Archive for the 'Mark Finn' Category

PulpFest 2013It is that time of year again — PulpFest is just around the corner.  The event kicks off the evening of Thursday, July 25th and runs through Sunday, July 28th. The themes for this year’s convention revolve around Doc Savage, Pulp Heroes of 1933, the centennial of Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu and the Yellow Peril Genre of Pulp Fiction. PulpFest 2013 is being held again this year at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Last year it was Conan’s 80th anniveresary, this year it’s time to celebrate Doc Savage’s 80th and also the 80th anniveresary of everyone’s favorite giant ape (no, not Mark Finn): King Kong! The first issue of the Doc Savage pulp was on the newsstands in March of 1933. That same month, RKO Radio Pictures premiered “the eighth wonder of the world,” King Kong, at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and the Roxy. To celebrate these twin anniversaries of “The Man of Bronze” and King Kong, Will Murray, author of The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage, paired the two characters in his novel, Skull Island.

On Saturday, July 27th, at 2:00 pm, PulpFest 2013 will host a special “New Fictioneers” reading of Murray’s bestselling novel by Radio Archives’ reader Roger Price. A longtime entertainer on television, radio and the live stage, Mr. Price has appeared on a number of Radio Archives’ pulp audio-books. He has also worked with a wide variety of clients as an announcer and voice actor, specializing in character/cartoon voices and dialects.

There will be a panel called “The Pulps After Fu Manchu,” which will be of interest to Howard fans — “Skull-Face” was his vision of the  orential super villain.

Maybe Kaiser Wilhelm did coin the term “yellow peril,” but it was Sax Rohmer who took it to the bank. Little wonder that countless pulp writers, from Walter B. Gibson and Norvell W. Page to Robert E. Howard and George Worts, turned to Rohmer’s Fu Manchu for inspiration for their lurid pulp tales.

To begin PulpFest‘s celebration of the 100th anniversary of Sax Rohmer’s infamous creation, Rick Lai looks at “The Pulp Descendents of Fu Manchu,” beginning at 8 PM on Thursday, July 25th in the Fairfield Room located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

Of course, the above is just the tip of the iceberg — there are a plethora of pulp lectures, panels, features, awards, film screenings and much, much more. And the convention is an excuse for Howard Heads to get together, talk Howard tell lies, attend a REHF luncheon and buy REH swag, particularly original issues of Weird Tales.

Get the complete details for PulpFest 2013 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.

Jeff ruining someone's shot of the Howard House.

Another Howard Days has come and gone, leaving behind a bevy of great memories. This year the theme was “Robert E. Howard in the Comics” and the guest was, appropriately enough, Tim Truman. Tim is a veteran comic artist and writer, who has been the creative cornerstone of the Dark Horse Conan series for the better part of the last decade. He is currently writing the King Conan series, and along with the spectacular pencils of Tomás Giorello and gorgeous colors of José Villarrubia is producing a sequence of adaptations that are a magnificent tribute to the original yarns of Two-Gun Bob. The choice of Truman as this year’s Guest of Honor was very timely as it coincided with the release of the first issue of King Conan: Hour of the Dragon the long-awaited and highly-anticipated twelve-issue adaptation of Howard’s only Conan novel. But as you will see below, Tim Truman was not the only high-profile personage to show up in Cross Plains this year and this led to one of the more memorable Howard Days in recent years.

This year I decided to make the long drive from Florida to Cross Plains rather than fly. It’s a grueling trip, but it gave me the opportunity to not only bring lots of goodies from my collection, but also to stay the night in Mississippi with my friend Richard Olson. Rich is a comic book collector and historian who co-owned one of the first back-issue mail-order comic businesses back in the 1950s. I always love seeing the amazingly rare goodies Rich has acquired over the years as well as hearing his great stories about the early days of fandom. This year he put me in touch with a friend of his and fellow collector who was a big Howard fan when he was younger and even a member of the now-legendary Hyborian Legion, the first organized Howard fan club in the 1950s and 60s. I’m looking forward to learning more about this poorly-recorded period of Howard fandom.

The following day the road trip resumed with my epic journey across the Lone Star state. The McGuffin on this particular quest of mine was a bottle of the now-legendary but hard-to-find John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey. After a Sullivan-induced debauch at the PCA/ACA conference in the nation’s capital earlier this year with Mark Finn, Chris Gruber,and Rusty Burke, I felt like it was time for the Great John L. to make his Howard Days debut. After calling ahead to every liquor store from Pensacola to Mobile to Biloxi to Shreveport, I finally found a bottle in Dallas — and by Ishtar’s teats it was the 10-Year! Game on.

I rolled into the 36 West Motel in Cross Plains in the early evening on Wednesday and saw several Howardian comrades-in-arms: Barbara Barrett, Rob Roehm, Bill “Black Indy” Cavalier, and of course Al Harron with his entourage of Scottish beauties — Les Girls! After a quick bite to eat, Barbara, Al, Indy, and I hung out in my room for a while checking out some pulps and comics that I had brought as visual props for one of the panels I was on. I believe the John L. made an appearance as well.

The next morning Barbara, Al, and I set out on a mission to pick up our former Cimmerian blog colleague Deuce Richardson halfway between Cross Plains and Dallas. With the old TC gang reunited — and Al properly introduced to that most-decadent of American commercialized confections: the Dairy Queen Blizzard — we returned to Cross Plains just in time for the early opening of the Howard house and museum. This gave me a chance to walk through house and see Howard’s room without the hustle and bustle of the throng that would be there the following day. After that, I hung out at the pavilion as more of the REHupa regulars began to show up, including Mark Finn and Rusty Burke. While we were all catching up, we had a real surprise as the unannounced guest to whom I alluded earlier came sauntering up to the pavilion. It was none other than Joe R. Lansdale!

