Top Sword And Sorcery Comics To Slice Into
by Tito W. James
Sword and Sorcery is the bloodier and buffer older brother to fantasy. The genre was pioneered by Robert E. Howard’s, Conan the Barbarian Pulp stories. The genre of Sword and Sorcery is quite versatile and can resonate across different cultures. As a fan of the genre, here are my recommendations for comics about sword-wielding heroes in fantastic worlds.
Based on the books by Michael Moorcock, the Elric graphic novels welcome readers to a lavishly illustrated epic. Elric is essentially a retelling of Shakespeare in a sadomasochistic fetish-inspired fantasy world. Moorcock himself praised the adaptation expressing how these graphic novels represent the story that he would have written if he’d thought of it first.
Slaine: The Horned God
Slaine: The Horned God is a classic that holds up even thirty years after its publication. Writer Pat Mills explores man’s arrogance, connection to feminine-nature, and completely subverts the iconography of associating horns with evil. Simon Bisley’s painterly art screams Heavy Metal energy on every page. If there was ever a story to adapt to screen, it would be Slaine the Horned God.
Who was Santa Claus before he became Father Christmas? A sword-wielding fantasy hero of course! Klaus is one of the most endearing and accessible stories that Grant Morrison has ever written. The psychedelic shamanism is perfectly balanced with a more grounded fantasy world. This is also the series that cemented Dan Mora as one of the most exciting comic artists working today.
HillBilly takes the Sword and Sorcery tropes of a bearded warrior slaying monsters and combines them with Appalachian folklore. We follow Rondel who wields the Devil’s cleaver to smite witches and right wrongs. Rondel is accompanied by a revolving cast of colorful characters including a saber-toothed bear. Creator Eric Powell has painted a portrait of the American spirit worthy of the Arthurian legend.
Described by creator Andrew MacLean as Hellboy meets Conan, Head Lopper is an obvious choice for this list. Head Lopper delivers all the fun and adventure one could hope for from a fantasy story with insanely likable characters and well-paced fights. But don’t let the cartoony visuals fool you, the world of Head Lopper is vast and explores deeper themes than you might expect at first glance.
The Rust Kingdom
Do you like action? The Rust Kingdom has you covered! The Rust Kingdom follows a mysterious stranger as he slices and dices his way through a Hellscape of monstrosities. The whole volume is a non-stop bloody ride of body horror and visceral combat. The action could easily be overwhelming in any other comic; but creator Spugna has such a control of pacing that the reader can enjoy the carnage and the story.
Beowulf by Santiago García and David Rubin is a giant-sized adaption of one of history’s greatest legends. Rubin’s cinematic pacing, creative paneling, and superb monster designs bring this centuries- old epic to life. If you devour Beowulf and still want more, then I’d highly recommend David Rubin’s post-modern adaptation of Heracles titled The Hero.
Berserk is a dark fantasy masterpiece by the late Kentaro Miura. We follow Guts, the Black Swordsman on his quest for revenge against the Hand of God, a Hellraiser-inspired quintet of higher dimensional beings. While the first arc is grim enough to deter most readers, the high point in the series is the Golden Age arc that illustrates the characters’ tragic backstories. Berserk’s influence can be seen in Dark Souls and Castlevania. Now with new readers discovering the series for the first time, we’re sure to see Miura’s influence in stories for decades to come.