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Showing posts from December, 2008

The Kull/ Conan Problem

In a recent article, my colleague and I argued for consideration of the origins of the superhero in relation to the action adventure hero in pulp magazines. We discuss at length, the origins of the pulp magazine character type and of course examined Conan the Barbarian created by Robert E. Howard. Yet, I think there is much to be said about two other Howard characters: Kull and Solomon Kane. In both, I think Howard offered a complex narrative about race and identity. As a consequence, neither character reached the popularity attained by Conan. In Kull especially, the tension between established modern races and "primitives" is front and center.

For the Kull stories Howard created a ‘Pre-Cataclysmic age’ set before the dawn of recorded history. Atlantis and Lemuria had not yet vanished into the seas, but they are inhabited by savages not by advanced, utopian civilizations. In the Kull stories, the Thurian continent boasted grand civilizations and mysterious pre-human races. …