Friday, January 15, 2016


"Red Nails" continues to be my favorite Conan the Barbarian tale for its breath and scale. It was also the last Conan novella Robert E. Howard wrote. It's featured in the Conan the Warrior paperback and The Conquering Sword of Conan trade paperback. Barry Windsor-Smith was really coming into his own at this time. It was so marvelous that I have most all of these books in my personal collection. Not to overlook the Dark Horse Savage Sword Conan Volume One on my Kindle. 

From the inside front cover.

Marvel Treasury Edition #4
"Red Nails Part One"
Conan and Valeria enter a mysterious walled city. After they become separated, Valeria discovers that the city is indeed inhabited.
"Red Nails Part Two The Lurker From the Catacombs"
Conan and Valeria are hired by Prince Olmec to defend his side of the strange walled city.
"Red Nails Part Three He Comes From the Dark" 
Princess Tascela plans to sacrifice Valeria and use her blood to retain Tascela's youth.
Adapted With Aplomb by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith.
Adapted from the short story by Robert E. Howard.

The inside back cover, concluded from the inside front cover.

The fantastic back cover to the Treasury edition. This piece really deserved the large format.
Part One of "Red Nails" was reprinted from the black and white magazine Savage Tales #2, from which Smith reinked (including the 2 pages at the end of chapter one that Pablo Marcos originally inked) the entire story, added additional details to splash page and elsewhere, and colored the story for its reprint here.

Part Two & Three of "Red Nails" were reprinted from Savage Tales #3, originally black and white in the magazine. These early issues of Savage Tales were fantastic, the best! Don't worry, I will be continuing, if not concluding this post next week.

Marvel Comics presented "Red Nails" in Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian #1. It was a great Baxter paper comic book reprinting the story in color.

Back to black and white in this great magazine!
Later, Marvel published another black and white magazine, Conan Saga #9 (sporting a beautiful new cover) reprinting all three parts of the "Red Nails" story.What a way to kick off that title!

It was nice to get all the stories together, but the coloring was not my favorite treatment. Call me old fashioned.

Red Nails & Red Sonja, what a treat!
Dark Horse's The Barry Windsor-Smith Conan Archives Volume Two, a nice hardcover edition, reprinted the story. Previous to this, they reprinted the story in The Chronicles of Conan Volume Four. Both editions presented the story in color.

Back to the black and white again, this I also have on my Kindle!

Dark Horse also reprinted "Red Nails" in a huge, black and white trade paperback, Savage Sword of Conan #1.

The slipcover to the massive Archives edition!

The most incredible looking edition is the Conan Red Nails Original Art Archives oversized hardcover (similar to IDW's Artist Editions) with slipcase. It's simply amazing! An instant collector's item, highly recommended. I really, really need to dig up the money for this gem, to go with my Steranko Artist Edition.

You can find some clips of the movie on You Tube.

I was looking forward to an animated movie of "Red Nails" but I don't know how far production got. Looks like it died somewhere along the line. 

Looking forward to this motion picture. Arnold is Conan!

Live Large My Friends!

Thank You!

Again, I wish this had been completed and released. I would have picked it up in a heart beat.
The 14.5" tall Conan the Barbarian statue I cherish!

Barry Windsor-Smith's Gorblimey Press print of Valeria. Stunning!


  1. Agree totally on Dark Horse's color job on all of the Smith Conan reprints. I was really hoping for a respectful treatment on the two-volume hardcover set; it might've been the gem of my (or anyone's) collection. If they were going to tamper with the original coloring, then BWS himself should have been in charge. Tom Scioli goes into detail on some of the brainless color choices in this article:

    Those Conan Saga issues are probably the best reprints out there, even if they are in black and white. And wouldn't it be great to see an Original Art Archives of "The Song of Red Sonja"?


    ..why BWS's style seems to perfectly fit REH's Hyborian Age.

  3. It amazes me how, in an era with far more refined printing techniques, how often they screw up the colors in far more expensive new editions.

    No example is better than the Dark Horse collections of the Thomas/Windsor-Smith CONAN THE BARBARIAN material. Truly awful coloring. I think Thomas/Smith's finest hour was in the "Hawks From the Sea" and "Black Hound" stories in CONAN 19 and 20. And I very much wanted these stories in a newer trade. But the colors were so awful I just couldn't purchase it. I prefer to read them in the original issues.

    The same is true of just about any reprinting of Neal Adams' work, particularly the BATMAN ILLUSTRATED BY NEAL ADAMS 1-3 hardcovers. While not awful, the colors darken the art so it is less visible than in the issues they first appeard in.

    Did anyone notice in MARVEL TREASURY EDITION 4 that about an inch along the bottom of every page was shaved off? Likely to size-reformat it to fit the Treasury Edition size that was different than the SAVAGE TALES magazines they first appeared in.
    But man, that back cover is to die for (a page from Smith's "Conan Tupenny portfolio, colored beautifully).
    I love "Red Nails", and have it in virtually every form it's been printed that you showed above. In SAVAGE TALES 2 and 3, in the TREASURY EDITION 4, in the RED NAILS Baxter reprint in 1982, and in that single issue b & w CONAN SAGA issue, that I think has the clearest printing of it in black and white form.

    I loved the sequel to "Red Nails" in SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN by Thomas and Rafael Kayanan in issues 211, 212, 213, 215 and 217. While original and good in its own right, Kayanan has a style compatible with Smith's work in "Red Nails".

    Thomas/Kayanan also did another run in CONAN THE ADVENTURER 1-5 and 9-13 (1994-1995).

    And one issue of CONAN THE SAVAGE magazine 7 in this same period.