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These days it seems like every time you turn around there is a damned zombie glaring at you, just itching to eat your brain. A whole sub-culture has sprung up around these lumbering, drooling denizens from beyond the grave. Since the early 2000’s zombies have been gaining ground in popular culture. With movies, television shows, video games, books, graphic novels, blogs, fan fiction, flash mobs, social media and just about another type of media you can think of and zombies have a rotted foothold on it.
But despite this resurgence in popularity, zombies have been for a very long time. Supposedly originating in West Africa hundreds of years ago. Those zombies were corpses reanimated by vodu magic, while Haitian zombies were believed to have been created from living persons given a psychoactive drug that put them a zombie-like state. But no matter how they are created, they sure as Hell are scary.
Jeffrey Shanks is the editor of this collection of vintage zombie yarns. It is so good the smell of rotting flesh permeates through the 412 pages of the book. Of course, Jeff is well known as a rising star in Howard fandom; indeed he is running circles around us old geezer Howard fans and scholars. The past weekend he was a guest at Pensacon and in April he will be presenting a paper at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association in Chicago. Of course he is a guest blogger here and contributor to the TGR print journal as well. Jeff does a fine job with the introduction, which reads more like an essay than a typical introduction. Here is the section of the introduction that relates to Howard’s contribution to the anthology:
The creator of such legendary characters as Conan the Cimmerian, Solomon Kane, and Kull of Atlantis, Texas writer Robert E. Howard was one of the giants of the pulp magazines. Though best known as the father of sword and sorcery, Howard wrote stories in many different genres including horror, westerns, boxing, historical adventure, and hardboiled detective stories. He also wrote a number of Southern Gothic horror stories, among which was the zombie story “Pigeons from Hell” published in the May 1938 issue of Weird Tales—a story Stephen King once claimed was one of his favorites. Based on stories told to him as a child by his African American housekeeper, “Pigeons from Hell” features a new type of creature, the zuvembie—a female zombie that has the power to create new zombies. The story was adapted for the television show Thriller (hosted by Boris Karloff) in 1961 and is one of the series’ most famous episodes.
The book is profusely illustrated with drawings from the pulps and most of these stories were written by Howard’s cotemporaries and many of those writers he knew and corresponded with.
Contents of Zombies from the Pulps!
Introduction: “Dawn of the Zombie Genre” by Jeffrey Shanks
“Herbert West—Reanimator” by H. P. Lovecraft
“Jumbee” by Henry S. Whitehead
“The Corpse-Master” by Seabury Quinn
“Dead Girl Finotte” by H. De Vere Stacpoole
“Salt is Not for Slaves” by G. W. Hutter
“The Dead Who Walk” by Ray Cummings
“The House in the Magnolias” by August Derleth and Mark Schorer
“The Empire of the Necromancers” by Clark Ashton Smith
“The Devil’s Dowry” by Ben Judson
“The Walking Dead” by E. Hoffmann Price
“The Graveyard Rats” by Henry Kuttner
“The Grave Gives Up” by Jack D’Arcy
“Zombie” by Carl Moore
“Revels for the Lusting Dead” by Arthur Leo Zagat
“Corpses on Parade” by Edith and Ejler Jacobson
“Pigeons from Hell” by Robert E. Howard
“The Man Who Loved a Zombie” by Russell Gray
“While Zombies Walked” by Thorp McCluskey
“The Song of the Slaves” by Manly Wade Wellman
“The Forbidden Trail” by Jane Rice
Zombies from the Pulps! is now available over at Amazon.com.
So if you find yourself standing next to an evil looking little old lady in the supermarket checkout line, give her wide berth — she might be a zuvembie, capable of turning you into a zombie. Yikes!