Archive for July, 2010

Charles Saunders’ recent post over at his blog on the late Gene Day got me to reminiscing about the early days of TGR. Way back in 1976, he was among the first artists I contacted to do artwork for TGR.  Gene was one of the nicest and most sincere people I’ve ever had to pleasure to have known.  The first piece he did for me was Bran Mak Morn for the cover of TGR #2 and over the next three years he did a good bit of artwork for my zines.

In 1980 when I was planning to re-launch TGR, the first artist I contacted was Gene; unfortunately that TGR rocket never got off the ground. But he was eager to do some artwork for me even though he was quite busy with his Marvel comic projects.

Gene was also the publisher and editor of the legendary fanzine Dark Fantasy, which featured fantasy, horror and sword and sorcery stories. Imaro made his debut in the pages of Gene’s fanzine and issues 9, 11 and 16 of Dark Fantasy featured poems by Howard. Of course Gene’s artwork was prominently featured, along with other up and coming fantasy artists such as Ken Raney and Stephen Fabian.

His many years of hard work and dedication to his art paid off when commissions began to roll in from Marvel, Skywald, Star Reach and other comic book companies. To this day, Gene has quite a following among comic book fans and collectors, primary for his work on Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu title.

Artist and publisher Dave Sim, who considers Gene to be his mentor, sums up Gene’s influence on him this way:

“Gene Day really showed me that success in a creative field is a matter of hard work and productivity and persistence.”

Gene, ever the perfectionist, pushed himself beyond the limitations of a mere mortal. Working through day and night, surviving on cigarettes and coffee, this drive for perfection took its toll and on September 23, 1982 he suffered a massive coronary in his sleep.  He was only 31 years old.

Gene was inducted into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame in 2007.

Gene also has an annual award named in his honor. The Gene Day Award for Canadian Self-Publishing honors the intrepid Canadian self-publishers, creative teams and artists of comic books who toil away in the trenches, striving for their big break.  The award falls under the umbrella of the prestigious Joe Shuster Awards and in addition to the award, the recipient(s) receive a $500.00 bursary.

Gene’s pencil, pen and brush have been stilled for the past 18 years, but his legacy lives on through his artwork and the efforts of his brothers David and Dan and his widow Gail Day.

And don’t be surprised to see a few more examples of Gene’s fine artwork in upcoming issues of TGR.

Part I: The Empowered Woman

The October 1873 issue of Brownson’s Quarterly Review printed “The Woman in Question.” Written by Brownson himself, it set forth the role of women in society:

We do not believe women, unless we acknowledge individual exceptions, are fit to have their own head. The most degraded of the savage tribes are those in which women rule, and descent is reckoned from a mother instead of a father. Revelation asserts, and universal experience proves that man is the head of women and that the woman is for the man, not the man for the woman; and his greatest error, as well as the primal curse of society is that he abdicates his headship and allows himself to be governed, we might say, deprived of his reason, by woman, herself seduced by the serpent, that man fell, and brought sin and all our woe into the world…She has all the qualities that fit her to be a help-mate of man, to be the mother of his children, to be their nurse, their early instructress, their guardian, their life-long friend; to be his companion, his comforter, his consoler in sorrow, his friend, in trouble, his ministering angel in sickness; but as an independent existence, free to follow her own fancies and vague longings, her own ambition and natural love of power, without masculine direction or control, she is out of her element, and a social anomaly, sometimes a hideous monster. This is no excuse for men, but it proves that women need a head and the restraint of father, husband or priest of God.

Although the above quote was written in 1873, it reflects an age old, world-wide attitude toward women.

Presumably his “individual exceptions” included Cleopatra of Egypt, who fought by the side of Mark Antony on the battlefield, and Queen Boudicca of Great Britain, who led her troops against the Roman conquerors and women such as Joan of Arc. Traditionally, though most women lived under the rule of their husband, father, brother or other male relative.

