Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Groove's Faves: "Almuric, Part 1" by Thomas and Conrad

What it is, Groove-ophiles! Roy Thomas and Tim Conrad adapting Robert E. Howard was always magical. Thomas and Conrad's adaptation of REH's unfinished "sword and planet" epic, "Almuric", was originally intended for Marvel's color Marvel Premiere mag as "Warrior of the Lost Planet" (I remember reading about it in '76), but wound up running in issues 2-5 of Epic Illustrated (Marvel's answer to Heavy Metal, natch). So while this story was conceived and created during the height of the Groovy Age, it didn't see print until May 1980, tantalizingly near the end of the Groovy Age.

T'was most fortuitous that "Almuric" was snatched up by Epic editor Archie Goodwin, because Epic's high-scale printing allowed Conrad to paint the adventures of Esau Cairn, something we're used to now, but it was new and exciting in 1980. In Ol' Groove's opinion, Conrad's coloring takes a back-seat to none, so when Dark Horse gets around to reprinting this (again, they collected it in a graphic novel format back in 1991) in an upcoming issue of Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword (which I'm sure they will!), I hope they don't touch it and just present it as it was in Epic Illustrated. I'm not sure if it was Roy or Tim or both who decided to go the Wizard of Oz route with making Cairn's life on earth nearly black and white, saving the full-color for his time on "Almuric", but it was a master-stroke. Beyond the coloring, Conrad's art is gorgeous. I get a Max Fleischer Superman vibe from his depiction of Esau Cairn, and his overall style and command of detail puts him in the ranks of Barry (Windsor-) Smith, Bernie Wrightson, and other masters of fantasy art. And you'd better believe Roy Thomas was at his peak, channeling REH's prose with perfection, deftly picking up the best scenes and dialogue bits from the original prose. Roy could make us believe that these were comics that REH would have written had he been alive to do so. Dig it, baby!

Most people get off on the fact that "Almuric" is REH's answer to Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter of Mars, but Ol' Groove can't help but feel that the savage Esau Cairn, himself, is closer to Tarzan when he cuts loose. Of course, REH and ERB were coming from completely different places, so in all reality, the only thing the two pulp giants shared was the "interplanetary romance" aspect. ERB saw savages and savage lands being tamed by noble men. REH just turned savages loose against more savages and let the blood fly.


  1. awesome, great post! i love conrad's work on this story.
    i met him briefly, and got to see some of these almuric originals at the first chicago-con i ever went to.
    they were beautiful!

  2. I bet they were, Andy! Conrad's style here just KILLS me! It's so unique and so awesome. I soooooooo wanted to draw like that. Which is why I write. ;D

  3. Those parts were published post-Groovy Age, so they won't be run on this blog. They were collected in graphic novel form (sadly out of print), but it might be cheaper to get back issues of Epic (issues 2-5, as noted above). Happy hunting!



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