Archive for the 'Howard House Museum' Category

imageThe Robert E. Howard house and museum in Cross Plains, Texas is the single most important physical symbol of the man and his legacy that remains today — and it needs your help. This century-old structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is truly a place of great significance for American and indeed global cultural history. It was here, on an Underwood No. 5 manual typewriter, that worlds were born. It was here that new genres like sword and sorcery and the weird western came in to being. It was here that Solomon Kane first set out on a quest for retribution and vengance. It was here that Kull first sat brooding on his antediluvian throne and where Bran Mak Morn first gazed out over fields of heather contemplating the doom of his people. And it was here that Conan the Cimmerian first strode forth to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.

Few fandom communities are fortunate enough to have an existing physical location, a physical structure, associated directly with the creation of the objects that fuel their passion. Fewer still have a location that they can actually visit and see first hand — a building that they can walk through and experience the way that their icon did so long ago. We as Howard fans are truly blessed and fortunate to have this house still standing, still available as a mecca for us to visit, preserved like a shapsot of Bob Howard’s 1930s Texas.

imageBut none of this is by accident. This house and museum only exist because of the hard work and efforts of the good people of Project Pride in Cross Plains. It was Project Pride who, in 1989, first bought the house and restored it to its original condition. It is Project Pride and its volunteers that have continued to maintain the house over the years, that provide docents to give tours, that arrange to have someone there to greet visitors throughout the year, and whose members go to great lengths to welcome hundreds of fans to their tiny community every year for Howard Days in June.

But Project Pride has very limited resources. They depend on us — the fans — to help them out when funds are needed for more than routine maintainance for the house. This is one of those times. The house is overdue for repair work to replace areas of wood rot. The rot was so bad that the window to Howard’s bedroom recently fell out and needs to be replaced. The entire house is in need of painting. These and other needed repairs are expenses that Project Pride cannot bear alone — so they need your help to preserve this historic treasure that means so much to all of us.

imageRusty Burke once said that if every fan who ever enjoyed a Robert E. Howard story would just give one dollar, then there would never be a need to ask for money again. But as it is, we do have to ask. Every little bit helps. So please send a few dollars or whatever you can spare to Project Pride. They can be PayPaled directly at projpride@yahoo.com or you can send a check or money order to:

Project Pride
P.O. Box 534
Cross Plains, TX 76443

Thank you so much to everyone who does their part to preserve this important monument to Robert E. Howard’s legacy.

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Pre-Con Bus Trip to Cross Plains

Photos by Barbara Baum

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Howard Heads on Hallowed Ground

Howard Heads on Hallowed Ground (Left to Right) Kneeling: Keith West, John Bullard, Dave Hardy. Standing Jeff Shanks, Paul Herman, Rusty Burke, Partice Louinet, Rob Roehm, Bill Cavalier and myself.)

Worldcon 71 is history and everyone who attended has made it home and had time to reflect on the experience. Due to my work schedule and other factors I was only able to attend on Friday and Saturday (Worldcon ran Thursday, August 29th through Monday, September 2nd), which were probably two of the best days to be there. But some other folks who were there have filled in the gaps I missed for this wrap-up, so off we go.

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The big pre-convention event was Wednesday’s bus trip to Cross Plains (hosted by Rusty Burke and Mark Finn) which was a success despite having only 14 people sign-up for it. Little surprise there since the con PR crew did little to no advance publicity for the trip. In my opinion, they dropped the ball on promoting the convention itself. I did not see any national coverage at all, only some local newspaper and television coverage  — I mean it was the “World Science Fiction Convention” and certainly should been heavily publicized nationally.

Getting back on topic, even though the day trippers were a small group, they were an enthusiastic bunch, touring the Howard House Museum, buying items from the gift shop and eating in the local restaurants — thus giving a shot of revenue to Howard’s hometown. On the return trip to San Antonio, the AV system on the luxury bus screened The Whole Wide World. All in all, the journey made for a fine prelude to Thursday’s opening day of the convention.

I drove from Houston to San Antonio after work on Thursday and met the gang at Dick’s Last Resort on the Riverwalk.  It’s basically a tourist trap where they put paper hats on your heads with insulting sayings written on them, make you wear plastic bibs and generally treat all the customers rudely, hence the  name “Dick’s”  The gang included Rob Roehm, Patrice Louinet, Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, Jeff Shanks, Paul Herman and local fan and Legacy Circle member John Bullard. Dave Hardy, his wife Julie and daughter Bridget were also in attendance. After dinner, drinks and some general tormrnting from the staff, we retired to quieter and more pleasant surroundings, namely the bar at the Menger Hotel.