While the women in Howard’s real world had the vote and could own property, the attitude that women were inferior to men still prevailed throughout most of the world during his lifetime. Robert E. Howard’s fictional world was an exception. In it he created women who fought bravely, skillfully and fearlessly beside men as well as against them. In fact, each of Howard’s strong women lived the life she chose for herself and when necessary, she fought to maintain that way of living. Long before the feminist definition of empowerment, Howard’s heroines took control over the decisions and issues that shaped their lives. Among these women was Agnes de Chastillon, perhaps better known to Howard fans as Dark Agnes de la Fere. In his story, “Sword Woman,” Agnes is forced to accept a vile man as a husband. As they stand at the altar, she drives a knife deep into the heart of her betrothed.  As she flees from her raging father and her village, Dark Agnes also escapes the indignities and the restrictions placed upon women in medieval times. When she throws away her bloodstained wedding dress, she carves out a life of adventure for herself as she dons men’s garb and becomes a deadly and feared sword fighter.

Contrast Brownson’s remark, “As long as woman remains in her proper sphere as a dedicated help-meet and mother, she approaches the angelic…” to that of Dark Agnes’ who in the same story eloquently expresses her contempt for any effort to force her to live as medieval societies expected:

“Ever the man in men!” I said between my teeth. “Let a woman know her proper place: let her milk and spin and sew and bake and bear children, not look beyond her threshold or the command of her lord and master!  Bah! I spit on you all!  There is no man alive who can face me with weapons and live, and before I die, I’ll prove it to the world. Women!  Cows!  Slaves! Whimpering, cringing serfs, crouching to blows, revenging themselves by taking their own lives, as my sister urged me to do. Ha! You deny me a place among men? By God, I’ll live as I please and die as God wills, but if I’m not fit to be a man’s comrade, at least I’ll be no man’s mistress.

Another example of female empowerment occurs in Howard’s pirate tale “Queen of the Black Coast.”  Bêlit, the pirate queen, like Dark Agnes, also lived as she pleased according to her own code.  Aboard her ship, Tigress, she plundered and raided native villages and hers was a name that was feared even before her first meeting with Conan.  Unlike Dark Agnes, Bêlit had no objection to taking a lover. After, she performs a sensuous mating dance for him, shechooses Conan to be her mate and king.  And, it was Bêlit who directed their raids and Conan’s strong arm that carried out her ideas.

In another pirate tale from Howard’s fictional world comes Valeria of the Red Brotherhood, who is introduced in “Red Nails,” one of Robert E. Howard’s best and most definitive tales about decaying civilizations.  Readers are told Valeria’s “deeds are celebrated in song and ballad wherever seafarers gather.” Her reputation was such that “no living man could disarm her with his bare hands.”  Even Conan respects her skill with a sword.

Other than a physical description of her beauty and her fighting skills, Valeria seems to be one of Howard’s most undefined heroines. While we are told she dresses, lives and fights like a man, she is far more complex than that. Valeria is not defined by what motivates her, so much as by her approach to life. Her story begins when she is fleeing the Stygian authorities for killing one of their officers whose “crime” against her is left unnamed. When she meets Conan,  he tells her she has to expect such things if she will “live in the war camps of men.” Valeria stamps her booted foot and swears, “Why won’t men let me live a man’s life?” It is the only time in the story she complains. Yet, as her journey with Conan progresses, there is a dragon to fight and treachery to battle within the ancient walled city they enter. Valeria is drugged, almost raped and comes very close to being sacrificed in a ritual intended to replenish the beauty of Tascela the princess of, Tecuhltli, who is so old she does not remember her youth.  In the end it is Valeria who triumphs when she slays Tascela. Most notable is that throughout the story, Valeria seems to take in her stride whatever the Fates hand her and plays it out to her own advantage. Like Conan who also is able to turn events to his advantage, she is skillful, strong and capable of great ruthlessness.

In an earlier and less known tale, “The Isle of Pirate’s Doom,” comes another Howard heroine, Helen Tavrel. Like Valeria, she belongs to the Red Brotherhood and also has a falling out with one of the other pirate members. Both women are very skilled with a sword.  Both dress and fight like a man and are renowned for their ruthlessness. Helen could be a younger, more innocent and vulnerable version of Valeria:

I know I am a monster in the sight of men; there is blood on my hands.  I’ve looted and cursed and killed and diced and drunk, till my very heart is calloused.  My only consolation, the only thing to keep me from feeling utterly damned is the fact that I have remained as virtuous as any girl.  And now men believe me otherwise.

