Yesterday, Bleeding Cool ran the news breaking out of Lake Como Comic Art Festival, that Marvel Comics would no longer have the Conan The Barbarian license for comics, as the license was reverting back to its original owners, Cabinet Entertainment, who plan to publish their own Conan titles. I reported;
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.
It has also been pointed out that the CEO of Cabinet Entertainment, Fredrik Malmberg posted on Twitter the day before, "What's your dream team for a Conan comic – must list writer, colorist, artist. GO!" Which now seems rather well-timed.
Zack Davisson replied "Writer: Zack Davisson Artist: Lukas Ketner Colorist: Jose Villarrubia Letterer: Ariana Maher" Former Marvel Publisher John Nee replied "Writers: Jim Zub / Gerry Duggan Art: Whilce Portacio Color: Laura Martin and Mike Heisler on letters" Feel free to add you own suggestions. You never know, it might give him some ideas. I know Liam Sharp, also here at Lake Como Comic Art Festival, would be very interested.