Archive for the 'Howard Fandom' Category

IMG_0001Lauren D. Chouinard, without boasting, states in the preface to his biography of Kid Lavigne, Muscle and Mayhem:  The Saginaw Kid and the Fistic World of the 1890s, that he “just may be the world’s foremost authority on” this legendary boxer.  A seemingly bold statement, but Chouinard, a cousin to Lavigne, steps into the ring and proves this assertion by delivering a knockout of a book.

It’s a thorough history of the Kid’s career, and nothing is left out—from the battle with Andy Bowen to Lavigne’s battles with the bottle, it’s all here and always told in an interesting and entertaining manner.

While the information on the Saginaw Kid provides excitement, the author also, as the title implies, gives us an overview of the “fistic world of the 1890s.”  This includes the aforementioned Andy Bowen, who died following his match with Lavigne, to such renowned and legendary fighters as Young Griffo, who, on his best days could be almost impossible to hit, and Joe Walcott, who once knocked down Sailor Tom Sharkey during a sparring match.  Also much welcome was the section dealing with Mysterious Billy Smith, a character who, for those researching him, can prove to be a little tough to lay a glove on.

Chouinard’s book is blessed with many photographs, and this alone makes the book worth buying—Robert E. Howard fans should be overjoyed to be able to put a face to some of the pugilists the Texan mentions in his letters.

Mr Chouinard  forever endears himself to Howard readers by his inclusion of the poem “Kid Lavigne is Dead” and he mentions the pulp author with respect.  So if you’re a Howard fan you need this biography to help you understand the boxing world that so enthralled REH, and if you’re one of those collectors who need to have every Howardian appearance in your library, it’s a must-buy just for the sake of Howard’s fistic poem.

Chouinard’s book packs a solid punch—truly much bang for your buck.

IMGWhen John D. Haefele won the Venarium Award for emerging scholar for the 2007 Cimmerian Awards, I knew he was destined for great things—I mean, I was also nominated that year and he had beaten me, so this guy had to be good, right?

Well, the new, revised trade paperback edition of Haefele’s A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos:  Origins of the “Cthulhu Mythos” shows that the confidence the Cimmerian Awards voters had in this particular Howard fan was not misplaced.  As a founding participant in the birth of the Cthulhu Mythos, Howard is mentioned quite often in Haefele’s book, always respectfully, something which should make readers of this blog very happy.

Fittingly, this book is the first volume published by the Cimmerian Press, which should cause shouts of joy in Howard fandom.  Leo Grin’s journal The Cimmerian was a Golden Age for fans and scholars of our favorite Heroic Fantasy author.  At that time Howard studies was an enjoyable field of endeavor, with the essays being not only informative but entertaining to read—something lacking in much of the literary criticism lately, with titles that strive to be pretentious, and essayists who are not at all familiar with the work of those dedicated individuals who toiled earlier, in some cases before these new “scholars” were even born.

Readers of A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos will see that Haefele is indeed a scholar, putting in years of work on a book which can only enrich the writing and publishing heritage of August Derleth and force people to throw away their Joshi-tinted glasses and re-evaluate their opinions of the Sac Prairie Sage.  Fans of Robert E. Howard need to realize that August Derleth was indispensable in the history of REH, publishing the first hardcover collection of Howard’s weird fiction, Skull-Face and Others, and in 1957 printed, with much help and financial backing from Glenn Lord, Always Comes Evening, a book Haefele describes as “iconic.”

What is probably not so well known is that ten years earlier Arkham House had included a sampling of Howard’s verse in Dark of the Moon, which also included a poem by no less than Robert Frost, putting our pulp author in some pretty high company.

So, just in time for Halloween, appears John D. Haefele’s A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos.  A hefty, 510 page book that, at less than twenty dollars, will give you much bang for your buck. Run, don’t walk, over to Amazon.

