A-Z blogging challenge. I'm pretty sure that most people have at least heard of Conan the Barbarian, even if they haven't been exposed to it directly. It's been portrayed in a multitude of media from novels to comic books to movies to video games, and the appeal for the story and the characters are as strong today as they were in the 1930's when it was first created.
Conan the Barbarian was created by author Robert E. Howard (who also wrote Solomon Kane, now a feature film out this year). It started out as a short story in Weird Tales magazine, then gradually expanded to anthologies and then its own book series, and it grew from there. Conan is a Cimmerian (roughly based on Celtic barbarians) who roams the land; fighting, pillaging, helping others (when it suits him) and commanding armies. He often has to battle evil wizards and monsters as well as entire opposing armed forces. He is often a dark and brooding character, but Howard injected a dark sense of humour into the character as well.
The first exposure I had to the world of Conan was the 1984 movie adaptaion Conan the Destroyer, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (it's now very dated and also cheesy, but it's a fun film to watch nonetheless). I've since watched the other Schwarzenegger Conan movie, and I've read a few of the comics and some episodes of the animated TV show. What I like about it is that he's very much the fantasy equivalent of the lone gunman. This may seem strange because he's usually surrounded by people with various abilities that are vital to his current quest, but whether he has these people or not he will march on regardless.
Alternate History genre since, if you take out the wizards and monsters, you've more or less got pre-Roman Empire Western Europe. For those of you who are interested in Conan but don't want to watch the 1980's Schwarzenegger movies (you're missing out, if anything listen to the theme music, it's incredible) there's a (more faithful to Howard's original work) remake of Conan coming out in 2010 starring Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Blade 2).
P.S. I'm sorry if any of you just got a blank post earlier. For some reason it published my post before I'd even started!
Update: I've just found the best scene from Conan the Destroyer: Arnie drunk! YouTube won't let me embed the video, so here's the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUNmWa_rJtg (best line: "If you're going to learn how to fight, then learn with a real weapon. Not with a toothpick!")