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Conan License To Move On From Marvel Comics

It was a note to a fan page on Facebook that did it, with a well-connected fan pointing to an upcoming Conan cover by Esad Ribic as his last, as Marvel no longer own the rights to the character. So, at Lake Como Comic Art Festival, I did a little digging.

Conan License To Move On From Marvel Comics
Conan License To Move On From Marvel Comics

Marvel published Conan comic books in the seventies, eighties, and nineties based on the Robert E Howard stories, and licensed from his estate. Dark Horse Comics published them in the noughtiues and teens, with Marvel taking the license from 2019 onwards, while also including Conan with the rest of the Marvel Universe in the series Savage Avengers.


Now, Conan The Barbarian is in the public domain in much of Europe, as Robert E Howard died in 1936, and here work enters the public domain 70 years after the death of the author. The US, however, has a 95-year rule for anything published after 1922, which still covers Howard's work. But there has been some dispute over the various versions of the work, the copyright extensions necessary before 1978 and more that have muddied the waters over the years and have seen a number of court cases play out.

Conan comics are created and published in Europe without license under public domain rules, and Ablaze has republished them in the US, back into English, but only under the name The Cimmerian, not infringing trademark use. The trademark for the name Conan and the names of Robert E. Howard's other principal characters, is maintained by Conan Properties International and licensed to Cabinet Entertainment. Both companies are controlled by CEO Fredrik Malmberg., previously co-founder of Swedish role-playing game publishing house Target Games and CEO of Paradox Entertainment. They also own rights to Bran Mak Morn, Kull, Solomon Kane, Mutant, Mutant Chronicles, Warzone, Kult, and Chronopia.

Bleeding Cool understands that this company, or new owners, now wish to publish Conan comic books themselves. And so won't be renewing the Marvel Comics license. I understand however that this will not affect Conan backstock of collections and omnibuses which Marvel will continue to publish. And that they could even use the Conan character in continuing Savage Avengers comic books. That will have to be seen. But for ongoing Marvel Conan series? King Conan #5 is published by Marvel on the 1st of June, and #6 on the 6th of July and that may be your lot.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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