Saturday, April 11, 2015

H is For Howard

Back to the semi-regular A to Z Challenge.

H is for Howard.

Robert E Howard to be more specific.

On one hand, some people might think that Robert E Howard needs no nod, needs no recommendation, needs no introduction.

I would ask those people how they enjoy Robert's historical fiction. How they like his Western stories. What they think of his horror writing. How they like his boxing tales. Yes, a genre devoted to boxing! Hey, the 20s and 30s were a different time man, don't judge!

For some people, I don't want to generalize and say most, but for some, Robert E. Howard only comes to their mind thanks to the movies about Conan. With three movies under his belt and another supposedly on his way, Conan has earned a bit of that fame. No shame in that.

Some might have been introduced to Robert E Howard though one of the other movies including Kull or Solomon Kane. Neither of which actually has much to do with the material it was based on. Well, in that aspect at least the Conan movies share some similarities as much of the material in the movies has little to do with the fiction.

Outside of the movies, Robert E. Howard has benefited greatly from the efforts of +Dark Horse Comics who have not only kept Conan alive and relevant in today's market, but have also brought many of his lesser known characters, including the aforementioned Kull and Solomon Kane, to comics. Even better, they have reprinted many of the older books, including the magazines. This brings the older era of comics to a modern audience who otherwise would not have that historical context to enjoy. For an example of not Conan action, check out tehir Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword with a free preview here.

Equally important, not that long ago, Del Rey publishing brought back numerous stories and not just Conan. This allows those with an interest in one of the giants of many genres, not just sword and sorcery, but horror, history, pulp, and western, to get a taste of tense, action packed writing.

When I talk about a solid foundation, one of the benefits of reading material written long ago, is no matter what the author's intention, you also get a touch of the author's time. Robert E. Howard was no stranger to the recently ended horrors of slavery. He spoke with numerous people whose relatives had been freed in living memory. Whose relatives might have directly come from Africa. He knew the horrors of the boom town. The lure of money and the desolation of the wastes. His America was a different one that we currently live in.

Take some time and get to know Robert E. Howard beyond Conan, beyond Solomon Kane, and beyond Kull. You'll be glad you did.