Conan, the Comics Code and Barry Windsor-Smith

Posted by on August 9th, 2010 at 9:36 AM

My friend Matthew Surridge explains the Conan of Barry Windsor-Smith to the readers of Black Gate, a fiction magazine for fantasy lovers. Jack Kirby, art nouveau and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood come in for discussion, as does a certain reality of the U.S. comics industry. Sample:

His pacing grew more refined; his panels shrank to focus on details, or opened out to show sprawling cityscapes or battle-scenes. And Conan’s freewheeling brawls became increasingly brutal, perhaps more brutal than any mainstream comic fight scenes up to that time.

Which was, really, not saying very much. Marvel Comics were subject to approval by the Comics Code Authority, a voluntary regulatory and censorship agency. . . .

In retrospect, it’s amazing that the Marvel Conan came anywhere close to Howard. Of course the book had a tone of its own — it had to, in order to succeed.


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