Articles & Essays

This page features just a small sampling of the articles and essays written by well know Howard scholars that fill the pages of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur.


The Image of Conan

by Leon Nielsen

If one should ask a devoted Conan afficionado how he or she would best visualize the Cimmerian swordsman, I believe that in most cases, the answer would be the image of Conan created by Frank Frazetta’s and to a lesser degree by Ken Kelly and Roy Krenkel.  Furthermore Mark Schultz, Gary Gianni and Gregory Manchess need also be added to the list of recent Conan illustrative interpreters. Nevertheless, the king of fantasy paintings has prevailed and particularly Frazetta’s painting for the Lancer paperback Conan the Adventurer(Lancer 1967) has been hailed as the definitive visualization of Conan. Thus, generations of Conan fans have been conditioned to believe that the Frazetta image is the most emblematic, although it may be quite different from what Robert E. Howard had in mind, and somewhat distant from a realistic image of the Cimmerian.

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Gouged Eyes and Chawed Ears: The Rough-and-Tumble World of Breckinridge Elkins

by Jeffrery Shanks

In Robert E. Howard’s first published Breckinridge Elkins yarn, “Mountain Man,” Pap gives his boy some interesting advice before sending him off to the frontier town of Tomahawk:

Don’t be techy — but don’t forgit that yore pap was once the rough-and-tumble champeen of Gonzales County, Texas. And whilst yo’re feelin’ for the other feller’s eye, don’t be keerless and let him chaw yore ear off. (1-2)

 “Rough-and-tumble” fighting is a uniquely American style of unarmed combat that was prevalent in the South and on the frontier from the late 18th through the middle of the 19th century. It is characterized by the use of brutal biting and gouging tactics that would horrify the sensibilities of even the most hardened of modern boxing or mixed martial arts fans. Rough-and-tumble was not simply uncontrolled mayhem – it was a fighting system with standard techniques that generally involved grappling and pinning the opponent in order to be able to bite the nose or ears or to use a thumb to remove an eye.