However, she is different from Valeria in her view of herself.  Ironically her lament sounds more like Brownstone’s use of his own word “monster.”  None of REH’s later heroines uses that word to describe herself.

When she is asked for her hand in marriage, her response is less than enthusiastic: “I am far too young to marry yet and I have not yet seen all the world I wish to. Remember I am still Helen Tavrel.” Like all strong women, she knows who she is.

Even more strongly identified with empowerment is Sonya of Rogatino, known as Red Sonya, who is introduced in “The Shadow of the Vulture.”  She has become one of Howard’s most enduring and popular heroines.  Again like other strong women of Howard’s creation, she dresses, drinks, and fights like a man.  She is a heroine who is able to see what must be done and act when the men around her seem unable to do so.  She is equally skilled with pistols, a deadly sword and even cannons, when necessary:

A terrific detonation drowned her words and a swirl of smoke blinded every one on the turret, as the terrific recoil of the overcharged cannon knocked the firer flat on her back. She sprang up like a spring rebounding and rushed to the embrasure, peering eagerly through the smoke, which clearing, showed the ruin of the gun crew. The huge ball, bigger than a man’s head, had smashed full into the group clustered about the saker, and now they lay on the torn ground, their skulls blasted by the impact or their bodies mangled by the flying iron splinters from their shattered gun. A cheer went up from the towers and the woman called Red Sonya yelled with sincere joy and did the steps of a Cossack dance.

Like Red Sonya, most of the women in Howard’s fiction had the courage to live life as they wanted. They not only took and held on to what society denied them, they damned anyone who objected.

It’s true that Dark Agnes, Bêlit, Valeria and Red Sonya are fictional characters that only exist in Howard’s prose. How does this compare with reality. Does the strong female-warrior archetype exist outside the stories written by Howard? This question is answered by science fiction author and screenwriter, Leigh Brackett, in her introduction to The Sword Woman:

Queen Boudicca led her armies to battle. The white armed German women fought alongside their men and frightened the wits out of the Roman legionnaires. The Vikings had their shield-maidens. And even after the advent of Christianity, exceptional women continued to break out of the trap. They have served honorably as soldiers in many wars, less honorably as pirates and freebooters, but they were all good women of their hands with sword and pistol. The women who helped to open up the far places of the world were not made of custard. They could shoot a rifle and hit what they aimed at, they could withstand heat and cold, hunger, thirst and the ever-present threat of death quite as well as their husbands.

Strong, empowered women did exist and still do and they apologize to no one for it. Today, they fight in foreign countries and in their homelands. These heroines, pioneers in many fields and endeavors, come in many forms and shapes. Among them are the feminists who endured great sacrifice, humiliation and hardship to secure for all women in their countries basic rights such as the right to vote, to be educated, to own property; and to fight in the military. Most of all they secured the right for each woman to think for herself and plan her own destiny.

Part II / Part III

After reading Brian’s recent posts here and here, I thought it would be nice to share a few images of Robert E. Howard’s copy of The Snare (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, n.d. [1925]). The book is one of the precious few in his collection that has survived as part of the Memorial Collection at Howard Payne University. Given to “Bob” as a Christmas present, Clyde Smith couldn’t resist all that white space on the front endpapers.

Clyde’s handwriting can be a bit difficult. After the blue penciled “Merry Xmas – Bob – from Clyde,” he goes on for another page and a half:

Say, Bob, you remember that little passage about “wrecking the jail” and the shocking language which was also included—shocking to a Puritan—by the way you and I have never had any love for Puritans—well I sent this excerpt to Klatt, and told him that he would probably break conventions in that manner, But I guess if any of it ever comes true, it will be flatly, as Sandburg said it: that is, if it comes true for you and me. I only hope that we don’t [other side of page] to break out any time within the near future, as I have other things on my mind. And so we will be suffering while Klatt is raising h— on the out side, by the way.

