Archive for June, 2013

PT

While researching Robert E. Howard’s involvement with The Lone Scouts of America and preparing the collection of material by Herbert Klatt, I’m sure there were items that went undiscovered, but the only frustrating thing was an item that I knew existed but that I couldn’t find copies of. In his December 21, 1925 letter to Tevis Clyde Smith, Herbert Klatt says the following in his discussion of a Los Angeles “tribe paper,” The Pueblo Totem: “it isn’t so bad, even if it did use some of your poetry. ’Twas a long time ago that, eh?”

The Pueblo Totem was edited by Dean Wiley, who had a short piece published in Smith’s The All-Around Magazine in 1923. After reading Klatt’s comment, I figured Clyde’s poem must have appeared in PT in 1923, as well. Of course, figuring it was in a 1923 issue didn’t stop me from purchasing a stack of 1924-26 issues; they were the only ones I could find—anywhere.

Luckily, not long after his last issue of TGR appeared, Damon Sasser was contacted by V. P. “Pat” Crain, a son of one of the big names from the old Lone Scouts organization, O. L. Crain. Damon forwarded his message to me, and we’ve been trading things ever since. Now, thanks to his collection, I’ve finally got the items that Klatt referred to in his letter. If I ever update the REH Foundation edition of “So Far the Poet,” I’ll include the following two items.

First, from the June 1923 issue of Pueblo Totem:

“The Three Musketeers”
By Clyde Smith [15]

“O carry me to the France of old,
When blood was young and hearts were bold;
When sword crossed sword for honor then,
When life was life and men were men.”

Though these lines grace only the immortal pictorialization of Dumas’ greatest romance, they, in themselves, describe fully The Three Musketeers. They carry us back to the days when real blood coursed through the veins of men.

The Three Musketeers is my favorite book, and D’Artagnan, Porthos, Athos and Aramis are my favorite fiction characters. Their brushes with the Cardinal’s Guards, their race to save the honor of the Queen, the capture and trial of Milady, and their numerous minor duels are only small parts of this great book.

Besides relating all the thrilling adventures which the heroes go through, this book is of great value historically. It presents to us in an interesting manner the life of that period. It shows us the customs and reveals the court life of the time of King Louis XIII.

I would advise everybody to read The Three Musketeers, if they have not already done so. It is as great a work as a book as “Doug’s” presentation of it was a movie show.

And this, from the September 1923 issue:

September 1923

Pat Crain is always interested in sharing and/or obtaining Lone Scouts of America info, memorabilia or anything related. If you’d like to contact Mr. Crain, shoot me or Damon an email.

This entry filed under Herbet Klatt, Tevis Clyde Smith.

1961 circa late - web

[Part 7 is here]

On the face of things, 1958 was a pretty bad year for Howard publishing: the Gnome Press series of Conan stories had run its course and the “collected poetical works” had been published. De Camp, at least, thought that the remaining Howard material in the Kline Agency files was not suitable for publication. No new or reprinted Howard items appeared that year, but there was a lot going on behind the scenes.

Following the publication of Always Comes Evening, Howard fan extraordinaire Glenn Lord began receiving letters of praise from the fan community, praise and complaints—why was this verse heading left out, what about that poem, etc.: the same sort of thing that goes on to this day. On December 18, 1957, shortly after receiving a copy of the poetry book, Bob Briney wrote the following:

As for the headings: the ones for “The Lion of Tiberias” and “The Thing on the Roof” are certainly not significant, as you say, but they are no less so than some of the poems which were included in the book, in my opinion.

Glenn also started to be the go-to guy for Howard items, a position he would hold until his death. In the same letter above, Briney asks for rare Howard:

Say, do you happen to have copies of those three Howard poems you mentioned, the ones which were not included? If you do, and if you should happen to have time to send me copies, I’d appreciate it very much. No matter how bad they are, they’re still Howard; and I still retain a bit of the old Howard worship which swept over me when I first encountered his works over ten years ago, and would appreciate seeing copies of these poems.

Glenn had caught the publishing bug, too. The ink on Always Comes Evening was still fresh, but according to Briney’s letter, Lord was already planning a “collection of six Howard stories.” And his hunt for rare Howard was still far from over, with Briney offering to “check in the Boston libraries for files of The American Poet, and see if I can locate any Howard material.”

What Glenn needed was a bibliography. On January 17, 1958, L. Sprague de Camp told Lord that “The only REH bibliography I know of was a partial one included in the first (and only) issue of the fanmag Criti-Q, put out in 1952 by fan David Jenrette.” That wasn’t good enough for Lord, so he started gathering information.

