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Conan The Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard used Conan to escape from his mundane problems and flee into the realm of fantasy. Rachel Kahn, on the other hand, uses Conan to confront her mundane problems head on: dead plants, social anxiety and even the common cold.

This is a kinder, gentler Conan: less barbarian, more Spirit Guide- Psychiatrist; a trusted confidant, like a nonthreatening sensitive male Sex In The City-style friend (for instance, Kahn & Conan have the same taste in gladiator sandals).

The art is quite good and includes several process sketches, which are cool to see. Violent solutions to Kahn’s problems are implied (“What you need is a good steel sword”) but never depicted. Instead of slaughtering armies, Conan and Kahn spend their time hanging out in coffee shops.

At the end of this zine Kahn takes Conan to the polar opposite of his Barbarian roots, turning him into a literal paper doll: “Cut out and dress for battle!” Ultimately By Crom is an interesting subversion of so-called “traditional” gender roles. What would Robert E. Howard say? He’s dead so we’ll never know. (AG Pasquella)

Comic, Rachel Kahn, bycrom.tumblr.com, write for price

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