Over the course of his comics career, Darick Robertson has tackled outlaw journalists, morally depraved superheroes, an X-Man, and the most famous gun-slinging vigilante around — but his next project harkens back to a time before his resume was filled with some of the most popular characters of the last few decades.
Next week, the co-creator of "Transmetropolitan" and "The Boys" turns his eye to Robert E. Howard's famous barbarian, Conan, in a one-shot story that he scripted and drew, titled "Conan: The Weight Of The Crown."
MTV News caught up with Robertson to find out where his Conan tale takes the bloodthirsty Cimmerian, and why he'll leave a host of bodies in his wake this time. Dark Horse Comics has also provided Splash Page readers with an exclusive preview of "Conan: The Weight Of The Crown."
"I was half-bluffing," laughed Robertson when asked how he first pitched the idea of pulling double duty on the book as writer and artist. "I kind of expected them to come back and say, 'No, we'll get this other guy for you.' But they didn't."
According to Robertson, working on Conan is a project that truly takes him back to his roots — pre-dating even his superhero exposure.
"I started out trying to be Frank Frazetta when I was 13, before I got into Marvel or DC — that was the stuff that got me wanting to be an artist," he explained.
As for the story itself, Robertson described it as "an allegory of power gone awry," and a prime example of why being the strongest guy around doesn't always equate to being the best leader. Unfolding within the current Conan comics continuity, "The Weight Of The Crown" is intended to take place sometime between issues #7 and #8 of Dark Horse's "Conan the Cimmerian" series, after the main character leaves Cimmeria and loses the love of his life.
"He's kind of morose and wandering, and he finds his way into a battle alongside this army of the 'Mad King of Gaul,'" explained Robertson. "This guy is like Kurtz from 'Heart of Darkness.' He went down there to be the general of the Aquilonian army and ended up taking a blow to the head with a mace. When he came out of it, he decided that this was his valley and he would kill anyone who tried to take it from him."
However, readers probably shouldn't get too attached to the ol' Mad King. According to Robertson, his death in the early pages of the book sets up the main narrative of "Weight of the Crown."
"The wise men freak out when the Mad King dies, because he was a bad-ass," said Robertson. "He had a son who he cared for and protected from danger, intending him to be next in line for the crown. But as soon as the king dies, the wise men are like, 'We can't give the crown to the boy!. We need to give it to the other bad-ass over there!"
Conan's response to the offer is, as Robertson indicated, fairly predictable.
"Conan's a barbarian at the end of the day — you don't over-think him," he laughed. "So Conan takes over, but he's not really prepared to be a leader at this point. He just sees it for what he gets out of it and sees his job as kicking the ass of whoever tries to take the valley, then having a good time. But the problem is, there's more to leading than kicking ass and having a good time."
Robertson added that Dark Horse was so intrigued by the Mad King character he created for the tale that he's already been tasked with scripting two 8-page stories for MySpace Dark Horse Presents about the character's origins and his first encounter with Conan.
"['The Weight Of The Crown'] is not a happy story," he said. "It's a very sad story, but it's a poignant one."
Click on the image below for an exclusive preview of "Conan: The Weight Of The Crown" here on Splash Page, and keep out for the issue when it hits shelves Wednesday, January 13.
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