In the early months of 1958 Lord sent letters to fans and publishers inquiring about publications that contained the work of Robert E. Howard. And the information started coming in—slowly. Bob Briney reported on Howard’s stories in Argosy, so Glenn wrote to Popular Publications and received a list (dated February 19, 1958) of Howard titles that had appeared in the magazine. Darrell C. Richardson sent Glenn a list of Howard titles, so Glenn wrote to the copyright department at Street & Smith Publications who promised on February 14 to report their findings “when time permits”—their list of Howard titles was sent on February 21. On February 28, Glenn wrote the following to Standard Magazines:

I am doing some research on the late Robert E(rvin) Howard (occasional pen names: Patrick Ervin, Robert E. Ward [this name later turned out to not be a Howard pen name]) and it has come to my attention that he had some material published in some of your magazines. If possible I would like to know the dates and names of magazines carrying Howard material.

The publisher responded with titles from Thrilling Adventure and Thrilling Mystery.

All of the publishers told Glenn that they could not provide copies of the stories they mentioned, so Glenn began searching for pulps. He contacted various used book dealers and began trading with other fans. On March 5, he went to the source, Oscar Friend at the Kline Agency:

I have a favor to ask if you can help me. I am indexing Howard’s published material and wondered if you might have an index yourself. I need to know what was published in Action Stories, Fight Stories, Jack Dempsey’s Fight Magazine, and Strange Detective Stories. Also who published these stories—“Mountain Men,” “Guns of the Mountain,” “and “Black Wind Blowing.” If you do not have an index I’ll send you the results of my research when I complete it.

Friend responded on March 10, saying that he couldn’t help, but everyone else Glenn contacted was sending in nuggets of information, either about Howard appearances or where to acquire pulp magazines. Throughout the year, letters were flying back and forth between Glenn and Bob Briney, William N. Austin, F. Lee Baldwin, and Darrell C. Richardson, as well as various libraries and magazine services. Through his fan connections, Lord had learned of Jack Dempsey’s Fight Magazine and wrote William H. Kofoed for information. Kofoed responded on September 6, 1958:

There were only three issues of JACK DEMPSEY’S FIGHT MAGAZINE: May, June and August, 1934. The depression was still making itself felt, but it was the premature timidity of the people financing the magazine rather than the depression that folded the magazine. They quit before all the figures were in. Later it was found that with the third issue the publication moved out of the red and into the black.

The only issue you lack is May. I went through a copy and happily found a Robert E. Howard story entitled “The Slugger’s Game.” I have clipped this and am enclosing it.

I always liked Howard’s stuff. His was a nice sense of humor and he always had a story to tell.

You know, I originated FIGHT STORIES magazine for Fiction House in 1928 and edited it until it suspended publication in 1932. During my incumbancy there I ran quite a number of Howard stories.

1958 09-06 Kofoed to GL-sig

As nuggets of information about Howard’s work drifted in, Glenn was also looking for unpublished Howard. At the beginning of the year, and at Lord’s urging, E. Hoffmann Price (photo at head of post, circa 1961) had begun trying to track down the Howard items that he’d loaned out over the years. On February 8, 1958, he wrote to Stuart Boland:

Glenn Lord wants tear sheets of Howard yarns other than those published in Weird Tales. I wonder if you’d mind shipping him, at his expense, the tear sheets I handed you in the course of one of your final visits? Also, those letters from Howard to Lovecraft: I think it’d be a grand idea to microfilm them, which I could now do, readily, and prepare a few duplicate 35mm. prints, to circulate among fans.

In a reply to Lord written the same day, Price says that he has “only a hazy recollection on the matter—it does seem that I gave Boland a batch of tear sheets [. . .]” and admits that Boland’s possession of the REH-HPL correspondence is “a shot in the dark. I do not know for a fact that I handed them to Boland. I simply can’t find them, and there is the lurking notion that I let him take them, six or seven years ago.” Price does offer to send Lord what he has, “a few feet of microfilm of REH verses,” and apologizes for the state of things: “Dr. Kuykendall did ship tear sheets etc.—in compliance with the late Dr. I. M. Howard’s final request, the whole works went to me [. . .] rather than let the tear sheets crumble from age, I let this one & that read—and, you know how such things go. But I think Boland got the majority of the lot.”

On March 24, Price sent Lord the microfilm strip containing the Barlow-transcribed Howard poems [for more information on this, see The Collected Letters of Doctor Isaac M. Howard], and said that “Stuart Boland just returned from a long trip in South America. He made brief acknowledgment of my message, but no reference to subject, Howard letters. Said he’d see me presently.”

On May 5, Boland finally wrote to Glenn, saying that he thought he “had returned all the material” to Price and “all duplicate material to a fellow named [Francis T.] Laney in Los Angeles at E. H.’s request.” He closes by saying that he “shall check diligently for any stray material and send it on to you if located.”

While the hunt for items from the Trunk continued, thanks to the publication of Always Comes Evening, Glenn was about to find another source for previously unknown Howard material: Lenore Preece. On May 24, Preece wrote to Lord: “I understand that you are publishing a book of Robert E. Howard’s poetry, to be entitled Always Comes Evening. Please inform me of the publication date and price. Also, is a biography available?” Thus began one of the more important correspondences in Howard studies.

