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As you may have noticed, those of us who are Howard’s staunchest defenders are quick to come to his aid when any blogger or scholar of suspicious pedigree drags out those old mange-infested theories and speculations about Howard’s life and death. Al Harron and Mark Finn are among those at the forefront of the Howardian Shieldwall.
It’s gotten to the point that non-supporters of Howard and various fence-sitters wag their tails with glee when one of these brainiac bloggers posts something utterly stupid about Howard just so they can sit back and which the carnage as Howard supporters rush in to set them straight.
It was one year ago today when an ill-informed blogger named Maggie van Ostrand brought down on herself the full wrath of Howardom when she posted not one, but two flawed and downright mean pieces on Howard and his parents. One of the websites, Fandomania, was flooded with no less than 30 comments presenting rebuttals to her scurrilous remarks. Another website, Texas Escapes, quietly pulled her ill-conceived post. But I’m not here to re-fight that already won battle. However, for those of you who may have missed the brouhaha, check out the December 2009 archives here and at the other REH related websites.
Recently, the dubious bloggers have wised up and cut off the comments feature once it appears they are getting hammered with comments meant to set the record straight. Nothing like a little quashing of free speech to get your point across.
The beginning of this dissemination of misinformation started with L. Sprague de Camp and his whackadoo doctor friend, Alan Nourse. De Camp was traveling with Dr. Nourse when they paid a visit to Brownwood and Cross Plains in March 1965. The good doctor, upon hearing a story about Howard’s sleepwalking, was able to diagnose him on the spot. Besides being a physician, Nourse was also a minor science fiction writer whose claim to fame was coining the word “Bladerunner.”
“That sleep-walking alone” he said, “indicates a profoundly neurotic personality – probably hysteric and hyper-suggestible. You add to these other factors the fact that he was only starting to take an interest in women when he was nearly thirty and that exaggerated interest in sports in manly sports – well, it’s obvious that here was a fellow who wasn’t wired up right in the matter of sex.”
The above excerpt is from de Camp’s “Memories of REH,” which first appeared in Amra #38 (February 1966) and was the framework for additional biographical pieces by de Camp including “Skald in the Post Oaks” (1971), The Miscast Barbarian (1975) and Dark Valley Destiny (1983).
Needless to say, Howard’s reputation has been denigrated for decades with little or no rebuttal, so if some people think the fervor of those of us that defend him is overkill, that’s just too bad. Way too many people got away with bashing Howard for way too long. Think of it this way, we are just trying to restore balance in the Universe.
Some folks who dwell in cyberspace have even taken to calling us “Howard’s rabid supporters.” So yeah, I’m a rabid supporter of Howard and damn proud of it. Anyone got a problem with that? If so, please let me know. But be careful, because my bite is much worse than my bark.