Monday, October 14, 2013
Oxford University Press recently released a version of the Robert E. Howard classic Red Nails, and there's a few reason why this adaptation by Bill Bowler deserves mention on Crom!
Firstly, a version of Red Nails or any other REH story adapted specifically for children and early teens just doesn't come along every day. Oxford University Press calls it "Dominoes", a series that's targeted at English graded readers for upper-primary/lower-secondary students, and one that includes a CD-Rom with an audio version of the book along with various resources for teachers.
Secondly, Red Nails is a superb yarn and a personal favorite of mine, but it doesn't seem to get the attention it righty deserves. There's no denying that this particular version is tamed down for a younger audience, but it will undoubtedly serve as a gateway to the real thing, something you just won't find in ANY schools in my neck of the woods.
Finally, London based artist Oliver Cuthbertson (link) does a bang up job illustrating the story. It's simple but elegant, and by my estimation Oliver’s depiction of Conan and Valeria is not all that incongruous with the descriptions put forth by REH. See for yourself!
Perhaps they're not quite on par with George Barr's stunning illustrations from the Donald M. Grant edition, but pretty damn close! It's worth noting that other talented artists such as Les Edwards, John Howe, Mark Schultz, Barry Windsor Smith, Margaret Brundage, Kája Saudek, and others have tackled Red Nails in some way, shape, or form over the years. I understand the Gene Day also has a Red Nails portfolio published but I haven't seen it. Truth is, Red Nails isn't all that well represented on the art front, so it's refreshing to see new illustrations depicting such a classic tale.
It's possible that the painting most of us associate with Red Nails is this one by Ken Kelly, which is far from faithful to the original story but a stunning piece nonetheless!
In closing (and on a related note), this most excellent photo courtesy of Mark Singh El-Ton via the The International Robert E. Howard Fan Association on Facebook...Ha!