Conan’s exploits are many. He’s been a thief and a king, a sword for hire and a pirate. But did you know he hung up his loincloth for the suit as Conan the Salaryman? Let’s dig a bit deeper into this, the Cimmerian’s most gruesome adventure yet.
First of all, who are you, and why did you start the @ConanSalaryman Twitter account?
My name’s Chris. I’m a native of Philadelphia, PA, USA but I’ve been living and working in Osaka, Japan since 2005. Conan the Salaryman came about from some emails I sent a coworker several years ago. I was listening to REH Conan the Barbarian audiobooks during work at the time, and I wanted to complain about how busy I was without using profanity on company email. So I started using “Hyborian Era” swears. That got me daydreaming about how Conan would react if he was somehow transported through space and time into a modern day office setting.
What’s your story with Conan?
I don’t actually remember how I first encountered Conan. Possibly through the 1980’s Arnold Schwarzenegger movie? As I’m into tabletop role playing games I just came to slowly know about the character through pop culture osmosis. After moving to Japan I consumed a lot of audiobooks during my (often times lengthy) commute to work, and somehow got interested in 1930’s pulp era sci-fi and fantasy stories. I realized then that I hadn’t ever listened to or read any of the original Conan stories, and sought them out. The character was very different from what pop culture had taught me about him. I really like how the original REH Conan isn’t a brainless barbarian, but is in fact very intelligent and well-traveled. He’s just often out of his depth (usually due to sorcery most foul), or lets his anger get the better of him. I like playing up on that aspect in my Conan the Salaryman tweets. I also enjoy trying to mimic Howard’s prose and writing style. It’s a challenge, especially back when Twitter was only 140 characters.
Have you considered introducing other Conan characters to the mix, like Valeria for example?
Red Sonja makes an appearance every once in a while, even though she’s not actually a REH character. I think she’s a great foil for Conan the brains to his brawn, always getting the better of him. I especially like having her embarrass the barbarian in “romantic matters”. The image of the huge, muscle bound, ultra masculine barbarian blushing bright crimson at one of Sonja’s lewd comments is a very funny image to me. I try not to overdo it though, Conan’s meant to be extremely competent after all. Thulsa Doom, King Numedidies, and the sorcerer Xaltotun have been mentioned as well. I’ve considered adding other characters, like Valeria or even Karella the Red Hawk from the Robert Jordan stories, but thought that would muddle the account too much. Plus, it’s hard enough to write for one Hyborian Age character, let alone several at once!
I bet we’re all dying to know this: What’s your favorite office supply?
My favorite office supply? My day job is mainly textbook layout and design, so I use the computer a lot. Not physical office supplies. However I am very partial to the Frixion brand erasable pens. I’ve always got no fewer than five of them in my bag, along with a random collection of half filled notebooks.
Finally, which are your three favorite @ConanSalaryman tweets thus far?
Wow that’s tough. After close to three and a half years of running the account, that’s a lot of tweets to consider. My favorites are ones that tweak an existing passage from a Conan story, are self contained micro fictions (complete with plot, development, and twist), or those that have Conan comically misunderstanding some aspect of the modern world. Three examples of those are:
Hither came Conan the Salaryman, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the chipboard desks of the office under his sandalled feet.
“Do you not first need to perform some ritual to ensure the spirits animating this contraption not escape?” queried Conan. The repair staff sighed, then went back to unscrewing the printer’s access panel.
The full-throated shout of surprise Conan gave as he stepped into the office was loud enough to be heard from atop Crom’s mountain itself. Red-faced beneath his square cut black mane, the barbarian began clearing away the veritable ocean of rose petals from his desk.
Make sure to follow @ConanSalaryman on Twitter for more of these. Thanks for the laughs, Chris!