By Crom! is an autobiographical comic by Rachel Kahn, featuring life advice from her favourite fictional Barbarian.
By Crom! had a very successful kickstarter to fund a new print book, you can see the campaign here! The book is now available for preorder in her online store, and you can grab yourself a copy right here!
Growing out of a love of swords, sorcery and sandalled 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, and has continued cross posting and sharing news and bonus content there.
All of the published comics can be read here on Weald – pick a book to get started:
By Crom! was initially printed in two small-run volumes, both of which are now sold out in print:
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 cartoonists Kat Verhoeven and 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 spirit guides from Gillian Blekkenhorst, Trevor Henderson, Matt Rapati, Kris Sayer, Jen Schollen, Matt Smith, Kat Verhoeven, 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.
Besides books, you can purchase risograph prints, posters and more from Rachel Kahn’s Bigcartel Store, and prints of all the comics and 5 different cromulent tshirts are available via her Society6 Store.
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.”
Here’s what Lauren Davis at io9.com had to say about the tumblr:
“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.”
M. Harold Page writes about By Crom! on Black Gate:
“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.”
A. G. Pasquella writes about the first By Crom! zine (now out of print) in Broken Pencil:
“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. “
Scott Wachter delights in Full Colour Cromulence on I Thought They Smelled Bad on the Outside:
“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.”
And Sam Marchello explains her love of Full Colour Cromulence on Cherry Blossoms and Maple Syrup:
“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. “
You can 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.