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By Crom! – Life Advice from Conan the Barbarian


By Crom! is a joke-a-panel autobio webcomic featuring life advice from the ever-practical, mighty-thewed Conan the Barbarian.

It ran online from 2012-2014 and was collected into a book in 2016 thanks to amazing support on Kickstarter! As it ran, the art style changed significantly. Below you can read the original run of the webcomic for free, broken into the three zines I first published before creating the all-in-one collected book.

By Crom! was collected in a print run of 1000 copies in 2016. While it is credited to Rachel, you’ll only get an email reply from Shel Kahn these days.

Further archival information is recorded below the comics themselves:

this zine was printed in 2012, 25 pages + paper doll in the back, and launched at Toronto’s Canzine festival!
so, once the comic wrapped up, I did actually catch on to the fact that spirit guides are not a thing white people should be making jokes about, and dropped this language everywhere, but I did print a pile of books with this ignorant tagline, so I show it here now in the interest of an honest archive; drop me a line if you’d suggest otherwise
this full colour collection from 2014 included an array of guest comics from wonderfully talented friends, and a follow-up paper dog of my steadfast canine companion, Sam

By Crom! is an autobiographical comic by Shel Kahn, featuring life advice from their favourite fictional Barbarian.

Growing out of a love of swords, sorcery and sandaled barbarians as well as a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression, By Crom! is a tribute not just to Robert E. Howard’s hero, but to everyone who could use a brave, practical and stoic inner voice to guide them through life’s rough spots.

In By Crom!, the barbarian adviser comes along for dog walks, doctor’s visits, school days and self-pity days, armed with his sword and his anachronistic perspective on modern life and modern problems.

By Crom! is a joke-a-panel webcomic, and it was published approximately weekly on Tuesdays from January, 2012 until May 2014. It began its life on bycrom.tumblr.com.

By Crom! was initially printed in two small-run volumes, both of which are now sold out in print. You can buy the new all-in-one volume from Shel Kahn in their store.

The book is now available for order in their online store, and you can grab yourself a copy right here! If you would like an ebook of By Crom!, you can get a pdf from Gumroad here.

By Crom! had a very successful kickstarter to fund a new print book, you can see the campaign here!

The Collected By Crom! is out of print. It presented all the black and white comics, as well as a paper doll, five behind the scenes pinups, two fan pinups (by cartoonist Adam Gorham), an eight-page longform comic and an eloquent foreword by Diana Poulsen, it’s got a lot of barbarian-themed advice. It was printed in July 2013, in Ontario, Canada, and reprinted in April 2014 in Quebec, Canada.

Full Colour Cromulence is also out of print. It presented all the colour comics, nine comics featuring guest guidance from artists including Gillian Blekkenhorst, Trevor Henderson, Matt Rapati, Kris Sayer, Jen Schollen, Matt Smith, Mary Verhoeven, and Jenn Woodall; another paper doll, and an eloquent foreword by the talented Natalie Walschots. It was printed in April 2014, in Quebec, Canada.

Reception for By Crom! has been really positive.

By Crom! was nominated for the REH Foundation Black River Award!

Ginnis Tonik reviewed By Crom! on Women Write About Comics:

“Throughout the series, Comic Rachel deals with mental illness, the death of her beloved dog (it’s beautiful, and I cried), identity crises, careers, and bra shopping. It sounds intense, and it is, but with the stoic barbarianism of Crom, there’s a hilarity in the refreshing lack of sentimentality. This same lack of sentimentality only gets better when later in the collection, Crom shows up awash in watercolors.”

Ginnis Tonik reviewed By Crom! on Women Write About Comics

“Although some of Kahn’s By Crom! comics juxtapose the fictional Hyborian Age that Conan comes from with the modern era and its coffee shops, public transit, and clothing that didn’t come from an animal you killed yourself … for the most part, it is about Conan as spirit guide; his warrior values are a chasm apart from Kahn’s artist lifestyle, but she imagines a wisdom in his droll (and occasionally head-knocking) advice.”

what Lauren Davis at io9.com had to say about the tumblr

“By wrenching him from his context, Kahn reveals Conan’s personality: all about raw personal authenticity, the kind you achieve by acting rather than angsting… making, rather than purchasing… travelling to, rather than importing from. This is a Conan who is still relevant today and perhaps explains why we keep coming back to the originals.”

M. Harold Page writes about By Crom! on Black Gate

“This is a kinder, gentler Conan: less barbarian, more Spirit Guide-Psychiastrist; a trusted confidant, like a nonthreatening sensitive male Sex in the City-style friend (for instance, Kahn and Conan have the same taste in gladiator sandals). … Ultimately By Crom! is an interesting subversion of so-called “traditional” gender roles. “

A. G. Pasquella writes about the first By Crom! zine in Broken Pencil

“Whether it be laughter in the face of existential crisis or an armed assault on the depths of the dryer in search of that last sock, Conan always has a laconic wisdom to add to the situation. … And sometimes he just helps you walk the dog and eats all your strawberries. Barbarians are like that.”

Scott Wachter delights in Full Colour Cromulence on I Thought They Smelled Bad on the Outside

“The art in these comics and beautiful and so expressive. There’s just so much honesty… This second installment of By Crom! is worth every penny, and it’s worth supporting. “

Sam Marchello explains her love of Full Colour Cromulence on Cherry Blossoms and Maple Syrup:

You can also hear the By Crom! origin story (and much more nerdiness) on the Guys with Pencils podcast, episode 118.

If you would like to review By Crom!, please just drop me an email! I would be delighted to send you a pdf and answer any questions.

By Crom! would not be in print today without the support of 411 kickstarter backers. A huge thanks to them all:

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