Herbert Klatt is perhaps best known as the sausage-packing German in Post Oaks and Sand Roughs, Hubert Grotz. Klatt was very active in Lone Scout Journalism and even had a poem, “Rope,” published in one of Bob Howard’s Lone Scout endeavors, The Right Hook.

Bill Thom, Friend of TGR and webmaster of Howard Works and Coming Attractions, has some news of interest from Wildside Press:

The very first issue of Amra — the Hugo Award-winning REH and Sword & Sorcery fanzine — will be included in facsimile in the next issue of Adventure Tales. (Amra had very humble beginnings. Vol. 1, No. 1 was a 2-page mimeographed newsletter.) But this reissue is the start of something very exciting. Wildside Press acquired the assets of Owlswick Press (including Amra) following owner George Scithers’ death, and we will be reviving Amra and reissuing some of the rare early issues in coming months as affordable chapbooks. Not only are they are a fascinating look at the early days of REH fandom, but they contain many great articles by people like Poul Anderson, Fritz Leiber, and many others. Heavily illustrated, too.

Wildside Press will also be resurrecting Amra as a new publication with Vol. 3, No. 1, featuring the best Sword & Sorcery and REH-related fiction and nonfiction. Look for more information in months to come.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Amra, Howard fan and uber-collector Lee Breakiron has an excellent history of the fanzine posted at the online amateur press association REH-e-APA website.

Also, as an update to a previous post, the final volume of The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard has just arrived from the printer and is available to order. This is a 900-copy limited hardcover edition, Smythe-sewn on acid free paper, with an excellent cover by Stephen Fabian.

Doc Scurlock was a friend of Billy the Kid, cowboy, outlaw, gunfighter, Regulator and a key participant in the Bloody Lincoln County War. In 1880, a year after that infamous conflict ended, he gave away his guns and settled down with his growing family to a life of anonymity in Tascosa, located in the Panhandle of Texas. Over the ensuing years, the family lived in several other Texas towns before moving to Eastland County in 1919 where Scurlock opened a candy store and lived out his remaining years.

Apparently Robert E. Howard was unaware that Doc Scurlock lived just up the road from him. Doubtless he would have liked to have met him, that is if Scurlock would have been willing to talk with him. But it was not to be since Howard and Tevis Clyde Smith didn’t really get into discovering the Old West legends until after 1929, the year Scurlock died. However, Howard eventually became fascinated with the Lincoln County War and in 1935 he and friend Truett Vinson visited Lincoln County, New Mexico. Howard later conveyed some of his thoughts on the town of Lincoln and the War to correspondent H. P. Lovecraft:

[Vinson and I] came to the ancient village of Lincoln, dreaming amidst its gaunt mountains like a ghost of a blood-stained past. Of Lincoln Walter Noble Burns, author of The Saga of Billy the Kid has said: “The village went to sleep at the close of the Lincoln County war and has never awakened again. If a railroad never comes to link it with the far-away world, it may slumber on for a thousand years. You will find Lincoln now just as it was when Murphy and McSween and Billy the Kid knew it. The village is an anachronism, a sort of mummy town . . .”

I can offer not better description. A mummy town. Nowhere have I ever come face to face with the past more vividly; nowhere has that past become so realistic, so understandable. It was like stepping out of my own age, in to the fragment of an elder age, that has somehow survived…. Lincoln is a haunted place, it is a dead town; yet it lives with a life that died fifty years ago…. The descendants of old enemies live peacefully side by side in the little village; yet I found myself wondering if the old feud were really dead, or if the embers only smoldered, and might be blown to flame by a careless breath.

[…]

I have never felt anywhere the exact sensations Lincoln aroused in me – a sort of horror predominating. If there is a haunted spot on this hemisphere, then Lincoln is spot on this hemisphere, then Lincoln is haunted. I felt that if I slept the night there, the ghosts of the slain would stalk through my dreams. The town itself seemed like a bleached, grinning skull. There was a feel of skeletons underfoot. And that, I understand, is no flight of fancy. Every now and then somebody plows up a human skull. So many men died in Lincoln.

