Archive for August, 2007

This comprehensive volume traces the Cimmerian’s career from 1932 to the present, and features cover art by Frank Frazetta, whose  definitive–and often imitated–Conan artwork set the standard for dynamic fantasy artwork. Roy Thomas, with Barry Smith and John Buscema used the character to push the boundaries of comic-book adventure are also featured. The book includes  a section on how Arnold Schwarzenegger launched his amazing film career portraying Conan. Now, with the character’s popularity renewed thanks to the award-winning comics series by Kurt Busiek, Timothy Truman, Cary Nord, and Dave Stewart, all of these eras of Conan are examined under one cover in this lavishly illustrated book. Conan historian Paul Sammon looks at all the stages of the character’s development, with commentary and archival material from the most integral players in that history, in this must-have book for anyone who’s followed the barbarian through any of his incarnations.

Alton McCowenAlton McCowen, age 75, of Cross Plains, passed away Friday, August 24, 2007 in Abilene.

Funeral services will be at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, August 27, 2007 at Higginbotham Chapel in Cross Plains with Matt McGowen officiating; burial will follow in the Cross Plains Cemetery.

He was born to Raymond Alton and Donie (Scott) McCowen in Shreveport, LA on September 14, 1931. After graduation Alton joined the U.S. Air Force. He married Joan Thomas in Park Ridge, IL on March 31, 1951. After leaving the service they made their home in San Diego, CA where he worked at the San Diego Gas and Electric Company until 1977 when he retired and moved to Cross Plains. After moving back to Cross Plains, Alton then worked as a general carpenter and handyman.

He is survived by his wife Joan McCowen of Cross Plains; numerous cousins including, Burlie Paul McCowen of Abilene, Bobby Jack McCowen, Rubin McCowen, Charlene McGowen and Jimmy McCowen all of Cross Plains; and Bonita Horton of VA.

There will be a time of visitation and sharing of memories Sunday, August 26, 2007 at Higginbotham Funeral Home at 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Alton was one of the founding members of Project Pride and worked tirelessly to keep the Howard House in pristine condition. He was also the tour guide for the annual bus tours of Cross Plains and the surrounding area each June during Howard Days.  Alton was one of a kind and will be missed by all of us who knew him.

I received an e-mail the other day from longtime TGR contributor Charles Saunders informing me that Night Shade Books had pulled the plug on the Imaro series.  The series originally appeared in the 1980’s, published by DAW, but also ended abruptly after publication of three of five planned volumes. Citing poor sales, Night Shade cancelled the series after publishing just two volumes of the series.  Needless to say Charles is devastated, but vows to soldier on.

For those of you haven’t read any of the Imaro stories, you are in for a treat.  Charles has created one of the greatest heroes in heroic fantasy history and his vision of Imaro’s Africanesque world is every bit as rich and exciting as Howard’s own Hyborian Age.  In my mind, Charles comes the closet of any writer of capturing the true spirit of Howard, being a great visionary and storyteller. Imaro is truly first rate fantasy fiction from a first rate author.

So if you haven’t ordered your copies, please do so now and drop Night Shade a line and ask them to reconsider their decision. If all else fails, keep your fingers crossed that Charles can find a new publisher to finally realize his dream of seeing the entire Imaro saga in print.

This entry filed under Charles R. Saunders, News, Sword & Sorcery.

For the second year in a row Leo Grin’s Howard journal has garnered a World Fantasy Award nomination. Mark Finn was also nominated for his Howard biography, Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard.  It would be  great if both these important Howard publications brought home an award. Unfortunately, I won’t be there this year to cheer them on, but I’m sure there will be many others who will in Saratoga Springs, NY this November.  While it is too early to vote (you can vote if you attended last year’s convention or were a supporting member) keep an eye on the Con’s website for the voting ballot.

There is a hardcover copy of The Ghost Ocean being sold on eBay by artist Jim Keegan.  This thin volume of Howard poetry is one that always gets Howard fans salivating when a copy pops up for sale. The print run was 360 copies, with the first 50 being hardbound, while the remaining 310 were softcover.  The only hardcover I’ve ever seen is the copy held by the Cross Plains Public Library.  So keep your eyes on this one, guys and gals, cause it will go for an amount that would break just about everyone’s bank!

This entry filed under Howard Fandom, Howard's Poetry, News.

It would seem the never ending hunt is indeed never ending.  Despite the recentflurry of Howard publishing, a number of Howard characters are either out-of-printor impossible to find in one or two books.  Some of these include Francis X. Gordon, Kirby O’Donnell, Steve Harrison, Dark Agnes and Wild Bill Clanton.  

For example, the Steve Harrison tales are all over the map, from easy to find trade paperbacks (Graveyard Rats and Others), an upcoming Del Rey book (The Best of Robert E. Howard, Volume I) to an Ace paperback (Skull-Face), an old Zebra paperback (The Second Book of Robert E. Howard), to pricey Cryptic chapbooks (Bran Mak Morn: A Play and Others and Two-Fisted Detective Stories).  

Most of Francis X. Gordon (‘El Borak”) and Kirby O’ Donnell are fairly easy to find. Both Girasol’s Blood of the Gods and Wildside’s Treasures of Tartary are still in print and contain almost all the complete stories for these two adventurers.  Onlythe O’Donnell tale “The Curse of the Crimson God” and the El Borak yarns “Three-Bladed Doom” (both long and short versions) and “The Lost Valley of Iskander” are not in print, but can be found in the Ace editions of The Swords of Shahrazar, Three-Bladed Doom (long version) and The Lost Valley of Iskander, respectively. A corrupted short version of “Three-Bladed Doom” appeared in REH: Lone Star Fictioneer #4 and The New Howard Reader #7. Of course, a number of El Borak fragments and juvenilia can be found in several Cryptic chapbooks (North of Khyber, The Coming of El Borak and Pulse Pounding Adventure Stories #1).

Luckily, the Dark Agnes (Sword Woman) and Wild Bill Clanton (The She Devil) yarns are in paperback form the 1980’s, and while prices have dropped some on both of these, you still might pay a pretty penny for The She Devil.  The best tool around to aid you in your search for these hard-to-find gems is Howard Works. So until some enterprising publisher comes forth with a uniform set of all of Howard’s work, we will just have to continue the hunt.

This entry filed under El Borak, Howard's Fiction.