Having been given a wheel barrow full of 60s and early 70s by my favourite uncle last Saturday, my life has slowed down enough over the last day, or so to actually start looking through them properly. I have been very taken by King Kull, or to give him his full name Kull The Conqueror. A muscle-bound barbarian he was cast out by the Atlanteans and via piracy, gladiatorial combat and a stint as a mercenary, he eventually wrested the crown of a civilised land from the head of a decadent tyrant. Sound familiar at all?
Well, it’s a straight rip-off of Conan. Which is fair enough, no-one got sued. Primarily because both were invented by Robert E. Howard, who pretty much based all of his heroes on himself. From memory, along with all the great Conan books I devoured as an adolescent*, I read one about Kull which was set, supposedly, thousands of years before Conan. In essence though there was very little difference and the main issues involved were the unnatural nature of civilisations and man’s yearning to be free and primal, that and severing heads with a single axe stroke. I love Robert E. Howard still, all his fantasy stuff was great and so was a book of essays and stories of his my father has.
But I digress. Kull made his first appearance in March 1970 in a title I’d never heard of before Creatures On The Loose, I’m guessing this was an old horror showcase Marvel would try potential new titles out in. The story, The Skull of Silence is a wordy one for the time, in essence upon seeing a mysterious castle Kull investigates and learns that Silence itself, or at least a monstrous manifestation of it, was imprisoned by a mighty wizard of ancient times. Not heeding any warnings Kull strides up, smashes the lock and is beset by, umm, an aggressive lack of noise. He eventually vanquishes said beast by expediently banging a gong (get it on). On the back of this story, written by Roy Thomas and inked by Berni Wrightson, Kull The Conqueror was let loose on the general public in June 1971.
Clearly this was 10,000 years before the LP was invented and I would have been able to vanquish Silence with side one of a Donnas LP.
After a brief advert trying to entice me to work in ‘man country’, there’s a second story.
Unlike Kull, this is the delightfully poor story of Trull! The Unhuman, a space villain who escapes to earth and takes over, umm, a big digger. Scary. Three humans, including hot chick Gloria (she’s a bit of a fickle one) are held in thrall by Trull who, in order to better contemplate world domination, makes himself a crude Flintstones-style TV.
Luckily the day is saved by an elephant who the hero was nice to a few days before and Trull is vanquished, his essence free to take over something equally scary at a later point – a can opener, or a pressure hose maybe? This is charming crap, patently churned out as filler and written in about 10 minutes flat. It does have a charm all its own though.
As do I, obviously”!
304 Down (Still).
P.S – want any more comics posts, people?
*obviously learning to avoid any that were not written by REH, L Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter.