Archive for Robert E. Howard

Someday… #RobertEHoward

Posted in Archive with tags on May 5, 2018 by Occult Detective

howard days

Unless I happen to win the lottery in the next couple of weeks this will be yet another year I won’t be attending Howard Days in Cross Plains.

I keep telling myself that I’ll make it “someday”, but we all know that someday never comes. So I’m making myself this promise, if not before, then I will attend Solomon Kane’s 100th Birthday Event. That will be 2028. I’ll be 62. Absolutely. But I’m hoping for before…

Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane, & Mythic Games

Posted in Occult Detectives with tags , , , on February 22, 2018 by Occult Detective

I posted a video for Oak Hill RPG Club that certainly should be an interest to my fellow occult detective aficionados. In it I talk briefly about my love for Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane, and Mythic Games’ announcement that they’re producing a boardgame around Howard’s second most famous character.

Take a look. And if you dig games, like and subscribe. We’d appreciate it.

Kull of Atlantis!

Posted in Archive with tags , , on February 8, 2018 by Occult Detective


I am thrilled to announce that I’ll be writing the introduction for Slave, Soldier, and King, a compendium of three Kull of Atlantis tales by Robert E. Howard. The collection is being published by Apollyon Press and Chance Phillips, with cover art by Marcio Moraga, interior art by Stefan Poag, and with additional art by John and Marie Severin.


The collection will reprint Robert E. Howard’s The Shadow Kingdom, The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune, and The Phoenix on the Sword.

Slave, Soldier, and King is available via Kickstarter in pdf format for just $3 or trade paperback for $12.


“…the lamps expire.”

Posted in Archive, Writing with tags on June 11, 2017 by Occult Detective

Robert E Howard81 years ago, Robert E. Howard left this world, leaving behind a legacy of visceral and kinetic prose that has inspired millions.

Howard has been my favorite author since I was ten years old. Living in rural Indiana, with a clear running stream, fields, and woodlands as my backyard, it was Howard’s tales that fired my imagination.

When I took up a stick (or hammock pole) and it transformed into a broad sword, I became Conan of Cimmeria, fighting for survival in the Pictish wilderness.

To this day, I am still overwhelmed by Howard’s words. They still speak to me in much the same way they did more than forty years ago on the edge of that small farm I called home.

Robert E. Howard was larger than life. He single-handedly created the sword & sorcery genre and left an enduring mark on fiction.

As his mother slipped into a coma she would never wake from, Howard, in the early morning hours of June 11, 1936, chose to proceed her in death, but it was his life and the yarns he spun that we celebrate.

Robert E. Howard is immortal, his words destined to be read, studied, and enjoyed for as long as there are humans to do so.

The last words he wrote — “”All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre; The feast is over and the lamps expire.” — are sad and mournful, but reflect the eternal fire lit, heralding his place in the pantheon of literary legends.

That burning pyre became a shining beacon to all those who would follow in his footsteps.

Rest In Peace, Two-Gun.

Everything’s Coming Up Conan

Posted in Archive with tags , on May 27, 2015 by Occult Detective

The last couple of days have been all abuzz over everyone’s favorite barbarian. Cabinet bought out Paradox, Arnold and Co. are pimping the next Conan film. We’ve got a board game on the way from Monolith and then there’s the Roleplaying Game.

I received in my inbox today a playtest update from Chris Birch and Modiphius for their forthcoming Conan RPG. Along with the v3 playtest update was a sneak peek at the cover art for the RPG Manual.

Before I reproduce that email here, let me make a quick point about the game itself. So far, I don’t like it and I don’t think I’ll like it anytime soon. In fact, not ever, I imagine. See, it’s the bloody awful 2d20 system that just sucks the life out of the game.

All that being said, I will be buying the game. They will still be getting my money, and, perhaps more importantly, I think they should get yours as well.

Why? For me, the main reason is, I’m wholly committed to the Hyborian Age and I’m hungry for the resources and modules they’ll be offering. It will be a simple matter for me to convert the whole thing to the system of my choice.

Secondly, I respect what Modiphius is doing (even if I don’t like the system chosen). Chris Birch is pulling in some of the finest artists, developers, and Howard scholars available. This is going to be a brilliant product.

Have doubts? Let’s have a look at today’s post, shall we —

Big News today! Firstly you can now download the v1.3 Conan RPG Playtest Pack which has several changes we think you’ll like. Remember to tell friends to sign up to playtest at

We can now unveil the art of world famous Conan artist Sanjulian(Conan Ace Paperbacks, Vampirella, Eerie, Creepy) for the Conan Roleplaying Game. It’s actually a wrap around cover and you’ll see the full art soon.