Glenn replied with ordering information for Always Comes Evening. On May 28, Lenore sent a check, acknowledged that she was Harold Preece’s sister, and asked the following: “Since you are working on an index of his works, perhaps you can tell me if there is a book-length poem called The Dust Dance extant?”

On September 14, 1958, again at Lord’s urging, Preece wrote to Oscar Friend, imploring him to search for Howard’s poetry, saying that “Dr. Howard must have had a considerable quantity.” And she had a few in her own collection:

His best poems were apparently written in his very early teens and twenties. To this period belongs a book-length poem entitled The Dust Dance (I have four excerpts), a long narrative poem about King Geraint of Britain, and another long poem called Drum Gods. I have excerpts from the last two, also.

Duplicates of these excerpts ended up with Glenn Lord, who was slowly and methodically acquiring copies of everything.

[Part 9 is here.]

PulpFest 2013It is that time of year again — PulpFest is just around the corner.  The event kicks off the evening of Thursday, July 25th and runs through Sunday, July 28th. The themes for this year’s convention revolve around Doc Savage, Pulp Heroes of 1933, the centennial of Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu and the Yellow Peril Genre of Pulp Fiction. PulpFest 2013 is being held again this year at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Last year it was Conan’s 80th anniveresary, this year it’s time to celebrate Doc Savage’s 80th and also the 80th anniveresary of everyone’s favorite giant ape (no, not Mark Finn): King Kong! The first issue of the Doc Savage pulp was on the newsstands in March of 1933. That same month, RKO Radio Pictures premiered “the eighth wonder of the world,” King Kong, at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and the Roxy. To celebrate these twin anniversaries of “The Man of Bronze” and King Kong, Will Murray, author of The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage, paired the two characters in his novel, Skull Island.

On Saturday, July 27th, at 2:00 pm, PulpFest 2013 will host a special “New Fictioneers” reading of Murray’s bestselling novel by Radio Archives’ reader Roger Price. A longtime entertainer on television, radio and the live stage, Mr. Price has appeared on a number of Radio Archives’ pulp audio-books. He has also worked with a wide variety of clients as an announcer and voice actor, specializing in character/cartoon voices and dialects.

There will be a panel called “The Pulps After Fu Manchu,” which will be of interest to Howard fans — “Skull-Face” was his vision of the  orential super villain.

Maybe Kaiser Wilhelm did coin the term “yellow peril,” but it was Sax Rohmer who took it to the bank. Little wonder that countless pulp writers, from Walter B. Gibson and Norvell W. Page to Robert E. Howard and George Worts, turned to Rohmer’s Fu Manchu for inspiration for their lurid pulp tales.

To begin PulpFest‘s celebration of the 100th anniversary of Sax Rohmer’s infamous creation, Rick Lai looks at “The Pulp Descendents of Fu Manchu,” beginning at 8 PM on Thursday, July 25th in the Fairfield Room located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

Of course, the above is just the tip of the iceberg — there are a plethora of pulp lectures, panels, features, awards, film screenings and much, much more. And the convention is an excuse for Howard Heads to get together, talk Howard tell lies, attend a REHF luncheon and buy REH swag, particularly original issues of Weird Tales.

Get the complete details for PulpFest 2013 here.

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I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things since returning from Howard Days (and a camping trip this past weekend), but I thought I’d share some pictures from the panel that my dad and I put on at the event that a few people found interesting.

Most of us have seen the picture above before (a high quality copy was found in Amra editor George Scithers’ effects and a scan provided by Darrell Schweitzer). To the best of my knowledge, we didn’t know the location of the picture until the following photo was found in Glenn Lord’s effects:

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On the back of this one, REH had typed “Truett and Clyde doing a bathing beauty pose on the Cisco dam.” I used both of these photos on the cover of a recent REHF Newsletter.

So, while driving between courthouses in the post oak region, we made a stop at Cisco to see if we could find the exact location of the two shots above. To get to the dam, take highway 183 north into the town. It joins highway 6 midway through downtown and continues north. Not far past the college is Country Club Road. Go past this and you’ll see the dam on your left. Continue just a bit further to the next left turn (County Road 561, which is the continuation of Country Club Road, but that is no longer a through street as travel across the dam is blocked). Drive as far as you can and park on the shoulder.

DSC_6124-REH Spot

As you walk south across the dam, there’s a reinforced section of columns near the middle of the railing (far right in the image above). Looking out across the water with these posts in the foreground, we quickly had the location of the photographs narrowed down to within three of the columns. We were trying to decide which of the columns was the exact spot when my mother made a brilliant observation that was eluding me and my dad. Thanks to her, we can say with certainty that the photo was taken at the twelfth column south of the reinforced section (X marks the spot above).

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This is the second post for 2013 of the online version of Nemedian Dispatches. This feature previously appeared in the print journal and is now on the blog. On roughly a quarterly basis, Nemedian Dispatches will highlight new and upcoming appearances of Howard’s fiction in print, as well as Howard in other types of media.

