NPR interviewed veteran artist Barry Windsor-Smith, who’s particularly notable for his work on Conan comics when Marvel first adapted Robert E. Howard’s stories in the Bronze Age, mainly about a GN he’s written called Monsters. I’m not happy they had to bring up the following though:
When I was doing research for this interview, every article I read mentioned Conan the Barbarian in the first paragraph. I even found an NPR story from 2008 about how Conan was one of President Obama’s favorite comic books when he was growing up. How does it feel to have created something that lives so vividly in people’s hearts after so many decades?
It’s very gratifying. Each generation has its own preferences and special favorites. Conan was from the 1970s. There are fans who remember other works of mine from different periods. My creation of Weapon X is from a little more than 20 years ago, yet I still receive fan mail telling me how important the story was to them.
Personally, I’m surprised in hindsight that Obama would consider Conan a favorite, based on how it could contain what the left’s been declaring “toxic masculinity” in the past decade, and Obama actually accepts the notion. As a result, one could wonder if Obama’s love for Conan might’ve changed years after Marvel first published the adaptations around 1970-95.
Something else brought up that’s far better than his reference to Obama:
Comics — both the medium and the industry — has changed a lot since you drew Conan in the early ’70s. Do you think there’s more or less room for creativity and innovation today than there was back when you got started?
In the 1970s there were just two big companies producing comic books. Marvel and DC were pretty much the only game in town if you wanted to make a living at comic books. These days, though, there are dozens and dozens of small-press publishers who have links to the major distributors. [Artists] can flourish creatively without needing to sign the restrictive contracts foisted upon young talent by Marvel and DC.
And isn’t that much better than the unfortunate monopolies of the yesteryear? It’s practically necessary now that corporatism’s ruined the superhero fare now in their clutches. If the Big Two can someday be bought away from the corporates, that’ll be a blessing. Why, come to think of it, if Conan could be bought away from their influences, that too could be good.
Originally published here.