Howard’s trip to Lincoln County also served to provide him with the needed inspiration to finalize a story he was working on — that story was “Red Nails,” which is considered one of his best Conan yarns.

After hanging up his guns and devoting his life to his wife Antonia and their eight children, Doc Scurlock worked in a myriad of professions including physician, teacher, farmer, store owner, poet, author, and worked for the Texas Highway Department during the later years of his life. But once upon a time this peaceful family man led a wild and violent life.

Josiah Gordon “Doc” Scurlock was born in Tallapoosa, Alabama on January 11, 1850. He studied medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana and at the age of twenty, he went to Mexico. The reason is unclear – some folks say it was to attend to the poorest of the Mexican citizens who were in the grip of a Yellow Fever epidemic, while others say he thought he had contracted tuberculosis and went there for the dry, hot weather. Like Doc Holliday, John Wesley Hardin and several others, Doc Scurlock was a well educated gunman of the Old West. He never stopped learning, even writing poetry and becoming proficient in five languages.

While playing cards in a Mexican saloon, an outlaw shot Scurlock in the mouth, the bullet exited through the back of his neck, knocking out his front teeth in the process. Despite the serious wound, Scurlock kept his wits about him and killed the shooter, surviving to fight another day.

Returning to the U.S. in 1871, Scurlock was hired as a cowpuncher by the legendary John Chisum, who was based in Texas at the time. In 1873 Scurlock’s shooting skills again came in handy when he and fellow cowboy Jack Holt, were surprised by a group of Indians. During the gunfight, Holt was killed and Scurlock took refuge behind some rocks, exchanging gunfire with the attackers, and following several hours of gunplay, he killed the Indian leader. After nightfall, Scurlock managed to slip away, trekking 20 miles to find help. When his friend and riding partner Newt Higgins was killed by Indians in 1875, Scurlock left Chisum’s employment, despite Chisum’s insistence that he stay on.

After leaving Chisum’s ranch, he wandered a bit, owning part interest in an Arizona cheese factory before settling in Lincoln County in 1876 and purchasing a ranch on the Rio Ruidoso with friend Charlie Bowdre from the corrupt L. G. Murphy & Co. — the pair unknowingly becoming victims of Lawrence Murphy, the man who would instigate the Lincoln County War.

For the next year or so, Scurlock and Bowdre were in several posses tracking and capturing horse thieves, hanging some of them on the spot. During this period, life had its ups and downs for Scurlock. On September 2, 1876, Scurlock accidentally shot and killed his friend Mike Harkins while he was examining a pistol and on October 19, 1876, he married Antonia Herrera.

Scurlock soon befriended several area ranchers including John Tunstall and Dick Brewer. When Tunstall, along with a lawyer named Alexander McSween, set up a rival business to oppose the Murphy & Dolan Mercantile and Banking Company, which monopolized the trade in Lincoln County, Scurlock supported their operation, openly defying Lawrence Murphy and partner James Dolan.

Meanwhile, serious trouble smoldered in Lincoln County, with frequent clashes between John Tunstall’s cowboys and a group of gunman under the leadership of James Dolan. On February 18, 1878. an armed and drunken posse met Tunstall on the road to Lincoln and killed him. Tunstall’s cowboys, including Billy the Kid, swore revenge for Tunstall’s death. Scurlock, ranchers George and Frank Coe, Billy the Kid and forty other supporters deemed themselves the Regulators and set out to liquidate the posse they held responsible. Thus, the killing of Tunstall was the spark that ignited the Lincoln County War.

