Sunday, February 20, 2011

Conan the Adventurer Animated Series

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, there was an awesome cartoon that was airing at 6:00AM on the weekdays called Conan the Adventurer. I got my ass up every day by 5:45 to watch it, and that in and of itself is a testament to how much I liked it, because I have always held sleep in very high regard.

I've recently been watching the series again with my 2-year-old daughter, and we've been having a blast. It holds up really well in my opinion. Every time an episode is reaching it's conclusion, she knows it before the credits and closing song even come up. Without fail she exclaims, "WATCH TOMAN AGAIN!" (She still has trouble making a K sound)

This was one of the few cartoons from my youth that I can still watch and fully enjoy today. I'm ashamed to admit I've never read any R.E.H. Conan stories, so I can't comment on how the two compare, but I plan to remedy that soon. The series is a true serial, with continuity between episodes, which was a lost art for a while, but has come back to us along with the advent of the DVR. The show uses artfully simple fantasy tropes, and the world as presented is thankfully very different from the Tolkienesque stuff that I am so burnt out on. Pretty much every episode provides me with a handful of ideas I would like to use in future adventures. Some examples of these nuggets are "serpent men that can only be defeated with weapons made of a rare alien metal that came from a meteor that fell from space" or "giant telepathic gorilla-man who's spaceship crashed and people worship him as a god, but he is really enslaved by an evil sorcerer that stole his magic rod after the crash."

This is the kind of content that I love. Simple ideas that can be built upon to make for some cool games. If you've never seen this cartoon, or haven't seen it in 19 years like myself, I highly recommend checking it out.


  1. I'm ashamed to admit I've never read any R.E.H. Conan stories, so I can't comment on how the two compare, but I plan to remedy that soon.

    Let's just say the animated series is to the original stories what Rambo and the Forces of Freedom are to First Blood.

    That said, the animated series actually takes a few things from the stories, more than the films did. The "only metal that fell to earth in a meteor can harm an eldritch enemy" dynamic, for instance, is very similar to one of the plot points of "The Devil in Iron." The story of Hanuman (the Ape-God) bears many similarities to "The Tower of the Elephant," which is infuriating, since they actually adapted "The Tower of the Elephant" in the series, but left out the most powerful, poignant element in the story. But I digress.

    The original stories are some of the finest fantasy fiction I've ever read, full of historical and philosophical depth, but never at the expense of adventure and excitement. They're those rare tales that can be enjoyed on both a "good read" level and "food for thought" level. I recommend getting the Del Rey editions The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, The Bloody Crown of Conan, and The Conquering Sword of Conan. The Centenary Edition from Gollancz is a good alternative.

    (God, 19 years already? Man, I feel old...)

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    I found 3 REH paperbacks at a used book store - two of which are clearly brand new and have never been read. The first two volumes of The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard published by Cosmos Books, which looks to be a subsidiary of Wildside Press. They are entitled "Shadow Kingdoms" and "People of the Dark", respectively. The third book is called "Soloman Kane: Robert E. Howard Vol. III", published by Baen. So across all three of these books, I'm not sure how much Conan there is (certainly none in the third book), but I very much look forward to reading them. I will certainly look into the volumes you mention as well.

    As for the cartoons, I suppose deviations from the original stories are a small price to pay in light of the fact that I can enjoy them with my daughter, and I still find them quite entertaining in their own right. It was probably wrong to even mention any kind of comparison, since comparing books to television/movies is like comparing tabletop RPGs to video games - both can be immensely enjoyable, but they are two entirely different things.

    And the way you describe these stories is exactly what I am looking for out of my reading these days. Time is precious, and I read to be entertained. I never want to read another book like The Two Towers or The Wheel of Time series again. While on the whole they are excellent, there is too much filler that is simply not enjoyable to read.


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