Conan RPG

Sanjulian approached us and loved the fact we were bringing an authentic Conan roleplaying game to the tabletop. His passion for Howard’s barbarian is unparalleled and it shows in this classic piece. We’re honoured to have such incredible talent contributing to the series of covers.

Jeff Shanks wrote the following brief for the cover (this is just the summary):

“This painting would conflate and combine several different scenes and elements from “Red Nails.” The basic composition would have CONAN and VALERIA inside a throne room in the ancient lost city of Xuchotl surrounded by and fighting enemy TLAZITLAN warriors. Behind them is a black ebony pillar with hundreds of reddish copper nails driven into it. Entering the scene in the background is the insane wizard TOLKEMEC with several zombies/mummies/undead behind him. Other elements would include THE CRAWLER, a serpentine monster, and TASCELA an evil but beautiful sorceress/witch who would be looking at the arrival of TOLKEMEC with fear and loathing.”

We think Sanjulian nailed it (though for design reasons Tascela didn’t make it in to this image) and look forward to more of his work later on! We’ll soon be unveiling the fantastic cover by British artist Carl Critchlow! We’ll leave you with Howard’s description of the scene!

“The Tecuhltli, recovering from the first stunning shock of the surprise that had swept them back into the throne room and littered the floor with their corpses, fought back with an equally desperate fury, while the door-guards from the lower floors came racing to hurl themselves into the fray. It was the death-fight of rabid wolves, blind, panting, merciless. Back and forth it surged, from door to dais, blades whickering and striking into flesh, blood spurting, feet stamping the crimson floor where redder pools were forming. Ivory tables crashed over, seats were splintered, velvet hangings torn down were stained red. It was the bloody climax of a bloody half-century, and every man there sensed it.” 

“These crashed into the fray with the devastating effect of a hurricane plowing through a grove of saplings. In sheer strength no three Tlazitlans were a match for Conan, and in spite of his weight he was quicker on his feet than any of them. He moved through the whirling, eddying mass with the surety and destructiveness of a gray wolf amidst a pack of alley curs, and he strode over a wake of crumpled figures.” 

“Valeria fought beside him, her lips smiling and her eyes blazing. She was stronger than the average man, and far quicker and more ferocious. Her sword was like a living thing in her hand. Where Conan beat down opposition by the sheer weight and power of his blows, breaking spears, splitting skulls and cleaving bosoms to the breast-bone, Valeria brought into action a finesse of sword-play that dazzled and bewildered her antagonists before it slew them. Again and again a warrior, heaving high his heavy blade, found her point in his jugular before he could strike. Conan, towering above the field, strode through the welter smiting right and left, but Valeria moved like an illusive phantom, constantly shifting, and thrusting and slashing as she shifted. Swords missed her again and again as the wielders flailed the empty air and died with her point in their hearts or throats, and her mocking laughter in their ears.” 


Chris, Modiphius

Solomon Kane

Posted in Occult Detectives with tags , on March 30, 2015 by Occult Detective


“It has fallen upon me, now and again in my sojourns through the world, to ease various evil men of their lives.”

My review of King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon #1

Posted in Archive with tags , , , on May 30, 2013 by Occult Detective


New this week from Dark Horse Comics comes a welcome sight for sore eyes — an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s The Hour of the Dragon by writer Tim Truman, illustrator Tomás Giorello and colorist José Villarrubia. It’s no secret that I have a deep affinity for Howard’s creations, particularly Conan of Cimmeria. I have also been very vocal about my utter disdain for Brian Wood’s most recent take on the character. With Tim Truman in the driver’s seat of King Conan, in a very real sense, this felt very much like rediscovering a long lost friend, erasing the foul taste left by Wood’s work. By Crom, my Conan was back.

I am, in addition to being a fan of Howard’s Conan stories, a huge fan of Marvel’s comic adaptations and loved Roy Thomas, Gil Kane, and John Buscema’s take on The Hour of the Dragon (which played out through Giant-Sized Conan #s 1-4, and Savage Sword of Conan #s 8 & 10). How does Dark Horse’s imagining measure up? In a word? Beautifully.

The writing is crisp and direct, capturing the essence of Robert E. Howard’s fiery prose. There’s no question that Truman drinks from the same well. This is a man who understands the medium he’s working in, pacing the story and delivering a fantastic cliffhanger guaranteed to entice even the most jaded comic fan back for more.

As for the art, Tomás Giorello is really a wonder, capturing perfectly the mythic grandeur that Howard’s original tale inspires. Giorello’s style invokes the perfect cross between Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema, with classic, sketch-heavy line work that’s just beautiful in every sense of the word. The real star for me, artistically, however, is José Villarrubia, whose color palette just sings with so much emotion coming through in those muted, color-pencil-like hues.

