Archive for the 'Howard in Media' Category

IMG_0001It was around 1975 when I read my first Karl Edward Wagner novel, Bloodstone, with that great Frazetta cover pictured to the left. I remember really enjoying it, and I thought his Kane was a fascinating creation.  I quickly realized that I had discovered a fantasy writer that was quite a bit better than most of the other sword and sorcery authors that were peddling their crap at that time.

In 1977, I picked up the Berkley/Putnam edition of The People of the Black Circle and my estimation of the Bloodstone author rose even higher, because, in this Wagner-edited volume Howard fans got to see the Conan stories as they had originally appeared in Weird Tales, with no pastiches, no yarns by lesser writers trying to self-promote themselves with their own versions of the dark barbarian.

Two more additions to this series followed, The Hour of the Dragon and Red Nails, but that, unfortunately, was it.  To any reader of this blog it should be apparent there is only one Conan and that is, of course, the Robert E. Howard Conan.  No movie, no comic book adaptation, and no pastiche should ever be considered part of the Conan canon—if Howard didn’t write it, it ain’t Conan, simple as that.

So my respect for Wagner soared when I noticed that the only by-line to appear on the book-spine was Howard’s, and nowhere in his foreword does Wagner mention the names of the other writers that had worked on the Lancer series—and since Mr. Wagner didn’t feel it fulfilled any purpose to state their names I’ll follow his lead and won’t either.  Hopefully it’s not necessary and hopefully their tales of their Conan will be buried somewhere and forgotten.

Wagner shows he’s my kind of Howard fan when he writes, “It is this editor’s feeling that the Conan stories should be presented exactly as Howard wrote them, and that examples of pastiche writing have no place in a collection of the original author’s own stories.  Pastiche-Conan is not the same Conan as portrayed by Robert E. Howard—and I say this as one who has written Howard pastiches.”  Beautiful.

In the second volume in the series, The Hour of the Dragon, he adds to this statement, noting, “later writers have revised nonfantasy adventures to turn them into Conan stories, and have further altered Howard’s Conan through a vast body of frank pastiches.  These are not Conan stories—not Robert E. Howard’s Conan—and have no more validity in relation to the stories than any Conan tales you might yourself decide to write.”  Wagner is becoming my hero.

In the last volume of this series, Red Nails, he refers again to the earlier tampering by, well, you know.  “Unfortunately these earlier efforts [the Gnome and Lancer editions] were burdened with the aforementioned Conan collaborations and pastiches, and Howard’s text in the completed stories was tampered with by previous editors.”  And then Wagner reiterates his belief that no collection of Conan should contain any stories except those by Howard.  My man. 

IMG_0002Because of this high regard I check eBay quite often for Wagner items and I was delighted to come across Michael Moorcock’s Stormbringer, pictured to the left with the J. Cawthorn cover.  While the book is in itself collectible I was somewhat amazed to discover this was actually Wagner’s own copy, and contained his bookplate.  I quickly bought it and added it to my library.

Shortly after this purchase eBay yielded another surprise—a teleplay by Wagner adapting Howard’s “The Horror from the Mound” for the series Tales From the Darkside.  I had heard of this somewhat legendary script, but I’d never had the chance to read it.  So, on the day it arrived, I spent a pleasurable hour familiarizing myself with KEW’s remarkable adaptation.  Wagner deserves all the adulation Howard fans can give him, because this is the way Howard should be treated by screenwriters and movie makers.

It’s a solid retelling of one of my favorite REH yarns with one notable exception; Wagner introduces a third modern-day character, Jarrett Buckner.  The creation of this character helps KEW move the teleplay along, especially during the sequences when Brill reads the manuscript left by Juan Lopez—with Buckner on stage Brill can narrate Lopez’s tale aloud, instead of only reading it to himself.

IMG_0003I was never a Tales From the Darkside fan, at the time it first aired I felt most of the episodes fell kind of flat, and I ended up sarcastically calling the program Tales From the Unimaginative Side.

One of the episodes I fuzzily recall concerned an old man who had apparently died but would not admit it to himself, or his loved ones.  His relatives are of course unsettled by this and are trying to prove to the elderly gentleman that he has indeed perished and that it’s time for him to take his place in the coffin.  So, during one meal, his family members pepper his plate severely, enough to make him sneeze so heavily that he blows his nose off, thus confirming to himself that he is, indeed, a walking dead man.  I believe the last scene in the show is of his nose still embedded in his handkerchief, with lots of gross material surrounding it.

How correct my memory is of this show I’m not exactly certain but I do know that my estimation of Tales From the Darkside does not place it on the top shelf of horror shows—Thriller has nothing to worry about.  However, after reading Wagner’s teleplay, and recognizing how good it would have appeared on television, I may have to go back and take another look at some of those old Tales episodes.  The fact that “The Horror from the Mound” was even considered to be a possible candidate for this old horror series does say something good about Tales From the Darkside—I may have to take back that Unimaginative Side crack.

This Wagner teleplay deserves publication—if only to show that Howard can be brought to the small, or big, screen with very little tampering.  It can be done, Howard fans, and we all know it.

Howard Heads on Hallowed Ground

Howard Heads on Hallowed Ground (Left to Right) Kneeling: Keith West, John Bullard, Dave Hardy. Standing Jeff Shanks, Paul Herman, Rusty Burke, Partice Louinet, Rob Roehm, Bill Cavalier and myself.)

Worldcon 71 is history and everyone who attended has made it home and had time to reflect on the experience. Due to my work schedule and other factors I was only able to attend on Friday and Saturday (Worldcon ran Thursday, August 29th through Monday, September 2nd), which were probably two of the best days to be there. But some other folks who were there have filled in the gaps I missed for this wrap-up, so off we go.

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The big pre-convention event was Wednesday’s bus trip to Cross Plains (hosted by Rusty Burke and Mark Finn) which was a success despite having only 14 people sign-up for it. Little surprise there since the con PR crew did little to no advance publicity for the trip. In my opinion, they dropped the ball on promoting the convention itself. I did not see any national coverage at all, only some local newspaper and television coverage  – I mean it was the “World Science Fiction Convention” and certainly should been heavily publicized nationally.

