DAGAR THE INVINCIBLEMedium: Comic Books
Published by: Gold Key Comics
First Appeared: 1972
Creators: Don Glut (writer) and Jesse Santos (artist)
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For years, American comic books got along with hardly a trace of the "sword & sorcery" genre. In fact, there's scarcely an example of it before 1970, when Marvel Comics licensed Conan the Barbarian from the Robert
E. Howard estate, and there certainly weren't any prominent ones. And Marvel didn't act all that enthusiastic about the untried concept, assigning one of its budding new artists, whose rates were low, to the project — in fact, it was his work on Conan himself that turned Barry Windsor-Smith into a superstar. But once Conan had a chance to capture the readers' imaginations, Marvel added Howard's Kull the Conqueror, Lin Carter's Thongor of Lemuria and more; its main rival, DC, created Stalker, Claw the Unconquered (no relation) etc.; and even Gold Key, much better known for The Pink Panther, Andy Panda and the like, was publishing Dagar the Invincible.
Dagar (no relation) started as a non-series character, the hero of a story that writer Don Glut (Doctor Spektor, Tragg & the Sky Gods) wrote for Gold Key's Mystery Comics Digest shortly after Conan's comic book debut. Glut didn't intend for the story necessarily to have a sequel, but did wind up writing one. Before either of them appeared, however, a decision was made to give Dagar his own title.
Part of that decision was not to dilute the series star by having a couple of his stories turn up in an out-of-the-way anthology; and therefore, the character's name was changed in Mystery Comics Digest. The first new name was "Duroc", but it sounded too much like that of a well-established Gold Key character, Turok, and so the final version was "Durak". The one with his own comic debuted in Tales Of Sword & Sorcery Starring Dagar the Invincible #1, dated October, 1972. The artist was Jesse Santos, who worked with Glut on both Tragg and Spektor, as well as helping launch Brothers of the Spear in their own comic.
Dagar was a typical barbarian hero of his genre. Big and brawny, fearless in battle, not especially bright but clever and cunning enough to win most of his fights, moved around a lot and therefore tended not to form permanent relationships. His foes tended to be monsters, wizards or supernatural entities. A minor distinction was that unlike most Gold Key characters, who tended to live in their own separate worlds, Dagar would have occasional crossovers with Glut's other characters — even meeting his "other self", Durak, on occasion. In fact, tho they were separated by millennia, he once shared a story with Doctor Spektor — it seems both were in the habit of fighting the same set of Dark Gods.
Tho not a spectacular success, Dagar was in the range of Jungle Twins, Wacky Witch and other typical Gold Key original titles, in terms of longevity and name recognition. His comic lasted 18 quarterly issues, the last of which (December, 1976) reprinted the first. The second was reformatted and partially reprinted as a give-away packaged with bubble gum. A final story appeared in the sixth issue of Gold Key Spotlight, which had started looking like a try-out title similar to DC's Showcase, but quickly degenerated into a catch-all, printing left-over inventory stories from defunct titles such as The Wacky Adventures of Cracky and O.G. Whiz. A 19th issue finally came out in 1982, but it, too, reprinted #1. Two years after that, Gold Key folded.
In the following decade, some Gold Key properties, such as Magnus and Doctor Solar, were acquired by Valiant Comics (X-O Manowar, Harbinger). Dagar doesn't seem to have been among them, and now seems permanently consigned to comic book limbo.