In case you’ve been living under a pop culture rock for the last couple of decades, Joe is a well-known author of numerous horror and mystery novels, including Bubba Hotep and Dead in the West. He has done a good deal of comic book work as well, perhaps best known for his collaboration with Tim Truman in revamping Jonah Hex in the 1990s. He and Truman also worked together on Conan and the Songs of the Dead for Dark Horse. He has listed Howard as one of his more important influences on several occasions and has written a number of introductions for Howard-related publications, including Mark Finn’s seminal biography Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard. Joe was very down-to-earth and approachable and it was a real pleasure to get to meet him and speak with him on a number of topics from weird westerns to Edgar Rice Burroughs to martial arts.

Dinner & Drinks at Humphey Pete's

With most of the regulars (and a few newcomers) assembled it was time to head to Brownwood for the traditional Thursday night dinner at Humphrey Pete’s. Deuce, Al, and I grabbed newly-arrived REHupan Tim Arney, piled in the van, and headed for Brownwood. At Humphrey Pete’s we saw more familiar faces including Dennis McHaney, Lee Breakiron, Jim Barron, Ed Chaczyk, Keith West, Todd Vick, and Russell Andrew. After dinner a small group drove out to see Howard’s gravesite. For a couple of the new guys this was the first time they had done so and I’m sure it was as moving for them as it was for me. Afterward we adjourned back to Cross Plains and the pavilion where we found Chris Gruber waiting for us. While my memory is a little hazy, I believe Mark, Grub, Deuce, and I ended up back in the motel room that night with a bunch of Fight Stories pulps being passed around and some glasses of John L. being raised.

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Fists of Iron - Round 1

Since Fists of Iron Round 1, the first volume of the four-volume series of the Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard  is now shipping, I thought it would be a good time to go 10 rounds (i.e. questions) with the three guys responsible for making this massive collection possible. If you have not already done so, be sure and order these volumes – with 200 copy print runs, they are sure to go fast.

I hear the first bell ringing, so it is time to climb through the ropes and get down to business with Mark Finn, Chris Gruber and Patrice Louinet.

Round 1: How was the title Fists of Iron arrived at?

Patrice: The original title was quite longer. It was actually so long that it would have taken the whole cover just by itself. So we had to come up with a new, shorter, and punchier title at the very last stages…

Chris: Actually, there might have been a third title! When Patrice first contacted me about the boxing project, around 2007 or 2008, he had already been pitching a project to the REH Foundation that would encompass everything Howard had written – a project he had tentatively called The Completists. The very first title for the boxing stuff might actually have been The Boxing Completist or something like that. Regardless, the Completists idea was real and eventually given the green light but the boxing tales would have to wait their turn in the genre list. We went with the super long cover-spanning title because it really connected Howard with boxing and Cross Plains but Rob Roehm insisted it was too long – and he should know as he was the one trying to squeeze it onto the cover. While I rather liked the super long cover-spanning title I have to admit that Fists of Iron packs considerably more punch as a title and fits quite nicely into the squared ring that is our cover.

Round 2: Considering the massive amount of material and all the different versions of the Steve Costigan and Dennis Dorgan yarns, how did you originally get your arms around the project?

Patrice: The number of projected volumes and how we would organize them was of course the very first thing we – meaning Chris, Mark and I – discussed. We knew we were embarking on a mammoth project, so the need to know what we were doing and where we were going was present from the very beginning.

Mark: The organization was borne out of a need to get a handle on so many stories. This project deviates from the usual format that the Del Rey books fall into, meaning, we had to make some concessions. So book one is all of the early stuff, plus fragments and notes. Books two and three—all Costigan, from start to finish. And book for is all of the other, non-Costigan stuff, like Kid Allison, and so forth. Patrice’s essay, running across all four books, shows the order of who and what and when and where. So, it works out pretty good, but for readers, it’s organized much better.

Chris GruberChris: Originally, we had a more visual idea in mind. Patrice was really keen on including original scans of some of the primary material that we hoped would help create for the reader an experience of having read Howard’s work as it appeared on a carbon just pulled from his Underwood. In the end the idea was scrapped though I don’t know why. However, we were allowed to include all of that material cleanly retyped as part of the supplemental sections. So, thankfully, it’s all there.

Once we had a solid picture of what each volume would look like and contain we engaged in a series of discussions to determine whether or not we would include altered versions of already included stories, drafts, and other relevant texts. It was clear that we wanted to include everything. Patrice wanted the same thing I did – to include everything that had significant value to the scholar – and to his credit he was able to sell that idea to the folks who have to foot the printing bill. The result of this decision is that now a scholar can examine the creative genesis of well known stories and characters that differ significantly from the established canon, and I’m not just talking about the Dorgan/Costigan dilemma though that particular identity theft is finally, fully, addressed.

Round 3: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced putting this collection together?

Patrice: I’d say the biggest challenge was at the same time the biggest thrill: our constantly discovering new material: drafts, better texts, alternates, carbons, etc. in Glenn’s collection. It took us an awfully long time to get our final contents *really* final.

Chris: The biggest obstacle was easily time. If two of us were hopping along the productive trail you could bet your last dime that the third musketeer was sure to be mired in some personal, unavoidable, life time-suck. School, family, whatever – shit happens during collaborative efforts and it never at the same time. Next to that, I’d have to agree with Patrice – it seemed he couldn’t turn over a rock without finding yet another unearthed boxing gem in Glenn’s trunk. This happened several times throughout the production phase but each time we unanimously agreed to include each new find rather than rush to production. No dilemma at all, really. After all, when we said definitive we meant ‘definitive.’

Mark: To echo Grub, yeah, it was time. But those new finds coming out of the Glenn Lord Archive were happening for part of this, so yeah, it was bittersweet, to say the least.

Round 4: Some Costigan stories were hastily changed by Howard to Dorgan stories when a new market opened up for him. Are both versions included in the collection?