Getting back on topic, even though the day trippers were a small group, they were an enthusiastic bunch, touring the Howard House Museum, buying items from the gift shop and eating in the local restaurants — thus giving a shot of revenue to Howard’s hometown. On the return trip to San Antonio, the AV system on the luxury bus screened The Whole Wide World. All in all, the journey made for a fine prelude to Thursday’s opening day of the convention.

I drove from Houston to San Antonio after work on Thursday and met the gang at Dick’s Last Resort on the Riverwalk.  It’s basically a tourist trap where they put paper hats on your heads with insulting sayings written on them, make you wear plastic bibs and generally treat all the customers rudely, hence the  name “Dick’s”  The gang included Rob Roehm, Patrice Louinet, Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, Jeff Shanks, Paul Herman and local fan and Legacy Circle member John Bullard. Dave Hardy, his wife Julie and daughter Bridget were also in attendance. After dinner, drinks and some general tormrnting from the staff, we retired to quieter and more pleasant surroundings, namely the bar at the Menger Hotel.

The hotel, built in 1858, is purportedly haunted by the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt; the hotel’s walls are decorated with photos and memorabilia related to our 26th President. Every evening The Menger Bar, which is just steps away from The Alamo, was ground zero for after dinner drinking, hanging out and the general telling of lies.

Talking-Howard-and-swilling-beer-at-the-Menger-Bar

Talking Howard and swilling beer at the MengerBar (Left to Right) Jeff Shanks, Patrice Louinet, Dave Hardy, Paul Herman, Bill Cavalier, Rob Roehm and myself.

Friday morning when I arrived at the convention center, I ran into Rob outside and he showed where to check-in and get my badge and other credentials. I then wandered into the exhibit hall and checked out the REH exhibit, as was pretty damn impressive. Next I headed back to the dealers’ room to visit the REH Foundation’s dealer’s table and was pleased to see they had a nice set-up with a large supply of Foundation Press books. However, they were stuck way in the back of the dealers’ room — but as far as I could tell, it didn’t seem to affect the amount of traffic going by the table.

As for the con-goers, nothing to see there. People dressed in Furries, Steampunk, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, Dr. Who, and etc. gear — the usual con crowd; other than the person with a beard, dressed as a woman, whose gender was not apparent to me. Obviously, there was a lot of other activities going at the convention in addition to the Howard related events — usually about 20 panels, readings or screenings going on at the same time. Here is TGR blogger Rob Roehm’s reort on the event:

Due to time constraints I wasn’t able to drive to Texas as I prefer, but air travel has its benefits. I arrived late on Wednesday evening, had a Whataburger, and hit the sack. Thursday morning I drove to Victoria, which is the last Texas town mentioned by Robert E. Howard that I hadn’t visited before. Now I’ve seen them all.

Bill Cavalier and Dave Hardy holding down the fort down at the Robert E. Howard Exhibit.

I arrived at the convention center a little after noon and went looking for familiar faces. The first one I saw was Dave Hardy, who was manning the REH exhibit in the big hall. The exhibit was pretty nice, with lots of comics, a few books, and a couple of Howard’s typescripts borrowed from the Cross Plains Public Library. After a quick chat, Hardy pointed me in the direction of the REH Foundation table in the dealers’ section.

At the table, Paul Herman brought me up to speed on what was happening, as well as how to operate the credit card reader for my phone, and then slipped off to be part of a copyright panel. When he returned, I skipped out for lunch with Rusty Burke, Patrice Louinet, and Jeff Shanks. We went down to the River Walk and had sandwiches and beer at an Irish pub. By the time I got back to the dealers’ room, it was almost time to close it down, so I helped out a bit and then we all hit the town.

Bill Cavalier and Paul Herman setting up the REH Foundation table.

And speaking of the dealers’ room, the best part of WorldCon, for me anyway, was Paul Herman. If he hadn’t been so dedicated to the job at hand, I know that I would have been stuck behind the REH Foundation table selling books the whole time. As it was, I had lots of time to screw around. I *almost* feel guilty about it, but not quite.

The REHF Press Dealers' Table

I only watched one panel that I wasn’t part of, and I only participated in three, so I’m not really sure what I was doing most of the time. The panels I was on were fairly well attended, around twenty folks. And these were mostly *new* people, not the fans that stay up-to-date on Damon’s blog and read the current goings-on in Howard Studies. For many of them, Howard studies began and ended with de Camp in the 1970s. And they were generally receptive to having their notions changed. Of course, some of the more old-time fans and authors had a harder time of it. During Rusty Burke’s horror stories panel-the one panel that I watched-I enjoyed seeing him patiently counter some of Harry Turtledove’s comments.

Horror Stories Panel with Damon Sasser, Rusty Burke and Harry Turtledove.

The same thing was happening at the Foundation table. People were surprised to see the many different books by Howard and were almost always completely unaware of the Foundation and the doings of Howard fans in general. We were happy to fill in the blanks.

Of course, the real fun was just hanging out with friends and talking about Robert E. Howard. And it’s even better when you can do that in a city that Howard loved, and that serves alcohol in its restaurants.

Mark Finn was the head honcho as far as planning all the REH panels and wrangling all the contrary Howard Heads to sit in on them — a monumental feat in of itself. You can read Mark’s complete trip report here. Meanwhile, here is a sampling that focuses on the Howard related convention stuff:

Some of you may have noticed that there were, ah, a few panels on Robert E. Howard and his legacy. This was completely intentional. When I was asked to help out with the programming duties, I was told that there were absolutely zero panels on Robert E. Howard at the last Texas WorldCon, in 1997. This is not surprising. The 1990s are something of a Dark Ages for Howard Studies, with no copies of Howard’s own Conan books on the shelves and no real intentions to do so. It wasn’t until around the late 1990s that Wandering Star entered the picture, with their desire to produce authoritative texts of Howard’s work, in deluxe hardcover editions, and with high end illustrations. That was the start of the REH Renaissance, really. So, a lot has happened in the thirteen years between Texas WorldCons. A lot.

