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Sunday, 19 August 2007 The Drab Garb of Solomon Kane

Comic Book Resources has posted an interview with Dark Horse Comics editor and writer Scott Allie, discussing his upcoming series about Robert E Howard’s Solomon Kane.

As Allie notes, “Of the three main Robert E. Howard characters — Conan, Kull, and Kane — Kane's the one that exists in an actual historical era — the end of the sixteenth century. He's a Puritan adventurer with a military history and he's driven by a sense of vengeance.”

Howard’s stories and poems do indeed place Solomon Kane at the end of the sixteenth century. He was present when Sir Francis Drake executed Thomas Doughty in 1578, and served under Sir Richard Grenville when his ship the Revenge single-handedly fought a 53-ship Spanish fleet in 1591. Both of these were real events.

But pictures of Solomon Kane always show him in the clothes of the mid-to-late 17th century, as in Gary Gianni’s fine illustrations (above and below) to the 1998 edition of The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane.

In real life, men in the late Elizabethan period looked like this:

The appearance of fighting men who could not afford to have their portraits painted has been reconstructed like this:

I am not sure where the depiction of Kane as a 17th century version of the Shadow started. There does not seem to have been a single moment when a definitive version of Solomon Kane was created (unlike Howard’s better known character, Conan, whose appearance was fixed by Frank Frazetta’s paperback covers in the 1960s, which marked a sharp break from the short-haired, blandly handsome version who appeared in illustrations to the original publication of the stories in Weird Tales). The way that Gianni portrayed Kane was consistent with the appearance of the character in various Marvel comics of the 1970s and 1980s.

The Marvel version, in turn, drew on the covers painted by Jeff Jones for 1960s small-press book collections.

But, as you can see, the Jones version is quite vague in its details. Those are the earliest pictures of Solomon Kane that I have found. If there were any illustrations to his appearances in Weird Tales, I would love to see them, but I haven’t yet.

So far as I know, only one artist has given Solomon Kane a distinctly different appearance: Howard Chaykin in a story for Marvel’s Savage Sword of Conan.

But I find it hard to recommend this version. The tabard and hooped rugby-jersey sleeves seem neither in period nor in character.

So why is Kane always depicted anachronistically? Partly, I think, because the word “puritan” always throws up images of roundheads, pilgrim fathers and Salem witch-hunters, although it was in use, mostly as an insult, earlier than that. But in part, it is just that, even when toned down (as in Shakespeare in Love), Elizabethan menswear, with its stiff doublets and hose, pantaloons and ruffs, looks distinctly silly to 21 century eyes.

Will Dark Horse take up the challenge of creating a different but historically appropriate Solomon Kane? Or will they stick with the familiar, easy but anachronistic version? We’ll have to wait and see.

Pictures and panels Illustrations by Gary Gianni to Robert E Howard The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, Wandering Star Books and Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 1998

Anonymous Sir Walter Raleigh and his Son, c 1591, National Portrait Gallery, London, reproduced in Francois Boucher A History of Costume in the West, Thames & Hudson, 1966

Isaac Oliver The Three Brothers Brown, 1598, Collection of Lord Exeter at Burlington House, photo by Courtauld Institute of Art, reproduced in Francois Boucher A History of Costume in the West, Thames & Hudson, 1966

Plates by Richard Hook for John Tincey The Armada Campaign 1588, Osprey Books Elite Serries no 15, 1988

Solomon Kane “The Hills of the Dead”, script by Roy Thomas, adapted from the story by Robert E Howard, art by Alan Weiss and Neal Adams, Kull and the Barbarians issue 2, Marvel Comics, July 1975, reprinted in The Savage Sword of Conan issue 16, Marvel UK, February 1979

Solomon Kane “The Prophet!” by Ralph Macchio (scripter), Mike Mignola (penciller), Al Williamson (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Bob Sharen (colourist) and Carl Potts (editor), (The Sword of) Solomon Kane issue 4, Marvel Comics, March 1986

Jeff Jones, cover illustration to Robert E Howard Red Shadows, Donald Grant books, 1968, scan taken from the Howard Works website

Jeff Jones, cover illustration to Robert E Howard The Moon of Skulls, Centaur Press, 1969, scan taken from the Howard Works website

Jeff Jones, cover illustration to Robert E Howard The Hand of Kane, Centaur Press, 1970, scan taken from the Howard Works website

Solomon Kane “Rattle of Bones", script by Roy Thomas, adapted from the story by Robert E Howard, art by Howard Chaykin, Savage Sword of Conan issue 18, Marvel Comics, April 1977, reprinted in The Savage Sword of Conan issue 20, Marvel UK, June 1979 Posted by Steve Flanagan at 16:33 Labels: Gary Gianni, Howard Chaykin, Jeff Jones, Mike Mignola, Neal Adams, Solomon Kane 4 comments:

Scott said... 

The reason for the anachronisms in the imagery of Kane is that there were abundant anachronisms in the prose. I'm not sure how we're gonna handle it yet, but you've given me some things to think about.

20 August 2007 06:03 Steve Flanagan said... "... there were abundant anachronisms in the prose."

A fair point, and one faced by many adaptors of historical fiction.

Jonathan Miller, thinking particularly of Shakespeare, used to recommend staging plays to represent the period in which they were written, rather than the period in which they were set. But then Kane really would look like the Shadow, so perhaps not!