In Print:

Fists of Iron - Round 1

Fists of Iron — Round 1
The REH Foundation Press has just published Fists of Iron — Round 1, the first  of a four-volume series that presents the Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard. The first book comes in at 420 pages, and will be printed in hardback with dust jacket in a limited quantity of 200 copies, each individually numbered. Cover art by Tom Gianni (who will do the covers for all four volumes) and an introduction by Chris Gruber. The remaining three volumes will follow as their covers are completed. You can order one or all at the REHF website.

Critical Insights: Pulp Fiction of the 1920s and 1930s
This pricey volume of critical essays, edited by Gary Hoppenstand, explores the weird and diverse fiction from the pages of Weird Tales  and other select pulp magazines showcasing the work of  legandary writers H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, A. Merritt, Seabury Quinn, C.L. Moore, Robert Bloch, August Derleth and others. S.T. Joshi, Jeffrey H. Shanks, Andrew J. Wilson, Garyn Roberts, and Richard Bleiler are among the contributors. The essays are 2,500 to 5,000 words in length and the book is available from the Salem Press website.

Red Nails: Young Adult Edition
For some bizarre reason, Oxford University Press thought Howard’s goriest Conan yarn, replete with lesbianism and bondage undertones, would be perfect fare for young, impressible minds. To appeal to the youngsters, there are numerous illustrations in the book featuring Conan and Valeria in attire straight out of a Hyborian Age Abercrombie & Fitch. The text was adapted by Bill Bowler, with illustrations by Oliver Culbertson. Proceed at your own peril.

The Alluring Art of Margaret BrundageThe Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage
Surprisingly, this is the first book devoted to the art of Margaret Brundage. This talented artist forever changed the look of fantasy, science-fiction, and horror with her alluring sensationalistic covers for the legendary pulp magazine, Weird Tales. She was the first cover artist of the pulp era to paint Conan. Brundage was years ahead of her time — her provocative paintings featuring semi-nude young women bearing whips, became a huge scandal in the 1930s, with many newsstands ripping off the covers before selling the magazines. The authors Stephen D. Korshak and J. David Spurlock showcase her artwork and Rowena, Robert Weinberg, and other pay homage to her with essays. There are three editions from a softcover version to a regular hardcover to a limited, slip-cased hardcover edition. It is a big book — 9″ x 12″ — lavishly illustrated in full-color. Published by Vanguard Productions.

 On DVD:

Barbarian Days DVD Barbarian Days on DVD
Every June, Howard fans flock to the small community of  Cross Plains to honor the the literary works of the town’s most famous resident. Barbarian Days was filmed at Howard Days in 2008 and I reviewed it here on the blog in January 2012. The filmmakers attempt to document the people and events without making everyone look like a kook and on some level they succeed. Howard is most well known for creating Conan the Barbarian and Kull the Conqueror, so those two characters get a lot of attention and a good faith effort is made to show the that spirit of Howard’s characters live on through the  fans who find hope in his pages and unity in his memory. The DVD is now available to order.

Solomon Kane on DVD & Blu-Ray
Finally, Michael J. Bassett‘s Solomon Kane movie is being released on July 16th in the US on DVD and Blu-Ray. Of course, James Purefoy (“The Following”), is Solomon Kane, and the film also stars the late Pete Postlethwaite, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Max von Sydow. The Blu-Ray and DVD special features will include a ‘Making Of’ featurette, interviews and commentary with director Michael J. Bassett, the producers and the cast, plus a deleted scene, gallery images and a Special FX featurette. Pre-order from Amazon.com. 

Coming Soon:

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Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
Fear not, while the limited hardcover edition of Mark Finn’s Howard biography, Blood and Thunder is sold out, Rob is currently preparing the volume for the Foundation Press’ Lulu.com Storefront. It will be available for purchase any day now, both at the Lulu Storefront and Amazon.com.

Conan the Phenomenon — Trade Paperback
Coming this October is a trade paperback edition of Paul Sammon’s epic study of Conan, originally published as a large, coffee table style book in 2007. This volume covers virtually every medium Conan appeared in from paperbacks, to comics to film. If you don’t already have it, you need it. Published by Dark Horse and available from Amazon.com.

Conan: “Red Nails” Original Art Archives
Forty years after its original publication, Genesis West brings the classic 59-page Conan tale “Red Nails,” adapted by Roy Thomas and Barry (Windsor) Smith to an oversized hardback book. Scanned in color and presented at the size of the original art, luxury edition faithfully captures the appearance of the actual pages as drawn in 1973. The book is filled with interviews, commentaries and biographies. Hardcover, 14″ x19,” 136 pages and in full color, the volume is due out in August; you can order the book here.

Weird Tales Replicas — “Red Nails”
In the coming months, Girasol Collectables Inc. will be publishing replicas of the three issue run of Weird Tales containing the three part serial of “Red Nails,” the last Conan story Howard wrote. Part 1 appeared in the July 1936 issue, Part 2 in the August-September 1936 issue and Part 3 in the October 1936 issue. Girasol also recently reprinted Weird Tales (December 1934) featuring “A Witch Shall Be Born,” which sports a great Brundage cover.