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That track of programming was a corrective, and it was extremely successful. We had large crowds for most of the panels (the poetry stuff was a bust, frankly, and no one could find the film programming to come see “Barbarian Days”) and lot of participation. But in particular, I slanted the panels to hit the older fans. When I came down for the big meeting in April, I had two people pull me aside—older men, both—and tell me how pleased and excited they were to see that REH was going to be on the panels this year. They were big fans, they told me, and read all of that stuff in the 1970s. I asked them, “Have you been keeping up with what we’ve been doing in the past fifteen years?” Oh, no, they said. They just read the books and really enjoyed them, but they haven’t looked at them since the seventies. Heh. Okay, guys, this panel’s for you.

"The First Barbarian of Texas" --  Patrice Louinet and Mark Finn, with John Maddox Roberts (far right) and Patrick Nielsen Hayden (far left)

I intentionally loaded the topics to entice the older fans. We had an obligatory Conan panel, and that room was packed. Even better, it was a smashing success. I opened it up to talk about pop culture Conan, and everyone stayed right on Robert E. Howard’s Conan the whole time. Fantastic. And the more we talked about corrupted texts, bad biographical practices, ulterior motives, and the complicated relationship between the fans and L. Sprague de Camp, I saw more light bulbs going on behind these guys’ eyes. Oh, there were a few of them who wanted to debate the point, citing de Camp’s standing as a gifted and talented author, and blah blah blah. I told one of them what I always say, which is that de Camp was great for Conan, but really lousy for Robert E. Howard. That pretty much ended the discussion.We opened a lot of eyes and changed a lot of minds over the four day weekend.

The Robert E. Howard exhibit got a lot of traffic, as did the Robert E. Howard Foundation Table. Lots of books were sold, memberships handed out, and we all had a ton of great conversations with people who were genuinely interested in REH, his works, and what we were doing there. It was everything that we wanted WFC 2006 to be, and more.

“Beyond the Barbarian: Robert E. Howard’s Other Heroes” Panel

“Beyond the Barbarian: Robert E. Howard’s Other Heroes” Panel (Left to Right) Rob Roehm, David Spurlock, Dave Hardy, Mel White and John Maddox Roberts.

Like me, Howard fan and blogger Keith West also arrived in San Antonio late Thursday. Here is an excerpt from his trip report on his Adventures Fantastic blog (He also blogs at the Amazing Stories website):

The next day [Friday] was one of those where there was about twelve hours of programming I wanted to attend, all of it in a three hour block. I went to most of the Robert E. Howard panels, of which there were many. Most of the hanging out I did with friends was with members of the Robert E. Howard Foundation or chatting with folks at parties. Saturday was much the same, but Sunday was a little more relaxed. Among the non-Howard panels I attended were a discussion of C. L. Moore’s “Vintage Season”, the history of firearms in the 1800s, a reading by Jack McDevitt, a discussion on writing that included Michael Swanwick and James Patrick Kelly, a panel of Texas writers who have passed on, and readings by Jack McDevitt and Howard Waldrop. I only caught part of the panel on sword and sorcery since it was up against one of the more interesting Robert E. Howard panels. The autographing lines were either nonexistent or ridiculously long, so I only got a few signatures.

I went to the Alamo Saturday morning with Bill Cavalier, editor of REHupa. He hadn’t seen it, and it had been a while since I had paid my respects. Next to the Alamo is the Menger Hotel. Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders in the bar, and it’s something of a mini-museum. I’ll do a write-up of it on Dispatches From the Lone Star Front over the weekend.

I didn’t try to attend the Hugos. I wasn’t impressed with the slate of nominees for the most part. But it’s a popularity contest, and currently my tastes and those of the field are in a state of moderate divergence. The Legacy Circle of the REH Foundation went to dinner Saturday night.

The REH Foundation Legacy Circle Dinner

The REH Foundation Legacy Circle Dinner (Left to Right) Paul Herman, Bill Cavalier, Rusty Burke, Dave Hardy, Damon Sasser, Jeff Shanks, Patrice Louinet, Rob Roehm, John Bullard and Ben Friberg (Keith West is the photographer).

My first panel was Friday at 4:00 pm “Two-Gun Bob: The Somewhat True Tales of Robert E. Howard.” The turnout was pretty good, as were the questions from the audience, though I found the guy wearing the pink bunny ears to be distracting. I had another panel at 8:00, “Nameless Cults: Robert E. Howard’s Horror Stories,” which had a pretty sparse showing of attendees — they scheduled a screening of The Whole Wide World at the same time, which certainly siphoned off of the potential attendees.

"Two-Gun Bob: The Somewhat True Tales of Robert E. Howard

“Two-Gun Bob: The Somewhat True Tales of Robert E. Howard” Panel (Left to Right) Mark Finn, Patrice Louinet, myself, Rob Roehm and Rusty Burke.

On Saturday I was only on one panel: “The Howard Boom” Barbarians, Fanzines and the 1970s,” which was interesting since I was the only one there who actually participated in the 1970s Howard Boom! Later that afternoon, I caught the “Robert E. Howard: The Weird, West and Worms” academic panel. It was one of the best, but there were only six or seven us in the audience. That was a shame because Mark and Jeff presented two of their excellent PCA papers: “Vaqueros and Vampires: Robert E Howard and the Genesis of the Weird Western” and “Evolutionary Otherness: Anthropological Anxiety in Robert E. Howard’s “Worms of the Earth”

Mark, Jeff, Chris, Patrice, Rusty, Rob and others have been working overtime to get Howard the literary credit he  deserves. If we, as Howard fans want to have his writings make some serious inroads into academia, we really have to get behind these guys, show our support and help them any way we can to further the cause. This convention was a good start, but there is still a lot of work left to be done.