20 August 2007 10:06 Anonymous said... That Chaykin-drawn (and Roy Thomas-scripted) Kane story for Marvel Comics' [i]Savage Sword]/i] b/w mag was a direct and immediate follow-up to their adaptation of "Red Shadows" over two issues of the Code-approved/four-color line's [i]Marvel Premiere[/i], featuring that same visual design for Solomon. Just FYI.

21 April 2008 20:08

Anonymous said...

Sorry I had to post the above as anonymous. I didn't remember having a google account, but when I tried to make a new one, it said one with my email address already existed. When I tried to log in to it with my best guess as to what I would have used as a password, it said my email address itself did not exist (NOT my submitted password guess). So I selected anonymous and then "preview," with the expectation of adding an explanation of all this if it worked, but it simply posted instead. Hence, those italics coders that, obviously now, don't work on these boards. Real nice system you've got here. (This one DID "preview," BTW.)

21 April 2008 20:19 Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) About me Steve Flanagan Steve Flanagan is a decaying hulk moored somewhere on Tyneside in North East England. The manifest for his cargo of comics nostalgia is here. View my complete profile

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Template:See also Template:Infobox comics meta series Solomon Kane featured in several comics published by Marvel Comics in the 1970s and 1980s. Dark Horse Comics began publishing a new series of Kane stories in 2008, and will publish a new collection of the 1970's Marvel stories in 2009.

Marvel ComicsEdit

Marvel Comics has published several comic books featuring Solomon Kane. He was the lead character in the six-issue limited series Sword of Solomon Kane, published 1985-6. He also appeared numerous times in the company's black and white, non-Code approved magazine format comics, most frequently in Savage Sword of Conan, starring Howard's most popular pulp character. The complete list of Marvel's Solomon Kane story appearances are:

  • ==Conan is traveling through Kush on his way north following the death of Belit when he falls prey to the sorceries of the city of Negari. He is transported to the distant past when Negari was a city of Atlantis, where he has an adventure with Solomon Kane, who has also been transported to the past.==

This tale in Marvel Comics' Savage Sword of Conan issues 219-220, by Roy Thomas and Colin MacNeil, is a sequel to R.E. Howard's Solomon Kane story The Moon of Skulls.'The Sword of Solomon Kane[2] #1-6 (September 1985—July 1986), Of the six issues, four adapted Howard stories (all previously adapted by Marvel), and two (#s 2 & 4) contained original stories by Ralph Macchio, with the art credits varying. The finale also contained yet another rendering of the poem "Solomon Kane's Homecoming," illustrated by Sandy Plunkett and Williamson.[3]Edit

Dark Horse ComicsEdit

It was announced at the 2006 Comic Con that Paradox Entertainment has completed a publishing deal with Dark Horse Comics for a Solomon Kane comic series, to be written by Scott Allie.[4] [5] The first arc will include completed versions of two Howard fragments — "The Castle of the Devil" and "Death's Black Riders." The first issue picks Kane up traveling through the Black Forest after ending his military career.[4] It is a five-issue mini-series, based on "Castle of the Devil", and features art by Mario Guevara (pencils), Dave Stewart (colors) and John Cassaday (covers). An eight page sample was posted on the Dark Horse Presents MySpace page in June 2008 [6] and the first issue was published in September 2008.[7]

Collected editionsEdit

The Castle of the Devil, a trade paperback collection of the Dark Horse 5-issue mini-series, was published in July 2009 (ISBN 1595822828).

In February 2009, Dark Horse announced a new collection entitled The Saga of Solomon Kane (ISBN 1595823174) which collected the 1970's Marvel stories.[8]. This 400+ page collection includes various stories from Savage Sword of Conan, Conan Saga, Kull and the Barbarians, Marvel Preview, Monsters Unleashed and Dracula Lives.

They followed this with The Chronicles Of Solomon Kane in December 2009 (ISBN 1595824103), which collected all the color stories, including the Sword of Solomon Kane limited series.


  1. Jess Nevins' Solomon Kane Comic Page.
  2. The indicia calls it simply Solomon Kane
  3. Solomon Kane Info Page
  4. 4.0 4.1 Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane Returns at Dark Horse, Comic Book Resources, August 18, 2007
  5. Scott Allie - Bringing Solomon Kane to Comic Book Life, Newsarama, July 21, 2008
  6. NYCC Exclusive: Dark Horse Runs Wild with "Solomon Kane", Comic Book Resources, April 20, 2008
  7. EXCLUSIVE: Solomon Kane #1 Preview, Comic Book Resources, July 10, 2008
  8. ==Further reading==
    • ==Further reading==
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • {{cite book | first=Robert | last=Heinlein | authorlink= | date=1980 | title=Expanded Universe | edition= | publisher=Ace Books | location=New York |
    • ==Further reading==
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • {{cite book | first=Robert | last=Heinlein | authorlink= | date=1980 | title=Expanded Universe | edition= | publisher=Ace Books | location=New York |
    • {{cite book | first=Robert | last=Heinlein | authorlink= | date=1980 | title=Expanded Universe | edition= | publisher=Ace Books | location=New York |




External linksEdit


Template:Robert E. Howard

es:Solomon Kane fr:Solomon Kane it:Solomon Kane ja:ソロモン・ケーン ru:Соломон Кейн

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