If there’s a negative, it’s in the issue’s lettering. The special effects seem out of place and digitally dropped in. And while I dig the adaptability and simplification of computer lettering, this is certainly an instance where hand-lettering would have been better served. But then again, maybe that’s just me showing my age.

All in all, a stellar outing for King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon. This is how Conan was meant to be represented on the comic page and I look forward to the ride to come.

You just can’t keep a good Kane down

Posted in Archive with tags , , on August 22, 2012 by Occult Detective

Solomon Kane’s set to make a
comeback in a big way.

I hope.

Catch it on Video On Demand before
its limited theatrical debut…

It’s worth a look.

My Review of Conan the Barbarian

Posted in Archive with tags , , , on August 21, 2011 by Occult Detective

I fell in love with Conan the Barbarian when I was ten years old… and it all started with Marvel Comics. We used to stop at this little flea market in Marion that sold comics, 25 cents apiece or three issues for that same quarter if you didn’t mind the covers being stripped. I always went for the ‘more bang for your buck’, plucking down a George Washington Greenback in exchange for twelve issues of rock ’em sock ’em four-color action… that is until one day I snagged a whole stack of black and white Savage Sword of Conan. It was love at first sight. I was thereafter praying at the altar of Roy Thomas and John Buscema, but the real debt  owed them, beyond the beautiful comic work they put on display, was leading me to the works of Robert E. Howard.

It wasn’t long before I was Howard obsessed, scrounging every dime I could muster to buy those Frazetta-covered Lancers & Ace Paperbacks. Yard sales and used bookstores found me Howard Westerns, Horror tales, Kane and Bran Mak Morn, and even some boxing stories, but it was Conan, first and foremost.

By ’82 I was becoming somewhat of a Howard purist, losing interest in pastiches, when along came Milius, Stone, and Schwarzenegger. I was first in line at the movies and the first to rise from my seat at its conclusion to openly boo the big screen. That was not my Conan. A few years later, Schwarzenegger mumbled through a sequel, which in my opinion had a much better script, but it too drew my ire. Years later, two abortions of epic proportions (a live-action and animated series) broke my heart even further.

Now, here we are. 2011. I’ve been a Conan fan for 35 years, waiting for my Conan to show up on a movie screen. I’m happy to report that he finally has. Jason Momoa’s portrayal in Conan the Barbarian was everything I’d ever wanted from the Cimmerian. He was quick, agile, and powerful, like an animal unleashed. And he was charismatic, inspiring, and armed with a brutal sense of honor born of his harsh upbringing. This was the Conan that Robert E. Howard wrote about, that Frank Frazetta painted.

Momoa was not an actor portraying Conan. He became Conan on the screen.

Unfortunately the script was less than perfect and Marcus Nispel’s direction left little to be inspired by. Despite his obvious short-comings, he got great performances from the cast and kudos for the frantic pace of the film. Conan the Barbarian was wall-to-wall action, as it should be. I just wish it would have been thought out a little better in the writer’s room.

Whatever mistakes were made, Jason Momoa and his fellow thespians elevated the movie beyond the script’s weaknesses and the director’s lack of vision. I can only hope that Momoa gets another chance to sink his teeth into my favorite barbarian as he was, without a doubt, born for this role.

Early numbers are not good, however. Hell, there were only 8 people other than myself at Friday night’s 7:40pm showing. I can only hope that better word of mouth spreads and Conan makes enough to warrant a sequel. Momoa’s performance alone warrants it.

Do yourself a favor. Go see this movie. No, it’s not high cinema, but it is high adventure. I enjoyed the hell out of it and I think you will too.

Dreaming of Cimmeria

Posted in Archive with tags , , on July 9, 2011 by Occult Detective

As a bit of a Howard purist, I have my doubts, but I am excited to see what they’ve done with the latest incarnation of everyone’s favorite Cimmerian. Conan, of whom Howard wrote dozens of letter perfect adventure tales, has never been adapted properly for the large or small screen. Two feature films, a live-action series, and an animated one have reared their ugly heads, each more horrible than the one before. Is it wrong of me to hope for better from Jason Momoa’s turn behind the broadsword?

All they had to do was adapt one of the author’s phenomenal stories and a lot of fears would have been eliminated from the start. But the producers didn’t go that route, so now we’re left hoping that the spirit of Robert E. Howard’s creation remains intact. On August 19th here in the good old US of A we’ll find out…

I’ll be sitting in the audience, just as I was for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s two failed attempts. Here’s to hoping for something wonderful, but after what’s come before it, maybe I should just be willing to settle for it to not be an embarrassment…

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