REHPreecexmascard-crop-sm

At Howard Days this year, Dennis McHaney brought along a copy of Skull-Face and Others and the Howard-signed Christmas card posted above, both of which had once belonged to Lenore Preece. There aren’t any markings on the reverse of the card, no postmark or address, so it was probably included with a letter or submission to the Junto, circa December 1929. Perhaps later. These items were on loan to McHaney thanks to a former neighbor of Lenore’s, Brian Clifford. He wrote the following:

STATEMENT FROM BRIAN CLIFFORD, FRIEND OF LENORE PREECE—JUNE 12, 2014

I met Honey Lenore Preece in the spring of 1994, when she was living on Avenue F in Hyde Park in Austin.

I’m a native Texan, but I’ve spent a lot of my life traveling in other states and countries, and during one return home, I was staying with a neighbor of Lenore’s. She caught my attention one afternoon as she was puttering around her porch. Something about her intrigued me. Not the least of which was that some of her neighbors called her The Cat Lady, and I have a soft spot for animal lovers, eccentrics, and elderly people who live on their own and who seem to be just fine with that.  I walked over, and we struck up a conversation. That conversation quickly evolved into a very close friendship that would continue over the next four years, until she died on December 7, 1998.

Lenore and I had a great rapport, that’s the only way I can describe it. During my visits back to Austin, where I had spent important chunks of my youth, we would pass the afternoons together talking about old Austin, old Texas, and the way society had changed since she was a girl. She was particularly pleased to show me her books and ephemera collections, and I often went to the grocery store or ran errands for her; I also brought her back small tokens from my vagabonding. The entire time I knew Lenore, she rarely mentioned family, and to my knowledge, she never had family members check on her. This always worried me and it saddened me greatly.

One particularly special encounter with Lenore was in 1996, after I had finished fixing up my fire-engine-red  ’67 GTO. When I rumbled into her driveway, she came to her front door, admiring the car. I asked if she’d like to take a drive out to Lake Travis. Surprisingly, she agreed. This was only one of a handful of times I saw Lenore leave her house. She piled in, and we took off to Travis. When I asked her when she’d last been to the lake, she thought for a moment and said, “Oh, sometime right after World War II …”  50 years! On the way back to town, she asked that we try to find the old Preece Family Cemetery off 2222, but we never could. (I found it after she died—it’s on Vaught Ranch Road.) On another occasion, I convinced Lenore to venture out to the Omelettry off Burnet Road. We had a great time.

During the years I knew Lenore, I fretted over her health; I thought of her frequently while I was on my travels. I sent her post cards, and she occasionally wrote me in care of my mother in Houston.  Whenever I hit Austin, she was always the first person I would go see.

The last few times I saw my friend, I’d become increasingly concerned about her physical health, her mobility. On one of those occasions when I returned to visit, I found her house empty. I learned from the police that she’d fallen and broken her hip and had been taken to a nursing facility in Northwest Austin. I managed to locate her. I went to see her several times before she died, which sadly happened when I was in Europe in late 1998. She was buried at a pauper’s cemetery in Austin, instead of at the family cemetery. This fact has always perplexed me, because I assumed that someone in her family would have been notified.  More than that, it haunted me, and it still does. I’d like to see her laid to rest in her proper place, somehow.

Over these past 16 years, I’ve held the memory of this exceptional Texas poet very close to my heart.  I still think of her often, and I have lugged from city to city and country to country many of the items Lenore gave me during our four-year friendship—cards, books, little mementos from her house, her life. Over the time we were friends, she frequently gave me items that she treasured and didn’t want to see tossed when she passed away. I still have some beautiful antique lace handkerchiefs, some hand-embroidered linens and table throws, some vintage crockery and china serving platters, several antique and collectible books, and her scrapbook, which I retrieved from the abandoned house after she died. What remained in her home on Avenue F was put out on the curb or thrown away.

So, whatever Howard letters or issues of The Junto which might have remained with Lenore, if any, are in a land-fill in Travis County. We are lucky, however, that Mr. Clifford was able to retrieve Lenore’s scrapbook: It is there that the Christmas card was found. Also this photo of Lenore’s brother, Harold Preece:

1930 03-27 HaroldPreecefrom Lenore scrapbook-crop-sm

This is no doubt the same photo that Harold sent to Robert E. Howard, who, in a letter postmarked March 24, 1930, said “Thanks for the picture.” Also, in an early April letter, this: “I don’t know if I thanked you for the picture in my last letter. If I didn’t you can take it that I do now. It’s a good likeness of you.”

