Kayanan, I next pondered how the first cycle of stories contains a team-up, a road trip of sorts, of Conan and a demon known as Imhotep the Slayer, who likes to run around with a scythe.

Now, everyone will have their own perceptions of what is Howardian and what is not, but in my estimation Howard (the original author of the Conan stories), even if he had lived another fifty years, probably wouldn’t have written a story where Conan teamed up with a demon and went on a road trip across Hyboria.

I could be wrong, but it just doesn’t fit into my perception of a Howardian Conan story. Roy Thomas, who writes this series of tales and, it should be noted, is my favorite comic book author when it comes to Conan tales, justifies this team up by promoting the idea that Conan needs Imhotep’s help in order to free his crew of buccaneers and so in exchange Conan agrees to help Imhotep defeat the Black Circle–an organization of wizards residing in the dank depths of Stygia.

In my estimation, Conan might have found some other way to free his buccaneers, but Thomas does his best to sell it, and even he has Conan’s old acquaintance, Zula, bring up the fact that this behavior seems out of Conan’s character.

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Now, having registered my objections, I must say that it was helpful for me to view this as some sort of alternate world Conan. Once I did this, I had no problems enjoying this series of tales and being amused by the inherently funny idea of a Conan and Imhotep team-up. Plus, did I mention the mind-blowing artwork?

-Joel Jenkins
Author of Weird Action and Adventure Fiction

 

 

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