Arktoons Roundup August 22nd 2022The Dark Herald
Welcome to the Arktoons Roundup, a new (sort of) regular feature at the Arkhaven Blog on Mondays. Where I will be taking a look at stuff that is new and interesting in the world of Arkhaven’s webtoons.
If you aren’t familiar with Arktoons, this is meant more for you. I am the Dark Herald, I do the blogging here at Arkhaven. This blog is mostly pop culture news, reviews, and opinion, in short, the usual.
But you aren’t here for the blog. You’re here for the webtoons. Arkhaven is different from other webtoon publishers. While we have the kind of toons you would expect, like Chateau Grief we also have webtoons that are more like traditional comics, if you grew up reading comic books in pamphlet format it, you’ll feel more at home here than you would at say Tapas.io for example. And then there is the Arktoons stuff that you just won’t find anywhere else, which brings me to today’s topic.
The mighty barbarian. The avowed enemy of civilization when its people most need it to have an enemy. A man of strength, savagery, and endurance. Never the sharpest knife in the drawer but all the stronger for it because he cannot be corrupted by subtle arguments and petty temptations. Able to endure relentless torture without complaint, yet his vulnerabilities are almost those of a child. He cannot control his appetites and betrayal will wound him to his heart. Although, betraying him is a terrible idea for he will hound his betrayer to the ends of the Earth, not resting until his sword tastes blood.
We’re starting today with the big daddy of barbarian fiction himself; Conan. Since his creation, the savage Cimmerian has been in every form of media known to mankind. Magazines, books, comic books, movies, TV shows, board games, and video games (both for console and for real games). Now, for the first time, he comes to you in webtoon format.
Conan was a groundbreaker in his day and remains in 2022, Arktoons is doing something new in the field of webtoons with the Greatest Hero of the Hyborean Age.
This is ‘the something new’ I was talking about. An illustrated short story in webtoon format.
Jewels of Gwahlur by Robert E. Howard
The illustrated edition of the public domain story about Conan the Cimmerian, THE JEWELS OF GWAHLUR by Robert E. Howard. Illustrated by Richard Bonk.
Howard’s gift was in the written word. Howard’s work has been frequently dismissed as merely pulp. Bullshit. These are the opinions of wanna-be literary snobs and writers whose only real claim to fame is having written Conan pastiche. Anyone who actually reads Howard’s stories quickly finds that there are layered subtexts that give lie to this causal dismissal by people who will be forgotten long after Howard is still being read.
The cliffs rose sheer from the jungle, towering ramparts of stone that glinted jade-blue and dull crimson in the rising sun, and curved away and away to east and west above the waving emerald ocean of fronds and leaves. It looked insurmountable, that giant palisade with its sheer curtains of solid rock in which bits of quartz winked dazzlingly in the sunlight. But the man who was working his tedious way upward was already halfway to the top.
He came of a race of hillmen, accustomed to scaling forbidding crags, and he was a man of unusual strength and agility. His only garment was a pair of short red silk breeks, and his sandals were slung to his back, out of his way, as were his sword and dagger.
The man was powerfully built, supple as a panther. His skin was bronzed by the sun, his square-cut black mane confined by a silver band about his temples. His iron muscles, quick eyes and sure feet served him well here, for it was a climb to test these qualities to the utmost. A hundred and fifty feet below him waved the jungle. An equal distance above him the rim of the cliffs was etched against the morning sky.
I first read Howard when I was a kid in the late Seventies. After all that time he still has the power to draw me in to his world with just few paragraphs.
The Siege of the Black Citadel by Chuck Dixon
The Legend Chuck Dixon has written new tales about the legendary – and public *domain – character of Conan the Cimmerian created by Robert E. Howard. The first of them concerns the time when Conan, a mercenary, finds himself as part of a besieging army.
The air was thick with the scent of men and spices under the broad market tent that dominated the settlement of camp followers. Braziers offered meat, most probably horse, served piping hot on rods of oak. Barrels of ale and spirits, certainly watered down, were drained at a dear price that rose each day. There were women as well, and the cost to lie with them remained affordable. There was no scarcity of whores of all kinds in the rebel camp.
The men who crowded the rugs and tables that encircled the center ring of the tent paid the steep prices for food and drink with a grumble, yet they paid. The tedium of garrison life and the increasing cold of the coming winter forced them to find distractions within the souks and bordellos of the nomadic village of merchant tents that had come to rest beyond the log ramparts of the siege fort. The anticipation of battle to come—a battle many of them might not survive—made a man think more of the pleasures of the day than a full purse in a future he might not be alive to see.
“Cimmerian, I would speak to you,” Danix said, touching the broad shoulder of a man seated on the ground at the edge of the open ring.
“Conan cannot hear you, captain,” said M’ollo, a swarthy Turan with a braided topknot that reached the small of his back.
“Your words are drowned out by the tinkle of that harlot’s chimes,” laughed Lugan, a Nemedian with a thick brush of white blond hair and a puckered scar where his right eye had been.
“Damn you, I have work for you and your brigands.” Danix gripped Conan’s shoulder once more, fingers pressing deeper into the hard flesh.
Conan tossed the last of his copper coins at the feet of the dancing girl. She stooped to pick them up without interruption to the rhythm of her movements. She offered him a flash of white teeth as well as a brief sight of her womanly virtues as she bent to snatch at the sand for the talents strewn there.
I’ve been rabidly consuming Chuck Dixon’s work since I first read his revival of Airboy for Eclipse Comics during the Eighties comics boom. He has never dissapointed and still doesn’t.
This week’s Arktoons spotlight is on leading Hispanic science fiction and fantasy author Jon Del Arroz’ Deus Vault.
Deus Vault by John Del Arroz
Sir Domingo, Spanish Knight and Holy Crusader, is blessed with a vision on his return from his triumphant conquest in the Holy Land. The Holy Grail appears in the sky, leading him on an adventure to another realm where demons and monstrosities lay waste to all of creation. He discovers a strange race of people called the Kityin, who seem more kin to Earth’s cats than they do humanity. He alone can lead them to salvation and away from the tyrannical rule of The Demon King. Should he fail, not only the Kityin but all the people of all the realms will be destroyed!
Not quite a barbarian fiction but definitely a throwback to something near and dear to our hearts here at Arkhaven, pulp fiction.
And definetly worth a look if you haven’t seen his work yet.
That’s it for this week’s Arktoons Roundup.
See you next week.
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*For all you armchair copyright attorneys out there. Arkhaven is based in Europe.