When it was all said and done, Worldcon was certainly a big stage to show off Howard studies and just how it’s come in recent years. There were no Howard panels at the 1997 Worldcon, which was also held in San Antonio, The World Fantasy Con in 2006 corrected that slight somewhat, but Worldcon 71 blew the doors off with its great Howard presence. It looks like the future of Howard’s literary legacy is so bright, we all are going to have to wear shades.

Watch for “Worldcon 71: A Photo Gallery” coming soon!

Photos courtesy of Barbara Baum, Rusty Burke, Patrice Louinet, Dennis McHaney, Rob Roehm and Keith West.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo weeks from tomorrow, Worldcon 71 kicks off in the Alamo City. The event is being hosted by LoneStarCon 3 and, of course, will have a large number of Robert E. Howard panels and programs on the schedule. And the Howard events even get a jumpstart on the convention with a bus trip to Cross Plains to visit the Howard House Museum the day before Worldcon officially starts!

The Wednesday bus tour, hosted by Rusty Burke and Mark Finn, is virtually identical to the one from the 2006 World Fantasy Con. Acting as your guides, Rusty and Mark will be pointing out places of interest along the way. Once in Cross Plains, the first stop is the historical Robert E. Howard House Museum, next is a lunch break, and lastly a quick tour of the Cross Plain Public Library and downtown Cross Plains, and then it’s back on the bus for the return trip to San Antonio. While the trip takes twelve hours, you’ll find the time will fly by since you will be riding in a luxury bus, which should have a DVD player, so there’s a good chance you’ll see The Whole Wide World on the way back, plus Mark will have some Violet Crown Radio Players CDs with him to entertain you as well.

As for the Howard related panels and events beginning Thursday the 29th of August, here is the rundown:

Worldcon REH-Themed Panels

Note: This does not include the panels that are about larger topics that would include REH, such as the Texas Gothic panel and the Weird Texas Author panel. Nor does it include other panels that Howardists will be on. This is the list of concentrated REH panels.  The Worldcon Robert E. Howard program is three times the size of the program at the 2006 World Fantasy Convention.

Thu. 12:00 – Thu. 13:00, Location: 008A
The First Barbarian of Texas: Conan the Cimmerian (Literature, Panel)

Thu. 13:00 – Thu. 14:00, Location: 101B
You Don’t Know Jack about Bob: What’s New in Robert E. Howard Studies (Authors, Panel)

Fri. 10:00 – Fri. 11:00, Location: 102B
Beyond the Barbarian: Robert E. Howard’s Other Heroes (Literature, Panel)

Fri. 13:00 – Fri. 14:00, Location: Conference 1 (Rivercenter)
Barbarian Days: Starring the BNFs of Howard Fandom   (Screening)

Fri 16:00 – Fri. 17:00, Location: 102B
Two-Gun Bob: The Somewhat True Tales of Robert E. Howard (Panel)

Fri. 18:00 – Fri. 19:00, Location: Exh A – Literary Beers
The Robert E. Howard Poetry Slam! (Poetry, Open Mike)

Fri. 20:00 – Fri. 21:00, Location: 006B (160AV)
Nameless Cults: Robert E. Howard’s Horror Stories (Literature, Panel)

Fri. 20:00 – Fri. 22:00, Location: 007CD
The Whole Wide World (Authors, Film / Video) (Screening)

Sat. 10:00 – Sat 11:00, Location: 007CD
The Weird Western: A Celebratory Explanation (Literature, Panel)

Sat. 12:00 – Sat. 13:00, Location: 102B
The Howard Boom: Barbarians, Fanzines, and the 1970s (Fannish, Panel)

Sat. 15:00 – Sat. 16:00, Location: 003B
The Poetry of Robert E. Howard: The Dark Bard of Texas (Poetry, Panel), (Academic/Poet)

Sat. 17:00 – Sat. 18:00, Location: 006B
Robert E. Howard: The Weird, West, and Worms (Academic, Talk)

Sun. 13:00 – Sun. 14:00, Location: 102A
The Wild, Weird, and Wonderful Westerns of Robert E. Howard (Literature, Panel)

Sun. 18:00 – Sun. 19:00, Location: 006A
Robert E. Howard at the Ice House (Literature, Panel)

Mon. 13:00 – Mon. 14:00, Location:102A
“An Age Undreamed Of…”: World Building with Robert E. Howard (Literature, Panel)Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

The convention is being held in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, located in downtown San Antonio and just a short distance from the world famous River Walk. The Convention Center has two halls (each over 120,000 square feet), large ballrooms, and scores of smaller meeting rooms. The Marriott Rivercenter and Marriott River Walk are the host hotels, with the nearby Hilton Palacio Del Rio handling the overflow of guests. You can enjoy the Rivercenter Mall with dozens of shops and restaurants, along with other venues for food and shopping situated on the River Walk. The mall, hotels and convention center are linked by the Paseo del Rio (River Walk), a portion of the San Antonio River.

It is going to be a Labor Day weekend to remember for Howard Heads, with a who’s-who’s of Howard aficionados in attendance and participating on the panels.

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[Part 9 is here.]

As the 1960s began, Howard publishing continued its sluggish pace. George Scithers published an excerpt from one of Howard’s letters to August Derleth (which Scithers entitled “On Astounding”) in the January 1960 issue of Amra; “Dreams of Nineveh” appeared in The Golden Atom’s 20th Anniversary issue; “The Challenge from Beyond” appeared in Fantastic Science Fiction Stories for May 1960; and the Wollheim-edited Macabre Reader, containing Howard’s “The Cairn on the Headland,” was re-issued in the United Kingdom.

For Glenn Lord, the beginning of the 1960s was the same as the end of the ’50s: he traded pulp magazines and information regarding Robert E. Howard with an ever-growing circle of fans, collectors, and professionals, as well as individuals who had actually known the writer from Cross Plains personally or through correspondence. This last group included people like E. Hoffmann Price, Tevis Clyde Smith, Clark Ashton Smith, Lindsey Tyson, Frank Thurston Torbett, Norbert P. Sydow, and Lenore Preece. The former group was of course much larger, but included some well-known individuals like Donald Wollheim, Joseph Payne Brennan, Darrell C. Richardson, John Pocsik (then only 16-years-old), L. Sprague de Camp, and others. And Glenn was still looking for more.