The hotel, built in 1858, is purportedly haunted by the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt; the hotel’s walls are decorated with photos and memorabilia related to our 26th President. Every evening The Menger Bar, which is just steps away from The Alamo, was ground zero for after dinner drinking, hanging out and the general telling of lies.

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Talking Howard and swilling beer at the MengerBar (Left to Right) Jeff Shanks, Patrice Louinet, Dave Hardy, Paul Herman, Bill Cavalier, Rob Roehm and myself.

Friday morning when I arrived at the convention center, I ran into Rob outside and he showed where to check-in and get my badge and other credentials. I then wandered into the exhibit hall and checked out the REH exhibit, as was pretty damn impressive. Next I headed back to the dealers’ room to visit the REH Foundation’s dealer’s table and was pleased to see they had a nice set-up with a large supply of Foundation Press books. However, they were stuck way in the back of the dealers’ room — but as far as I could tell, it didn’t seem to affect the amount of traffic going by the table.

As for the con-goers, nothing to see there. People dressed in Furries, Steampunk, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, Dr. Who, and etc. gear — the usual con crowd; other than the person with a beard, dressed as a woman, whose gender was not apparent to me. Obviously, there was a lot of other activities going at the convention in addition to the Howard related events — usually about 20 panels, readings or screenings going on at the same time. Here is TGR blogger Rob Roehm’s reort on the event:

Due to time constraints I wasn’t able to drive to Texas as I prefer, but air travel has its benefits. I arrived late on Wednesday evening, had a Whataburger, and hit the sack. Thursday morning I drove to Victoria, which is the last Texas town mentioned by Robert E. Howard that I hadn’t visited before. Now I’ve seen them all.

Bill Cavalier and Dave Hardy holding down the fort down at the Robert E. Howard Exhibit.

I arrived at the convention center a little after noon and went looking for familiar faces. The first one I saw was Dave Hardy, who was manning the REH exhibit in the big hall. The exhibit was pretty nice, with lots of comics, a few books, and a couple of Howard’s typescripts borrowed from the Cross Plains Public Library. After a quick chat, Hardy pointed me in the direction of the REH Foundation table in the dealers’ section.

At the table, Paul Herman brought me up to speed on what was happening, as well as how to operate the credit card reader for my phone, and then slipped off to be part of a copyright panel. When he returned, I skipped out for lunch with Rusty Burke, Patrice Louinet, and Jeff Shanks. We went down to the River Walk and had sandwiches and beer at an Irish pub. By the time I got back to the dealers’ room, it was almost time to close it down, so I helped out a bit and then we all hit the town.

Bill Cavalier and Paul Herman setting up the REH Foundation table.

And speaking of the dealers’ room, the best part of WorldCon, for me anyway, was Paul Herman. If he hadn’t been so dedicated to the job at hand, I know that I would have been stuck behind the REH Foundation table selling books the whole time. As it was, I had lots of time to screw around. I *almost* feel guilty about it, but not quite.

The REHF Press Dealers' Table

I only watched one panel that I wasn’t part of, and I only participated in three, so I’m not really sure what I was doing most of the time. The panels I was on were fairly well attended, around twenty folks. And these were mostly *new* people, not the fans that stay up-to-date on Damon’s blog and read the current goings-on in Howard Studies. For many of them, Howard studies began and ended with de Camp in the 1970s. And they were generally receptive to having their notions changed. Of course, some of the more old-time fans and authors had a harder time of it. During Rusty Burke’s horror stories panel-the one panel that I watched-I enjoyed seeing him patiently counter some of Harry Turtledove’s comments.

Horror Stories Panel with Damon Sasser, Rusty Burke and Harry Turtledove.

The same thing was happening at the Foundation table. People were surprised to see the many different books by Howard and were almost always completely unaware of the Foundation and the doings of Howard fans in general. We were happy to fill in the blanks.

Of course, the real fun was just hanging out with friends and talking about Robert E. Howard. And it’s even better when you can do that in a city that Howard loved, and that serves alcohol in its restaurants.