Patrice: The Dorgan/Costigan question had never been satisfactorily explained until the present collection. When you read volumes 2 and 3, you’ll understand that it’s not possible to answer that question… I want you to buy the books, so I am not telling, sorry.

Chris: I want to answer! But I’ll follow Patrice’s lead and not ruin the fun.

Mark: Suffice to say, it’s all in there. I don’t think there will be any more confusion after this. Well, I hope there won’t be.

Round 5: I imagine, after recent discoveries in Glenn Lord’s papers, it is impossible to say this collection includes everything, but was something found in those papers boxing related that was added at the last minute to the books?

Jack Demsey's Fight Magazine, May 1934Patrice: “Something?”; lots of things were included. Carbons, drafts, fragments, you name it, plenty of stuff turned up at what was supposed to be the very last stages of composition. I had been working on that material for over a decade, but every time we thought we had a volume finalized, something else turned up! Sure, we are thorough, sure we can be slow at times, but the constant addition of new material was the major reason we were so far behind on our projected deadlines for these series.

Chris: We had ‘finished’ at least three times that I could remember and each time I would get another wonderful email letting me know that there’s one more thing that might need to be included – and we’d mull over the pros and cons of adding it, vet the material to make sure it was new and boxing related , and ask ourselves if it should be included even though it would mean a new delay? And each time our response was the same – “Hell yes it should!”

Mark: I really think that everything found is in this book. It’s every scrap of boxing we could get our hands on.

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WorldCon in San AntonioJust like it happened in 2006, this year there will be a “two’fer” in Texas for Howard fans. While everyone is focusing on Howard Days (and rightfully so), there is another venue where Howard will have a heavy presence waiting in the wings.

This year’s Worldcon (held in conjunction with LoneStarCon 3) will happen over Labor Day weekend in one of Howard’s old stomping grounds, San Antonio. The event runs August 29th through September 2nd and will be held in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. There are several membership options to fit your budget and schedule. With a membership, you are eligible to participate in the voting for the prestigious 2013 Hugo Awards and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Howard scholar and biographer Mark Finn is spearheading the organization of the Howard themed panels, as well as other events. Needless to say, with Mark at the helm, you can be assured of a fantastic Howard experience.

Here is up-to-date information on the Howard activites from Worldcon’s most recent Progress Report:

Six Guns, Sorcery, and Serpents: the Many Worlds of Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) was a pioneer of both heroic fantasy and the weird western. His brief but influential career produced an array of colorful characters: Conan the Cimmerian, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, Kull of Atlantis, El Borak, and many others, all from his home in rural Cross Plains, Texas. This exhibit features several special artifacts drawn from the Robert E. Howard House and Museum, as well as the Cross Plains Library. These special holdings are being exhibited for the first time ever outside of the Museum, especially for LoneStarCon 3!

Contributors to this unique and one of-a-kind exhibit include Dark Horse Comics (publishers of several REH comics lines), Paradox Entertainment (the rights holders of the Robert E. Howard literary estate) and several private collectors. Much of this material has never been seen before, and will be on display only for the duration of LoneStarCon 3. In addition, several noted REH experts will be on hand to talk more about the items on display, and to answer your questions about the Robert E. Howard House, Howard Days, and more!

Of course, as the convention nears, I’ll be posting the full slate of Howard events once everything is finalized. Here is the link to Worldcon’s website for all the information. If nothing else, it is a damn good excuse for coming to Texas twice this year!

This is the first 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:

Pirates_web

Pirate Adventures
This collection of Howard’s pirate stories, verse and related material from the REH Foundation Press, is now available. In addition to great pirate adventures, the book features a fantastic pulpish cover by Tom Gianni and an Introduction by Rob Roehm.

The Dark Man Vol 7, No. 1
The new issue of TDM has arrived. Contents include: “The Writer’s Style: Sound and Syntax in Howard’s Sentences” by David C. Smith, “I and I Liberate Zimbabwe: Motifs of Africa and Freedom in Howard’s “The Grisly Horror” by Patrick R. Burger and “Robert E. Howard and the Lone Scouts” by Rob Roehm, plus reviews and more. The new TDM is available in electronic form as well as hard copy and can be ordered from Lulu.com. Also, TDM is in the process of making all back issues of the journal available free of charge in electronic form.

I Am Providence PaperbackI Am Providence (Softcover Edition)
Published in 1996, S.T. Joshi’s award-winning biography H.P. Lovecraft: A Life provided the most detailed portrait of the life, work, and thought of the Old Gent from Providence ever published. While that book was massive, that edition was greatly abridged from Joshi’s original manuscript. This expanded and updated two volume edition restores the 150,000 words that Joshi omitted and, in addition, updates the texts with new findings. A must have for Howard fans, this reasonably priced softcover edition is the next best thing to owning a copy of the hardcover edition, which is now out-of-print and much sought after by collectors.

Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian
Editor Jonas’ anthology takes on Howard’s Conan as its only subject. Two TGR contributors, Frank Coffman and Jeff Shanks, are among the many contributors The collection of Conan essays focuses on the following topics: stylometry, archeology, cultural studies, folklore studies, and literary history, additionally the essays examine statistical analyses of Howard’s texts, as well as the literary genesis of Conan, later-day parodies, Conan video games, movies, and pop culture in general. By displaying the wide range of academic interest in Conan, this volume reveals the hidden scholarly depth of this seemingly unsophisticated fictional character. The volume is published by McFarland & Company, Inc.,

Coming Soon:

The Alluring Art of Margaret BrundageThe Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage
Currently being printed and available soon, this volume is an extensive tribute to  Brundage  and her art. Her fantasy, science-fiction, and horror paintings graced the cover of many an issue of Weird Tales and other pulps during Howard’s lifetime. The sexy, alluring and sensationalistic Brundage covers even featured Conan nine times. She was the first female cover artist of the pulp era and her work was controversial for the day, often featuring bondage themes, with semi-nude young women bearing whips. The book comes in three editions, all with full color art. Visit the publisher’s website for more details and ordering information.