In a postcard postmarked January 28, 1960, Dale Hart tells Glenn’s a bit about one of his people-of-interest: “Alvin Earl Perry has been absent from his bookshop when I tried to contact him. I’ll keep working on the case.”

Another person Glenn was interested in was the co-author of “The Last Ride,” Robert Enders Allen (aka Chandler Whipple). In a February 14 postcard, Tevis Clyde Smith tells Lord, “As for Allen, I am sorry, but I am unable to be of assistance, as I have no recollection of ever having heard of him before.” On February 22, Lindsey Tyson checked in with the following:

You mentioned a Robert Enders Allen. I never heard Bob mention anyone by that name. I am of the opinion that there was no such person because Bob did not like partners in anything. Bob did speak quite often of H. P. Lovecraft and Otis A. Kline. Dave Lee informs me that he had never heard of Allen either, and I am sorry to say that he has none of Bob’s material.

Other information was obtained from noted CAS scholar George F. Haas, including the following from a March 1, 1960 letter:

Among the more precious items in my dusty archives is a hand-written letter from H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith. There are three sheets or six pages of closely written script. There is no date on the letter but the envelope is postmarked June 20, 1936. On the last page is this paragraph:

“Since beginning this epistle I’ve had a most depressing & staggering message—a postcard with the report that good old Two-Gun Bob has committed suicide. It seems incredible—I had a long normal letter from him dated May 13. He was worried about his mother’s health, but otherwise seemed perfectly all right. If the news is indeed true, it forms weird fiction’s worst loss since the passing of Whitehead in 1932. Few others of the gang had quite the zest & spontaneity of good old R.E.H. I certainly wish I could get a bulletin saying the report is a mistake! ’36 is certainly a hellish year!”

Glenn even contacted Howard contemporary and Weird Tales regular Seabury Quinn, whom he reached through Arkham House. Quinn responded on August 7:

You are correct in surmising that I was an admirer of the work of the late Robert E. Howard, whom I considered one of the few really significant contributors to 20th Century American fantasy. Unfortunately, however, I never had occasion to exchange letters with him, or to meet him personally, so I’m afraid I can’t be very helpful to you in your projected compilation of his works. This is unfortunate, and I assure you that if I had any such material I’d be glad to let you have it. Fantasy writers of the early part of this century undoubtedly did make significant contributions to the sum of American literature, but except for a few interested people, such as you and August Derleth, their work has gone largely unnoticed.

1960 08-07 Quinn to GL

All the while Glenn was still trying to get copies of Oscar Friend’s inventory. In the above letter, Quinn told Lord, “I’m also not too much surprised at Oscar Friend’s lack of cooperation. I’ve done business with Friend.” And in a September 28 letter, L. Sprague de Camp has the following:

I don’t know what can be done to move Oscar Friend; I have had the same sort of trouble with him. The only thing that works is to call at his home in person and ask to be allowed to go through the stuff, and that’s not always practical.

Frustrated with Friend’s pace, Glenn wrote to the former owners of the Kline Agency and asked if they had anything. Kline’s daughter, Ora Rossini, responded on November 22: “I am sure that we no longer have anything of this sort. Probably the records went to Oscar Friend with any material, and the personal correspondence must have been destroyed.”

At the turn of the new year, Glenn had gathered enough information about Howard publications that he was almost ready to publish his findings. He wrote to George Scithers for advice on January 10, 1961:

Wonder if you’d tell me a few things. First, do you have to register (or anything) with the local authorities when you publish a fanzine? Secondly are any other steps necessary to copyright same except so stating in the fanzine? And what did you wind up having to pay Oscar Friend for the use of the Howard poem and fragment you used? Reason I’m asking all this is I’m seriously thinking of issuing a deluxe fanzine with material about and by Howard. Perhaps just a one-shot.

While Glenn was contemplating publication, 1961 did bring some Howard appearances: “Rogues in the House” ran in the British edition More Not at Night; “The Garden of Fear” was reprinted in Fantastic Stories of Imagination, May 1961 and “The Dead Remember” in the December 1961 issue. Fire and Sleet and Candlelight was put out by Arkham House—it contains two Howard poems.

Besides these appearances, Howard was about to crack the small screen. On March 23, 1961, MCA Artists sent Oscar Friend contracts for Dr. Kuykendall to sign “covering certain television rights in the story entitled PIGEONS FROM HELL, written by the late Mr. Howard.” Their offer of $400 was enough to get Friend moving for a change. He wrote to P. M. Kuykendall, unaware that he had died in 1959 and left the Howard rights to his wife and daughter. This caused some trouble with MCA for, as Friend put it in his March 24 letter to the dead doctor, “A TV sale always requires a lot of red tape because they get sued so much. In this case they require the signature of the administrator of the estate instead of the agent for estate.” This last requirement necessitated the new heirs sending Friend copies of Dr. I. M. Howard’s will and other documents related to their ownership. When the dust from the MCA deal had cleared, Friend wrote to his new clients, April 6, 1961:

First, please accept my belated condolence for the lost [sic.] of your husband which I was not aware of but which I should have suspected and written about, except that I myself have been incapacitated due to illness myself during the past two years (cataractal). [. . .] The Robert L. [sic.] Howard estate is growing rather complicated, what with the passing of Mr. Kline, and now with the passing of Dr. Kuykendall. Because of the revival of SF and Fantasy in literature, with the rather surprising continual existence of interest in the work of Robert Howard, it means that you and I should become better acquainted.

Friend no doubt envisioned future fat checks from production companies. “Pigeons from Hell” aired on NBC’s Thriller, June 6, 1961. Of course, for our purposes, the most important publishing that appeared in 1961 was The Howard Collector.

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[Part 11 is here.]

