Thursday, December 27, 2018


Characteristics of the Mythic Pulp Hero by James LaFond

I began trying to break down the elements of Robert E. Howard’s specific major heroes, characters who were protagonists in at least two tales each. Then I decided to just begin the process and let the reader make his own choices.

I have ranked each of the seven Major Howard Heroes in each of seven characteristics.

The characteristics are:

Prowess: masculine aptitude
Identity: singular [not collective] racial identity [1]
Magnetism: persuasiveness and willpower
Wits: intuition and cunning

Passion: undisciplined striving
Wrath: driven vengeance
Duty: severity of his personal code of behavior

The characters are listed below in the order of their popularity with their defining characteristic. Each character is awarded a 7 for his primary characteristic. The rest of the numbers may be used more than once, for instance with Conan scoring a 5 each on passion and magnetism and Kane scoring a 5 each on duty and magnetism but a 2 on passion and a 4 on wits. The table below is intended to demonstrate if the primary characteristic of a character correlates with his popular standing. Most interesting will be the aggregate scores for each character assigned by the readers and if those correlate with popularity.

Click HERE to rank each hero!

Howard Heroes

Conan the CimmerianProwess755
Solomon KaneWrath54275
Steve CostiganPassion7
El BorakWits7
King KullMagnetism7
Bran Mak MornIdentity7
Kirby BucknerDuty7

1. Howard’s use of racial identity tended to be one of alienation, of Conan the Cimmerian never meeting a Cimmerian in 20 tales, of Kull, King of Valusia, being an exiled Atlantean sentenced to death by his people, of El Borak the Texan living among Afghans, of Solomon Kane the Englishman passing most of his tales in Africa, of Bran Mak Morn representing his dying race as their last king as he lives and strives largely apart from them, of Kirby Buckner strongly identifying as a white man yet saving a black man from the cruelties of a white mob or of Steve Costigan identifying strongly as a crew member of The Sea Girl but arguing with his captain, fighting his mates and adventuring largely alone.

(c) 2018 James LaFond

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