Mark Finn was the head honcho as far as planning all the REH panels and wrangling all the contrary Howard Heads to sit in on them — a monumental feat in of itself. You can read Mark’s complete trip report here. Meanwhile, here is a sampling that focuses on the Howard related convention stuff:

Some of you may have noticed that there were, ah, a few panels on Robert E. Howard and his legacy. This was completely intentional. When I was asked to help out with the programming duties, I was told that there were absolutely zero panels on Robert E. Howard at the last Texas WorldCon, in 1997. This is not surprising. The 1990s are something of a Dark Ages for Howard Studies, with no copies of Howard’s own Conan books on the shelves and no real intentions to do so. It wasn’t until around the late 1990s that Wandering Star entered the picture, with their desire to produce authoritative texts of Howard’s work, in deluxe hardcover editions, and with high end illustrations. That was the start of the REH Renaissance, really. So, a lot has happened in the thirteen years between Texas WorldCons. A lot.

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That track of programming was a corrective, and it was extremely successful. We had large crowds for most of the panels (the poetry stuff was a bust, frankly, and no one could find the film programming to come see “Barbarian Days”) and lot of participation. But in particular, I slanted the panels to hit the older fans. When I came down for the big meeting in April, I had two people pull me aside—older men, both—and tell me how pleased and excited they were to see that REH was going to be on the panels this year. They were big fans, they told me, and read all of that stuff in the 1970s. I asked them, “Have you been keeping up with what we’ve been doing in the past fifteen years?” Oh, no, they said. They just read the books and really enjoyed them, but they haven’t looked at them since the seventies. Heh. Okay, guys, this panel’s for you.

"The First Barbarian of Texas" --  Patrice Louinet and Mark Finn, with John Maddox Roberts (far right) and Patrick Nielsen Hayden (far left)

I intentionally loaded the topics to entice the older fans. We had an obligatory Conan panel, and that room was packed. Even better, it was a smashing success. I opened it up to talk about pop culture Conan, and everyone stayed right on Robert E. Howard’s Conan the whole time. Fantastic. And the more we talked about corrupted texts, bad biographical practices, ulterior motives, and the complicated relationship between the fans and L. Sprague de Camp, I saw more light bulbs going on behind these guys’ eyes. Oh, there were a few of them who wanted to debate the point, citing de Camp’s standing as a gifted and talented author, and blah blah blah. I told one of them what I always say, which is that de Camp was great for Conan, but really lousy for Robert E. Howard. That pretty much ended the discussion.We opened a lot of eyes and changed a lot of minds over the four day weekend.

The Robert E. Howard exhibit got a lot of traffic, as did the Robert E. Howard Foundation Table. Lots of books were sold, memberships handed out, and we all had a ton of great conversations with people who were genuinely interested in REH, his works, and what we were doing there. It was everything that we wanted WFC 2006 to be, and more.

“Beyond the Barbarian: Robert E. Howard’s Other Heroes” Panel

“Beyond the Barbarian: Robert E. Howard’s Other Heroes” Panel (Left to Right) Rob Roehm, David Spurlock, Dave Hardy, Mel White and John Maddox Roberts.

Like me, Howard fan and blogger Keith West also arrived in San Antonio late Thursday. Here is an excerpt from his trip report on his Adventures Fantastic blog (He also blogs at the Amazing Stories website):

The next day [Friday] was one of those where there was about twelve hours of programming I wanted to attend, all of it in a three hour block. I went to most of the Robert E. Howard panels, of which there were many. Most of the hanging out I did with friends was with members of the Robert E. Howard Foundation or chatting with folks at parties. Saturday was much the same, but Sunday was a little more relaxed. Among the non-Howard panels I attended were a discussion of C. L. Moore’s “Vintage Season”, the history of firearms in the 1800s, a reading by Jack McDevitt, a discussion on writing that included Michael Swanwick and James Patrick Kelly, a panel of Texas writers who have passed on, and readings by Jack McDevitt and Howard Waldrop. I only caught part of the panel on sword and sorcery since it was up against one of the more interesting Robert E. Howard panels. The autographing lines were either nonexistent or ridiculously long, so I only got a few signatures.

I went to the Alamo Saturday morning with Bill Cavalier, editor of REHupa. He hadn’t seen it, and it had been a while since I had paid my respects. Next to the Alamo is the Menger Hotel. Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders in the bar, and it’s something of a mini-museum. I’ll do a write-up of it on Dispatches From the Lone Star Front over the weekend.