The REH Foundation Press
Four volumes of boxing stories are coming soon from the Foundation Press.  This will be a  comprehensive collection of REH’s humorous and straight boxing yarns. Needless to say, getting the volumes done was a massive undertaking by Patrice Louinet, Mark Finn, and Chris Gruber.

Also in the works for the near future is a volume of Howard’s straight western stories. One has to imagine the humorous yarns will get their own volumes a little later on. Additionally, the limited hardcover edition of Mark Finn’s Howard biography, Blood and Thunder is sold out and Rob is prepping it for the Foundation Press’ Lulu.com Storefront. So it will still be available for purchase via POD.

Shortly after Howard’s death, Dr. Howard had himself appointed Temporary Administrator of his son’s estate since Howard allegedly died intestate (without a will); much as been written about a missing will. Howard biographers L. Sprague de Camp and Mark Finn have addressed the issue, along with other Howard scholars. In a nutshell, it appears Howard left a typewritten will leaving everything to his friend Lindsey Tyson. While going though his late son’s papers, Dr Howard found the will and destroyed it.

One of the duties of an Administrator of a deceased person’s estate is to file with the court a document that lists that person’s assets. Dr. Howard did that on June 16, 1936 when he petitioned the probate court in Callahan County to be appointed Temporary Administrator. That document appears on this page. (Hat tip to Rusty Burke for the document scans.)

As shown below, the bulk of Howard’s estate was cash and savings. What caught my eye was most of his money was in the Post Office in Brownwood. This was news to me since I didn’t know the Post Office was in the banking business; so I did a little research.

Back in Howard’s day, banks were suspect  for a safe place to put your hard earned money – the Great Depression saw to that, with some 9,000 banks nationwide going under during the 1930s.

Unlike banks at the time, the United States Postal Savings System (“USPSS”) was federally insured. The USPSS was administered by the US Post Office Department, which is known today as the USPS (United States Postal Service). The savings program started in 1911 and ended in 1967. It was originally founded to encourage immigrants to get the cash out of their mattresses and into a banking institution. Participants were allowed to keep up to $2,500 with the USPSS. The depositors were told their money was backed by “the full faith and credit of the United States Government.”

However, beginning in January of 1934, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) provided insurance to private banks. Initially, deposits were insured up to $2,500; over the years that has increased to $250,000. Obviously the creation to FDIC was a blow the Postal Savings System since it made banks as safe as the USPSS. But folks still used it – perhaps having more faith in a 159 year-old institution in lieu of some newfangled government insurance program.

The USPSS issued certificates in a number of denominations, depending on the amounts deposited. The Postal Savings System paid 2 percent interest per year on deposits. There is a nice little write-up on the USPSS here if you’d like to read more about the program.

Since the Cross Plains Post Office was too small for the USPSS, Howard used the one in Brownwood. It is also interesting to note he kept cash in Brownwood’s First National Bank instead of a bank in Cross Plains. Perhaps he did not want some gossipy bank teller telling anyone his business. I imagine he kept some cash on hand for walking around money and minor emergencies, such as car repairs.

One more item of interest: starting in 1921, participants in the USPSS were fingerprinted. This was done for identification and to aid with detecting any fraudulent activity. So, while his fingerprint card was likely destroyed decades ago, at one point in his life Howard was fingerprinted!

We’ve all heard the story of how Isaac M. Howard (above) ended up in Texas and got his start in the medical field. For those that don’t remember, here’s L. Sprague de Camp in Dark Valley Destiny:

The stable organization of the Howard family was disrupted by the death of James Henry [Isaac Howard’s maternal grandfather] in 1884. Perhaps on the strength of their inheritance, the Howards decided to move to Texas; but before they could complete their plans, William Benjamin Howard [Isaac’s father] himself was stricken and died. Eliza Howard [Isaac’s mother, aka Louisa], determined to carry out her husband’s wishes, sold her property—fine timberland—for fifty cents an acre, and with her children headed west. In 1885 she located on a farm in Limestone County, between Dallas and Austin, near Waco. Mrs. Howard and her daughters, Annie and Willie, may have traveled to Texas on the railroad; but Dave [David Terrell Howard, Isaac’s older brother] and Isaac brought the family goods overland in a covered wagon with a group of other immigrants.

Mark Finn has similar information in Blood and Thunder:

In 1884, when James Henry died, William and Louisa decided to make their fortune in Texas. Before the move could be orchestrated, however, William Benjamin Howard fell ill and died in 1885. Louisa was undaunted by the setback, and she moved her six children (many of whom were now grown) to Texas. The women went by train, and Isaac and his older brother David took the family’s possessions by covered wagon. They settled on a farm in Limestone County, near Waco.

Both biographers go on to say that Isaac didn’t much like the farming life and, by 1891, decided to sell his stock in the family farm to his older brother, David Terrell Howard, and go into medicine.

Here’s de Camp:

In that same year [1891], Isaac Mordecai Howard became his own man. Tired of playing second fiddle to his brother David—described as a stern man who was hard to work for—and knowing little and caring less about working a Texas farm, Isaac decided to sell his share in the property to his brother and become a physician.

And Finn:

David assumed responsibility for the family, and proceeded to whip the farm into shape.  By 1891, Isaac Howard had decided that he was not cut out to be a farmer. He left the family farm, sold his share in the property to his brother, and decided to practice frontier medicine.

On a trip to Limestone County last year, I uncovered documents that support some of this, but that also add a confusing wrinkle or two.