The Colossal Conan Hardcover
Are you ready for 1300 pages of Conan comics? Well, Dark Horse thinks you are. Coming in November is a massive and expensive hardcover volume that collects the first 51 issue of Dark Horse’s Conan titles. In addition to a bevy of artists and writers, the book features a color wraparound cover by Mark Schultz, an introduction from Kurt Busiek and an afterword by Tim Truman. It is touted as a must have, so you’ll have to convince yourselves that it is worth the cost.

Jeff ruining someone's shot of the Howard House.

Another Howard Days has come and gone, leaving behind a bevy of great memories. This year the theme was “Robert E. Howard in the Comics” and the guest was, appropriately enough, Tim Truman. Tim is a veteran comic artist and writer, who has been the creative cornerstone of the Dark Horse Conan series for the better part of the last decade. He is currently writing the King Conan series, and along with the spectacular pencils of Tomás Giorello and gorgeous colors of José Villarrubia is producing a sequence of adaptations that are a magnificent tribute to the original yarns of Two-Gun Bob. The choice of Truman as this year’s Guest of Honor was very timely as it coincided with the release of the first issue of King Conan: Hour of the Dragon the long-awaited and highly-anticipated twelve-issue adaptation of Howard’s only Conan novel. But as you will see below, Tim Truman was not the only high-profile personage to show up in Cross Plains this year and this led to one of the more memorable Howard Days in recent years.

This year I decided to make the long drive from Florida to Cross Plains rather than fly. It’s a grueling trip, but it gave me the opportunity to not only bring lots of goodies from my collection, but also to stay the night in Mississippi with my friend Richard Olson. Rich is a comic book collector and historian who co-owned one of the first back-issue mail-order comic businesses back in the 1950s. I always love seeing the amazingly rare goodies Rich has acquired over the years as well as hearing his great stories about the early days of fandom. This year he put me in touch with a friend of his and fellow collector who was a big Howard fan when he was younger and even a member of the now-legendary Hyborian Legion, the first organized Howard fan club in the 1950s and 60s. I’m looking forward to learning more about this poorly-recorded period of Howard fandom.

The following day the road trip resumed with my epic journey across the Lone Star state. The McGuffin on this particular quest of mine was a bottle of the now-legendary but hard-to-find John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey. After a Sullivan-induced debauch at the PCA/ACA conference in the nation’s capital earlier this year with Mark Finn, Chris Gruber,and Rusty Burke, I felt like it was time for the Great John L. to make his Howard Days debut. After calling ahead to every liquor store from Pensacola to Mobile to Biloxi to Shreveport, I finally found a bottle in Dallas — and by Ishtar’s teats it was the 10-Year! Game on.

I rolled into the 36 West Motel in Cross Plains in the early evening on Wednesday and saw several Howardian comrades-in-arms: Barbara Barrett, Rob Roehm, Bill “Black Indy” Cavalier, and of course Al Harron with his entourage of Scottish beauties — Les Girls! After a quick bite to eat, Barbara, Al, Indy, and I hung out in my room for a while checking out some pulps and comics that I had brought as visual props for one of the panels I was on. I believe the John L. made an appearance as well.

The next morning Barbara, Al, and I set out on a mission to pick up our former Cimmerian blog colleague Deuce Richardson halfway between Cross Plains and Dallas. With the old TC gang reunited — and Al properly introduced to that most-decadent of American commercialized confections: the Dairy Queen Blizzard — we returned to Cross Plains just in time for the early opening of the Howard house and museum. This gave me a chance to walk through house and see Howard’s room without the hustle and bustle of the throng that would be there the following day. After that, I hung out at the pavilion as more of the REHupa regulars began to show up, including Mark Finn and Rusty Burke. While we were all catching up, we had a real surprise as the unannounced guest to whom I alluded earlier came sauntering up to the pavilion. It was none other than Joe R. Lansdale!

In case you’ve been living under a pop culture rock for the last couple of decades, Joe is a well-known author of numerous horror and mystery novels, including Bubba Hotep and Dead in the West. He has done a good deal of comic book work as well, perhaps best known for his collaboration with Tim Truman in revamping Jonah Hex in the 1990s. He and Truman also worked together on Conan and the Songs of the Dead for Dark Horse. He has listed Howard as one of his more important influences on several occasions and has written a number of introductions for Howard-related publications, including Mark Finn’s seminal biography Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard. Joe was very down-to-earth and approachable and it was a real pleasure to get to meet him and speak with him on a number of topics from weird westerns to Edgar Rice Burroughs to martial arts.