I didn’t try to attend the Hugos. I wasn’t impressed with the slate of nominees for the most part. But it’s a popularity contest, and currently my tastes and those of the field are in a state of moderate divergence. The Legacy Circle of the REH Foundation went to dinner Saturday night.

The REH Foundation Legacy Circle Dinner

The REH Foundation Legacy Circle Dinner (Left to Right) Paul Herman, Bill Cavalier, Rusty Burke, Dave Hardy, Damon Sasser, Jeff Shanks, Patrice Louinet, Rob Roehm, John Bullard and Ben Friberg (Keith West is the photographer).

My first panel was Friday at 4:00 pm “Two-Gun Bob: The Somewhat True Tales of Robert E. Howard.” The turnout was pretty good, as were the questions from the audience, though I found the guy wearing the pink bunny ears to be distracting. I had another panel at 8:00, “Nameless Cults: Robert E. Howard’s Horror Stories,” which had a pretty sparse showing of attendees — they scheduled a screening of The Whole Wide World at the same time, which certainly siphoned off of the potential attendees.

"Two-Gun Bob: The Somewhat True Tales of Robert E. Howard

“Two-Gun Bob: The Somewhat True Tales of Robert E. Howard” Panel (Left to Right) Mark Finn, Patrice Louinet, myself, Rob Roehm and Rusty Burke.

On Saturday I was only on one panel: “The Howard Boom” Barbarians, Fanzines and the 1970s,” which was interesting since I was the only one there who actually participated in the 1970s Howard Boom! Later that afternoon, I caught the “Robert E. Howard: The Weird, West and Worms” academic panel. It was one of the best, but there were only six or seven us in the audience. That was a shame because Mark and Jeff presented two of their excellent PCA papers: “Vaqueros and Vampires: Robert E Howard and the Genesis of the Weird Western” and “Evolutionary Otherness: Anthropological Anxiety in Robert E. Howard’s “Worms of the Earth”

Mark, Jeff, Chris, Patrice, Rusty, Rob and others have been working overtime to get Howard the literary credit he  deserves. If we, as Howard fans want to have his writings make some serious inroads into academia, we really have to get behind these guys, show our support and help them any way we can to further the cause. This convention was a good start, but there is still a lot of work left to be done.

When it was all said and done, Worldcon was certainly a big stage to show off Howard studies and just how it’s come in recent years. There were no Howard panels at the 1997 Worldcon, which was also held in San Antonio, The World Fantasy Con in 2006 corrected that slight somewhat, but Worldcon 71 blew the doors off with its great Howard presence. It looks like the future of Howard’s literary legacy is so bright, we all are going to have to wear shades.

Watch for “Worldcon 71: A Photo Gallery” coming soon!

Photos courtesy of Barbara Baum, Rusty Burke, Patrice Louinet, Dennis McHaney, Rob Roehm and Keith West.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo weeks from tomorrow, Worldcon 71 kicks off in the Alamo City. The event is being hosted by LoneStarCon 3 and, of course, will have a large number of Robert E. Howard panels and programs on the schedule. And the Howard events even get a jumpstart on the convention with a bus trip to Cross Plains to visit the Howard House Museum the day before Worldcon officially starts!

The Wednesday bus tour, hosted by Rusty Burke and Mark Finn, is virtually identical to the one from the 2006 World Fantasy Con. Acting as your guides, Rusty and Mark will be pointing out places of interest along the way. Once in Cross Plains, the first stop is the historical Robert E. Howard House Museum, next is a lunch break, and lastly a quick tour of the Cross Plain Public Library and downtown Cross Plains, and then it’s back on the bus for the return trip to San Antonio. While the trip takes twelve hours, you’ll find the time will fly by since you will be riding in a luxury bus, which should have a DVD player, so there’s a good chance you’ll see The Whole Wide World on the way back, plus Mark will have some Violet Crown Radio Players CDs with him to entertain you as well.

As for the Howard related panels and events beginning Thursday the 29th of August, here is the rundown:

Worldcon REH-Themed Panels

Note: This does not include the panels that are about larger topics that would include REH, such as the Texas Gothic panel and the Weird Texas Author panel. Nor does it include other panels that Howardists will be on. This is the list of concentrated REH panels.  The Worldcon Robert E. Howard program is three times the size of the program at the 2006 World Fantasy Convention.

