Tentacle Tuesday: the Savagery of Conan’s Savage Sword

Marvel’s looong-running Savage Sword of Conan (published 1974 – 1995) was not restrained by the Comics Authority Code, being a magazine. So what did the illustrators and writers involved do with all this freedom? They heaped piles of gore and violence (badass violence) into the stories, and they made sure most Conan covers contained (1) naked damsels; (2) a heroic chopping-off-things-with-my-sword pose; (3) tentacles. If there was a shortage of cephalopods that month, other tentacle-like props would be happily used: elephant trunks, serpents ‘n’ snakes, dragon tails, and other grabby appendages.

I recommend reading The 10 Most Brutal Moments from Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian! f̶̶̶o̶̶̶r̶̶̶ ̶̶̶a̶̶̶ ̶̶̶g̶̶̶o̶̶̶o̶̶̶d̶̶̶ ̶̶̶g̶̶̶i̶̶̶g̶̶̶g̶̶̶l̶̶̶e̶̶̶ for a good look at just how, erm, badass and savage and brutal Conan is. And when you’re done with that, take a gander at today’s line-up of tentabulous and tentarrific covers in which Mr. Conan slashes and hacks his way through rapacious monsters!

The Savage Sword of Conan #13 (July 1976), painted by Richard Hescox. Mostly undressed cutie (who may actually be a drag queen?): check. Bloody knife: check. Murderous, glazed-over eyes, a mask of hate and sadism on Conan’s face: double check. Poor scared octopus who was minding his own business… sigh, I’m afraid he’s mincemeat.
The Savage Sword of Conan #20 (July 1977), cover painted by Earl Norem. Braless beauty: check. Interestingly, Conan seems to have only one nipple. The sword hasn’t been plunged it, yet, but I’m sure it will take no time at all.

Incidentally, this is what our Slithering Shadow looks like from another angle:

Barbarian-“The Slithering Shadow,”
Pencils by John Buscema, inks by Alfredo Alcala.
The Savage Sword of Conan #23 (October 1977), cover painted by Earl Norem. It’s a little-known fact that if you squeeze a woman by the midriff, her boobs pop out. At least Red Sonja is a little more feisty than the average helpless maiden.
The Savage Sword of Conan #81 (October 1982), painted by Joe Chiodo. Completely exposed woman in lingerie: check. Has she wandered in from a gothic romance in which she was roaming the halls at night, dressed in naught but a flimsy nightie? Oh, sorry, wrong trope.
The Savage Sword of Conan #101 (June 1984), painting by Michael Golden (‘when in doubt– smudge!‘). Man, Conan has a heck of a square, prominent chin. I almost didn’t include this cover because of the ridiculous anatomy – the front guy’s arm looks like a bovine leg (complete with hoof??), and Conan’s thigh and its bulging muscles don’t seem to be attached to his body – but the tentacles beckoned.

The following may be my favourite cover of today’s post, so here’s the original painting so we can admire the myriad details properly. For a second, I was worried that it couldn’t become part of today’s roster for lack of tentacles, but a scene of this type just *had* to have at least one tentacled creature. This has several, I am happy to report, though sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who (and what’s what) in this glorious tangle of tails, wings and appendages.

The Savage Sword of Conan #123
Original painting for the cover of The Savage Sword of Conan #123 (April 1986). Painted by Ernie Chan. Note that there is no, I repeat no naked woman on this cover, just a scared child of indeterminate gender. And Conan doesn’t look like a complete asshole. Ernie Chan, you made my day. ❤ ❤
The Savage Sword of Conan #178 (October 1990), painted by Joe Chiodo. Back to our regular program: violent He-Man hero, ghostly mostly-naked chick (who doesn’t have an ass at all, it seems, while her legs are mysteriously floating in the mist generated by the animal heat and moisture given off by Conan).
The Savage Sword of Conan #190.jpg
The Savage Sword of Conan #190 (October 1991), cover painted by Earl Norem. Wait, Conan is wearing a vest? And he looks younger and almost scared? What’s happening?

~ ds

5 thoughts on “Tentacle Tuesday: the Savagery of Conan’s Savage Sword

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