Belit is that rare fictional character that occupies the same place that first loves do. Created by Robert E. Howard, Belit was a pirate captain who Conan falls in love with. She was greedy, blood thirsty, head strong and sensuous and man, did I love her when I was 9. The first girl I ever had feelings for as a child was as arrogant as Belit, and the first girl I ever kissed could have cosplayed as Belit.
I first came across Belit in the Conan comic books written by Roy Thomas. In the original Howard story, Belit only appears in one story. In the comics, Roy stretched her out for several years. It was a brilliant move as it let the readers enter into a relationship with the character.
I want to tell a quick side story about my reading Conan when I was 9 years old. My step-father wanted to buy comics as an investment. He didn’t know much about comic collecting so he would just grab as many comics of a certain title as possible. In his mind he just had to hold onto them and they would magically turn into money. To convince my mom to let him spend ungodly amounts of money on Fantastic Four, he gave the comics to me to read.
Keep in mind that I couldn’t pick what comics he got. If it was up to me, it would have been Batman and Micronauts. Instead, I got Captain America, Avengers, Fantastic Four, and something called Conan.
Those Conan comics were scary shit. I remember the first time I realized the black spray coming from a decapitated soldier was blood. If Conan wasn’t chopping heads than he was fighting really disgusting looking monsters. The first day I read those comics, I had terrible nightmares.
I complained about my nightmares to my parents. My step-father was terrified that I was undercutting his investment strategy so he threatened me. It boiled down to if I ever had a nightmare again, he would take away all the comics. I interpreted that to mean I should just shut up and stop reading that freaky shit, Conan.
I read the rest of the comic collection and it took me about a year. Eventually out of lack of anything to read, I was tempted to read Conan. I flipped through the issues, judging them by their cover, looking for something less scary. I came across one cover that had a beautiful snarling brunette wearing some sort of fur tunic. I decided to give that a try. The girl’s name was Belit and damn, she was pretty fucking cool.
I don’t think I had a concept of sex at that time but I knew what I liked. Belit in a lot of ways is a teenage male’s ideal of womanhood. She has all the hobbies of a teenage boy from gold to pirating but she has long hair and boobs. The thing that really appealed to me about Belit was that she was fiercely loyal to Conan. He was her’s, and she would claw the eyes out of any woman who said otherwise. That’s how Belit rolled, she did everything with all of heart whether it being killing, stealing or loving. As a young boy, I knew I wanted to know that kind of passion.
“Were I still in death and you fighting for life, I would come back from the abyss to aid you — aye, whether my spirit floated from the purple sails on the crystal sea of paradise, or writhed in the molten flames of Hell! I am yours, and all the gods and their eternities shall not sever us”-Belit
My comic collection was incomplete so at some point, Belit disappeared and she wasn’t mentioned much. I was curious what happened to her and I sort of sneered at the weak dancing girls Conan hung out with in later issues. I remember seeing the Conan movie and wondering who the fuck this Valeria chick was. I wanted my Belit.
On my 14th birthday, I came across some money and was given a rare trip to the town’s Waldenbooks. Desperate to buy something, anything that I recognize, ended up trying the Ace book edition of Robert E. Howard’s work as rewritten by L. Sprague de Camp.
Holy fuck. Howard’s writing influences me to this day but as a teenager it was like finding religion. I devoured those stories and I was delighted when I came across Belit in the story, ‘Queen of the Black Coast.’ Here was the original story of the daughter of a Shemite trader who’s parents were killed and becomes a white queen of black pirates. Here also was something I wasn’t expecting; it told the story of how she died. More importantly, it told the story of how even in death, her spirit came back to defend Conan as he sought to avenge her death. Yep, the movie ripped off Belit’s finest moment and I never knew it.
Years pass and now I’m an adult. I now own the comics of Belit’s appearance as well as the original stories. I have written countless stories about fierce women and their endless passion. I had married a woman with Belit’s temper before remarrying someone with Belit’s heart. Other women and other characters have influenced me but for me, Belit is a first love.
*Commission of Belit drawn by the amazing Frelncer*