Friday, August 19, 2011
Fanholes Side Story #12 Hither came Conan...
We open to a snow covered battlefield strewn with bodies. There are but two warriors left. A giant, red haired warrior who demands to know the name of his foe. He learns that he faces Conan, who quickly manages to send the challenger to Valhalla. Weary from battle, Conan wanders through the snowy wasteland until he sees...a naked woman.
Conan is astonished by her beauty, but she can only taunt him and poke fun at his boasts of glory and battles won. Angered, Conan gives chase shouting that he will follow her even into the depths of hell. She leads him on and on through the frozen wasteland until they pass through a valley where two of her brothers meet Conan. Two Frost Giants.
The girl tells her brothers to kill Conan so they might burn his heart as a sacrifice. Being smaller, Conan is able to dodge the lumbering attacks of the Frost Giants. After a short battle he stands triumphant over the two giants. The girl is astonished and no longer laughs at Conan. She can scarcely believe that a mortal has dispatched her brothers. Conan seizes her, but she manages to slip out of the thin wisp of clothing that covered her nether regions and escape. This further enrages Conan. Only an outside force stops him, as the girl beseeches Ymir to save her.
Much later Conan wakes up in the company of friends. He tells them his story yet they do not believe him. They say they found only his footprints and nothing else. One of Conan’s companions tells the story of Atalia, daughter to Ymir. She walks battlefields, greeting fallen souls. Conan swears that he met her but they simply dismiss his tale. Then, Conan looks to his hand...he is holding her clothing.
This is such a simple tale, but it has always been one of my favorites. It has battle, a mysterious naked girl and an element of the supernatural. It has that aspect of something seen, yet not believed by ones friends. Much like a modern day ghost story. It's not overly violent or even overly sexual, though we can imagine what Conan would do with Atalia. A simple tale, and Busiek adapts it so well. The artwork by Cary Nord not only suits Conan, but is almost a feast for the eyes.
If the title of the story, The Frost Giant’s Daughter, seems familiar that is because it is based on the original story by Robert E. Howard. It was also the name of a painting by Frank Frazetta, which is based on Howard’s tale. Frazetta is so entwined with Conan I think his artwork can be attributed to much of the barbarian's popularity. To many, Frazetta's Conan is the definitive version of the character. Which, seems more valid as there has been some concern about Jason Momoa's portrayal in the new movie.
If you are new to the world of Conan and are looking for a good place to start, I suggest the Dark Horse series. Its always been a favorite of mine and Busiek adapts several other tales by Robert E. Howard. Or, if you are curious about Robert E. Howard I suggest you check out the movie, The Whole Wide World, which is basesd on the later half of his life.