GRAPHIC NOVEL WEEK
What is it about Conan the Cimmerian that he endures and still engages readers? I’m glad that there’s still interest in reading his adventures.
This book contains two stories: “People of the Black Circle” and “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter.” People of the Black Circle, was adapted by Sylvain Runberg and illustrator, Jae Kwang Park, and “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” was adapted (writer and artist) by Robin Recht.
“People of the Black Circle” (or “The People of the Black Circle”) is often considered to be one of the most iconic Conan stories due to a more in-depth look at magic and the magicians of the Hyborian worlds. The story centers around a princess who hopes to enlist Conan’s help to defeat the Black Seers of Yimsha, who have recently killed her brother, the king of Vendhya. But Conan has recently lost some of his men, killed by soldiers of Vendhya, so Conan takes things into his own hands (as he usually does), and kidnaps the princess while also taking on the mages of Yimsha.
The art here is fine, but not particularly outstanding. It’s quite detailed – I felt, sometimes, too much so. Some of the panels seemed needless busy with detail, making it harder to enjoy. I’d have to admit that I grew up reading not only the collected stories of Robert E. Howard, but the fantastic Savage Sword of Conan magazine, which featured art by some of the really great comic artists of my time: Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom, Pablo Marcos, and Walter Simonson, so almost any art today will pale by comparison (though I’m always hoping to find the next great Conan artist).
(It doesn’t help that my ARC edition doesn’t enlarge well and the art looks generally a bit blurry (though the word balloons are sharp and in focus no matter what size I make PDF on my computer screen)).
This is a fairly elaborate story (for a Conan story) and it would be quite a challenge to put this into a 65 page graphic novel story and Runberg does a decent job.
“The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” has an interesting Robert E. Howard history (which you can look up for yourself). As a story, I think I’ve liked this one more that “People of the Black Circle” myself, but I tend to like this kind of mind-game story. It’s also prompted some pretty incredible art of the years.
Robin Recht does a really masterful job retelling this story. This story alone is worth the price of the book.
There are the usual additional items at the end of the book – sketches of the different characters, variations on the covers of the individual comics, etc. But what I liked the most here is the inclusion of the Robert E. Howard stories on which these graphic stories are based. It would seem just a little bit bold and daring to include the original stories and let the reader compare or see who the team did in retelling these stories. And while I likely have both of these stories, in multiple editions of the Conan books, I really appreciated having them right here, at hand, so that I didn’t have to dig for a different copy (which I would NOT have done).
Looking for a good book? The Cimmerian, Vol. 2 is a very well done graphic novel adaptation of two of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories. Long-time readers of Conan will enjoy these new adaptations and new readers may look for more Conan based on this. The inclusion of the original Robert E. Howard stories is a treat.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Cimmerian, Vol. 2
authors: Robert E. Howard, Sylvain Runberg, Robin Recht
artists: Robin Recht, Jae Kwang PARK
hardcover, 169 pages