In the county’s Reverse Index to Deeds, 1800 – 1931, I found reference to a couple of transactions between “I. M. Howard” and “D. T. Howard.” The first (at left) is dated March 28, 1885 at Prairie Hill, in Limestone County. It records the sell of “one half of a one hundred acre tract of land” from I. M. to D. T. for the princely sum of $140. D. T. put a down payment of “ten dollars cash in hand” and agreed to pay the rest by November 1, 1895. He may have been a bit late, as the next document (below) is dated February 12, 1898. In this second document, I. M. Howard says that the money has been paid and that he has “hereby released, discharged and quit claim unto the said D. T. Howard all rights, title, interest and estate in and to the property” that is described in the 1885 document.

Now, Isaac Mordecai Howard was most likely born in 1872, the date on his headstone, 1871, notwithstanding. That would make him around 13-years-old at the time of the 1885 agreement and 26ish when the 1898 document was signed. In 1891, when both de Camp and Finn suggest that Isaac sold out and began his medical training, he’d have been 19. It appears that the sale actually occurred in 1885; so, where does the 1891 date come from? Beats me.

De Camp suggests further that Isaac may have received his medical training through an apprenticeship with his uncle, Dr. James T. Henry. Let’s have a look at that medical training, a la de Camp:

Physicians of that day often welcomed their kin as medical students. Such associations with older physicians afforded young would-be doctors opportunities for observation, access to medical books, and such didactic sessions as the preceptor thought necessary in exchange for the apprentice’s help in maintaining the dispensary, cleaning the office, and tending the horse and buggy if there was one. After a few years, when the older man deemed his candidate worthy, he would issue him a certificate to practice medicine. For an ethical man with strong family ties, the certification by a kinsman would be a real throwing of the torch.

Polk’s Medical and Surgical Register gives its first listing of “I. Howard” in 1896 as practicing in Forsyth, Missouri, in Taney County, just over the Missouri line, a short distance from his uncle’s home in Bentonville, Arkansas [about 70 miles, as the crow flies]. It is unclear whether Isaac Howard apprenticed himself to his uncle or whether Dr. Henry had passed him on to another doctor in Forsyth. The dates suggest the former. If Isaac Howard had left Texas in the early nineties, when he turned twenty-one, he could have finished his training and been ready to set up his own practice by 1896.

The young physician did not long remain in Missouri. Perhaps he was homesick. Whatever his reasons, on April 19, 1899, Isaac M. Howard of Limestone County, Texas, was examined by the State Board of Medical Examiners in Texarkana, Texas, and awarded a certificate of qualification to practice medicine. Then he went home.

Finn condenses it down to this:

Isaac’s medical education, a combination of on-the-job training, apprenticeship to his uncle, himself a doctor, and attendance at a variety of schools, lectures, and courses, would spread out over the next four decades. His initial training took four or five years, and allowed him to practice medicine as early as 1896. From that time on, Dr. Isaac Howard moved frequently from place to place, venturing as far out as Missouri and back to the family farm in Limestone County again.

Sounds good, right? Just one problem—turns out de Camp is wrong again. True, “I. Howard” shows up in Forsyth, Arkansas, for the 1896 edition of Polk’s Medical and Surgical Register (above), but he also shows up ten years earlier in the 1886 edition (below; thank you Google Books). Further, Dr. James T. Henry is nowhere to be found in the earlier edition. So, is the I. Howard in these early editions of Polk’s our Isaac?

I guess there are two possibilities. Option #1: immediately after selling his share of the Limestone County farmland in 1885, Isaac went to his Uncle Henry’s place to start his apprenticeship and ended up listed in Polk’s at the tender old age of 14. Both editions of the register indicate that “No report received in answer to inquiry regarding graduation” for I. Howard. So, if this is Isaac Howard, he’s literally “practicing” medicine in Forsyth for at least ten years. Option #2: “I. Howard” is not our Isaac Howard. I lean toward option #2; I have trouble believing Isaac was listed when only 14.

Given this “new” information, let me spin a couple of scenarios that makes sense to me. The first listing of James T. Henry (seen above) in Polk’s (that I’m aware of) is in the 1893 edition, which has him in regular practice at Eagle Mills, Ouachita Co, Ark, population 250.  Henry was an 1873 graduate of the medical dept of the Univ. of Nashville, TN (hat tip: Rusty Burke). He shows up again in the 1896 edition in Millville, Ouachita Co., Ark, population 250. In 1898, he’s back in Eagle Mills. If the future father of Robert E. Howard was an apprentice of Dr. Henry’s, or anyone else for that matter, why would he be listed in Polk’s? Seems to me that he would have moved around with his uncle until he’d received enough training to strike out on his own or was making enough money to get by alone.

The second scenario is that Isaac Howard used brother Dave’s money to pay for training in Texas. (Dave’s headstone, from Mt. Antioch Cemetery, is above.) I like to have documents that support my suppositions, and, if I exclude the 1896 edition of Polk’s, I’ve got nothing to indicate exactly where Isaac M. Howard was between 1885 and 1898, when he was definitely in Limestone County, Texas, signing land documents. I have no problem believing he received medical training in the years in-between, because, according to de Camp: “In July 1899 the newly certified Dr. Howard presented his credentials at the courthouse in Fairfield, Texas, the county seat of Freestone County, adjacent to Limestone County, where his mother lived on the family farm near Delia.” If we exclude the 1896 Polk’s directory, we’ve got no reason to have Dr. Howard in Missouri.

What we do know, thanks to de Camp and Rusty Burke, is that the Medical Board of Examiners, Fifth Judicial District, State of Texas, done at Texarkana, Texas, April 19, 1899, I.M. Howard of Limestone County received his Certificate of Qualification to Practice Medicine in any or all of its branches throughout the State of Texas. We also know that three months later—July 20, 1899—as de Camp said, Dr. I. M. Howard filed his medical certificate in Freestone County (Physicians’ Certificates, Vol. A, p. 64; thanks again, Rusty). Where he received his training is, to me at least, still a mystery.

