Friday, October 21, 2011

'Almuric' by Roy Thomas and Tim A. Conrad

‘Almuric’ was a short novel Robert E. Howard wrote sometime around 1934. Following Howard’s death, the novel was published in serialized form in Weird Tales magazine in 1939. 

'Almuric' was Howard’s take on the ‘planetary romance’ genre so successfully mined by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The novel’s hero is one Esau Cairn, a two-fisted, not-too-bright brawler in the mode of Howard’s 'Dennis Dorgan' and 'Sailor Steve Costigan' characters. 

Fleeing retribution for killing a corrupt ward boss, Cairn  comes upon a mad scientist’s lair, the occupant of which teleports him to Almuric, a planet “…in a solar system far from our own.”

Once on Almuric, Cairn becomes involved in a constant stream of fights and escapades with the planet’s various humanoid races.

In 1980 Roy Thomas teamed up with artist Tim Conrad to produce an Almuric comic, which appeared in serial form in issues 2 – 5 (1980 – 1981) of Marvel’s Epic Illustrated magazine. In 1991 Dark Horse comics published the entire novel in a softcover format.

While the storyline in Almuric is not particularly imaginative, Tim Conrad’s artwork is outstanding, and the major reason why fans and appreciators of graphic art will want to get a copy of this Dark Horse edition. 

Conrad’s meticulous draftsmanship, dynamic figure depictions, and gorgeous color schemes evoke the Golden Age of magazine illustration of  the 1890s – 1930s, and its practitioners such as Maxfield Parrish, J. C, Leyendecker, Howard Pyle and the Brandywine School, Edmund Dulac, and N. C. Wyeth.

Copies of the Dark Horse edition of ‘Almuric’ in good condition are expensive (starting at around $30) but if you can find one at a perhaps more reasonable price, it’s definitely worth picking up.

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