I hear that the new Conan movie is rotten. Even so, I’ll probably try to see it, just for the sake of keeping up with interpretations of Robert E. Howard’s heroic character. I’m a fan of the old stories from the 1930s–and wrote on Howard and Conan for the Wall Street Journal in 2006.
Conan the Barbarian, never had to bother with yawping masses of voters — but he seems no less popular these days, judging from a revival movement that’s winning a new generation of fans for one of the best-known characters that American literature has produced.
If Conan isn’t first remembered as a literary figure, it’s because the culture has embraced him so completely on film, in comic books, and as an icon of thick-muscled, sword-wielding manhood. Yet he got his start on the printed page as the invention of Robert E. Howard, a rural Texas pulp writer who lived from 1906 to 1936.