After he registered in Freestone County, Dr. Howard’s movements start to be a bit easier to track. There are still some gaps, but they’re not decade-wide gaps, at least. As the 1800s turned into the 1900s, Isaac M. Howard’s moves require some work. Perhaps I’ll get to them next time. I’ll let de Camp close out the 19th-Century and start the 20th:

For some reason Freestone County did not seem to meet Isaac Howard’s needs. While most of Texas was rushing southeast in 1901 to Beaumont, where a gusher had blown at Spindletop, starting the first big Texas oil boom, Dr. Howard headed northwest, where he filed his credentials in Montague County, just across the Red River from Indian Territory, which later became the State of Oklahoma.

UPDATE: After receiving Ed’s comment, I went back and found an Isaac Howard on the 1860 US Census in Webster County, Missouri. He’s 41, married to Esther, born in Rhode Island, and has “M.D.” listed under “Profession.” After the Civil War, the 1870 Census has the same Isaac as a “Farmer” in Swan Township, Taney County; the post office is listed as Forsyth and Isaac Howard appears to have been the enumerator—his name is signed at the top of the document as “Ass’t Marshal.” In 1880, he’s listed as a “Physician” in Oliver Township, Taney County. He’s 62 years old here. Most of the 1890 Census was destroyed in a fire, so no help there. All this would make Isaac 78 at the time of the 1896 edition of Polk’s Medical and Surgical Register. Seems pretty clear that the “I. Howard” in Polk’s is not our man.

At the end of my last post I went off on a tangent regarding Robert E. Howard’s cousin, Earl Lee Comer; he was the subject of my mania last summer and I “published” my findings in a REHupa ’zine. Since then, a few more nuggets of information have emerged, including a couple of interesting items from Glenn Lord’s collection of Howard’s typescripts. Anyway, let’s see what most people already know about Earl Lee before we get into that.

Most of us were introduced to Mr. Comer in the pages of L. Sprague de Camp’s biography of Howard, Dark Valley Destiny:

Robert Howard was thirteen years old when his family bought their home in Cross Plains. Although Robert had not outgrown the Burkett school system, which lacked high-school facilities, we surmise that Mrs. Howard’s nephew, Earl Lee Comer, who had come to live with them, had already reached high-school age. Very little is known about this nephew, except that he shared the Howards’ house for several years. Robert, in his later letters to Lovecraft, never once mentions the slightly older lad whose presence must have affected him in one way or another. Since the two boys shared the sleeping porch, ate at the same table, and even attended the same high school, it is indeed curious that no mention of him appears in the correspondence of either Robert or his father.

Queries to former teachers at the Cross Plains school and to others who lived in the neighborhood have revealed nothing. All we know is that after completing his high school courses, Lee Comer left Cross Plains to work for one of the oil companies in Dallas. Perhaps no one will ever know what Robert thought of this interloper in his home or what this orphaned youth thought of his thirteen-year-old cousin.

In later pages, discussing the family’s house in Cross Plains, de Camp adds the following: “Several years later, when Lee Comer moved out, the family’s sleeping arrangements were entirely rearranged.” And that’s all for DVD. De Camp’s use of “interloper” seems to be designed to put a negative spin on the whole arrangement, even though he had no information to that effect. The only mention of Comer that I’ve found in de Camp’s papers is from an October 10, 1977 letter from Lindsey Tyson:

There was one relative of the Howards that no one seems to remember much about. His name was Earl Lee Comer. Earl Lee was a nephew of Mrs. Howard’s, he came to live with the Howards while they were still in Burkett. He was an orphan.

Earl Lee left here in the early twenties, went to Dallas, and Bob told me went to work for the Mobile Oil Co. Earl Lee was I think four or five years older than Bob. He came back here to the funeral service and I talked to him for a few minutes before the services, but I did not get to ask some things I was interested in. I was one of the pall bearers, thought I would talk to him some more later, but he left as soon as the service was over and I have never seen him again.

Rusty Burke’s “Short Biography” does not mention Comer, but the most-recent biography, Mark Finn’s Blood and Thunder, adds some more details:

Robert had to endure the first of many boarders. His cousin, Earl Lee Comer, was staying at the Howard house, most likely to work in the nearby oil fields. Robert was forced to share the sleeping porch with this older man, who came to them through Hester’s side of the family. Comer stayed for at least a year, presumably until the work ran out, and then moved on like the rest of the oil field folks. Robert never discussed his cousin to anyone.

Now why does everyone assume that Comer’s coming was a bad thing? Howard had to “endure” his cousin’s presence and was “forced” to share sleeping quarters? Finn takes it a step further in his discussion of bullying when he speculates: “Was his older cousin, Earl Lee Comer, a tormentor in addition to being an oil field roughneck? Nobody knows.” We’ll have more on Howard’s reaction to his cousin later, but first, let’s see what we can find out with some internet archeology.

The friends of Miss Alice Ervin, formerly a resident of Muskogee, and a sister of Mrs. J. O. Cobb, will be interested in learning that Miss Ervin was married on Wednesday of last week to Rev. J. Frank Comer, of St. Louis, Mo., at the home of the bride’s parents at Commerce, Mo. The many friends of Miss Ervin in Muskogee join the friends at her home in wishing the wedded couple all the peace, joy and contentment that life affords. — Muskogee Phoenix – March 12, 1896

Following their marriage, Rev. J. Frank Comer and Hester’s sister Alice vanish from the internet record. There is a “J. F. Comer” listed as a land owner in Richmond, Missouri, Ray County, in 1897. Looking at the map (below), there is a cemetery right next door. If Mr. Comer was a reverend, that could make sense, but this is the only mention I’ve found. They are not listed on the 1900 Census, so it’s a mystery what the couple did from 1896 to 1910, except that on July 13, 1898, Earl Lee was born in Saint Louis. We pick up the trail on April 23, 1910, where the now widowed “Alice G.” and her son were enumerated on the Census at Big Spring.  She is listed as a dress-maker. The pair probably moved to Big Spring following the death of Frank to be near Alice’s older brother, William Vinson Ervin.

