Buried for nearly a decade, a Cimmerian warrior from the mists of time has been unearthed and brought to the surface. Rescued from the hidden depths he emerges to face again the world that shunned him. This Christmas - Conan Returns.
In the summer of 1978, aged 16, I painted a mural on my bedroom wall, in Kibworth in Leicestershire. It is a picture of Conan the Barbarian, from a drawing by Barry Smith in the legendary Marvel comic series that he worked on from 1970 to 72, and that I read in black and white reprint comics. For a year or more it was purely a black and white line drawing on my bedroom wall until, unwisely, I tried adding colour using translucent inks which, luckily, have faded over the years. The black lines, in blackboard paint, have survived intact.
8mm time lapse footage from 1978 of me painting the Conan mural
Not long after drawing the Conan mural, I left for art college and, apart from a short stint four years later, this was no longer my bedroom for another more than an overnight stay or a Christmas visit (I've slept here for a week at a time, since, when doing the Leicester Comedy Festival. That would be the longest). And Conan stayed up there, to the amusement of friends and visitors over the decades. There are two other murals that survive in the house, a painting based on a 1920s Vogue cover in the downstairs bathroom, and Persephone, based on an art nouveau statuette, in the back bedroom (though her legs are now covered by a radiator, that wasn't there originally).
Then came my nieces, Shona followed by Kirsty, and when they would come to visit with their mum, my sister, this would be their bedroom. It only takes one traumatic incident of waking up, aged two, to see that scary looking face staring down at you, to make everyone realise that a picture of a naked man with an axe ranks high among the least appropriate thing to have on the wall of a small child's bedroom.
So it was that, about nine years ago, Conan got covered up. Sheets of art paper have been drawing-pinned over him, augmented with posters and kids paintings, ever since.
Until, on Christmas Day 2014, with Shona, Kirsty and family in tow, they decided that, at 13 and 11 respectively, they were old enough to sleep in that room as it used to look. So down came the paper and out came the long haired hero of Hyperborea.
And, reader, I can report that, the following morning, there had been no nightmares. Phew.
The family unveil Conan, December 25th 2014