Interview: Fred Van Lente on Dark Horse’s Conan The Avenger

Conan The Avenger #1

Conan The Avenger #1


Writer Fred Van Lente has worked on such books as Dark Horse’s Brain Boy and Conan and the People of the Black Circle, Marvel’s Incredible Hercules, and IDW’s G.I. Joe among many others. Now, he’s returning to write more tales of Robert E. Howard’s famous barbarian in Dark Horse’s Conan The Avenger. Westfield’s Roger Ash recently contacted Van Lente to learn more about this upcoming series.

Westfield: What appeals to you about Conan?

Fred Van Lente: I love the sword and sorcery genre, ever since I was a Dungeons & Dragons-obsessed kid. I never got all that much into Conan per se until Dark Horse ask me to adapt Robert E. Howard’s People of the Black Circle. Then I just devoured the stuff. He’s such a terrific icon of a character — a force of nature, really, that everyone can instantly connect to.

Westfield: Will the stories in Conan The Avenger be new stories or adaptations of Robert E. Howard’s work?

Van Lente: Ever since Dark Horse’s run began in 2005 or so, the writers have been following “The Dark Storm Chronology,” a concordance of the REH tales that lays out the timeline for Conan’s life. After Queen of the Black Coast, which encompassed the entirety of Brian Wood’s comic, comes an untitled fragment commonly called “The Snout in the Dark,” and classics like “Xuthal of the Dark” (a.k.a. “The Slithering Shadow”)and “A Witch Shall Be Born.”

Westfield: What can you say about the initial story and who are some of the characters readers will meet?

Van Lente: We’ve retitled the first story in our run Shadows Over Kush, and picks up Conan at the lowest point in his career, a broken man after losing Belit and the pirate band he sailed with for years. But he doesn’t stay down at the mouth for long, for he finds himself in the capital of Kush, where he’s caught between a scheming nobleman, a beautiful but deadly queen, a horrible creature summoned by dark magic (“The Snout in the Dark” of the title) and Agara, the mystic witch-finder who has the spell-caster in his sights. Agara is an unusual character in the Conan canon, because he’s one of the few wizards Conan respects — even likes.

Westfield: You’re working with artist Brian Ching. What can you say about his contribution to the book?

Van Lente: He’s doing terrific work bringing the world of Kush to live and he has such raw energy to his rendering, the people who dug Brian’s run on the book will really like this.

Westfield: Are there any other projects you’re working on that you’d like to mention?

Van Lente: I’d say definitely check out Magnus Robot Fighter from Dynamite and Archer & Armstrong from Valiant — and I’ve got some more exciting announcements on the horizon soon!

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Van Lente: I’m really having the most fun on this book, with a licensed character, since I was working on Amazing Spider-Man. I hope even if you’re not a pre-established Conan fan you’ll check it out and fall in love with his world the way I have.

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Conan The Avenger

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