In 1911, Earl Lee participated in Texas’s Troop No. 1, the so-called “oldest Boy Scout troop in Texas,” which began in Big Spring that year (“Scout Troop Completes 25 Years,” from the December 27, 1936 edition of the Big Spring Herald). The good times didn’t last long, though, as his mother died a few years later, July 14, 1915. With both of his parents now gone, and Uncle William already having several of his own children, Earl Lee ended up with his Aunt Hester in Cross Cut. He appears in “Cross Cut Items,” from the December 10, 1915 edition of the Cross Plains Review (thanks Rusty), where it is reported that he is part of the Cross Cut school’s basketball team. Earl was 17 years old; his cousin Robert was 9.

If Tyson’s statement above is accurate, Comer went with the Howards when they moved to Burkett—but he was gone before they moved to Cross Plains. On May 25, 1918, he signed up for the U.S. Navy. After the war, the 1920 Census has an “Earl E. Comer” listed as a “Lodger” in Milwaukee, Ward 4, Wisconsin, of all places. Perhaps he was sent there as part of his enlistment. This appears to be our Earl as the Big Spring Herald reported the following on January 7, 1921:

Earl Lee Comer who recently returned from Milwaukee, Wis., where he had been to take a course in mechanical drawing, after spending the holidays with friends and relatives in this city left for Cross Plains where he will make his home.

What he did in Cross Plains is a mystery. One would suppose that he was put to work using the training he’d received in Wisconsin. Whatever he did, Earl’s second stay with the Howards didn’t last long. By Christmas 1923 he was living in Dallas, as reported in the Big Spring paper for December 28th: “Earl Comer was here from Dallas to spend Christmas with Dr. W. C. Barnett and family,” and again on May 9, 1924: “Earl Comer of Dallas was here this week for a visit with the family of Dr. W. C. Barnett.”

It is unclear what Earl was doing for a living at this time, but he seems to have landed a permanent position by the time the following item appeared in the Big Spring paper, September 10, 1926: “Earl Comer, en route from Los Angeles to Dallas, where he has accepted a position, visited friends in this city this week, leaving Thursday morning for Dallas.” What he was doing in LA is a mystery. [UPDATE: Looks like we know at least one thing he was doing, writing a letter to Weird Tales. Look here.]

The next Earl sighting is in Cross Plains. It appears that Earl enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday with the Howards in 1928: “E. L. Comer of Dallas, nephew of Dr. and Mrs. Howard, spent past weekend here” (Cross Plains Review, Nov. 30, 1928).

Also around 1928, apparently, we get a glimpse at how Robert Howard felt about his cousin. In March of that year, the first mailing of The Junto was circulated. Its editor, Booth Mooney, appears on a list of Howard’s friends and the cities they lived in: Truett Vinson, Clyde Smith, Booth Mooney—and “Earl Lee Comer, Dallas, Texas.” Another stray page has a list of three: “Truett Vinson / Clyde Smith / Earl Lee Comer.” Earl’s inclusion on these lists seems to indicate that Howard considered him as a friend; they may have even corresponded.

The 1930 Census has “Earl L. Comer” as a draftsman lodger in Dallas, Texas, and from there we lose sight of Earl until his appearance at the Howards’ funeral. Sometime before December 1938, Earl got married. He and his wife visited Big Spring a few times in 1938 and 1939. We know from his military record that he was divorced at the time of his death, and Earl’s trips to Big Spring in 1941 were taken alone, so perhaps the marriage was a brief one.

There is an Earl Comer being brought up on charges of child desertion in Rusk, Texas, in 1963; whether or not this Earl is our Earl, we’ll probably never know. The earliest mention of a Mrs. Earl Lee is December 1938. It seems odd that the couple would have a child young enough to be “deserted” in 1963. I’m guessing this was someone else.

The last definitive sighting of Earl is from the Galveston Daily News for Sept. 16, 1970:

Earl Lee Comer, 72, a retired Galveston draftsman, was found dead in his room at Moody House Tuesday. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Brookside Memorial Park in Houston, the Rev. William C. Webb Jr. officiating. Cremation will follow under the director of J. Levy and Bro. Funeral Home of Galveston. Born in St. Louis, Mo., Comer worked as a draftsman for the U.S. Bureau of Mines prior to his retirement. No survivors were reported.

ADDENDUM: In response to some emails I’ve received, I thought I’d add the following comment to the post. This is in response to de Camp’s claim that “Robert, in his later letters to Lovecraft, never once mentions the slightly older lad whose presence must have affected him in one way or another.”

I think we can now explain why Howard doesn’t mention Earl in his correspondence: Earl was probably gone before Howard started writing letters, at least any that have survived. The first letter we have is dated June 8, 1923 and we know that Earl was living in Dallas before Christmas of that year. So we’ve got Earl living with the Howards in Cross Cut and maybe Burkett, a period that Howard doesn’t mention much in his correspondence, and then again from 1921 to some point before December 1923, when Howard was in high school—another period he doesn’t talk about much. But there *are* a few unnamed cousins in the correspondence. This one, in particular:

Another thing that discourages me, is the absolute unreliability of human senses. If a hunting hound’s nose fooled him as often as a human’s faculties betray him, the hound wouldn’t be worth a damn. The first time this fact was brought to my mind was when I was quite small, and hearing a cousin relate the details of a camping trip, on which one Boy Scout shot another through the heart with a .22 calibre target rifle. I was never a Boy Scout, but I understand that they are trained to be keen observers. Well, there were about twenty looking on, and no two of them told the same story in court. And each insisted that his version was the correct one, and stuck to it. And I understand that this is common among all witnesses.

