Welcome to the first in a series of interviews with the Mythic Games team that will bring you the Solomon Kane board game in June on Kickstarter. Each time, you will discover another aspect of the project.
We begin with the consultant, Patrice Louinet, renowned expert of writer Robert E. Howard, to whom we owe the adventures of the Puritan hero.
You are one of the foremost consultants on Robert E. Howard! What is it that you think makes the Solomon Kane world and the character so interesting?
Thank you for the compliment! It does feel nice to be asked to contribute to various Howard projects. As for Solomon Kane, he is a fascinating character. The man is a mystery, even to himself. We don’t really know if he truly is the instrument of God, if he is driven (by his faith), or if he is simply a madman. It’s almost impossible for the reader to identify with him because he is not exactly good looking, he dresses in austere Puritan garb, and he is more likely to quote the King James Bible than do any socialising. As for the world itself, it’s the Elizabethan world gone mad, with zombies, harpies, cannibals and pirates, not to mention lost civilizations! The Victorian era has been done to death, but Howard sure had some fun with this original and fascinating era.
Where would you place Solomon Kane in terms of popularity amongst all the creations of Robert E. Howard?
Solomon Kane is an interesting case. He was created just after Kull, the Atlantean king, and just before Howard became a regular in the pages of Weird Tales, the (in)famous pulp magazine. He was – and is – markedly different from Howard’s other creations, and this explains in turn why the character has become second only to Conan in terms of popularity over the years. Kull will forever be seen as a prototype Conan, even though the characters actually have little in common, but Solomon Kane is a class unto himself. You can recognise an important creation by the number of imitations that it spawns, and that’s exactly what Kane did. Just ask Van Helsing!
What did you think of the Solomon Kane movie? Was it faithful to the character of the books?
I didn’t like the movie at all because once again, and this is a common Hollywood mistake, they tried to give some background to the character to explain who he is, but Kane works as a character precisely because he is such a cypher. They adapted a name to the big screen, but not a character. It’s a shame because James Purefoy can be such an excellent actor, but he was clearly wondering why all that rain insisted on falling just on him for the better part of two hours.
Do you see an evolution of Solomon Kane in the stories?
I don’t think we can notice any evolution to the character for the simple reason that there is no precise chronology. We know when a few tales take place in relation to others, but most of the chronology is hazy and has no real importance. This being said, it’s true that in the very first tale he is very much a white man discovering Africa with the usual stereotypes, and in one of the very last stories, he spends weeks in an African village, befriending and ultimately avenging the natives.
Can we connect Robert Howard’s heroes in one world? Can the world of Solomon Kane be the future of Conan’s world?
It can be done, but as usual with Howard, you shouldn’t expect systematic world-building. Remember, he was one of the pioneers of world-building, if not the inventor. In the Kane stories, for instance, there are references to deities mentioned in the Kull stories; so, if that is your kind of thing, then yes, you can say that these stories take place in a shared world.
What do you think about the artistic interpretation of the world of Solomon Kane by Guillem H. Pongiluppi?
Between you and me, my initial reaction was though I had no idea who Guillem was, I was confident that, whatever his artistic skills, he couldn’t hold a candle to such luminaries as Jeff Jones and Gary Gianni. I had been told that Guillem wanted his Kane to be the definitive one, which I did think was the right way to go about it. Then I saw the first drawings, and I was blown away. I mean really blown away, and I am not easy to please in that area, trust me. When I sent the descriptions and got those magnificent renderings a few days later, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Everything about them, the character, background, atmosphere, was just perfect!