Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Words Fail Me (Again)

Courtesy of The Bronze Age of Blogs come yet more examples of the fine work Marvel did with Robert E. Howard's characters during the 1970s.

I give you Conan and Kull stickers ...


27 comments:

  1. I love them both, especially the second, but then again, I think I get a lot less upset when Howard is "disrespected" than some.

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  2. Clearly you have some rare mis-prints here. The first image is actually of Kull, and the second of Conan.

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  3. Wow, me and my brother had those. Really brings back memories.

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  4. Was there also a horse to go between Conan's legs in the first sticker? His "wide stance" appears unnatural, unbalanced and uncomfortable.
    Also, I might be the only one, but I worry about the axe in Conan's left hand. Somebody bumps up against his shield arm and he's gonna need reconstructive surgery on his left knee.
    Is it intended to be ironic that Kull is not wearing any pants?

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  5. Clearly you have some rare mis-prints here. The first image is actually of Kull, and the second of Conan.

    Why do you say that? I'm no expert on these matters and could well be wrong, but sandals, leather harness, and dragon emblem are all things I associate with Marvel's portrayal of King Kull, not with Conan.

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  6. I was just looking at the DNDLead last night and never knew TSW had done conan minature boxsets. but these beat them hands down.

    http://www.dndlead.com/TSR/boxed-sets.htm

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  7. Surely such things are not inflicted on Howard alone? Plush toy Cthulhus? Stoker's master vampire as a breakfast cereal?

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  8. I regularly rant against plush Cthulhu; it's what I do :)

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  9. I hate to be the voice of reason here, but Kull's right, his pants don't fit!

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  10. Dang. I wish I owned these. $$$$!

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  11. You won't believe this, but I still have my "Trick or Treat" sticker! I used up all my Marvel stickers back in the day on school books, but I kept this one. It's been floating around my garage for a couple years now.

    I wonder what it's worth?

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  12. @ 1d30: James is correct.

    Compare Conan the Barbarian with the dual double-bird pendants on the necklace.

    Note Kull the Conqueror's dragon rampant device on his "bib/codpiece", two straps on the single wrist guard (not two bracers...) and the style of sandals...


    And don't forget the pickle!

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  13. Hey, I love my plush Cthulhu slippers!

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  14. I love them both, especially the second, but then again, I think I get a lot less upset when Howard is "disrespected" than some.

    This is nothing worth getting upset about, and any Howard fan that does is missing the big picture. Calling REH a delusional Oedipal Nazi, or asserting that his work is worthless, that's disrespecting him: this is just silly merchandise. Really silly merchandise, I'll grant you, but merchandise nonetheless.

    I'm the same with plushie Cthulhus: they're just plush toys. Now, if you want to get into the whole commercialisation of Howard and Lovecraft, that's another argument: for now, I'm content to giggle at poor Kull. That's what you get for not going for a fitting!

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  15. "These pants don't fit!" Now that's a battle cry to strike terror into the hearts of your enemies...

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  16. Now are these ACTUAL stickers, or is somebody having fun with photoshop in regards to the quotations.

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  17. Actual stickers, my brother and I put dozens of them on the inside of our bedroom closet door back when they were new.

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  18. Best stickers ever! I love REH and Conan but I love to see goofy things done with them too :)

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  19. To be fair to Marvel, the set that these stickers came from doesn't treat Marvel's own characters with any more respect than Conan or Kull received here - they were all lampooned.

    I find it hilarious myself. I think the geek community often takes itself WAY too seriously these days (part of the problem I have both with modern comic books AND modern RPGs, now that I think about it...)

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  20. And don't forget the pickle!

    Yeesh! I didn't see that one on the web page where I found the ones I posted ...

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  21. Now, if you want to get into the whole commercialisation of Howard and Lovecraft, that's another argument

    True enough -- but it is an argument I'm very interested in, so I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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  22. I think the geek community often takes itself WAY too seriously these days (part of the problem I have both with modern comic books AND modern RPGs, now that I think about it...)

    I'll admit to being unduly sensitive about the treatment of REH and HPL, mostly because goofy stuff like this has contributed to misunderstandings of their work, reducing them to caricatures. In a world where the 1982 Milius film, for example, is most people's introduction to the character of Conan, I tend to fret over stuff like this.

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  23. I like to imagine that he's nicknamed the sword and axe "Trick" and "Treat" in a flare of whimsy, so the question is black humor in the highest.

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  24. That's actually meta-merchandise, not merchandise. Marvel did a lot of this back in the day, and it's always been part of the Marvel style.

    Much of the time, Marvel is very serious. It's been accused of having a house style of using big words and long soliloquies. Then there's the conventions which are clearly not serious but still in character. But there's also always been a lot of fun stuff that doesn't take itself seriously, like calling their own fans "the Merry Marvel Marching Society" or "Marvel zombies".

    So yeah, there's always been a lot of talking to the fourth wall, not to mention Hostess fruitpie ads and the appearances on the Electric Company of a non-speaking Spidey. Within the clan, I don't think it does any harm. I mean, when I found out as a kid that Spidey did talk, and in fact had comics and a cartoon, that made me happy. (In fact, the first Marvel comic I ever read was in my little brother's Electric Company magazine. Spidey visited the X-Men.)

    Rather, I think it enhances camaraderie. Conan is Conan, and scary; but he's also the more approachable humor character, to his devoted fans. Beyond that, it's Marvel as a company saying that they like the fans and want to entertain them in every possible way. It's very similar, really, to the way Japanese comics guys often produced their own dojinshi fanzines of their own works, trying to have both the official cake and unofficially eat it, too. It seemed very bold to me as a kid, as if they were saying that they knew they could write and draw well enough to create any mood they wished, from page to page.

    Maybe it was not a terribly dignified way for Marvel to strengthen the ties of fannish affection, but it certainly used to work.

    When you look back at the history of folklore, having it both ways is very typical. There's Robin Hood of the joke ballads and Robin Hood of the serious ones. There's funny Arthur and his comic relief knights, and serious Arthur and his serious knights. It doesn't make you cry less for Robin's death to have laughed over him being forced to do something silly by some peasant farmer or pedlar. As long as the jest is "in the family", that is.

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  25. When you look back at the history of folklore, having it both ways is very typical. There's Robin Hood of the joke ballads and Robin Hood of the serious ones. There's funny Arthur and his comic relief knights, and serious Arthur and his serious knights. It doesn't make you cry less for Robin's death to have laughed over him being forced to do something silly by some peasant farmer or pedlar. As long as the jest is "in the family", that is.

    You speak some truth here.

    I think the main reason I get up in arms about this stuff is more that, unlike your Robin Hood example, at the time stuff like these stickers was released, "serious" Conan works weren't available in pristine form, meaning the, as a consequence, the "joke" stuff gained greater traction both within fandom and beyond. That's made it hard, even now, to create a space for a Howardian Conan in public consciousness and I lament that.

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  26. True enough -- but it is an argument I'm very interested in, so I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on the matter.

    Well there's a good reason for that: I'm all over the place!

    Part of me laments the idea of REH's creations being commercialised, but another part thinks that any good artist can survive exploitation. That first part thinks that many different products can result in interesting creations, the other part thinks "two words: plushy Cthulhu."

    So ultimately, it's more a case of disappointment in the state of affairs, where an author's work gets used for such frivolous things.

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