Ever since the day a little 11 year-old me first cracked open a Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual and I discovered the joys of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, I have been a dyed-in-the-wool fantasy geek. I freely admit it. I've swung plastic swords and rolled twenty-siders with the best of them and I make no apologies about that.
Now, the reason where here today is to talk about the amalgamation of two of my most favorite things on the face of this Earth: hand-drawn fantasy fan art and Conan the Barbarian.
I've etched out plenty of color-penciled dragons and loin-clothed badasses in my day, all of varying degrees of quality, and have watched the movie "Conan the Barbarian" about 6,000 times, along with all the Conan novels and comic books I've read. But I never really combined the two quite as exquisitely as the following artists.
Please keep in mind that I'm not making fun of these people. Quite the contrary, I applaud them as fellow middle-earth doodlers who know just how many notches to put in a battle-axe. So now I present to you some of the finest home-made Conan themed fantasy art that Google image search can provide.
This first one is an incredible homage to the movie. My favorite part of this one is the heated flame-blown background juxtapozed against the wisping black grass of the open steppes at the bottom of the picture. Aslo, just look at the dedicated detail in the bulging bicep! If there is one thing I can say about this artist, it's this... he sure does like arms...
Now at the other end of the spectrum is this example. In fact, there is no real visual evidence that this actually supposed to be Conan other than the fact that he's big and has obvious barbarian hair. No swords, no severed enemy heads and quite clearly (and somewhat disturbingly) no clothes! Yep, he's nekkid! So I'm going to reserve judgement for now and just thank Crom that the artist decided against actually drawing a penis.
Here's another from the movie. This is the very end scene showing Conan is his later years after he has become King of Aquilonia. It's brooding and smokey and I love it...
This one is actually quite good and was clearly done by somebody doing their best to break into the comic business. I just wanted one example that didn't look like it was done during study hall...
What a beauty! Here we have an artist with a fair amount of talent but a deplorable collection of pens. Somebody get this kid some Microns! (Those are really fancy cartooning pens.) He also seems to have taken the first steps into computer colorization and has a penchant for large veins... eeeewwwww... Anyway, if I were to give this kid a nickname, it would be "Crosshatch"! And I'd be all like, "Yo, Crosshatch! How's that Conan drawing coming?" and he'd be all like, "It's off the hook, yo. I'm layin' down some mad colors on my computer, dawg!" and then I'd be all like, "Hellz YEAH!"
This one is just great and rendered with a gentle loving hand. This artist obviously wanted to show Conan standing on a Cimmerian mountain top, the Western wind blowing in his hair, python-like arms spread wide as if to say, "Hey... check out my new studded sword belt. Pretty spiffy, eh?"
Okay, okay... this one is not a drawing, but a scuplture. However, what it really is, is a C+ for some 9th grader's art class final. But that's just because his teacher doesn't know the mighty power of Conan! Foolish teacher wench!
This next one is close to my heart because it could have very well been torn from my 8th grade science notebook. This drawing is just bubbling over with details! Look at the newly stitched scars, or the double-bladed battle-axe with a vulture-like wingspan, or the fact that there are no less than 5 skulls in this single piece of art! FIVE FUCKING SKULLS! But the part that pulls a tear from the corner of my cold, callous eye is the hand of the dying man, reaching towards his maker in a desparate plea as his life-blood flows from him. None too soon shall he forget the name of Conan!
Here we have another jump in quality and imagination. This artist understood that Conan is nothing without the enemies that define him. We can clearly see the ravaging hoard vanir raiders lining up to pay the ferryman's toll at the hand of a berserking savage. I love the artist's devotion to detail in the dusking background sky, this sets a deeper mood. My favorite part of this piece has to be the spattering red smear that was once the face of a charging enemy on the right side of the drawing. Bravo! Bravo!!!
And finally, a piece of most honorable skill. This is about as far as you can take amatuer skills without tipping over into the next level. Not good enough to be a professional illustrator, but far better than any of his friends down at the local comic shop. Here we see Conan, having just yanked free his blade from the throat of one giant foe to ready himself for the next piece of vulture-fodder. He's looking at the next gargantuan fighter as if to say, "Your hulking dog-brother was naught but a warm up!" There is real story here... true drama! I take of my hat to this artist and declare him as a skilled artisan worthy of Crom's notice!