Dinner & Drinks at Humphey Pete's

With most of the regulars (and a few newcomers) assembled it was time to head to Brownwood for the traditional Thursday night dinner at Humphrey Pete’s. Deuce, Al, and I grabbed newly-arrived REHupan Tim Arney, piled in the van, and headed for Brownwood. At Humphrey Pete’s we saw more familiar faces including Dennis McHaney, Lee Breakiron, Jim Barron, Ed Chaczyk, Keith West, Todd Vick, and Russell Andrew. After dinner a small group drove out to see Howard’s gravesite. For a couple of the new guys this was the first time they had done so and I’m sure it was as moving for them as it was for me. Afterward we adjourned back to Cross Plains and the pavilion where we found Chris Gruber waiting for us. While my memory is a little hazy, I believe Mark, Grub, Deuce, and I ended up back in the motel room that night with a bunch of Fight Stories pulps being passed around and some glasses of John L. being raised.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fists of Iron - Round 1

Since Fists of Iron Round 1, the first volume of the four-volume series of the Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard  is now shipping, I thought it would be a good time to go 10 rounds (i.e. questions) with the three guys responsible for making this massive collection possible. If you have not already done so, be sure and order these volumes — with 200 copy print runs, they are sure to go fast.

I hear the first bell ringing, so it is time to climb through the ropes and get down to business with Mark Finn, Chris Gruber and Patrice Louinet.

Round 1: How was the title Fists of Iron arrived at?

Patrice: The original title was quite longer. It was actually so long that it would have taken the whole cover just by itself. So we had to come up with a new, shorter, and punchier title at the very last stages…

Chris: Actually, there might have been a third title! When Patrice first contacted me about the boxing project, around 2007 or 2008, he had already been pitching a project to the REH Foundation that would encompass everything Howard had written – a project he had tentatively called The Completists. The very first title for the boxing stuff might actually have been The Boxing Completist or something like that. Regardless, the Completists idea was real and eventually given the green light but the boxing tales would have to wait their turn in the genre list. We went with the super long cover-spanning title because it really connected Howard with boxing and Cross Plains but Rob Roehm insisted it was too long – and he should know as he was the one trying to squeeze it onto the cover. While I rather liked the super long cover-spanning title I have to admit that Fists of Iron packs considerably more punch as a title and fits quite nicely into the squared ring that is our cover.

Round 2: Considering the massive amount of material and all the different versions of the Steve Costigan and Dennis Dorgan yarns, how did you originally get your arms around the project?

Patrice: The number of projected volumes and how we would organize them was of course the very first thing we – meaning Chris, Mark and I – discussed. We knew we were embarking on a mammoth project, so the need to know what we were doing and where we were going was present from the very beginning.

Mark: The organization was borne out of a need to get a handle on so many stories. This project deviates from the usual format that the Del Rey books fall into, meaning, we had to make some concessions. So book one is all of the early stuff, plus fragments and notes. Books two and three—all Costigan, from start to finish. And book for is all of the other, non-Costigan stuff, like Kid Allison, and so forth. Patrice’s essay, running across all four books, shows the order of who and what and when and where. So, it works out pretty good, but for readers, it’s organized much better.

Chris GruberChris: Originally, we had a more visual idea in mind. Patrice was really keen on including original scans of some of the primary material that we hoped would help create for the reader an experience of having read Howard’s work as it appeared on a carbon just pulled from his Underwood. In the end the idea was scrapped though I don’t know why. However, we were allowed to include all of that material cleanly retyped as part of the supplemental sections. So, thankfully, it’s all there.

Once we had a solid picture of what each volume would look like and contain we engaged in a series of discussions to determine whether or not we would include altered versions of already included stories, drafts, and other relevant texts. It was clear that we wanted to include everything. Patrice wanted the same thing I did – to include everything that had significant value to the scholar – and to his credit he was able to sell that idea to the folks who have to foot the printing bill. The result of this decision is that now a scholar can examine the creative genesis of well known stories and characters that differ significantly from the established canon, and I’m not just talking about the Dorgan/Costigan dilemma though that particular identity theft is finally, fully, addressed.

Round 3: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced putting this collection together?

Patrice: I’d say the biggest challenge was at the same time the biggest thrill: our constantly discovering new material: drafts, better texts, alternates, carbons, etc. in Glenn’s collection. It took us an awfully long time to get our final contents *really* final.

Chris: The biggest obstacle was easily time. If two of us were hopping along the productive trail you could bet your last dime that the third musketeer was sure to be mired in some personal, unavoidable, life time-suck. School, family, whatever – shit happens during collaborative efforts and it never at the same time. Next to that, I’d have to agree with Patrice – it seemed he couldn’t turn over a rock without finding yet another unearthed boxing gem in Glenn’s trunk. This happened several times throughout the production phase but each time we unanimously agreed to include each new find rather than rush to production. No dilemma at all, really. After all, when we said definitive we meant ‘definitive.’

Mark: To echo Grub, yeah, it was time. But those new finds coming out of the Glenn Lord Archive were happening for part of this, so yeah, it was bittersweet, to say the least.

Round 4: Some Costigan stories were hastily changed by Howard to Dorgan stories when a new market opened up for him. Are both versions included in the collection?

Patrice: The Dorgan/Costigan question had never been satisfactorily explained until the present collection. When you read volumes 2 and 3, you’ll understand that it’s not possible to answer that question… I want you to buy the books, so I am not telling, sorry.

