Review of Queen Of The Black Coast adapted from the story by Robert E. Howard

SFFaudio Review

Broken Sea Audio Productions AUDIO DRAMA - Queen Of The Black Coast based on the story by Robert E. Howard (original art by John Bucema and Ernie Chan)Queen Of The Black Coast
Based on the story by Robert E Howard; Performed by a full cast
7 MP3s – Approx. 3 Hours 30 Mintues [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Broken Sea’s Hyborean Sagas
Podcast: June 2008 to December 2008
Themes: / Fantasy / Piracy / Magic / Noir /

Okay so the cover art for this one isn’t official, not in the slightest. But, since I’m making it for my own collection I thought I’d share with you. The original art came from my personal copy of issue 100 of Marvel Comics’ Conan The Barbarian. It was rendered by John Buscema and Ernie Chan as the final instalment of the Belit story, which had run since issue 58. Those Marvel comics are what got me into the original Robert E. Howard stories to begin with. And, Queen Of The Black Coast is my favourite Conan story. And, now this is my favourite amateur audio drama.

Bill Hollweg, who spearheaded this project, has faithfully adapted Howard’s original narrative. There are changes, but not too many, and when they exist it’s to make it work as an audio drama. This is the tale that gave Conan his gigantic melancholies. It’s a noir fantasy, rich and powerful, pulpy and inspiring. Conan, a northern barbarian, is on the run from the law and hops aboard an outbound ship. Soon after he’s fighting off pirates, and next becoming one himself. Meeting the Belit, the “queen” of the black coast, he begins a passionate romance with the rash and selfish pirate queen. Their adventures together, his loyalty, and her lust for treasure, lead them up a poisoned river, and ultimately to their doom. It’s bloody wonderful.

The audio tapestry is as rich as any amateur audio production ever recorded – with sound effects and music, narration and acting, all at the top of its form. But, the show wasn’t an instant hit with me. Stevie Farnaby’s Conan turned me off at first. His voice just wasn’t right. Episode 1’s acting, where we first hear his raspy growl, was cartoonish, too brutish, not right. But as episode 2 rolled in, and episode 3 rolled on, and episode 4 became 5, and 6 became 7, I came to the conclusion that Stevie Farnaby is the voice of Conan and I was wrong about what Conan sounded like. I’d been voicing him in my head for about 25 years, he didn’t sound like Stevie Farnaby’s Conan. Other fine work includes the narrator Ralph Walters. He’s the voice of the Zombie Astronaut and about a dozen other characters on the Freqency Of Fear podcast. He’s quite a vocal chameleon and does excellent work here. Other actors include director Bill Hollweg himself, voicing much of Belit’s crew, and Charlene Harris as the titular queen. One thing to remember going into this folks, none of the actors were in the same room when this was recorded. They did their lines in a quiet room with no feedback. This is a huge problem in amateur audio drama – the acting can often feel stiff – I’m happy to say this rarely happens in QotBC. Highly recommend listening for fans of Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3| Part 3 |MP3| Part 4 |MP3|
Part 5 |MP3| Part 6 |MP3| Part 7 |MP3|

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Posted by Jesse Willis

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