Scurlock was one of the Regulators involved in the Battle at Blazer’s Mills on April 4, 1878. During the bloody shoot-out he was wounded in the leg by Buckshot Roberts.  Soon after that battle, Scurlock became the third leader of the regulators after the first and second leaders (Dick Brewer and Frank McNab) were killed. Following the Blazer’s Mills gunfight, the Lincoln County War came to a climax in July 1878 over a span of five days as outlined in this excerpt from Educated Gunfighter:

During the Five-Day Battle in Lincoln, Doc took over to Ellis house at the east end of Lincoln along with Frank Coe, Charlie Bowdre, Dan Dedrick, John Middleton, John Scroggins, and Dirty Steve Stephens. It was also during the Five-Day Battle that Doc basically stopped acting as the Regulators’ leader, letting Billy the Kid take over from then on. After the war, he and Charlie left their Rio Ruidoso ranch and moved with their wives to Fort Sumner, in San Miguel County. While there, he quit the Regulators with Charlie, and the two got jobs working as ranch-hands on the ranches of Pete Maxwell and Thomas Yerby. Doc later joined Billy the Kid, Tom O’Folliard, George Bowers, and Yginio Salazar in Lincoln on Feb. 18, 1879 in a failed attempt to make peace with Dolan and his gunmen. After witnessing Dolan and his men kill Sue McSween’s lawyer, Huston Chapman, that same night, and after Billy had been promised a pardon by Gov. Lew Wallace if he testified to this fact before a grand jury, Doc and Billy turned themselves in to Sheriff George Kimbrell on March 21, 1879. For the next twenty-seven days, they were under house arrest at Juan Patron’s house. After Billy testified before the grand jury, at it became clear that Wallace was not going to pardon him, both Doc and Billy left the Patron house and returned to Fort Sumner. In the Fall of 1879, Doc joined his fellow former Regulators Billy, Tom O’Folliard, and Charlie Bowdre in forming a new gang called The Rustlers. However, after they stole 118 head of Chisum cattle and the law started to come down on the gang, Doc took his family and left New Mexico Territory for Tascosa, Texas.

Marie Tollett, Scurlock’s granddaughter, once told an interviewer that her grandfather did not talk a lot about his experiences in the Lincoln County War, shunned public appearances and notice, even turning his head when a picture was taken.

Additionally, Scurlock indicated he had enemies who would kill him if they ever found him and he said the law enforcement officials in Lincoln County at the time of the War were corrupt, and that he would never stand a fair chance with them. So during the rest of his life he refused any position of prominence, or any situation that would bring him public notice.

On July 25, 1929, Doc Scurlock suffered a heart attack and died the same night. After his burial in the Eastland Cemetery, the remains of his wife, who predeceased him by 17 years, were moved from Acton to Eastland and buried beside him.

Scurlock is one of the most intriguing gunfighters of the Old West and also one of the most overlooked, despite a wealth of information about him on the internet. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he escaped a violent death and lived a long and fulfilling life.

One of the simple pleasures of growing up in a small town was going to the movies, especially during the summer. When school let out, we’d ride our bikes to the local theater and look at the marquee and the “Coming Soon” posters. Of course, in the days before the multi-screen Cineplex, our theater only showed one feature film a week, and we often had a long wait before the movie we wanted to see showed up. We’d check the ads in the paper and save our pennies in anticipation of the air-conditioned escape from reality. Things haven’t changed all that much.

Robert E. Howard graduated from Brownwood High School on Friday, May 18, 1923. The evening ceremony took place at the auditorium in the School of Fine Arts building at nearby Howard Payne College. Summer had begun, unofficially. Three weeks later, Howard was in Marlin, Texas, no doubt so that his tubercular mother could “take the waters” at the Torbett Sanitorium. The trip to Marlin may have put a snag in his summer plans, but it didn’t take his mind off the movies. In a June 8 letter to Tevis Clyde Smith, written from Marlin, Howard shows that he’s as interested as ever: “They’re showing Bull Montana in Rob ’em Good here Saturday, tomorrow. Also Charlie Chaplin next Thursday in The Pilgrim.” And he asks Smith, “Have they showed Robin Hood in Brownwood yet?”

I’ve often wondered about that question. Had Howard seen a “Coming Soon” poster for the Douglas Fairbanks (Sr.) film, or a “coming attractions” reel while attending another show, or an ad in the local paper? However he heard about it, he wasn’t going to let it slip by. Back home in Cross Plains two weeks later, June 22, Howard writes Smith: “I have got whooping-cough, curse it, and I’ll bet two rupees that Robin Hood comes to Brownwood while I am laid up with it.” And again, on July 30, he asks Smith, “Has Robin Hood come yet? Any prospects of it coming?” Can’t blame him for sounding impatient and just a tad desperate; imagine if Star Wars had been announced and never quite made it to the local show—Horrors!