Chris: I want to answer! But I’ll follow Patrice’s lead and not ruin the fun.

Mark: Suffice to say, it’s all in there. I don’t think there will be any more confusion after this. Well, I hope there won’t be.

Round 5: I imagine, after recent discoveries in Glenn Lord’s papers, it is impossible to say this collection includes everything, but was something found in those papers boxing related that was added at the last minute to the books?

Jack Demsey's Fight Magazine, May 1934Patrice: “Something?”; lots of things were included. Carbons, drafts, fragments, you name it, plenty of stuff turned up at what was supposed to be the very last stages of composition. I had been working on that material for over a decade, but every time we thought we had a volume finalized, something else turned up! Sure, we are thorough, sure we can be slow at times, but the constant addition of new material was the major reason we were so far behind on our projected deadlines for these series.

Chris: We had ‘finished’ at least three times that I could remember and each time I would get another wonderful email letting me know that there’s one more thing that might need to be included – and we’d mull over the pros and cons of adding it, vet the material to make sure it was new and boxing related , and ask ourselves if it should be included even though it would mean a new delay? And each time our response was the same – “Hell yes it should!”

Mark: I really think that everything found is in this book. It’s every scrap of boxing we could get our hands on.

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Robert E. Howard (January 22, 1906 - June 11, 1936) 

REHPoem565

From Weird Tales, October, 1936

Art credit: Robert E. Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) by Sanjulian
This entry filed under Weird Tales.

EPSON MFP image

A year ago, I wrote a post, accompanied by the photo on the left, about Harold Preece and Winona Morris Nation. The photo and most of the content of that post was supplied to me by a close friend of Winona’s named Linda Jones.

While we know what happened to Winona after her passing, a mystery remains as to what became of Harold. And what of Harold’s papers – where are they?

These and several other mysteries were solved when John Nation, the eldest son of Winona Morris Nation (who is mentioned the original post) recently contacted me. John graciously shared some information on their relationship, much of it is recounted in this post. After Harold and Winona passed on in the fall of 1992, it fell to John and a lady known as “Tall Susan” (also mentioned in my original post) to wrap up their affairs and box up their belongings for storage. But before we get to the end, let’s start at the beginning.

Winona met Harold in 1978. They were introduced by a mutual friend, Dr. Howard Gaddis who taught Humanities at Winona’s college. One day Winona was visiting Dr. Gaddis in his apartment and the phone rang. Gaddis answered and spoke a few moments then turned to Winona and said, “Winona, its Harold Preece. I’ve long wanted the two of you to speak to each other.” He handed Winona the phone and they spoke for 45 minutes and made arrangements to meet a few days later for coffee. That was the beginning of their 14 years together. Harold told John a number of times, “If someone had said to me that when I turned 70 a beautiful intelligent woman would be waiting for me I would have told them they were insane.”

John also recalls Harold reminiscing about his youthful friendship with Howard, saying it was one of the proudest things of his young life to have known and been close friends with Robert E. Howard.

Before meeting Winona, Harold was married twice. His first wife died early in their marriage. His second marriage to wife, Ceclia didn’t work out and Harold had some unflattering things to say about her. He had an estranged son by her whom he had no idea where he was. One wonders how much of Harold’s early writings may have vanished with a vituperative ex-wife.

John spent six weeks at Winona’s house after she passed on October 30, 1992, packing into huge boxes everything she had written, which over the years amounted to slightly over 1,650 poems. Some of these were published in The New York Times and The Atlantic Monthly, the two most prestigious markets for poets in the USA.

But there is another source of information concerning Harold Preece and his life, particularly his later years that might be revealing. Winona was an inveterate letter writer and wrote John every week. Nearly all of what she wrote in her final decade was about her life with Harold — their domestic weekly and daily routine. John kept many of these letters, probably forty or more which are in storage and might fill in a lot of gaps.

Among the letters are some from Harold that go into great detail about what he thought and believed. He had an imaginary alter ego named J. Bixby Bobcat, who lived out in Arizona at Bobcat Creek with his cousin Billy Dee Bobcat. They spent their time outwitting the Tacky Bear Sheriff in hilarious adventures.

Late in his life, Harold was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and had to go to a nursing home, some friends probably including Winona cleaned out his small apartment. His four drawer metal filing cabinet was in one of her bedrooms when she died. When John finished with Winona’s papers, he went through Harold’s papers in his cabinet. There wasn’t much to be found. About six inches of bills filed from recent years and some recent correspondence – mostly from magazine editors. His submissions naturally fell off in the later years and of course he stopped writing completely with his illness. John found some issues of the western magazines with Harold’s articles written under various pen names – Tex Shannon was one name that he used. He also found a paperback copy of Harold’s The Dalton Gang, which he later read.

