In this episode of the Kull Blog we’ll talk about the development of the weapons Kull carries and we’ll take a look at the completed figure.
I very much enjoyed designing and sculpting these elements. It was important that each was well detailed, but not over the top in the fantasy aspect. I used historical reference to design the weapons and specifically avoided looking at other artists’ takes on the barbarian theme once I had started the sculpture. I knew those influences would come out, anyway, as they’re so ingrained from years of seeing and enjoying the incredible art that has been done over the years in the comics and fantasy genres. The most recent work that I think is indicative of the best on the subject are the terrific paintings and illustrations done by Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni published in recent years by Wandering Star. However, the work of masters like Frank Frazetta, John Buscema and Roy G. Krenkel are and always will be huge influences in my work.
The first weapon I sculpted was the axe. As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, it was decided that Kull would carry an axe, but not THE axe he used in the famous story “By This Axe I Rule” because this sculpture represents Kull before that story happens. I gave him a two handed axe that wasn’t so large as to look like it was too large for him to carry it in his travels. I gave it some leather strapping and a nicked head, as if it may have recently seen some use. I wanted it to have an interesting head, but not looking like something out of a video game or cartoon that would be too huge and massive for anyone to carry around with them, much less use on the battlefield.
The sword is carried in a wood scabbard with brass stud work and brass support bands. These are common elements found historically and made sense to me so I put them in the design. The hilt and cross guard are influenced by Viking and Medieval designs, but with a more individual look to them that would also appear functional. Kull attaches the sword to a shoulder belt or baldric with a ring and a bit of chain, although this belt is not attached to either of his waist belts.
For the dagger, I had always intended a bit of a tribute to Frank Frazetta. A few years ago I had sculpted a statue of Conan from his superb Conan the Adventurer painting and I had always liked the falcon head on the curved dagger he had painted. I sculpted a falcon head for this dagger, but then decided it might be interesting to make the handle of the dagger a stylized falcon body, so I did that. The scabbard for the dagger has a more decorative motif I made up as I went and just added to it until I decided it looked about right. I wanted it to appear to be an expensive dagger he had won in battle, while the axe was intended to look simple and businesslike. It seemed their close placement on the figure would make an interesting contrast.
As a final detail, I sculpted a small pouch at his belt. I had considered a larger pouch or two, but when they were roughed in they appeared overly obtrusive for the look and flow of the piece. We’ll use our artistic license a bit here and assume he has left some of his gear back in camp, but has kept his coin pouch near at hand.
So here you see the fully realized, fully armed figure of Kull of Atlantis. The final element is the base, which will follow fairly closely the original thumbnail design shown at the beginning of this blog, so there will be some interesting sculpted details there. I hope you’ll find them interesting, at least, and that you’ll check back in a week or two for the last chapter in this sculpting story.