A steel bikini. What else could Conan possibly call it as Red Sonja stood before him in The Savage Sword of Conan #1. She was a welcome sight—indeed, most men would enjoy the sight of the red-haired Hyrkanian—and Red Sonja’s timely appearance had rescued the Cimmerian from the wrong end of a sword during a brawl in Zamorra’s City of Thieves. But this wasn’t the same Red Sonja that Conan remembered from Makkalet in Conan the Barbarian #24 (Mar. 1973), when they stole into a sorcerer’s tower on a thieves’ errand to retrieve a serpent tiara. The woman before him had tossed aside her more practical garb as a sword-for-hire in favor of this—steel bikini… It was an outfit that meshed Victoria’s Secret with a Nemedian blacksmith’s shop, but left little to the imagination when considering her feminine charms. Her leather gloves and boots covered more of her body than this armor, and yet it would be the garb that would in the years to come define Red Sonja as much as her fiery red hair.
SHE-DEVIL WITH A SWORD
This new Red Sonja enjoyed a coming-out party in the first issue of Savage Sword of Conan in August 1974. This black-and-white magazine cashed in on the popularity of Conan during the early 1970s, but it featured almost as many pages devoted to Red Sonja as it did to the Cimmerian. The magazine included one of the first portrayals of Red Sonja in what would become her famous steel bikini. The pinup page had been submitted by Esteban Maroto—a Spanish-born artist known best for his work in the Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella magazines. Another pinup of Red Sonja in a steel bikini had appeared earlier, in February 1974, in Savage Tales #3— and it quickly found favor with editor Roy Thomas. “I’m not sure what I had in mind when I was first thinking of Red Sonja,” Roy Thomas says. “I was not real wild for her chainmail shirt and hot pants that Barry [Windsor-Smith] had given her. Esteban had sent in his drawing of her, and I liked it so much that I gave him an entire Red Sonja story to do.” Roy Thomas gave penciling honors to Esteban Maroto for the first solo appearance of the “She-Devil with a Sword” in a story titled simply “Red Sonja.” The story appeared in Savage Sword of Conan #1 and featured lavish pencils and inks that combined the talents of Maroto, Neal Adams, and Ernie Chua. The story built on her character and reinforced the roy thomas theme that Red Sonja was any
Sonja by Boris Detail from Boris Vallejo’s painting for the paperback cover Red Sonja #3: When Hell Laughs (Ace, 1982). Art courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com). Red Sonja ® Red Sonja LLC.
Born to be Wild Issue
BACK ISSUE • 41
Jungle and barbarian characters that are “Born To Be Wild”! Shanna fans will be bedazzled by a star-studded line-up of creators who tell all...