Appendix N: Everything’s Coming Up, Conan!

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Hot on the heels of our last two Appendix N features comes some very exciting news regarding everyone’s favorite Cimmerian.

Hold on to your broadswords, kids.

Amazon is developing a drama series based on Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian.

Let that sink in for a moment.

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So, who’s behind the project?

First we’ve got Ryan Condal, who is best known for writing the Dwayne Johnson Hercules picture (not a feather in his cap from where I’m sitting), but he also had a hand in creating Colony for USA (plus), tried to get a Sixth Gun series made (double plus), and is writing a Logan’s Run reboot (hopeful).

Directing will be Miguel Sapochnik, which is more than I could have hoped for. Sapochnik is responsible for directing some of the very best episodes of Game of Thrones, including Hardhome, The Battle of the Bastards, and The Winds of Winter.

In addition to Condal and Sapochnik, executive producers are Warren Littlefield (Fargo and The Handmaid’s Tale) and Pathfinder Media & Endeavor Content’s Fredrik Malmberg and Mark Wheeler.

Malmberg and Wheeler are also currently working on another Robert E. Howard property featuring Dark Agnes de Chastillon.

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So far, they are saying all the right things, chiefly that Condal and Sapochnik are huge fans of the source material and have set their goal to adapt the literary Conan rather than look to the three films and two small screen attempts for inspiration.

My distaste for the Schwarzenegger films is well chronicled. The less said about Ralf Möller’s turn as the Cimmerian the better. And the animated series? Yeah. I pretend that didn’t happen. The one bright spot in all these attempts, for me, was Jason Momoa’s portrayal in the abysmal 2011 film.

Which leads me to my hopes for Amazon’s Conan series:

First, I would not be adverse to tapping Momoa as the lead. I believe he deserves another shot at the character.

Second, that the executive producers remain true to their word and adapt Howard’s Conan faithfully. That’s not to say some creative liberties can’t be taken. For one, I’d like to see a somewhat chronological approach, ala the Ace paperbacks I grew up on. Map out the Howard stories into a multi-seasonal arc, let the writers’ room fill in the gaps as needed to flesh out the run.

Third, spend money. It doesn’t have to be a lot. You could do this with a smaller budget than they’ve been shoveling into Game of Thrones (and what Amazon is already throwing at their Lord of the Rings series) and still capture the look and atmosphere that Howard’s depictions of the Hyborian Age demands.

Fourth, two words: Frank Frazetta. If his visuals and energy are not in the game plan, you’re doing it wrong. I don’t think we’d be having this conversation if it weren’t for what Frazetta did for the character. People bought the Conan books because of the covers. They came back for more because of the writing.

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Fifth, and this is wildly important, bring in consultants. Guys like Jeffrey Shanks, Mark Finn, Patrice Louinet, and Bobby Derie. And, well, me and my pal Steven Shrewsbury. Amazon absolutely has to get this right…

I want to see Howard’s Conan on the screen. I’ve been waiting 40 years for this. It’s well past time…

 

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