Howard had probably found out about the film while still in school, toward the end of his senior year. There were ads for it (above) running in the newspapers in Abilene as early as April. (I can still remember hearing about E.T. The Extraterrestrial as the last few days of my freshman year in high school ran out—oh, the anticipation.) But after his July 30 question to Smith, Howard never mentions Robin Hood in his correspondence again. Summer ends, Clyde goes back to school, and Bob gets a job in the tailor shop.

But he still finds time for the movies. In his October 5, 1923 letter, Howard tells Smith all about his latest trips to the show:

The Cross Plains “Electric Theater” has been showing better shows than usual, which don’t mean they are any good anyway. I’ve seen From Rags to Riches again here, and Heroes of the Street and Brass Commandments, William Farnum, and A Dangerous Adventure, Grace Darmond, and A Desert Bridegroom, Jack Hoxie. I shouldn’t be surprized if they didn’t get Go and Get It, and The Mark of Zorro, some time if those films are still running. They had The Sagebrusher by Emerson Hough, here but I didn’t go so I don’t know whether it was any good.

The very next day, October 6, readers of the Daniel Baker College newspaper, The Collegian, got the news (above) that Howard had been hoping for back in June: Robin Hood was coming to Brownwood’s Lyric Theatre for three days, starting on Wednesday, October 17, 1923. Ads started showing up in the Brownwood Bulletin the following week. The show was so popular that it was held over for a “special morning” show on Saturday the 20th (below).

So, did Howard see it? His last letter in 1923, written on November 4, makes no mention of Robin Hood or any other film. Personally, I like to think that he saw it, even though I thought the movie was a bit on the boring side (it’s no E.T.). I’ll bet Howard went to Brownwood to visit Clyde, like the Cross Plains Review said he did on many occasions throughout the 1920s, and the two saw it together. I’ll bet they even liked it. You can watch it here.

 

We don’t do a lot of coverage on the adaptation of Howard’s characters from prose to the big screen here at the TGR blog simply because there are plenty of other websites that do cover that beat. Besides, we’ve resigned ourselves to whatever Howard based concoction appears on film, it is pretty far removed from what Howard wrote.  That being said, we realize some fans do follow Howard’s appearances in this medium. If you do keep up with with news and announcements for the the new Conan movie starring Jason Momoa, we’ve found the perfect place for you.

Friend of TGR and former Cimmerian blogger Al Harron just took the helm of the Conan: The Movie Blog.  So if you want to follow news on the movie, Al’s your man to give a fair and balanced take on the film with absolutely no fanboy gushing.

Some items that caught our eye at the blog include photos of Conan in a skirt and a rather bizarre admission from actor Stephen Lang who portrays Khalar Zym, Conan’s nemesis in the film, on where he found inspiration for the character:

Oh, just my home life! Heh, just life at home with my wife & kids, and I just sort of lightened it up a little bit. No, uh, I don’t know where I pulled it from – I pulled it outta my ass! But I had a great time doing it, though, it was great fun.

Those wacky actors, you just gotta love their creative thought processes.

The Conan movie has finished filming and has a projected release date of early 2011. In the meantime we are going to reserve final judgment on the film until we actually see it; but whatever the finished product turns out it be it won’t be the Conan we all know and love from the pages of Weird Tales.

Back in the summer of 2005, I wrote “The Mystery of the Treasure Room” for The Cimmerian (vol. 2, no. 4). The article is a little mystery story, with me trying to find out why the number of books in the Robert E. Howard Memorial Collection at Howard Payne University didn’t match the number of books with the “Still in HPU holdings” notation listed at The Robert E. Howard Bookshelf on the REHupa website. Once the smoke cleared, there was a new book added to the Bookshelf listing: Nine Years Among the Indians, by Herman Lehmann; at least that’s what I thought the title was. But I’m getting ahead of myself. A little history:

The first time I went to Howard Payne University, in 2004, I took a snapshot of the Howard collection at the Walker Memorial Library: just three short shelves (at left). A year later, while arguing with Cimmerian editor Leo Grin about Fort McKavett, I got to looking at my library photos again. The pictures were so clear that I could almost read all of the titles on the spines of the books. This led me to compare what I could see in my pictures with what was listed on the REH Bookshelf. When the two didn’t match, I contacted the library and they sent me a list.

