Post by Bill DeGeest on Oct 20, 2019 12:10:44 GMT -5
Due to my long absence I'm not sure if this has been posted about before. Don't know if this is the right category either but seems like good spot. Might need to take a trip to Edmonton. Not a phrase I ever thought I'd say. (JK my Great White North friends!)
Barbarian art: The secret Conan lurking inside Edmonton's outdoor murals
Post by mindboggled on Oct 20, 2019 13:28:50 GMT -5
By CROM! This is awesome! I live in Vancouver-I need to hop onto my motorcycle one of these days and head over to Edmonton, and check these out in person. What a fantastic premise. To surreptitiously slip Conan into art work that is completely unrelated to him.
Post by linefacedscrivener on May 2, 2020 13:20:51 GMT -5
The article that accompanied the posting above had a quote from Kris Friesen: “I’ve always loved Conan the Barbarian. I was kind of raised on him” (From the article by Fish Griwkowsky of the Edmonton Journal). Reading that, I knew I needed to interview Kris Friesen for REHupa about his Howard story, so I sent an e-mail to him earlier this year and he agreed to talk with me. I called him up one afternoon and it proved to be a fun conversation.
Naturally, I asked him how his interest in Conan came about, and he explained, “I actually came to Conan with the Savage Sword of Conan comic and then the color comic, Conan the Barbarian. I was young, probably too young. Probably seven or eight years old. I was big into stuff then – late 1970s early 1980s— like Tarzan, GI Joe, but then I discovered Conan and he kind of took the hat. He quickly surpassed Tarzan. Then when the Conan the Barbarian movie came out, if Conan wasn’t my icon before, Schwarzenegger was then.”
I asked Kris if this led him to read the Robert E. Howard Conan stories and he replied, “I didn’t read any of the actual stories until I was an adult, and I haven’t read a lot of them.” I, of course, encouraged him to make up for lost time by picking up the three Del Rey books – I told him he would not regret it.
I was then curious as to how he ended up painting murals, asking how that came about. “When I was young,” he told me, “I drew a lot.” He went on to talk about those early Conan comics and explaining, “The comics were important to me—that was all I drew. I drew mostly fantasy-based stuff, probably for the first ten years.” That led me to ask him who of the early Conan artists was his favorite and he replied, “My favorite of the Conan artists was probably Barry Windsor Smith, now. Ernie Chan is great. Technically, he is probably not the best of the Conan artists, but when I think of Conan, I think of the Ernie Chan artwork.”
Next up I asked him how his fantasy art translated into his professional art and he explained, “I got into professional art right after high school, painting my first mural. Murals are number one for me. I am painting a coral reef right now, but 90% of what I do are murals. I also do some storyboards, portraits, and concept art, but I’ve done a lot of murals. I was trying to count them one day recently while driving. I’m not sure, but I’ve probably done a 100-ish.”
Then cutting to the most important question, I asked him when he had done his first mural and he asked if I meant his first mural ever or the first mural with Conan? I replied, “Well, both.” He replied, “The first mural I ever did was in 1995. The first mural with Conan in it was in 2010.”
Kris, knowing what I really wanted to know, then expounded upon that first mural that featured Conan. He prefaced his story by explaining, “That mural was taller than it was wide, about 35 feet off the ground. Normally I do paintings that are wider than they are tall. It was a picture of a building, with people in the background, in the windows.” He continued the story: “I remember I was 30 feet off the ground and I was thinking of who could I put in the mural? I thought of Conan, so Conan went in the mural.” He also added that he didn’t think it would be a big deal since being 30 feet off the ground, he figured no one would ever see it. He then added, “I did him once and just kept going.”
I asked Kris how many people knew about Conan being the murals before the Edmonton Journal article and he said, “Most people didn’t know, just my family and friends.”
“Did anyone else ever figure it out?” I asked and he responded, “Some people would see him, but did not know who it was. One person asked me, ‘Why is the naked man in there?’”
His answer led me to ask if any of the people who commissioned the murals ever took offense at him including Conan in the murals, especially after the news story broke.
“The city of Alberta was a main client and the lady in charge,” he noted, “she thought it was great. Most people laugh and think it is funny. Of course, after the article came out, I quickly called the people I had done seven war murals for. I have Conan in the murals doing things like fighting Nazis. They were okay with it though. I’ve never had anyone mad about it.”
I then asked him what it was like now that the cat was out of the bag and he said: “It is still bizarre to have the story happen. Now everyone asks about it, but, I will keep doing it. I did forgot to put him in a recent one.”
I asked about his latest mural and he said, “One recent one I was doing was an outdoor painting of wildlife, animals, octopuses, and bears, for a daycare center. I put Conan in there swimming beside an octopus.”
Finally, I asked him what was his favorite mural and he stated, “His [Conan’s] defining moment came in a mural I did this summer for a mini-golf course based on pirates. I had a guy with a jug sitting on the dynamite kind of like from the Pirates of the Caribbean. To up him, I had Conan as a pirate strolling down the beach with a cask over his shoulder.”
He then paused and added: “Still, my personal favorite is the one where he is shoveling snow with a battle ax sideways.”