Many thanks to Mr. Clifford for sharing these items with us, and for being a friend to Ms. Preece at the end.

This entry filed under Harold Preece, Howard Biography, Howard Fandom.

The REHupa Barbarian Horde

Howard Days 2014 was another great success. Temperatures were quite moderate, though there was a hailstorm around Abilene that seriously damaged Chris Gruber’s car. There were many new faces there this year, evidently because of increased promotion on social media sites spearheaded by Jeff Shanks.

IMG_2928dThe theme this year was Howard History: Texas and Beyond. During the first panel, “In the Guise of Fiction,” Shanks and Al Harron discussed REH’s use of early history. Shanks said that Howard’s stories utilized the anthropological theory favored at the time, involving racial templates now known to pseudoscientific. REH was also inspired by Haggard and Burroughs, who were popular then. Harron opined that the Picts were Howard’s greatest creation, appearing in more different types of stories, both fantastic and historical, than any other of his creations. Historical fiction, e.g. by Mundy and Lamb, was quite popular. REH loved it and wrote as much as would sell, but he put a gritty, bloody spin on it that was more colorful and realistic than that of other authors. Shanks mentioned that Howard employed Wells’s The Outline of History and as many other authoritative references as he had access to. His first goal was to get into the adventure pulps, but he often had to add a weird element to sell his stories; this practice peaked with his submissions to Oriental Tales and Weird Tales. Harron said Conan incorporated historical and fantastic elements. Cormac Fitzgeoffrey is Harron’s favorite Crusades character. Shanks said that REH pioneered a dark, cynical, violent interpretation of history, which has made the stories age well and resonate with today’s readers, unlike a lot of other writers such as Doyle. But historical fiction requires a lot of research, so he set Kull and Conan in an earlier, hypothetical Hyborian Age that freed up Howard to write his own kind of fiction. Harron stated that “Shadow of the Vulture” starring Red Sonya was another groundbreaking character, being a strong female protagonist and warrior, with no romantic links to other characters. It was also anchored in historical characters and settings. Harron’s favorite female character is Dark Agnes, especially in “Sword Woman.” She is unique in having an origin story, though REH only able to get Red Sonya published. He and C. L. Moore conceived of their strong heroines independently. Shanks said that Howard was influenced in his historical fiction by Arthur Macon’s dark stories about fairies portrayed as malevolent little people. He said that REH did a lot of anthropological world-building, incorporating migrations which turned out to be very important historically, as we know now. Howard was also doing westerns, historical and weird, near the end. An audience member added that REH admired Jack London and may have just been emulating London’s racial theories, though these were somewhat behind anthropological theory of the time, however popular they were then. Another person pointed out how the race Howard regarded as superior changed with time and publishing venue.

10453434_10204295624973680_482758632251404194_nIn an interview by Rusty Burke, Guest of Honor Patrice Louinet said that he first got interested in REH through French translations of Marvel comics. He was the first to do pre-doctoral and doctoral theses based on Howard. He visited the U.S. to do the associated research, joined REHupa, and met legendary Howard scholar and collector Glenn Lord, who got him interested in examining REH’s typescripts of stories and letters. He found he could date transcripts from typewriter artifacts and REH’s idiosyncratic spellings. Burke also led him into looking at the Conan typescripts and recommended him to be editor of the Wandering Star Conan pure-text editions. The time-ordering of Howard’s stories is critical to understanding him as a writer, which is also why reading the Conan tales in the order they were written (as in the WS books) is so revelatory. Dating the transcripts was essential to determining which were the most authoritative versions to use in the pure-text books. Thus, there would be no de Campian Conan saga. REH used Conan as a catalyst to the plot and to tell the kind of story he wanted to tell. Louinet’s first professional publication was “The Birth of Conan” in The Dark Man. Reading Howard in English made him realize how bad the existing French translations were, so he started translating the stories himself. He thinks that Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright’s suggestions often improved REH’s stories. Louinet is now working on a documentary on REH and is a consultant on a Howard-related board game. He has done many interviews about REH, including ones on television. He won a Special Award from France’s Imaginales (Imaginary World) Convention for his Howard work. He has published 10 REH books in France and has another one coming out. In France, Howard was a cult figure in the ‘80s, was forgotten in the ‘90s, and is now popular and recognized as a pioneer fantasist. Lovecraft started becoming mainstream there in the ‘60s and has been helped by a Cthulhu video game. Clark Ashton Smith is unknown. The French do not like westerns. Working as a translator gave Louinet the most insight into REH’s maturation as a writer. Howard’s earlier work is bursting with ideas, but he later learned how to control that without losing anything. “The Dark Man” and “Kings of the Night” of 1930 are about when he became a mature writer. Louinet plans to do another doctoral dissertation on REH.