This is the second post for 2013 of the online version of Nemedian Dispatches. This feature previously appeared in the print journal and is now on the blog. On roughly a quarterly basis, Nemedian Dispatches will highlight new and upcoming appearances of Howard’s fiction in print, as well as Howard in other types of media.

In Print:

Fists of Iron - Round 1

Fists of Iron — Round 1
The REH Foundation Press has just published Fists of Iron — Round 1, the first  of a four-volume series that presents the Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard. The first book comes in at 420 pages, and will be printed in hardback with dust jacket in a limited quantity of 200 copies, each individually numbered. Cover art by Tom Gianni (who will do the covers for all four volumes) and an introduction by Chris Gruber. The remaining three volumes will follow as their covers are completed. You can order one or all at the REHF website.

Critical Insights: Pulp Fiction of the 1920s and 1930s
This pricey volume of critical essays, edited by Gary Hoppenstand, explores the weird and diverse fiction from the pages of Weird Tales  and other select pulp magazines showcasing the work of  legandary writers H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, A. Merritt, Seabury Quinn, C.L. Moore, Robert Bloch, August Derleth and others. S.T. Joshi, Jeffrey H. Shanks, Andrew J. Wilson, Garyn Roberts, and Richard Bleiler are among the contributors. The essays are 2,500 to 5,000 words in length and the book is available from the Salem Press website.

Red Nails: Young Adult Edition
For some bizarre reason, Oxford University Press thought Howard’s goriest Conan yarn, replete with lesbianism and bondage undertones, would be perfect fare for young, impressible minds. To appeal to the youngsters, there are numerous illustrations in the book featuring Conan and Valeria in attire straight out of a Hyborian Age Abercrombie & Fitch. The text was adapted by Bill Bowler, with illustrations by Oliver Culbertson. Proceed at your own peril.

The Alluring Art of Margaret BrundageThe Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage
Surprisingly, this is the first book devoted to the art of Margaret Brundage. This talented artist forever changed the look of fantasy, science-fiction, and horror with her alluring sensationalistic covers for the legendary pulp magazine, Weird Tales. She was the first cover artist of the pulp era to paint Conan. Brundage was years ahead of her time – her provocative paintings featuring semi-nude young women bearing whips, became a huge scandal in the 1930s, with many newsstands ripping off the covers before selling the magazines. The authors Stephen D. Korshak and J. David Spurlock showcase her artwork and Rowena, Robert Weinberg, and other pay homage to her with essays. There are three editions from a softcover version to a regular hardcover to a limited, slip-cased hardcover edition. It is a big book — 9″ x 12″ — lavishly illustrated in full-color. Published by Vanguard Productions.

 On DVD:

Barbarian Days DVD Barbarian Days on DVD
Every June, Howard fans flock to the small community of  Cross Plains to honor the the literary works of the town’s most famous resident. Barbarian Days was filmed at Howard Days in 2008 and I reviewed it here on the blog in January 2012. The filmmakers attempt to document the people and events without making everyone look like a kook and on some level they succeed. Howard is most well known for creating Conan the Barbarian and Kull the Conqueror, so those two characters get a lot of attention and a good faith effort is made to show the that spirit of Howard’s characters live on through the  fans who find hope in his pages and unity in his memory. The DVD is now available to order.

Solomon Kane on DVD & Blu-Ray
Finally, Michael J. Bassett‘s Solomon Kane movie is being released on July 16th in the US on DVD and Blu-Ray. Of course, James Purefoy (“The Following”), is Solomon Kane, and the film also stars the late Pete Postlethwaite, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Max von Sydow. The Blu-Ray and DVD special features will include a ‘Making Of’ featurette, interviews and commentary with director Michael J. Bassett, the producers and the cast, plus a deleted scene, gallery images and a Special FX featurette. Pre-order from Amazon.com. 

Coming Soon:

BT_front-web

Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
Fear not, while the limited hardcover edition of Mark Finn’s Howard biography, Blood and Thunder is sold out, Rob is currently preparing the volume for the Foundation Press’ Lulu.com Storefront. It will be available for purchase any day now, both at the Lulu Storefront and Amazon.com.

Conan the Phenomenon — Trade Paperback
Coming this October is a trade paperback edition of Paul Sammon’s epic study of Conan, originally published as a large, coffee table style book in 2007. This volume covers virtually every medium Conan appeared in from paperbacks, to comics to film. If you don’t already have it, you need it. Published by Dark Horse and available from Amazon.com.

Conan: “Red Nails” Original Art Archives
Forty years after its original publication, Genesis West brings the classic 59-page Conan tale “Red Nails,” adapted by Roy Thomas and Barry (Windsor) Smith to an oversized hardback book. Scanned in color and presented at the size of the original art, luxury edition faithfully captures the appearance of the actual pages as drawn in 1973. The book is filled with interviews, commentaries and biographies. Hardcover, 14″ x19,” 136 pages and in full color, the volume is due out in August; you can order the book here.

Weird Tales Replicas – “Red Nails”
In the coming months, Girasol Collectables Inc. will be publishing replicas of the three issue run of Weird Tales containing the three part serial of “Red Nails,” the last Conan story Howard wrote. Part 1 appeared in the July 1936 issue, Part 2 in the August-September 1936 issue and Part 3 in the October 1936 issue. Girasol also recently reprinted Weird Tales (December 1934) featuring “A Witch Shall Be Born,” which sports a great Brundage cover.

The Colossal Conan Hardcover
Are you ready for 1300 pages of Conan comics? Well, Dark Horse thinks you are. Coming in November is a massive and expensive hardcover volume that collects the first 51 issue of Dark Horse’s Conan titles. In addition to a bevy of artists and writers, the book features a color wraparound cover by Mark Schultz, an introduction from Kurt Busiek and an afterword by Tim Truman. It is touted as a must have, so you’ll have to convince yourselves that it is worth the cost.

