The Business, Part 11: mid-to-end 1961

[Part 10 is here.]

Well before he had any ideas of publishing a fanzine of his own, Glenn Lord had been in contact with the editors/publishers of many amateur publications and presses. Those he was aware of, Glenn sent letters to, usually seeking to trade pulps, ’zines, or information; later, after the publication of Always Comes Evening, editors contacted him. As we have seen, Lord corresponded with George Scithers, of Amra fame; Larry Farsace, editor of The Golden Atom; Darrell C. Richardson, editor/publisher of The Fabulous Faust; and Joseph Payne Brennan, who put out Macabre. Glenn also exchanged letters with Oswald Train, a co-founder of the ill-fated Prime Press; D. Peter Ogden, editor of ERBania; Vernell Coriell, publisher of The Burroughs Bulletin; Jerry Page, who produced Sci-Fan; Jack L. Chalker, editor of Mirage . . . and the list goes on. So, when he started thinking of publishing his Robert E. Howard bibliography, the idea of a fanzine probably seemed the right way to go.

As early as 1959, Glenn had been trading Flash Gordon comic strips with Alvin Fick, who ran the amateur Pinion Private Press in his spare time. Mixed in with their trades are hints of Glenn’s ideas for publication. In an October 8, 1959 letter to Lord, Fick included a sample that showed what his press could accomplish and the following:

Your Robert E. Howard bibliography project is very intriguing. I am certainly susceptible to this type of printing commitment for my private press, in view of my interest in Howard and my bookish outlook in general. How many pages and how many copies do you anticipate? The enclosure will give you some idea of the kind of thing I do. Have also printed a couple of small books.

Glenn’s original plan had been to publish his bibliography as a chapbook, but when he started acquiring rare and unpublished Howard material, that changed. By April 1961, Glenn was ready. He sent a package to Fick, who responded on April 11, 1961:

Received your letter and sheaf of manuscript in the mail yesterday, perusing the former with pleasure and the latter with enjoyment mingled with a bit of misgiving at the amount of copy. Naturally, I had no idea your original plans had been altered to the extent that you now plan a periodical. Being a Howard fan myself, I am delighted by this change in course.

Fick’s letter goes on to describe the trials and tribulations of amateur printing and presents Glenn with several different options for printing—options that effect the speed and quality of the eventual publication. Whatever options Glenn decides on, Fick warns that Glenn “must not count on the first issue to be labeled ‘Spring 1961’—that I simply cannot do.”

The very next day, April 12, Fick sent his estimates on cost and speed: “The job done with machine set type would cost $123.50 for 200 copies, 5×7 size on a good quality text paper (cream white vellum) and a good quality grey cover. 150 copies for $113.50.” The other option, if Glenn was “willing to wait patiently,” was for Fick to “pick up each letter in the ancient one-at-a-time ritual” for a cost of $100 for 200 copies or $90 for 150.

A May 14 letter from Fick shows “some progress on The Howard Collector, with five pages in type” and this:

Sober second thoughts about the 60? price you have tentatively set for Collector have occurred to me. [. . .] I don’t see why you could not in all fairness ask 75?. After all, this is to be a quality item, printed on good paper by letterpress from hand set type. So much for production. As to content, I can really wax eloquent. The information for those interested in Howard is priceless. Frankly, I would pay the price just to have the unpublished items by Howard which you are presenting. “The Sands of Time” alone is worth the price of admission. And the index is a permanent reference of real worth.

While Fick was building it, Glenn was promoting it by placing advertisements in various publications and writing letters. Starting in the spring, he began accepting pre-orders from all over the fan community. On June 11, Tevis Clyde Smith sent “$1.20 for two copies of the first issue.” And as the news of the Howard publication spread, other people began contacting Glenn, including Donald Sidney-Fryer, who wrote to Glenn on June 19: “This is essentially a letter of inquiry: I would like to know when your HOWARD COLLECTOR will be published, how much per issue or how much a subscription, etc. I am keenly interested in your project.” He goes on to praise much of Howard’s work, saying that his “favorite Howard character is Solomon Kane, a really original creation.”

