O Conan! My Conan!
Thoughts on the things that are best in life
Moving always makes you have to reassess what’s important to you, right? Is this thing I’ve had sitting around here really worth me taking the trouble to pack it up and lug it around and make a place for it in my new space? In my new life?
For me, the answer has almost always been, “Yes. Yes, it is.”
I’m a keeper. A collector. My sense of nostalgia runs deep as all get-out. Soul deep.
It was like that even before I got to see legendary author Ray Bradbury at a writers conference back when I was in college. He gave a really beautiful talk, the gist of which was basically, “Never throw anything away.”
He was talking about ideas but also about the tangible things from your life that have been important to you and from which those ideas will flow. Even if you get to the point where you think some of those old chunks of life debris may have lost their luster and their meaning, chances are if you throw them away there will come the day when you’ll regret it, when you’ll realize that meaning is still grinding away somewhere deep inside your clock gears, and you’ll yearn for a way to feel that tangible connection again.
I moved a little more than a year ago. Which means I spent most of 2021 carrying and unpacking and rearranging my things, and with them, really, my entire life. As we all go creeping warily into 2022, I think I’ve finally got things about where I want them, for the most part. As a writer, I find I wind up filling my immediate work environment with as many of my old things as possible, things that spark deep connections within my most central growth rings, even if the things themselves don’t always look like much:
Cheap globe pencil sharpener that sharpened my No. 2 pencil for the first stories I ever wrote. Bullet dug up at Shiloh by my cousin Gus (the park would call it stealing, Gus called it archaeology). Bear Bryant soda bottle with 40 year old Coke syrup still inside. Spinner rack of unbagged, dog-eared comics, some of them read so many times that the covers came off. Han Solo frozen in carbonite that I used to play with in the backyard when I was 7, building stories in my head. Mugs gathered from tiki bars across the country. The paperback copy of Fahrenheit 451 I got signed by Ray Bradbury that day at the writers conference. And a whole big shelf full of Conan books.
The first thing you see when you walk in my house is a bookcase. Or maybe you see the jars full of candy on top of the shelves, I don’t know, I can’t tell you how to see. Every room in my house has at least one book in it. Including the garage, which is where I keep all of my Jonathan Hickman comics. But the first books you might see when you come in the front door are all books about Conan.
Most of them I found at a used bookstore in my hometown of Jasper, Alabama, when I was probably 12 or 13, and they dug wells into me that are still producing water today.
When I’m writing Conan stories of my own and struggling to figure out a moment or a line, I’ll get up from my desk and go pick up one of those well-worn paperbacks, flip through them, read a passage here and there, smell them, hold them, breathe in that old dust, become that kid again for a moment, that kid discovering a world he’ll fall in love with, a world he’ll never truly leave.
Don’t throw away the things that are important to you. Because someday you may need them. Someday they may truly help you change your life. Or maybe they’ll just be something warm and comforting to hold onto as the days get long and cold, and that’ll be enough to justify having lugged them around.
That’s my way of telling you that KING CONAN #2 is out this week. The second chapter of “Conan’s Last Stand at the Edge of the World,” a tale that takes us to the far end of Conan’s life and the far edges of the known world. It is exquisitely drawn by artist Mahmud Asrar and colorist Matthew Wilson. And I do mean exquisitely.
And if you missed issue #1 of KING CONAN, signed copies of the regular and variant covers are currently available in my online store.
Also, hey, the latest AVENGERS trade paperback came out last week, collecting “The World War She-Hulk” arc and our massive issue #50/750, featuring all sorts of incredible art, but most of it courtesy of Javier Garrón, who in my mind completely and absolutely killed it on this entire storyline. I think all together it’s some of the best stuff I’ve done on AVENGERS so far and it also sets the stage for most everything I’ll be doing the rest of this year, a year that should be pretty big and unpredecented in terms of my career overall, in all sorts of different ways. Gonna be fun.
Notes and Links and Things and Stuff
—I am recovering nicely from the Tide’s loss the other night. I think I’ve handled this National Championship Game defeat better than any of the previous ones, in large part because this Tide team showed such fight, winning so many tight games and perhaps overachieving a bit given its youth and inexperience and some of its more obvious flaws. And hats off to the Georgia Bulldogs, who played tough down the stretch and grown-man-footballed their way to a hard-earned victory in what I thought was a thoroughly enjoyable slobberknocker of a game.
The scary thing is, next year was already looking like the year for this Tide team, given the number of star players they’ve got returning. And now you’ve gone and given those guys a reason to be pissed off, a reason to work even harder. Oh, this should be fun to watch.
College football, I miss you already.
—As recently announced, I’ll be returning to the pages of THOR for a big oversized issue #750, doing an Odin story with artist Das Pastoras, with whom I made some wicked magic back in my old THOR days. The line-up for this one is pretty stellar, so I couldn’t say no.
—Just a little STAR WARS heads up. Also this issue is now available in my online store, while supplies last.
—I never got around to doing a 2021 recap edition of the newsletter, highlighting some of my favorite things I worked on. I’ve already been too busy dealing with 2022 projects. But I’ll just say it was nice to see HEROES REBORN recognized among Screen Rant’s Best Single Issue Comics of 2021, for James Stokoe’s issue that focused on Doctor Spectrum taking on Rocket Raccoon in one of the wildest comic book fights I’ve ever been a party to. It’s definitely one of the comics I’m most proud of from all of last year, and if you haven’t seen it, well, your eyeballs are in for a feast. All HEROES REBORN issues are available right here.
—I love it when some of my favorite areas of nerdery come crashing together. A bloody CM Punk reading the THOR annual where he and I both had stories certainly counts. AEW remains must-watch TV for me, week after week. Bravo, folks.
This has been Beard Missives, direct from the not-quite-as-blood-drenched face of Jason Aaron.
This week’s newsletter has been brought to you by Banana Joe’s banana chips with sriracha, Trader Joe’s Creamy Cauliflower-Jalapeno dip, Barrel Reserve #2 gin finished in oak barrels from Kansas City’s Lifted Spirits, Angel’s Envy rye whiskey finished in Caribbean rum casks (God, this is good, if you can find it) and my brother-in-law’s Christmas baklava.
Thanks for reading. Be safe and be loved.
KC, January 13, 2022
“Never throw away the things you love, and never let anyone else throw them away for you.”
Things To Come
AVENGERS #52 - Jan. 19, 2022
AVENGERS FOREVER #2 - Jan. 26, 2022
WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN Omnibus (New Printing) - Feb. 2, 2022
AVENGERS #53 - Feb. 9, 2022
AVENGERS BY JASON AARON Hardcover Vol. 2 - Feb. 16, 2022
KING CONAN #3 - Feb. 16, 2022
AVENGERS FOREVER #3 - Feb. 23, 2022
AVENGERS FOREVER #1 2nd printing - Feb. 23, 2022
THOR BY JASON AARON Hardcover Vol. 5 - Feb. 23, 2022
DOCTOR STRANGE BY AARON & BACHALO Omnibus - March 9, 2022
PUNISHER #1 - March 9, 2022
AVENGERS #54 - March 16, 2022
AVENGERS FOREVER #4 - March 23, 2022
KING CONAN #4 - March 23, 2022
THOR BY JASON AARON Omnibus Vol. 1 - March 29, 2022