rsz_dscn0324The Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards were given to: (1) Jeff Shanks for the Outstanding Print Essay “History, Horror, and Heroic Fantasy: Robert E. Howard and the Creation of the Sword and Sorcery Subgenre”; (2) Bill Cavalier, Rob Roehm, and Paul Herman for the Outstanding Periodical The REH Foundation Newsletter; (3) Brian Leno, Patrice Louinet, Rob Roehm, Damon Sasser, and Keith Taylor for the Outstanding Web Site REH: Two-Gun Raconteur; (4) Rob Roehm for the Outstanding Online Essay “The Business”; (5) Patrick Burger as Emerging Scholar; (6) Ben Friberg for the Outstanding Achievement of filming REH Days panels, as he was doing for this event and selling DVDs of last year’s; (7) Tom Gianni for Artistic Achievement; (8) Patrice Louinet for Lifetime Achievement; and (9) Paul Herman for Outstanding Service. Karl Edward Wagner is next year’s nominee for Lifetime Achievement.

Read the rest of this entry »

EPSON MFP image

A third of the 200 copy print run of new issue of The Definitive Howard Journal sold in the five days since its publication this past Friday. Issue number 17, with its stellar line-up of rare Howard fiction, essays, articles, reviews and artwork is quickly being snapped up by hungry Robert E. Howard fans. So don’t procrastinate and be left on the field of battle with an empty scabbard, order your copy today!

REH: Two Gun Raconteur No. 17 Contents:

Front Cover: “…a fierce exultation swept her as she felt the edge cleave solid flesh and mortal bone.” From “Red Nails” by Michael L. Peters

Inside Front and Back Covers: Scenes From “Spears of Clontarf” by Stephen Fabian

Back Cover: Skull-Face by Terry Pavlet

“The Stones of Destiny” by Robert E. Howard, illustrated by Nathan Furman

“The Diabolical Blonde” by Rob Roehm, illustrated by Clayton Hinkle

“What the Thak?: Anthropological Oddities in Howard’s Works” by Jeffrey Shanks, illustrated by Clayton Hinkle

“Non Sequiturs Inside the Academy Gates” by Don Herron

“Robert E. Howard’s Heroes of the Desert: A Portfolio” by Bob Covington

“Robert E. Howard and Past Lives: Reincarnation, Dreams and Race Memories” by Barbara Barrett, illustrated by Richard Pace

“Apocalypse on the Liffey” by David Hardy, illustrated by Robert Sankner

“Ernest Hemingway, Robert E. Howard and Battling Siki: Typewriters and Fists” by Brian Leno, illustrated by Bill Cavalier

Price: $25.00, US postage paid.

To Order by Mail and Pay with Check or Money Order,
Send Your Order To:

Damon C. Sasser
6402 Gardenspring Brook Lane
Spring, TX 77379

(Please make checks or money orders payable to Damon C. Sasser.)