@REH_TGR

Like everyone else these days, Robert E. Howard is on Social Media. Even given his amazing imagination, he would be astounded to see the technology we all take for granted and the many ways it has changed our daily lives. Whether he’d approve of it, no one knows. The  TGR Facebook page has been around for two years. A few months back, I added a TGR Twitter account to the mix. I had thought about creating both back in 2011, but I was fairly new to social media and wanted to see how the Facebook page would go over before adding a Twitter account. These days, in addition to a blog, you have to be on Facebook and Twitter because that where most people spend their online time. And getting the your message out there is the name of the game. So here is a list of links for other pages and groups on Facebook dedicated to Robert E. Howard:

The Dark Man

Howard Works

REH Comics Group

Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard Days

Robert E. Howard Readers

The Robert E. Howard International Fan Association

The Robert E. Howard Foundation also recently added Facebook and Twitter pages.

These social media accounts are the ones I am most familiar with, but if anyone else out there has a Facebook or Twitter account devoted exclusively to Howard, let me know and I’ll add the link(s) to this list.

This entry filed under Howard Fandom, Howard in Media.

I’ve watched this disaster unfold all last week, then the formal detailed announcement came Friday as posted on the Deadline website. Universal, in conjunction with Paradox, has a new Conan movie in the works with Arnold Schwarzenegger returning at age 63 to reprise his role as Conan. The new film, being fast tracked for a 2014 release, will be titled The Legend of Conan. Paradox’s head honcho Fredrik Malmberg describes the premise of the film in this excerpt form the film’s announcement:

The original ended with Arnold on the throne as a seasoned warrior, and this is the take of the film we will make,” Malmberg told me. “It’s that Nordic Viking mythic guy who has played the role of king, warrior, soldier and mercenary, and who has bedded more women than anyone, nearing the last cycle of his life. He knows he’ll be going to Valhalla, and wants to go out with a good battle.

Evidently it has been some time since Fred has read the original Conan stories. Last time I checked he was still a Cimmerian and his god was Crom. Howard’s Conan would not want jump into a battle just so he can die and go to “Viking heaven.” He would much rather emerge victorious and save the dying for another day.

This “direct sequel” business has me puzzled too. They will have to explain how he got from being a young Conan to that final shot from the 1982 film with an aged Conan on the throne. Will we see a younger actor with Arnold’s face CGI’d onto his body act out various scenes from Conan’s past as he rises to king as a pirate, bandit, mercenary, seasoned warrior, leader of armies and his ascension to the throne of Aquilonia in a series of flashbacks?  Also, the movie-makers will pretend like 1984′s Conan the Destroyer and last year’s re-boot of Conan the Barbarian never existed. While some strickly Conan fans think this might be a good idea, I don’t get the logic behind it.

Arnold’s obviously too old for some version of The Hour of the Dragon adaptation. Age-wise he’s more suited to de Camp and Carter’s Conan of the Isles — which no Howard fan wants to see. We’ll have to wait and see what screenwriter and producer Chris Morgan comes up with as the film progresses — that is if he finishes the script for the new Fast and Furious movie he’s penning in time to write one or at least oversee another scriptwriter for this Conan, along with his producing duties.

While there was some hope the 2011 movie would at least make an effort to capture Howard’s Conan, it just wasn’t up to the task. Momoa was a pretty good Conan, but the script was a dog. In that case they had some 27 years to get it right and didn’t. I don’t see how they can do it in less than two years. As true Howard fans have learned from previous efforts, Conan is a property to Hollywood, but a treasure to us.

This entry filed under Howard in Media, L. Sprague de Camp, News.

Being a part of the panel celebrating Conan’s 80th birthday was going to be a lot of fun—no pressure, just utilize whatever Howardian information I had stowed away from 45 plus years of reading.  However, at a Friday night supper with my fellow panel members—Rusty Burke, Don Herron and Indy Cavalier—I was given notice, from Indy, and earlier that day from Don, that everyone but me was a member of the elite Black Circle group.  Not sure how to handle such snobbery I politely ignored the jeers and evil laughter and concentrated on my burger.  Seriously, I felt lucky indeed to end up with such distinguished panel partners, but I’d chop an arm off before I’d let them know that.

Anyway, Don and I arrived at the Hyatt on Thursday and after checking in took the elevator to the fifteenth floor—absolutely beautiful hotel with a fantastic view, only thing missing was a hospitality room.

Nine o’clock Friday morning was the opening of the dealer’s room and I was ready to participate—my money clip was hot and my fingers were itching; time to buy.  Going to a PulpFest is quite the experience—if you like pulps and first editions you know the minute you walk into the dealer’s room that you’re in the right place.  Row upon row of pulps, and unlike buying off eBay you get to give the old magazine a smell test before your purchase.  But while I love pulps I’m more of an autograph seeker and it wasn’t long before I had discovered a signed copy of John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There?—with the Malcolm Smith cover—and snapped it up immediately.

On Saturday Don introduced me to Walker Martin who had a pile of old Frank A. Munsey Company checks.  I love these signed beauties—each one, of course, bears the author’s name and the amount paid, and on the back of the check is the writer’s signature and the title of the tale.  Mr. Martin was kind enough to allow me to sit behind his table and I had a grand time poring through a couple of stacks of this very rare material.  I picked up a nice little group, including Talbot Mundy, Walt Coburn, Anthony M. Rud, and a writer I haven’t read enough of but who wrote at least one very cool story in the vein of William Hope Hodgson, Philip M. Fisher.  The nicest item, however, was a signed Cornell Woolrich check for his story “Gratitude”—this lucky grab I was able to obtain from Scott Hartshorn, a PulpFest friend I first met in 2006.  Hopefully you’ll forgive this listing of some of my purchases but that’s Pulpfest—part of the gab is checking out everybody’s new treasures.

But then came Saturday night and Conan panel time.  There was some liquid knowledge flowing at the bar beforehand which seems to be the customary thing to do.  Our presentation was scheduled to start at 8:30 but in typical PulpFest style we went on a bit late, around 8:50 or so.  It’s not because of bad planning; it’s actually due to the enthusiasm of the fans—every panel I saw had a pretty good turnout with people asking plenty of questions.

