Sunday, December 29, 2013

Conan the Adventurer (The Animated Series) Episode 01: The Night of Fiery Tears

Hi all - Josh here. I've been thinking about how to incorporate this gem of a 90's animated series into our show's schema for a while. There have been several popular American animated series that fit into the sword and sorcery genre. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe come to mind almost immediately. I loved Masters of the Universe when I was young, but it went off the air in 1985 (and I wore my VHS copies out soon after.) Yes there were lots of great animated series to take the place of this show, but none in the sword and sorcery genre. Then, in 1992, Conan the Adventurer began to air, and I made it a point to wake up extra early every Monday through Friday so that I could watch the Cimmerian's next adventure before I went to school.

A very calm and soothing start to my mornings!
Recently, I found the first few episodes of Conan The Adventurer on YouTube, and thought I'd check them out and see how well they've held up. The general premise of the show is pretty cool, though it varies pretty significantly from the Howard canon. Sure, there are some staples present. There's an evil snake cult, wizards and princesses, warrior maidens, and Crom! In the first episode, titled The Night of Fiery Tears, we get a lot of story background. The series antagonist, Wrath-amon (Not Thoth-amon!), the high priest of the Serpent Cult of Set, has been charged by Set personally to build pyramids out of "star metal". This substance is very rare; it crashes from the darkness between worlds onto the surface of the planet. If these pyramids are built in the proper arrangement, it would allow Set and his army of serpent men to emerge from his dimension into ours, allowing him to achieve complete mastery over the entire world. Snakes EVERYWHERE, man! Obviously, this would be a very bad thing.

A VERY bad thing!
 Just a moment, though. His name is Wrath-Amon? Follower of Set, you say? He even has a magic ring, and without it his magical abilities are gone. Remind you of anyone?

"COOOOBRAAAAA!!!" Wait, wrong cartoon.
Clearly, Wrath-amon's character was based on our old pal Thoth-amon from The Phoenix on the Sword, the first Conan story ever published, and the first one we covered, way back in episode 1!

Anyway, Wrath-amon is looking for star metal. Well, it happens that a group of people in Cimmeria have a hoard of weapons forged from star metal, but they won't give it over to Wrath-amon. Naturally, this does not please Wrath-amon, who casts a spell of living stone on one Cimmerian family. All except one member. Take one guess who it could be.

You see, when Conan was younger, his father forged a star metal sword for him, and placed it under a boulder so that Conan could retrieve it once he became strong enough. That time has come at last! Conan retrieves the sword and fends off the serpent men - the star metal reveals their true nature and sends them back into Set's dimension. However, he is too late to save his family from getting stoned - I mean, turned to stone!

Looks like the odds are almost even.
Later, Conan stumbles upon a tomb and meets the ghost of Epimetrius the sage. He tells Conan about Set's plan, the star metal pyramids, and Wrath-amon's magic ring. If Conan could destroy the ring, he'd destroy Wrath-amon's magic, foil Set's plan, and return his family to life! Epimetrius gives Conan a magical shield with the mark of a phoenix. This is another excellent reference to The Phoenix on the Sword, however this time Conan can use the magical mark to summon forth a phoenix to aid him.

Or maybe Needle is a magical talking chicken...
The episode ends with Conan being drugged, captured by slavers, and put on a ship bound for the slave pits of Wrath-amon!

All in all, I think this show holds up fairly well. There is a nice, youthful, adventurous quality to Conan that I think kids can relate to. The violence is fairly typical of 90's cartoons - no one really gets hit with a sword or ax or arrow. Instead, Conan's sword transports the serpent men back into Set's dimension without much harm coming to them. There's a lot of lore and world building in this episode. It calls back nicely to the original source material written by Robert E. Howard, while building on the mythos and establishing a new world that the primary audience (kids) can get excited about exploring. Conan looks like a cross between the body builder portrayal of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the dark haired Cimmerian described by Howard, and I think this reflects the core of the animated series fairly well - it's a nice mix of various takes on Conan that adds a little something new.

The first episode of this series, at least, is a forgotten gem. While nostalgia can add a rosy tint to our views of what we liked when we were young, I think this show is a perfect entry point for kids into the exciting worlds of fantasy and sword & sorcery. You can find the DVD collections on Amazon, but there are several episodes available for perusal on YouTube if you're not ready to make the purchase just yet.

Check out this show! Or the serpent men win! 
I think I'll watch some more of these episodes and talk about them here on the blog every so often. We'd love to hear from you all - what do you think of the animated Conan the Adventurer? Leave a comment or shoot us an email and let us know!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Episode 12: Queen of the Black Coast

"Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of
reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no
less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live,
I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."

Welcome back, ye scurvy dogs! And prepare yourselves for a swashbuckling tale of ancient cities, lost treasures, and lost loves! This week's tale is the nautical adventure, Queen of the Black Coast (episode mp3 here). This episode is packed with good discussion of this classic Robert E. Howard tale, and a plethora of extras.

First, a quality reading of Queen of the Black Coast on Librivox. Or, if you prefer, a full cast recording on the Internet Archive!

You might be interested in running a GURPS game based on Queen of the Black Coast! (Or converting it to Savage Worlds, perhaps?)

Try some original fiction by fantasy author John Fultz! He has a slew of publications at The Black Gate, including When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye and The Persecution of Artifice the Quill. Beyond that, read about the fantasy and pulp inspirations for his Shaper Trilogy here and read his literary criticism regarding Clark Ashton Smith's The Hashish Eater here!

Finally.... Check out Becky Cloonan's digital comics DemeterThe Mire, and Wolves here! These three stories are SERIOUSLY some of the best fantasy in the past year. Which is your favorite? Sound off below in the comments and let us know!