After accounting for all the other variables, I was left with one loose end from the library’s list:

1927
Personal Author: Lehmann, Herman, 1859-1932.
Title: Nine years among the Indians, 1870-1879, by Herman Lehmann; the story of the captivity and life of a Texan among the Indians, edited by J. Marvin Hunter.

I emailed them again, asking them to verify that the book did indeed have the REH collection’s bookplate (at top). It did. I ordered a copy of the book from the University of New Mexico Press, read it, and then wrote my article breaking the news. Case closed.

Well, I went back to Howard Payne in 2010. One of the things I wanted to do was have a look at that book. When compiling the REH Bookshelf, Rusty Burke was nice enough to mention when there was an inscription or other interesting oddity in some of the books. Since Nine Years had never been listed before, I was curious if there were any markings inside.

 

The first thing I noticed was that the title had been listed incorrectly on the list that the librarian had sent me years ago. It wasn’t Nine Years AMONG the Indians, it was Nine Years WITH the Indians. Which is kind of strange. The book I ordered from the UNM Press had “Among” in its title, and it’s a facsimile version. My pages 21 and 42 are identical to the ones in Howard’s book, except that the header on page 42 of my book says “CHAPTER X,” while in Howard’s book it has “NINE YEARS WITH THE INDIANS.”

And then there’s the writing and underlining on those two pages, which is why I took the pictures. Page 21 (above) has “Proof of Indian Savagery” written up top; page 42 (below) has “hatred against the whites.” When I first saw the writing I was pretty sure that it was Howard’s; upon further inspection, I’m a bit skeptical. Maybe Rusty or Patrice can say for sure.

 

Regardless of whether or not the writing is Howard’s, I’m positive that he read this book. Echoes of it appear in his letters to Lovecraft and Derleth; certain passages evoke for me Howard’s own prose:

The Indian slapped me, choked me, beat me, tore my clothes off, threw away my hat—the last one I had for more than eight years—and I thought he was going to kill me. I locked my fingers in his long black hair, and pulled as hard as I could; I kicked him in the stomach; I bit him with my teeth, and I had almost succeeded in besting him and getting loose when another Indian, Chiwat, came up.

Lehmann was eleven when the above incident occurred. After being taken, he “thought of home, [his] happy little home, and of [his] dear mother and little sisters.” The rest of the narrative, set largely in Texas, does exactly what the title promises and describes his “nine years with the Indians.”

UPDATE: Both Patrice and Rusty say the above handwriting isn’t Howard’s.

This entry filed under Howard's Favorite Authors, Rusty Burke.

PulpFest 2010 is just four short weeks away – the event runs from Friday July 30 through Sunday August 1.  So if you are on the fence about attending, hop off and make your reservations today. With guest of Honor Willem F. Nolan, a sold out Dealers Room chock full of Weird Tales and hundreds of other pulp titles and a full slate of pulp related panels and activities, it is one convention you don’t want to miss.

Also, voting is complete for the 2010 Munsey Award and the winner has been chosen.  The winner will be announced on Saturday evening and frequent TGR contributor and nominee Don Herron will be on hand to see if he is the lucky recipient.  For those of you have not met Don, this would be a good chance to see him in person. Be sure and bring your copies of any of Don’s books and he’ll be more than happy to autograph them for you. Don will be hanging out with old friends and the usual group of Howard Heads that reside in the northeast and frequently attend. He will be easy to spot in his trademark fedora and trench coat.

There is no doubt about it, if you can make it there, PulpFest 2010 will be the place to be the end of this month.

This entry filed under Collecting Howard, Don Herron, News, Weird Tales.