Harold’s papers and other materials John saved are still with Winona’s things in huge boxes stored in North Carolina with a family friend. Plus, a great deal of Winona’s original materials are in storage in the Archives Department at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Harold always planned to write an autobiography, but as far as anyone knows, he never penned a page of it. He wanted to call it The Legend and the Latigo, a sweeping title to say the least. Of course, he was also supposed to write a biography of Howard — perhaps he did at least start it – if he did, what he wrote might be in those boxes in North Carolina.

What is in those boxes may not be anything of commercial value, which would have meant little to either of them. Harold and Winona were purists and were going to do what they felt was right to do and would take their lumps as they came.

Understanding that Harold, as John recounts it, is a spur off the main REH rail line, but still it is a spur that should be fully investigated and preserved. He believes that whatever is not currently known about Harold is in those dozen or so boxes. In John’s mind reside memories that are waiting to be discovered and explored.

It’s been 20 years now since they departed and John feels while the memories and documents still survive, he must save as much as possible of their works and their lives for posterity. He believes theirs’ were important lives, and future readers would be grateful for the efforts to preserve the memories of Harold and Winona.

John is currently living abroad, but will be back in the USA this fall or winter and arrangements are being made for a Howard scholar to meet him in North Carolina to go through Harold and Winona’s papers see if there is anything of interest to Howard fans. My guess is there is — perhaps even enough material for a book.

When Harold succumbed to Alzheimer’s on November 24, 1992, he was cremated and his ashes scattered on Winona’s grave in the spring of 1993. She is buried at the Hillcrest Cemetery, which is on a hill overlooking Comanche, Oklahoma. Her stone of polished black marble is easy to find if anyone should wish to visit. Plans are in the works to place a stone at the foot of her grave inscribed with the following, which is the perfect epitaph for their romance:

Harold Preece, Beloved of Winona Morris Nation

This entry filed under Harold Preece.

Jeff Shanks receiving his award this evening.

This year, due to a family emergency, I’m once again sidelined at home instead of in Cross Plains. Everyone is okay, but it was quite a scare. Of course, last year it was a fractured hip that kept me from attending Howard Days.

The Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards Ceremony was this evening, and TGR contributor and guest blogger Jeff Shanks is once again supplying me with the names of the winners and a photo from the event (Thanks, Jeff!). These awards are for work created and published in 2012.

The Atlantean—Outstanding Achievement, Book

Winner: Mark Finn for Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, 2nd edition (REH Foundation Press)

The Valusian—Outstanding Achievement, Anthology

Winner: Jonas Prida for Conan Meets the Academy (McFarland Publications)

The Hyrkanian—Outstanding Achievement, Essay

First Place: Winner: Jeffrey Shanks for “Hyborian Age Archeology: Unearthing Historical and Anthropological Foundations” (Conan Meets the Academy)

Second Place: Winner: Rob Roehm for “Robert E. Howard and the Lone Scouts: The Birth of The Junto” (REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #16)

Third Place: Winner: David Hardy for “When the Dam Breaks: Violence and Wild Water” (REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #16)

The Aquilonian—Outstanding Achievement, Periodical

Winner: Damon Sasser for REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #16

The Stygian—Outstanding Achievement, Website

Winner: Brian Leno, Patrice LouinetRob RoehmDamon SasserKeith Taylor for REH: Two-Gun Raconteur

The Cimmerian—Outstanding Achievement, Blog Posts

First Place: Winner: Barbara Barrett for “Robert E. Howard and the Issue of Racism” in five parts (REH: Two-Gun Raconteur)

Second Place: Winner: Rob Roehm for “My Name is Earl” with two addendums (REH: Two-Gun Raconteur)

Third Place: Winner: Keith Taylor for “The Ring of … Set?” (REH: Two-Gun Raconteur)

The Venarium Award—Emerging Scholar

No Eligible Nominee

The Black River Award—Special Achievement

Winner: Patrice Louinet for sharing his discovery of new Robert E. Howard photos with Faustine and Leroy Butler, Howard’s neighbors in the mid-1920s.

The Rankin Award—Artistic Achievement in the depiction of REH’s life and/or work

Winner: Tomás Giorello for artwork  adapting  King Conan: “The Phoenix on the Sword”  issues 1-4 (Dark Horse)

The Black Circle Award—Lifetime Achievement

Winner: Damon Sasser

The Black Circle Award—Nominees for next year’s Award

 To be announced.

The Crom Award—Board of Directors’ choice

No award given this year.

Congratulations to all the winners.  Special thanks go to Barbara, Brian, Patrice, Rob and Keith for once again bringing home the bacon with their outstanding contributions to this blog and website. Of course, Rob and Dave came through like champs, garnering Hyrkanians for their essays in issue 16 of the print journal.

I am certainly both surprised and honored to join such a prestigious group of Howard scholars in the Black Circle. And receiving both The Aquilonian for Outstanding Achievement, Periodical and The Stygian Award for Outstanding Achievement, Website is just icing on the cake. I am very gratefully and blessed for all the support from Howard Fandom for the website and the journal. Thanks to all you that follow the blog and buy the print journal. Your continuing interest and enthusiasm for Howard is the fuel that drives us all and for that, we salute you!