We think you'll love it!
Our next story is The Devil in Iron (read it on Project Gutenberg Australia).

Beginning theme: "Sudden Defeat" by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Ending theme: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Metal version. Found at Used without permission.

Thanks for listening!

Questions? Comments? Curses? Email us! (thecromcast at gmail dot com)

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Howard's Horrors: The Fearsome Touch of Death!

"As long as midnight cloaks the earth 
                    With shadows grim and stark,
God save us from the Judas kiss, 
                    Of a dead man in the dark"
                                        - Robert E. Howard

Hey all, Luke here! I recently read The Fearsome Touch of Death, so I wanted to jot down a few of my impressions here on the blog. First published in Weird Tales in February 1930, you can now access this story for free on both Feedbooks and Project Gutenberg

If possible, this story is even more straightforward than Sea Curse! With (barely) a three character cast, and text that spans a scant 2-3 pages, this definitely qualifies as a quick-fix of some REH goodness. Our protagonist, Falred, draws the unfortunate lot of waking the dead with the recently-passed, ill-liked Adam Farrel. What proceeds for our man Falred is a great bit "slow boil" -type horror as the night plays out. The ending resonated with me, as it reminded me of multiple yarns I had heard and read as a child. 

In short, this is a familiar story with a recognizable hook at the end, but it's exactly that familiarity and common horror element that I think is the story's greatest merit. 

This seems to be a story with sporadic occurrences in varied Howard collections. Given it's short length, it's clear why it has a presence in multiple fanzines. I came across this story's inclusion in The "New" Howard Reader #2 (1998) while sifting through some searches on the internet. And while the cover is unrelated to The Fearsome Touch..., it certainly has some pizzazz! 

I have to be honest, outside of the knowledge-bomb Mark Finn dropped on us in our last episode, I'm a noob to the fanzine scene. But boy, am I interested after I came across this article on The Cimmerian! Seems like there's a wealth of odd REH collections out there, both pro and amateur alike . I've seen very few of these types of publications pop-up at my local used bookstores, but I'm definitely going to hop on board with some of the more modestly-priced collections if I run across them!

Have you read The Fearsome Touch...? What did you think?

Are you a collector of the older chapbooks or fanzines? If so, how did you get started? Sound off in the comments below, we'd love to hear about this niche within the pulp scene!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Art Party Friday: Dec. 13, 2013

Hello Cromrades! It is I, Jon! I am here to show off some cool Howard inspired art I have found in my wanderings on the internet. If you have any art you wish to share, be you the creator or just an admirer, please do email us at with the image and source and we will try to feature it here on the blog! Also, please visit one or all of the sites for these talented folks. You can always find art for purchase, prints, or even coffee mugs to buy!

The first piece comes from a listener and artist, Rick Lacy! It's a digital sketch of Conan and I have to say, it's pretty rad! If you are an artist and would like your work featured here, please don't be bashful! Send 'em in and I will post them with high praise!

Conan the Barbarian by Rick Lacy
Be sure to check on Rick's comic Drawing Lance, it's barbarous fun! 

Conan the Barbarian
(part of a 1970's black light poster series)
Art by Barry Windsor Smith
Info on posters:

Conan in battle against the "ape-demon"
Art by Richard Corben

Belit: Queen of the Black Coast by Chris Samnee

Red Sonya by Esteban Maroto

Kirby O'Donnell by Timothy Bradstreet

Queen of the Black Coast by Becky Cloonan
Buy Ms. Cloonan's award winning, awesome to read, pretty to behold, and all digital comic,The Mire:

That's all for this week my fellow art aficionados! Please join us here at The Cromcast next week for our latest and greatest episode!

All images are the property of the artists/companies they work with.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Episode 11: Time for a Finnterview! (or, We Can't Believe It!)

This is a big one for us! For this episode we were able to have a chat with Mark Finn, author of "Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard"! Mark recently released the second edition of this volume, which you can easily purchase from the Robert E. Howard Foundation or from Amazon. If you've listened to any of our previous shows, you've heard us previously discuss Mark's literary criticism.

Man, what a well-read, fun, and easy guy to talk with! We had a blast talking to Mark and look forward to the next time he can join us!

Want another Finn fix? Here's Mark's blog!

If you can get your hands on it, maybe check out de Camp's Dark Valley Destiny?

Want to get into the small-press 'zine scene? Check out REHupa!

Interested in some of the other pulp podcasts out there? We mention the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast and The Double Shadow; check 'em out if you haven't already!

Interested in getting yer hands on some of REH's boxing stories? You should buy Fists of Iron! Volume 1 features an essay from Patrice Louinet, but Mark will be providing the foreword for Volume 2.

Want to read about the birth and growth of the Weird Western? Check out Undead in the West II, which features literary criticism from Mark and a slew of others.

Interested in the Violet Crown Radio Players that Mark mentions in the episode? Live in Austin, or visit periodically? Then friend them on Facebook!

And be on the lookout for Mark's upcoming fiction work, The Adventures of Sailor Tom Sharkey, soon to be available from Fight Card Books!

Finally.... A BIG thank you to Beaucoup Pop!!! Without their help, this episode wouldn't have been possible. Big thanks especially to Tressa (the beer and pie are forthcoming)! If you haven't listened to their podcast before, go ahead and check 'em out. Geekery abounds :)

Thanks everyone! Happy listening!!!

Questions? Comments? Curses? Email us! (thecromcast at gmail dot com)

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Beginning theme: "Sudden Defeat" by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Ending theme: "Anvil of Crom" arranged by YouTube user Xavier Renou and found here. Arrangement of  "Anvil of Crom" by Basil Poledouris, from the Conan the Barbarian: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Original Score: (c) 1982 Basil Poledouris; Original Album: (c) 2010 Prometheus Records. Used without permission.