Celebrating 80 Years of Conan the Cimmerian

In December of 1932, readers of Weird Tales got a little something extra in their stockings for Christmas, namely a Cimmerian named Conan. That first Conan story, “The Phoenix on the Sword,” was followed by 16 additional Conan adventures that were published through October 1936 in the pages of The Unique Magazine. Four additional yarns and a handful of fragments were discovered by L. Sprague de Camp and Glenn Lord and published in the ensuing decades. Events are already being planned to mark this monumental milestone in Howardian history.

As announced a few weeks back, Chuck Hoffman will be the Guest of Honor at this year’s Howard Days (June 8 — 9). Chuck is one of the early pioneers of Howard lit crit and, with his credentials, he fits right in with this year’s theme for Howard Days, “80 Years of Conan the Cimmerian”:

The Robert E Howard Foundation, along with The Robert E Howard United Press Association and Project Pride, is pleased to announce that Charles Hoffman has accepted our invitation to be Guest of Honor at Robert E. Howard Days, June 8-9, 2012.

Chuck’s seminal essay, “Conan the Existentialist,” appearing in Amra 61 in March 1974, is widely regarded as the first true literary criticism of Howard’s work. Before its appearance, discussions of REH tended to take the form of book reviews or light-hearted “Hyborian scholarship.” Chuck was the first to stake out a claim for Howard as a writer whose work would repay critical scrutiny; he demonstrated clearly that the claim that “philosophical meanings” were absent from Howard’s work was untrue. He revised the essay for a later appearance in the magazine Ariel, and it has since been reprinted in Cromlech #1 and The Barbaric Triumph.

I know, Dennis and I will be a tough act to follow, but Chuck is more than capable enough to make us look like a couple of pikers. In addition to the Conan theme, there will also be a special panel devoted to Glenn and I imagine a few other tributes for him as well. The REHupa website should have the 2012 Howard Days webpage up and running soon, so be sure and check in over there from  time to time for updates.

PulpFest 2012 is also jumping on the Conan anniversary bandwagon. In addition to the main theme of the convention, celebrating 100 years of Tarzan, the folks at PulpFest will also recognize this important anniversary for Conan:

PulpFest will celebrate the Cimmerian’s eightieth birthday and honor Howard’s career with two very special programs. First, Rusty Burke will moderate a panel of REH experts who will discuss Conan, Howard’s other characters, and the author’s influence on the sword-and-sorcery genre. Rusty needs no introduction to devotees of “Two-Gun Bob.” He is the editor of the highly acclaimed Howard reprint series published in the US by Del Rey Books, the president of the Robert E. Howard Foundation, and a long-time participant in REHupa (The Robert E. Howard United Press Association). We will provide the names of other panelists as soon as they are confirmed.

The second Conan-themed presentation will be made by another well-known Howard aficionado, Jim Keegan, who with his wife Ruth produces “The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob,” which appears in every issue of Conan, Kull, and Solomon Kane published by Dark Horse Comics. The Keegans have also illustrated several of the Del Rey volumes (including Crimson Shadows and Grim Lands: The Best of Robert E. Howard, Volumes One & Two) and are the proprietors of Jim & Ruth’s Two-Gun Blog. Jim will offer a look at the Cimmerian as depicted by various illustrators over the last eight decades.

The guys at Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention are fans of Howard and Weird Tales, so I would not be surprised if they did not add an event or two to celebrate the Cimmerian’s 80th anniversary. And, of course, you’ll see some posts here on the blog marking this Cimmerian anniversary, as well a Conan treat or two in the upcoming new issue of TGR. By Crom, it will be a year to remember!