Order and Pay Via PayPal:

Patrice Louinet Getting The Black Circle Award

Well, it’s mid-afternoon in Cross Plains and the REH Foundation Awards have already been presented to the winners.  Originally the awards were known as The Cimmerian Awards and the black skulls on marble bases were handed out at the Pavilion after the Friday night banquet. When the awards became the REH Foundation Awards, the wooden plaques were given out at the Community Center immediately after the banquet and it was a somewhat rushed affair, with Howard fans wanting to go to the Pavilion and the locals bolting for the door, not having much interest in the awards. So it was decided to make the awards a bigger deal by having a less rushed and more formal ceremony on Friday afternoon at 2:30.

So without further waiting, here are the winners:

The HyrkanianOutstanding Achievement Print Essay:

Jeffrey Shanks – “History, Horror, and Heroic Fantasy: Robert E. Howard and the Creation of the Sword and Sorcery Subgenre,” Critical Insights: Pulp Fiction of the 1920s and 1930s.

The AquilonianOutstanding Achievement, Periodical:

The REH Foundation NewsletterBill Cavalier, Rob Roehm, Paul Herman.

The StygianOutstanding Achievement, Website:

Brian Leno, Patrice Louinet, Rob Roehm, Damon Sasser, Keith Taylor- REH: Two-Gun Raconteur (Website and Blog).

The CimmerianOutstanding Achievement for Online Essay:

Rob Roehm – “The Business” REH: Two-Gun Raconteur (13 parts).

The Venarium AwardEmerging Scholar:

Patrick Burger

The Black River AwardSpecial Achievement (The following nominees have produced something special that doesn’t fit into any other category: scholarly presentations, biographical discoveries, etc.):

Ben Friberg for filming the panels at Howard Days, editing them, and making them available on YouTube.

The Rankin AwardArtistic achievement in the depiction of REH’s life and/or work (Art must have made its first public published appearance in the previous calendar year.):

Tom Gianni for cover art for Pirate Adventures (REHFP), cover art for Fists of Iron, Round 1 (REHFP), cover art for Robert E. Howard’s Western Tales.

The Black Circle AwardLifetime Achievement:

Patrice Louinet

The Crom Award—Board of Directors Choice:

Paul Herman

Next Year’s Black Circle Award Nominee:

Karl Edward Wagner

Congratulations to the winners and remember, it is not too late for you to step up and find your name on the list next year!

IMGI’ve only been to Cross Plains three times but I’ve fallen under the spell of this historic little town.  It’s a place Robert E. Howard called home, and while I don’t live there whenever I visit I quickly feel like I belong. Perhaps this is due to the friendliness of the fans and the scholars; it’s great to discuss literature with people who share some of the same feelings I have for writers such as Howard, Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and others of the Weird Tales talent parade. But that’s not the whole story.

While my admiration for Howard has been a part of my life since I was about eleven, my obsession with Cross Plains clearly started on my second visit, in 2007.  During my first visit, in 1967, I stayed for only a few hours, but this second time I was there for days, and the town left a lasting impression.  I’ve been a collector of Howard since about 1966, but upon returning home in 2007 I also became a collector of all things Cross Plains.

Well, perhaps, not all things, but any item that has a little age to it will find a welcome place in my library.  I’ve travelled the Internet and picked up postcards which show the town as Howard must have known it—these are the coolest items and are becoming increasingly hard to find.  I even purchased a little wooden temperature gauge that proudly declares it comes from this Texan town—it no longer works but that really doesn’t matter.  To show the depth of my obsession I’ve even bought some old pencils that advertise Cross Plains.  Pencils, for God’s sake.

The latest item I picked up is a packet of letters written by a traveling salesman to his wife.  These epistles are all from the year 1921 and are pretty dry reading.  The salesman keeps telling his “sweetie” how much he misses her and that business is bad—he was evidently working for Firestone and the money was not exactly being raked in.

But the reason I bought these letters is because this Texas version of Willy Loman stayed in Cross Plains at the Kemper Hotel, and while there he availed himself of the hotel stationary, shown at top.  1921 is about the year Howard started reading Adventure—maybe when he stood in line to pay for his pulp this salesman was also there, picking up some reading material himself to help kill the time until he got back home, to the waiting arms of his “sweetie.”

