Discovering Robert E. Howard: Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward Re-Read “Queen of the Black Coast”

Discovering Robert E. Howard: Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward Re-Read “Queen of the Black Coast”

Art by Brom for "Queen of the Black Coast"
Art by Brom for “Queen of the Black Coast”

Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward continue their insightful re-read of the first Del Rey Conan volume, The Coming of Conan, with the classic “Queen of the Black Coast,” featuring the beautiful pirate queen Bêlit, originally published in the May 1934 issue of Weird Tales.

Here’s Bill:

There’s a wonderfully vivid moment of stillness at the heart of “Queen of the Black Coast;” Conan sits high on the ruined pyramid of a vanished race as night falls over a scene of slaughter, the “black colossus” (which becomes the title of the next story) of the jungle a vast sea of darkness that enfolds him. He is as far away from any aid or comfort as we’ve ever seen him and far beyond the bounds of civilization, his lover lies dead on the ship they shared for years while the corpses of her pirate crew are scattered among the ruins, and a malignant evil that Conan has only glimpsed in a vision bides its time, waiting just as the Cimmerian, too, waits. Here is the man of “gigantic melancholies,” the man whose mind does not break, and, when the moon finally rises and the beasts rush upon him, the man of action.

Read the complete exchange here.

Their other Conan re-reads include:

The Hyborian Age
The Phoenix on the Sword
The Tower of the Elephant
Queen of the Black Coast
Black Colossus
Rogues in the House
The Devil in Iron
The People of the Black Circle
The Hour of the Dragon

See all of our Conan coverage here.

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Scott Taylor

I own a giclee of this cover painting 🙂


Where’d you get the print, Scott?


Why do they always do his hair wrong? I guess Frazetta’s paintings are just too iconic.

John R. Fultz

I first read “Queen of the Black Coast” in the pages of Marvel’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN comic, specifically the legendary issue #100, the Death of Belit. The actual adaptation of Howard’s story began in issue #57 but Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Ernie Chan stretched out the middle part of the story for years so they could tell in more detail the adventures of Belit, Amra, and the Black Corsairs. But it all came home in #100, a landmark issue and one of the best single-issue comic books ever published. As a 9-year-old I was nearly as heartbroken as Conan when Belit dies. I’m glad Dark Horse reprinted this entire run in the CONAN CHRONICLES volumes.

I love Brom’s painting. This version of the pair looks very much like they’re savage, merciless pirates… which they were in the story.

Scott Taylor

NOLAbert: Brom offered a limited edition run in giclee about four years ago and I just couldn’t pass that up. This shot is so incredible, both of Conan and of Belit. Brom KILLED it!

Sarah Avery

The first REH I ever read was The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian when Del Rey put out all those REH volumes a few years back. I had no idea Belit was coming. She’s one of my favorite chicks-kicking-ass characters now. And yes, Brom got her just right.

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