Our panel went, I feel, very well, with no casualties and while usually we would have been given our hour, that night we had to pretty much end on time—an auction was scheduled right after our talk and you never want to get in the way of a pulp fan with cash, so we made it a point to be done at 9:30.  A pretty nice-sized crowd did show up, perhaps seventy or so, and while some were there waiting for the auction all seemed interested in Howard and his tales of Conan.

I was really pleased to see some younger people in the audience—their love and enthusiasm for Howard was truly infectious and I don’t see interest in our favorite Texan dying out anytime soon.  One gentleman explained that he started reading REH after watching Conan the Barbarian—so even bad movies can do some good.

After the panel we traveled back to the bar and while I’m no longer supposed to drink I broke my doctor’s rule (his rule, not mine) and had a couple.  It was great listening to people describe their collections and what items they’re still hoping to discover.  A lot of knowledge being spread around and a lot of great people enjoying themselves—it really doesn’t get much better than that.

I’ll be going back to PulpFest, that’s for sure—maybe not next year but soon.  It was a blast to renew old friendships and create new ones—Howard fans are a polite and fun bunch—unless, of course, you stand between them and a pulp they desire; then it can get downright bloody.

I’d like to take some time and thank Ed Chaczyk for his contribution—he recorded the whole thing and I didn’t see him nod off once!  So I’m sure Ed will be posting video of the three Black Circle members and their acolyte fairly soon.  Photos this time are: my panel members posing by our hotel, the front of one of my check purchases, and the two cakes that were devoured by the audience before, and after, our presentation.  Cakes, pulps, and friends—I can now die a happy camper.  It was great to be a part of PulpFest 2012.

Matthew Clark, Howard fan and Friend of TGR, has a new audio production making its premiere tomorrow evening (Monday, 07/16) on KBOO radio of REH’s “Vulture’s Sanctuary.” The show will air live at 11:00 pm PDST and will be streamed on the internet.. If you can’t listen to it live, Matthew will have it permanently posted on the Gremlin Time section of the Oregon based radio station’s webpage in about a week.

As readers of this blog know, Matthew has previously produced three other Howard stories: “Pigeons From Hell,” “Wild Water” and “The Valley of the Lost,” all of them posted on KBOO’s website. In addition to Robert E. Howard, Matthew presents stories a by a host of other classic authors: Jack London, Damon Runyon, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Warton, Rafael Sabtini, Zora Neal Hurston, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sosiki Natsumi, and many others. So if yuo want to hear a good want to hear a good story, tune in for a full hour on the 3rd Monday of every month.

Here is Mathew’s description of this classic pulp western adventure by Robert E. Howard:

Tonight, Fortunato presents “Vultures’ Sanctuary”, an old school western by Robert E. Howard, first printed in 1936. At first, Big Mac just wanted to take a real vacation in California. But, he’d stopped off in the lawless town of Capitan, and there was this girl, Judith Ellis, who at first, thought the big man was just another brawling roughneck. Now, he was riding deep into the wild mountains of the Guadalupes and into the middle of an impregnable outlaw stronghold to rescue her from the clutches of the mysterious bandit chief, El Bravo.

“Vultures Sanctuary” and the other Howard radio plays are great adaptations and well worth a listen.

This entry filed under Howard in Media, Howard's Fiction, News.

Documentaries about our favorite writers can sometimes be very difficult to watch. The scuttlebutt I’ve been hearing about Barbarian Days is intriguing enough that I’m now anxious to see for myself if the filmmakers treat Howard—and his fans—with dignity. It appears that the movie is more a testament to Howard Days than the story of Howard himself and that’s fine; however, the pictures of the Barbarian Days poster that I’ve seen floating around on the web are terrible and dignity is not the word that comes to my mind.

So, I thought, since we acknowledged the 75th anniversary of the death of H. P. Lovecraft last week, it might be useful to look at one of the documentaries celebrating his life. The Eldritch Influence: The Life, Vision and Phenomenon of H. P. Lovecraft is, for the most part, a very respectful look at Lovecraft and his life and future Howard cinematic biographers could gain much from a viewing. Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley and Neil Gaiman give revealing interviews and reminisce of when they first read Lovecraft and how that discovery has influenced their own writing—and that of other authors as well. Robert E. Howard even gets a respectful mention and we’re treated to a photo of the Texan. S. T. Joshi is also a talking-head and furnishes some information on the biography of Lovecraft—and thankfully steers clear of giving his opinion of Howard. Filmmaker Stuart Gordon is represented and while I’m not a huge fan of his adaptations of the Old Gent’s stories I certainly can’t find fault with his admiration for HPL.

Angell Street--old postcardAs any good documentary on Lovecraft should do we’re given a bit of a tour of Providence and we get to see images of Lovecraft’s house at 598 Angell Street and his last residence, at 66 College Street. A visit to the cemetery lets us pay respect at his gravesite and the tour includes views of some famous locations that were incorporated into his tales, including the Fleur-de-Lys building from “The Call of Cthulhu.”

It’s an entertaining look at the life of Lovecraft and, for the most part is handled extremely well—except for some stuff that really should have just been left out. Authors Andrew Migliore and John Strysik, in their Lurker in the Lobby: A Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft, sum it up nicely—“Where the film errs…is the faux footage of the occult specialist and the occult group’s ritual to summon some unnameable (sic) thing. These might have worked if they were executed better, but in the end they leave the viewer asking why.”

I disagree with the “might have worked” bit—having fans act out Lovecraftian scenes never agrees with me. It seems there is always a part where someone is reciting passages from the Necronomicon and then nervously looking about, like he actually expects something to happen. Leave this junk out—it really does nothing for Lovecraft. It would be like going to Cross Plains and seeing some hairy, half naked, pot-bellied guy running around waving a sword and yelling “Crom!” every few minutes. Nothing I need to see, and thankfully have never seen. Treat your subject with respect—and that, except for a few minor points, is exactly what this documentary does.