Of course, this could be Howard hyperbole, but given the “quite small” comment, and the fact that Earl was a Boy Scout, could be . . . And here’s another:

One of the damndest falls I ever got in my life was on a frozen pool — or tank, as we call them in these parts. I was just a kid, and wrestling with my cousin who was much older and larger. Eventually our feet went from under us, and we both came down on my head.

Now that we know the real age difference, that sounds like it could be Earl, too. So maybe it’s not that Howard never talked about Earl, maybe it’s just that we didn’t know enough about Earl to find him in the letters. But again, we’ll never really know; these could just be coincidences.

More on Earl Lee here: An Earl Addendum

Still more: Another Earl Addendum

[Photo credits: Downtown Big Spring , Photograph, n.d.; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth50477/ : accessed July 08, 2012), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Hardin-Simmons University Library , Abilene, Texas. Thanks to Damon Sasser for making the trip to the Houston National Cemetery and taking the picture of Earl's headstone.]

Another Howard Days has come and gone, and with it the euphoric high that can only come with 72 plus hours of full immersion in something that you have a true passion for, alongside dozens of others who share your passion and are some of the few people that can truly understand it. This was only my third Howard Days and so I don’t have the larger perspective that many others do, but for me this year’s Howard Days was my favorite. It didn’t have the giddy excitement of my first year or movie-infused madness of last year—but those weren’t necessarily bad things. It was more subdued perhaps, but it also created more opportunities to just hang out with friends new and old and geek out with folks who “get it.”

Actually making it to Cross Plains this year was more challenging than usual due some severely nasty weather that had flights delayed or cancelled. Al Harron and the Scottish Invasion were stuck in the airport for hours and Bill “Indy” Cavalier and his wife Cheryl didn’t get into to town until 4:00 in the morning Friday. Several Howard Days regulars, including Damon Sasser, Frank Coffman, and Ryan Flessing, were absent this year for various reasons and were sorely missed. For me the trip to Howard Days was unusual as well, as I am actually in the middle of a three-week long family vacation as I write this. My wife, the kids, and I had driven from Florida to Maine (yes, driven!) and had rented a lake cabin. So for me Howard Days was a vacation from my vacation as I flew down to Texas from Maine, then back to Maine just in time to drive back down to Florida. Sheesh!

Of course the unofficial kick-off for Howard Days is Thursday night with dinner at Humphrey Pete’s. I got in on Thursday afternoon just in time to hitch a ride to Brownwood with Paul Sammon, Russell Andrew, and Al. I got to talk with (and listen to) Paul more this year than in the past and I have to say that he is one of the most knowledgeable and interesting people in Howard fandom. Paul has had many incredible experiences and has a wonderful outlook and perspective on life in general. I could listen to his stories and anecdotes forever. Al of course is my old TC blog comrade and it’s always great to see him as well as his entourage, the Wyrd sisters. There were more familiar faces when we arrived at Humphrey Pete’s of course: Rob Roehm, Dennis McHaney, Barbara Barrett, Ed Chazcyk, Jim Barron, and several others. Mark Finn showed up not long after we did, as well as Jay Zetterberg from Paradox. I believe Keith West and Scott Valeri were there as well, but I didn’t get a chance to speak with them until later.

After dinner we returned to the pavilion, where Rusty Burke was waiting with the guest of honor Charles Hoffman. I was thrilled to meet Chuck and was fortunate enough to room with him this year, which gave me more an opportunity to pick his brain and hear his amazing stories about his experiences in fandom. It was a true pleasure to meet him and visit with him and I very much hope he will make it back for future Howard Days. Other regulars began to show up at the pavilion too, including Dave Hardy, Chris Gruber, Todd Woods, and Tim Arney. This was the first time I got meet Tim and he was a lot of fun and very knowledgeable. The lovely Aurelia also returned to Howard Days (no doubt due to Al’s charming presence rather than the rest of us troglodytes).

Perhaps the most special visitors of all were there as well: Lou Ann Lord and her family. This was, of course, the first Howard Days after Glenn Lord’s passing and that reality was omnipresent throughout the weekend. I expect that this weekend was Lou Ann’s farewell to Howard fandom, and I believe that she will be moving on knowing just how important Glenn was to all of us and to all we do. None of this would have been possible without Glenn and nothing Glenn ever did would have been possible without the patience and support of Lou Ann.

Friday morning kicked off the first official activities of the weekend, including a bus tour of Cross Plains led by Rusty. Fans and visitors were just beginning to show up as I wandered over to the pavilion fueled by multiple cups of coffee and a deliciously greasy breakfast from Jean’s Feed Barn. Indy was there, having safely arrived the day before and other regulars soon began showing up including Paul Herman, Gary Romero, Ben Friberg, Joe Crawford, Alfred Bonnabel, as well as Chris Fulbright and Angie Hawkes with family in tow. I made my way through the Howard House only to discover a significant new addition: Robert’s own books from Howard Payne University. Apparently, HPU has donated the remainder of the Howard library to the museum and that was a wonderful surprise. Many of them are inscribed to Howard (and in one case by Howard) and being able to go through these volumes looking for things like highlighting or notes in the margin will be a scholar’s dream.

Another treat waited at the Cross Plains library as all of the typescripts in their collection were on display. It was wonderful to see things like a typescript with Steve Costigan whited-out and Dennis Dorgan typed over it. There is nothing quite like the experience of seeing these cultural artifacts with your own eyes.

The first panel was a dedication to Glenn Lord and Paul, Barbara, and Rusty did a wonderful job of celebrating Glenn’s life and work. It was incredibly moving, but never depressing, as it was truly a celebration of a wonderful life. It was hard not to tear up when Lou Ann spoke though and I thought it was truly a magnificent thing that she had come here to share with us fans her memories and experiences of her life’s companion.

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