On June 30, Roy G. Krenkel sent in his order, with the following: “I’ve never stopped hoping that you or some other active Howard admirer would succeed in talking some publisher into printing the other Howard weird tales (other than the already printed Conan tales that is). There must be enough to fill up several volumes.” Krenkel would later provide what some have called the finest illustrations of Howard’s work in the Grant edition of Howard’s The Sowers of the Thunder.

On July 4, Norris Chambers sent in “$1.00 to cover cost of the book, postage, and coffee for you.”

During the spring and early summer, Lord and Fick had settled on a print-run of 250 copies at a cost of $110, some of which Glenn paid by trading comics and books, which left him a total of $77.25. Finally, on August 21, 1961, Alvin Fick wrote to Glenn:

Yesterday wife Alma finished the binding of the last of the books—The Howard Collector Number 1 is finished. Tonight we are packing for mailing tomorrow 197 copies to add to the 55 already mailed a while back.

While Glenn was waiting to receive the shipment, news of Clark Ashton Smith’s death on August 14 was spreading through the fan community. On August 25, George Haas wrote to Glenn:

You may have heard the sad news by this time—of the passing away on August 14 of Clark Ashton Smith. He had had a series of light strokes, then suffered a severe one from which he could not recover. He died at home as he wished, in his own bed and not in a hospital. He suffered no pain and died in his sleep. I was with him all afternoon that day but he was not able to talk. [. . .] With his passing we have lost the dean of fantasy writers and, in my humble opinion, the greatest of them all. This is the end of an era—there will never be another like it.

Of some consolation to those not personally affected by Smith’s demise, The Howard Collector #1, summer 1961, started hitting mailboxes in late August. On August 27, Lenore Preece wrote to Glenn: “I am greatly impressed by your first copy of The Howard Collector. Its format is most handsome—and scholarly, too.”

On September 4, Fick wrote to congratulate Glenn and included the following:

I appreciate your thinking of me in regard to a possible second number of THC, especially since it must have seemed at some points that I would never finish the first one! I’d like to have a crack at it because it is the kind of thing I like to do.

Other complimentary letters, orders, and requests for a second issue, starting coming in almost immediately from Tevis Clyde Smith, Lee Baldwin, Donald M. Grant, Kirby McCauley, Bob Briney, Norbert Sydow, L. Sprague de Camp, and others. E. Hoffmann Price sent his thanks on September 4 and added the following:

The Dr. Howard letter you published contained nothing essential new to me, but it did somehow give me a clearer insight into a situation which has for years nagged me: the situation after or at Mrs. Howard’s death, and the query, unanswered and unanswerable, “Could some close friend’s presence have prevented the suicide, if that friend had been briefed, by Dr. Howard, as to Robert’s long term trend of feeling?” The question of course isn’t answered, yet I seem somehow to get a hint as to Dr. Howard’s inability to forestall the tragedy.

Even as the first installment of his bibliography was being printed, Glenn’s quest for Howard material continued. The rest of 1961 was a continual trading of information and material from one fan to another, and the search for E. Hoffmann Price’s “tear sheets” was still first and foremost. On November 20, Price wrote to Glenn about a forthcoming trip to Houston: “Will be Kirk Mashburn’s guests 19-20th, leaving early Dec. 21 for New Orleans. [. . .] Will phone you from Houston. Will try meanwhile to dig up information as to spicies etc., things mentioned in your letters, and we’ll discuss missing REH letters.”

And Glenn was still trying to get copies of things from Oscar Friend. On December 7, L. Sprague de Camp had a suggestion:

The last I saw of those 2 unpub. REH mss., they were in a carton along with a pile of other REH mss. in Friend’s house in Flushing. (He has since moved to Levittown.) Oscar, I understand, has had strokes, and he was not the quickest correspondent even before. So the only way to unearth these mss. is to go to Levittown & do it oneself.

[Part 12 is here.]