At this time of year, for all of you heading to Cross Plains, it’s too bad the Kemper Hotel is no longer taking reservations.

Howard Days 2014 Blog Cover

It is hard to believe the annual Howard Days celebration of Robert E. Howard, his life and writings is just two weeks away. By now everyone who’s going has their travel plans and reservations made. But it is not too late. If you are sitting on the fence about whether or not to make the pilgrimage to Cross Plains, hop off that fence and get the ball rolling. If you have been following Jeff Shanks’ Howard Days blog, then you are aware of all the featured attendees and the Guest of Honor, Patrice Louinet. The REHupa website has a full schedule of events, as well as information on the Silent Auction, which is especially important this year to raise the funds needed to give the Howard House Museum a long overdue restoration. To further help the cause, I’ll be donating some very special items for the Gift Shop to sell. And if my printier is not fibbing, the Gift Shop will have the new issue of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur print journal in stock. Hell, that alone is worth the trip!

Fifth Annual Rencontres Howardiennes

I have spent time with Miguel in Texas and California but as with many good things in this world, it all started in Paris.

The big event was the Fifth Annual Rencontres Howardiennes. On the final leg of my 2010 trip to Europe and Greece, I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport at 4:00, took a taxi to my hotel and in a flurry of activity, I managed to be ready when Patrice Louinet, Fabrice Tortey and Quelou Parente arrived to take me to the get together. It was great to see Patrice and Fabrice again and to finally meet in person Quelou and then later at the party, Miguel. Miguel and I were co-bloggers on The Cimmerian and had exchanged lots of emails. It was fun night. I had the rare opportunity to meet many of the wonderful French REH fans and I took advantage of it by talking to almost everyone there. Best of all that night, Miguel and Fabrice offered to be my guides for Paris.

After the party, Miguel took me back to my hotel. He and Fabrice picked me up the next morning and took me sightseeing. We had a blast. Being shown around Paris by two Frenchmen made that time so much more special. At my request, we visited the Musée D’Orsay and saw every Impressionist painting they had. Best of all, Miguel, Fabrice and I discussed the paintings and sculptures as we went through the Museum. Afterwards we went down by the Seine and had dinner on a riverboat.

Miguel MartinsThe next day was a French holiday so they came to my hotel and picked me up again. I’m not much on visiting regular tourist spots, I’m much more interested in people but we did see Notre Dame and I enjoyed wandering through the Left Bank. I remember Miguel remarking that he spent two weeks going to the Louvre every day just to see everything in it. The whole excursion took on a new turn when Fabrice mentioned there was a regular meeting of the Monday Science Fiction club that day and asked if I’d like to go. I was very excited and when we arrived, I discovered I had already met a couple of them on Saturday night at the REH get together. I found out these meetings are held every Monday in Paris; they start at noon and went to all hours of the night. The French really know how to party or else I’ve been left out of the loop in here in my small town in California.

Miguel, Fabrice and I didn’t get to the meeting until about 5:00 but we started at one bar and then six of us walked about a mile to another restaurant where we ate. I don’t remember all the topics we covered that evening but I do remember there was lots of discussion of Time and Space – more favorite subjects of mine. All of them spoke excellent English. I remember lots of laughter. They made me feel very comfortable—a nice group of people and I enjoyed myself a lot.

Tuesday, Fabrice had to work so it was Miguel and I. He was a very considerate tour guide and asked me what I wanted to see. First on the agenda was Sacré Coeur Basilica on Montmartre which turned out to be my favorite location in Paris. Miguel was very patient while I explored it thoroughly reassuring me he didn’t mind. Miguel’s father, Vasco Martins, joined us for lunch and we wandered around looking at the artists as they created their beautiful and very expensive masterpieces. I still have the little painting of the Eiffel Tower that I bought. It will always remind me of that wonderful day on Montmartre. The three of us had a good time and I remember a lot of lively conversations. Miguel and his dad dropped me off at my hotel for a couple of hours and then Miguel picked me up again and we had dinner with Patrice near his home. He took us up to his place to see his REH collection and I held A Gent From Bear Creek in my hands. Another special REH moment in my life. It was my last night in Paris and again we all talked REH. Patrice was working under a heavy deadline so we didn’t stay long. Plus the airport shuttle was picking me up at 7:00 a.m. Lots of Parisian kisses and California hugs and it was time to return to the USA.

