• Comics

Patch Zircher is Summoning Shadows by Unleashing the Legendary Character Solomon Kane

Patch Zircher, a virtuoso of both pen and panel, embarks on an epic journey with Solomon Kane in the rebooted Savage Sword of Conan series. Handpicked by Heroic Signatures for his profound connection to the sword and sorcery genre and his unyielding passion for Solomon Kane, Zircher is set to infuse the timeless tales of Kane with a fresh, dynamic energy. 

This interview promises a thrilling exploration into Zircher’s creative process, showcasing how his deep-seated passion and innovative vision are poised to captivate and enchant a new generation of readers, while paying homage to the legions of long-standing fans. Join us as we delve into the saga of Solomon Kane, reimagined through the artistry of Patch Zircher, where every stroke and storyline promises to be an adventure reborn.

What initially drew you to the world of sword and sorcery, and how has it influenced your work as a whole?

The attraction was as natural as a kid saying “Let’s pretend”. Growing up, I wanted adventures beyond day-to-day reality. My family had a set of Collier’s Junior Classics when I was a boy, titles like “Legends of Long Ago”, “Magic in the Air”, “Call of Adventure”, with stories of Robin Hood, Hercules, King Arthur, Aladdin. So I was reading the roots of Sword and Sorcery without realizing it. After those Junior Classics,  reading led me to the universe of Marvel Comics, Edith Hamilton’s retelling of Greek myths, the adventures of “A Princess of Mars”, “The Hobbit,” and, of course, the epic world of Conan. These stories of mythology, adventure, good and evil  became a part of who I am. Even as I was creating superhero comics, I sensed the spirit of Sword and Sorcery’s warriors and wizards at their core, a testament to the genre’s lasting impression on me.

Can you share your earliest memory of encountering Solomon Kane and what impact did it have on you?

The first time I read Solomon Kane was in the original run of The Savage Sword of Conan (now that I’m contributing that has, wonderfully, come around full circle) and, soon after that, Bantam’s paperback release of Robert E. Howard’s Skulls in the Stars. I was reading a lot of fantasy by this time and still Kane seized my attention. I sought whatever stories I could find. Since those early tales I can see, in Solomon Kane a bit of grim, wide-brimmed hat-wearing Odin; Lancelot, especially when he disguised himself as the Black Knight; the daring swordsman Zorro; and Hawkeye from The Last of the Mohicans– but not much else precedes Kane and even then, he still stands apart, unique. There have been black-garbed swordsman pitting themselves against the supernatural since his debut, but he’s the first to combine all these elements.

How does your passion for Solomon Kane compare to your feelings for other characters in the genre, including Conan the Barbarian?

I encountered Conan before Solomon Kane, and it was Conan who instilled in me a lifelong passion for Sword and Sorcery. I hold both characters in very high regard, albeit for different reasons. Conan embodies the essence of a warrior and rogue, reminiscent of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser or Dravot and Carnehan from “The Man Who Would Be King.” There’s a delightful charm in their roguery, echoing John Gay’s sentiment that “a rich rogue is fit company for any gentleman; and the world has not such contempt for roguery as you imagine.” In contrast, Solomon Kane presents a different allure: a melancholy knight, a solitary hero steadfast in his beliefs. This resonates with me just as strongly– bringing to mind characters like Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone and Athos from “The Three Musketeers.”

What unique aspects of Solomon Kane’s character do you think make him stand out in the sword and sorcery genre?

His piety, certainly– though, wisely, Robert E.Howard never forced this. Unlike other Puritans, Kane tends to keep his religious feeling to himself. He isn’t preachy. Abraham Van Helsing, from Dracula, is an example of this quiet religiosity. Kane’s beliefs, however, are an intriguing contrast to the supernatural forces he confronts. 

I would also say the setting for Kane’s stories set him apart. Andre Norton said the first requirement for writing sword and sorcery must be a deep interest in and a love for history itself. Howard is a clear example of this– and especially with Solomon Kane. Kane’s world of the late 16th and early 17th century is as rich as any pure-fantasy setting and, with thousands of history books to draw from, more detailed. Kane even adventures with Sir Francis Drake and other historical figures. However, unlike the explorers of the Age of Discovery who sought new lands, Kane encounters lost temples, hidden races, and ancient ruins. In his world, the supernatural—harpies, sorcerers, and vampires—is very much a reality.

