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A Worthy Partnership for a Legendary Character 

by Lo Terry on March 12, 2024
  • In the pantheon of fantasy and sword and sorcery, few names resonate as profoundly as Conan the Barbarian. Created by Robert E. Howard, this iconic character has journeyed through the Hyborian Age, capturing the imagination of readers and establishing a legacy that transcends generations. 

    A significant turning point in the saga of Conan the Barbarian was the transition from a licensing agreement with Marvel to a co-publishing venture with Titan Comics. This evolution heralds a new chapter for the iconic hero, aiming to blend the rich legacy of Robert E. Howard’s creation with fresh explorations in the realms of fantasy and adventure. 

    With this backdrop, we venture forth into the heart of the saga, where the tales of old meet the boundless imagination of today’s storytellers. Join us as we unravel the threads of ambition and legacy that led to this partnership, one that weaves together the past, present, and future of Conan the Barbarian to redefine sword and sorcery’s most beloved characters. 

    Titan Entertainment’s Humble (Brag-Worthy) Beginnings with Conan the Barbarian

    The evolution of Conan’s saga has been marked by collaborations with various publishers, each contributing their unique vision to the lore. These partnerships were pivotal in bringing Howard’s creation to new audiences, adapting and reimagining his stories to resonate with the changing tastes of readers and viewers alike. Yet, amidst this ever-expanding universe, the essence of Conan—his unyielding spirit and his relentless quest for adventure— remained unaltered.

    A testament to the enduring allure of Conan’s world is the personal journey of Nick Landau, owner of Titan Entertainment. Landau shares, “I had been reading the Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter and Pellucidar series and one day fell upon the Lancer Conan series by Howard and Sprague de Camp. I was gripped by the Frazetta covers and devoured the entire series, reading each as they came out.” It was this insatiable hunger for adventure that led him to a serendipitous meeting with Barry Smith, an artist who was just beginning to shape Conan’s legacy in the comic world.

    Yet, it was a chance encounter in Brooklyn Heights that would firmly root Conan in the fabric of Landau’s destiny. “On a trip to NYC in 1970, I stayed in a flat in Brooklyn Heights, I still remember the water bed and lava lamps, belonging to a friend of my father.” he recalls. 

    It was here, amidst the quintessential backdrop of the ’70s, that he learned of another Englishman in the building, a discovery that piqued his curiosity. “Being a precocious kid I ran upstairs, banged on the guy’s door and introduced myself,” he says, setting the stage for a pivotal moment in his life. The man who answered, “dressed in a long dressing gown and with the vibe of Mick Jagger from Performance,” was Barry Smith. “Apparently he had just started working on a comic strip version of Conan,” Landau reveals, marking the beginning of his deep dive into Conan’s comic adaptation.

    “We chatted for a while, then met up a few more times before my NYC visit came to an end,” Landau recounts. As Smith’s artwork for Conan reached new heights, so did Landau’s appreciation for the storytelling and artistry that brought Howard’s world to life, laying the foundation for a journey that would intertwine Landau’s destiny with that of the Cimmerian warrior.

    The Time for a New Home for Conan Had Come

    The handover of Conan the Barbarian from Marvel to Titan Comics marked a significant shift, driven by a mutual desire to continue the legendary character’s journey in a way that honors Robert E. Howard’s original vision. 

    Fred Malmberg of Heroic Signatures, deeply invested in preserving Conan’s legacy, sought a publishing partner capable of embracing the rich tapestry of the Hyborian Age while navigating the challenges of the modern comic book industry. Marvel’s new focus on its in-house properties opened the door for Conan to find a new home, one where the emphasis on storytelling and lore could flourish without constraint.

    The Titan Publishing Group, led by Nick Landau and his partner, Vivian Cheung, emerged as the ideal choice. Malmberg and Landau had a history of mutual respect and shared interests in the expansive possibilities of comic storytelling. Their previous collaborations and shared visions laid a solid foundation for this new venture. The idea for a deeper partnership solidified during discussions at the Frankfurt Book Fair, setting the stage for a collaboration that would breathe new life into Conan’s saga.

     The release of “Blood of the Serpent” in 2022 was the first major milestone of this collaboration, garnering praise and demonstrating the potential of this new chapter for Conan.

    This partnership was built on equal contributions from both sides: Heroic Signatures would guide the creative vision, while the Titan Publishing Group would handle the publishing strategy and distribution, ensuring that Conan’s stories reached both longtime fans and new readers. Titan’s advantage was it could bring to bear its four divisions – Comics and Graphic Novels, Fiction, Illustrated and Magazines, the first three of which were now heavily involved with the publishing of Conan. The release of “Blood of the Serpent” and “Conan the Barbarian, The Official Story of the Film”, in 2022 were the first major milestones of this collaboration, garnering praise and demonstrating the potential of this new chapter for Conan.

    With the alliance between Heroic Signatures and Titan Comics now in full swing, the future of Conan the Barbarian looks promising, with adventures as vast and varied as the Hyborian Age itself awaiting exploration.

    The First Big Test of Titan and Heroic Signatures’ Collaboration on Conan the Barbarian

    The partnership between Heroic Signatures and the Titan Publishing Group’s Comic Book division, Titan Comics, marks a significant step in Conan the Barbarian’s ongoing saga. This collaboration has set the stage for new stories, starting with the strategic selection of Jim Zub and Rob De la Torre to lead Conan’s latest adventures. Their expertise and passion for Robert E. Howard’s world are central to the project’s ambition to explore new narratives within the Hyborian Age.

    Jim Zub’s experience with Conan, notably his work at Marvel Comics, has equipped him with the insight needed to navigate Conan’s complex universe. His commitment to expanding Conan’s stories beyond their well-trodden paths promises to inject fresh vitality into the series. Rob De la Torre’s art complements Zub’s storytelling, capturing the raw, rugged beauty of the Hyborian Age and its inhabitants with precision and flair. The financial and critical achievements of his previous work underscore his ability to resonate with audiences, indicating a bright future for Conan’s tales under their guidance. 

    This venture seeks to deepen the lore of the Hyborian Age, shedding light on lesser-known characters and stories. The initiative aims to enrich the Conan universe by introducing audiences to characters like Solomon Kane and Kull, broadening the scope of Howard’s world and offering a more diverse narrative landscape.

    Looking ahead, the partnership is poised to expand the Conan universe in exciting new directions. The collaboration between Heroic Signatures and the Titan Publishing Group is not just about revisiting familiar tales but also exploring uncharted territories within the Conan lore. This commitment to storytelling promises to ensure the legacy of Conan the Barbarian continues to captivate and inspire.

    Join us in this grand adventure, for in the world of Conan the Barbarian, every fan’s support is a sword raised in solidarity with the timeless hero of the Hyborian Age. Together, let’s embark on this journey, ensuring that the saga of Conan continues to inspire, enthrall, and entertain for many years to come.

  • Lo Terry

    In his effort to help Heroic Signatures tell legendary stories, Lo Terry does a lot. Sometimes, that means spearheading an innovative, AI-driven tavern adventure. In others it means writing words in the voice of a mischievous merchant for people to chuckle at. It's a fun time.

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