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Author Robert E. Howard
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Adventure
Published in Weird Tales
Publication type Pulp magazine
Publication date Oct-Dec 1929

Skull-Face is a story written by Robert E. Howard, which appeared as a serial in Weird Tales magazine, beginning in October 1929, and ending in December, 1929.[1] The story stars a character called Steve Costigan but this is not Howard's recurring character, Sailor Steve Costigan. The story is clearly influenced by Sax Rohmer's opus Fu Manchu but substitutes the main asian villain with a resuscitated Atlantean necromancer (very similar to Kull arch-foe Thulsa Doom) sitting at the center of a web of crime and intrigue meant to end White/Western world domination with the help of asian/semite/african peoples and to re-instate surviving Atlanteans (said to lie dormant in submerged sarcophagi) as the new ruling elite. The story presents typical Howardian elements such as racism (even if the protagonist falls in love with Skull Face female slave, Zuleika, who is described as an asian woman), the Atlantis myth, the idea of cyclical catastrophes re-setting human history and civilization, necromancy and alchemy.


The story begins with Steve Costigan drearily waking in Yu Shantu's Temple of Dreams, a hashish den in the city of London, England. He has been re-occurring dreams of something he calls "Skull Face", and is puzzled about their meanings. He is broke, and in need of more hashish, the drug he is portrayed as desperately addicted to. Howard's notion of hashish consumption involves the complete degeneration of intellectual and physical capacity, leaving Costigan barely able to survive. When confronted by the doorman, Hassim, Costigan informs him of his lack of funds. Hassim promptly throws him out through the front door to the den. Bruised and bleeding, Costigan is helped to his feet by a young woman, Zulieka.


  1. ^ The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard, pages 194-320. Cosmos Books, July 2007

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