How do you approach the process of adapting and expanding upon the lore of Solomon Kane while staying true to Robert E. Howard’s original vision?

Research. I’ve read his Solomon Kane stories repeatedly and continue to do so. I also check out a lot of books of interest, relating to Solomon Kane’s stories and world, from Lovecraft to history books about the renaissance, to witch trials, the Reformation, and great explorers. I also call on a lifetime of reading fantasy. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

Could you discuss the challenges and rewards of both writing and drawing for the Savage Sword of Conan and incorporating Solomon Kane into this world?

The challenges are primarily in the drawing. It’s one thing to research, another to draw what I’ve researched. However, I’ve discovered that the rewards far outweigh the challenges. Howard embedded numerous ‘easter eggs’ throughout his stories, with artifacts and ancient beings making repeated appearances. Many of his characters intersect, whether through sorcery or dreams, creating a cohesive ‘universe’ that might not be immediately apparent to the casual reader.

In what ways do you believe your interpretation of Solomon Kane will appeal to both long-time fans of the character and newcomers?

Well, first, I love working on this and hopefully that will come through. Long-time fans will appreciate that I’m true to the character and welcome having new stories. Newcomers will discover a hero who is different from modern heroes, but still a relatable human being. Like discovering someone in your family tree was once young, lived and loved, and had surprising adventures. I’m fleshing out Solomon Kane. Carefully, because he’s a strong, stoic personality, but one who I want to come alive in the reader’s imagination.

How has engaging with fans and sharing your excitement on platforms like Twitter influenced your approach to creating this story?

With only a few peeks at the work, they’ve been extremely supportive. Nearly every comment has been that this is something they want, something I’m ‘right’ for. It’s very encouraging. It’s also reminded me that Solomon Kane has long-time fans and that I owe it to them not to disappoint them.

What aspects of the Savage Sword of Conan and Solomon Kane’s storyline do you think will most excite readers and encourage them to explore more of REH’s worlds?

Lovers of fantasy and mythology will find a lot to enjoy in the first story as it draws on Welsh myths. Fans of Lovecraft and Howard’s horror stories will see a direct relationship to the second story. These tales stand on their own but hint at ideas and concepts in the originals. Most of all, we’re doing our best to make high quality comics and that tends to invite exploration more than anything.

Finally, for readers inspired by your work on Solomon Kane and interested in diving deeper into the REH universe, which comics or story arcs would you recommend they explore next?

Honestly, everything Titan and Heroic are creating right now, including new novels featuring REH’s characters. Everyone’s passionate about Robert E. Howard’s body of work. I can’t stress enough how enjoyable his stories are. They’re engaging, thrilling, and renew a love of fantasy. I also recommend past comic collections from other publishers. The Saga of Solomon Kane, the classic Savage Sword of Conan magazines, Kull and the Barbarians. Howard up!

As we draw this enlightening conversation with Patch Zircher to a close, it’s evident that his dedication and craftsmanship in bringing Solomon Kane to life within the pages of the Savage Sword of Conan are nothing short of a labor of love. Zircher’s deep dive into the lore, his meticulous research, and his vibrant illustrations promise to open up new vistas in the Sword and Sorcery genre, inviting us to see Solomon Kane and his dark, enchanting world through a fresh lens.

For those who have followed our journey through this interview, the next step is clear. To truly immerse yourself in the adventure, to witness the care with which Zircher has expanded the universe of Solomon Kane, and to partake in the thrilling exploits that await, securing your copy of the next issue of the Savage Sword of Conan is essential. Dive into the pages where Zircher’s Solomon Kane story unfolds, and let the magic of his artistry and storytelling captivate your imagination.

Get your copy today, and step into a world where the lines between heroism, history, and the supernatural blur to create tales that will echo in your memory. Join us in celebrating the rebirth of a legend, as Patch Zircher takes Solomon Kane on new adventures that promise to enchant, challenge, and inspire. The saga continues, and it’s an adventure too captivating to miss.

Written by Lo Terry
back to news