Friday, December 11, 2009

Neal Adams Savage Tales Starring Conan, Ka-Zar, and Zabu, Too!

One of my favorite Marvel magazines of all time was Savage Tales #2, featuring Barry Smith's Red Nails adaption.  I blogged about that giant-size wonder earlier this year.  Apparently Red Nails made Savage Tales a hit, and editor Roy Thomas commissioned Neal Adams to do three covers that would spin the magazine in a different direction.

Savage Tales #3 (1974) features Conan going berserk, about to behead another barbarian before he can defile that babe in the metal bikini.  I think it's terrific; Adams always excelled at portraying characters losing themselves in rage.  A painting like this could sell a comic, regardless of the content inside (which happened to be quite good in this case).  Adams also did a series of paintings for a line of Tarzan paperbacks, which again, were quite irresistible.

The baton was passed from Conan to Ka-Zar in Savage Tales #4 (1974).  If one barbarian magazine was successful, why not two?  (If one Deadpool book is successful, if one Wolverine book is successful, if one X-Men get the idea.)  This was Conan's last appearance in Savage Tales before Roy Thomas spun him off in his own super-giant magazine, Savage Sword of Conan.  It would be up to Ka-Zar and Zabu to carry ST forward.  Zabu looks very intimidating here, doesn't he?

This cover always made me think that a time travelling team-up between Conan and Ka-Zar would have been a nifty idea.

Ka-Zar took cover the masthead in Savage Tales #5 (1974), with another rip-roaring cover.  Within this painting, Adams captured all the elements that should make Ka-Zar a fantastic series.  He's surrounded by prehistoric creatures, about to get his chest ripped to shreds, with Zabu the Sabretooth Tiger as his backup.  And the requisite modern babe in the foreground waiting to be rescued.  Shanna the She-Devil and SHIELD agent Bobbi Morse (who later became Mockingbird) joined Ka-Zar in subsequent issues.

Notice also that the figures of Ka-Zar and Zabu from issue #4 were used on the corner masthead.  Nuff said.

Update: Comments from my old MT blog...


These Adams covers are absolutely gorgeous. I've seen them all before over the years, but put them altogether like this and they're simply stunning. Thanks!
Superb. I think the 70's had extraordinaire artists. I mostly like the way that the pencils and inking were done back then. There was this liberty and exuberance in the art style that the modern artists kinda fail to deliver. I am buying all the Conan Savage Sword TBPs from Dark Horse, and one of the motives is that they include all the black and white covers inside. A truly joy.


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