Miguel at the Howard HouseWhile they were showing me Paris, I invited both Fabrice and Miguel to stay with me if they ever came to California. So in June 2011 we met at the DFW Airport and drove to Cross Plains. On the way we stopped in Peaster and Mineral Wells. We got to the 36 West Motel late and the next morning, got up and went to see the Enchanted Rock, stopping by in Fredericksburg on the way back for some great German food. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were taken up with HDs. On Sunday, Miguel, Fabrice and I flew to Sacramento. We spent the next five days touring Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and Monterey. Each place we visited was unique in its own way. Both Miguel and Fabrice took lots of photos from the top of the mountains and in the deep valleys we crossed to get to Tahoe. On Tuesday we drove to Yosemite. The rains had filled all the creeks and all the Yosemite falls, filled to capacity, were spectacular. Next was Carmel. We spent the night there and the next day visited Point Lobos State Natural Preserve which is located right on the cliffs next to the Pacific Ocean. Later we went to Monterey Pier for dinner and searched for Clark Ashton Smith’s house. The woman who owns it was outside in the yard and invited us in to see his home. Fabrice is a big CAS fan so it was a special time for him. We drove back to my place on Friday and on Saturday there was a WeirdCon party. It started about 11:00 am and went until about 11:00 that night so I guess we do know how to party here. On Monday the three of us went to San Francisco.

All in all we spent sixteen days together. What did we talk about? Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, California, Paris, and everything under the sun. Both Miguel and Fabrice were interesting to talk to. In Paris, I learned a lot about the work Miguel was doing. He told me he worked nights at a shelter for battered women. Fabrice also shared his extensive traveling experiences with us. I hadn’t been to Tahoe or Monterey in quite a few years and there were things we did that were totally new to me such as visiting Point Lobos and CAS’s home. But t was also a bittersweet time for me. My Mom had died a couple months before so there was also a great sadness in me.

Miguel in front of Clark Ashton Smith's home

180756_184785558210125_5320462_n

Hearing about Miguel’s passing hit me hard, especially for someone I had only met in person one time. But when I first got involved in REH fandom five or six years ago, Miguel was one of the people that was right there with me. Along with Al, Deuce, and Barbara, Miguel and I moved from posting on the REH Forums to blogging together on The Cimmerian for its final year. Joined by Keith Taylor, Jim Cornelius, William Patrick Maynard, and Brian Murphy, we all did our best to live up to standards that had been set by those who had come before us and Miguel’s contributions were a huge part of that. You can read read Miguel’s Cimmerian blog posts here.

Miguel, Al and JeffMiguel was a brilliant person and had so many insights to offer. He was also a genuinely nice guy and very modest and humble. In 2011 when he came over for Howard Days I was so thrilled to finally get to hang out with him in person. We spent quite a bit of time together and with Al and Barbara it was like a TC reunion. It was not long after that that Miguel began to move away from Howard fandom. Over the next couple of years he went through some trying times and I don’t know if he ever fully recovered. I had hoped that he just needed some time to deal with what he needed to deal with and that he would return, renewed and ready to pick up where he left off. But that wasn’t to be.

I hate it, because I know that we are doing things now that he would have loved to be a part of. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have to think that had he gotten back into Howard fandom and scholarship — something he was so passionate about — that it might have given him a drive and a reason to move past that things that were plaguing him. I wish he had reached out to us — or allowed us to reach out to him. I wish he had come back to us. But he didn’t and he’s gone. I’ll miss him greatly and I’ll never forget that his encouragement was one of my main motivations for my doing the things I’m doing. Thank you Miguel and Godspeed, my friend.

This entry filed under Howard Days, Howard Fandom, Howard Scholarship, News.