Thu. 12:00 – Thu. 13:00, Location: 008A
The First Barbarian of Texas: Conan the Cimmerian (Literature, Panel)

Thu. 13:00 – Thu. 14:00, Location: 101B
You Don’t Know Jack about Bob: What’s New in Robert E. Howard Studies (Authors, Panel)

Fri. 10:00 – Fri. 11:00, Location: 102B
Beyond the Barbarian: Robert E. Howard’s Other Heroes (Literature, Panel)

Fri. 13:00 – Fri. 14:00, Location: Conference 1 (Rivercenter)
Barbarian Days: Starring the BNFs of Howard Fandom   (Screening)

Fri 16:00 – Fri. 17:00, Location: 102B
Two-Gun Bob: The Somewhat True Tales of Robert E. Howard (Panel)

Fri. 18:00 – Fri. 19:00, Location: Exh A – Literary Beers
The Robert E. Howard Poetry Slam! (Poetry, Open Mike)

Fri. 20:00 – Fri. 21:00, Location: 006B (160AV)
Nameless Cults: Robert E. Howard’s Horror Stories (Literature, Panel)

Fri. 20:00 – Fri. 22:00, Location: 007CD
The Whole Wide World (Authors, Film / Video) (Screening)

Sat. 10:00 – Sat 11:00, Location: 007CD
The Weird Western: A Celebratory Explanation (Literature, Panel)

Sat. 12:00 – Sat. 13:00, Location: 102B
The Howard Boom: Barbarians, Fanzines, and the 1970s (Fannish, Panel)

Sat. 15:00 – Sat. 16:00, Location: 003B
The Poetry of Robert E. Howard: The Dark Bard of Texas (Poetry, Panel), (Academic/Poet)

Sat. 17:00 – Sat. 18:00, Location: 006B
Robert E. Howard: The Weird, West, and Worms (Academic, Talk)

Sun. 13:00 – Sun. 14:00, Location: 102A
The Wild, Weird, and Wonderful Westerns of Robert E. Howard (Literature, Panel)

Sun. 18:00 – Sun. 19:00, Location: 006A
Robert E. Howard at the Ice House (Literature, Panel)

Mon. 13:00 – Mon. 14:00, Location:102A
“An Age Undreamed Of…”: World Building with Robert E. Howard (Literature, Panel)Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

The convention is being held in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, located in downtown San Antonio and just a short distance from the world famous River Walk. The Convention Center has two halls (each over 120,000 square feet), large ballrooms, and scores of smaller meeting rooms. The Marriott Rivercenter and Marriott River Walk are the host hotels, with the nearby Hilton Palacio Del Rio handling the overflow of guests. You can enjoy the Rivercenter Mall with dozens of shops and restaurants, along with other venues for food and shopping situated on the River Walk. The mall, hotels and convention center are linked by the Paseo del Rio (River Walk), a portion of the San Antonio River.

It is going to be a Labor Day weekend to remember for Howard Heads, with a who’s-who’s of Howard aficionados in attendance and participating on the panels.

This is the third of a series of posts about Howard’s good friend Harold Preece and the lady poet Winona Morris Nation. This actually started as a one shot deal, but blossomed into something more when Winona’s son John Nation contacted me with new, previously unknown facts about the last 14 years of Harold’s life with Winona. Those earlier posts can be found here and here. I have to give special thanks to John for the information he provided for this post

In the beginning it was just Harold in love with her. She admired Harold; respected him; but love grew more slowly for her. One morning after taking care of Harold’s breakfast and cleaning his apartment as she did daily, Winona stormed up the stairs mad as a wet hen saying, “That Harold Preece thinks we are having a great love affair. Let me tell you we are not having a great love affair.”

But whatever got her riled, it passed.

Then fast forward about ten years to late 1990. John was then living in the Bahamas on a sailboat and he returned every year to the states to stay two months with Winona in her house. This is why John knows things about the pair his brothers don’t – he was part of their lives on a daily basis.

The first Gulf War had just started and John was troubled by all the sabre rattling and hoopla. One day at lunch he said to Winona, “I live in a country of eternal sun where wars never come — the Bahamas. With what we have together we could rent a small house and spend the rest of our lives there in peace and happiness.”

It was as if she didn’t see or hear John. She sort of looked right through him like he was transparent. “I could never leave Harold,” was all she said. So you see he had won her heart. And there are her poems to prove it “. . . one man alone has plumbed my depths” (from “The Vigil Keeper”).

Winona appreciated many different kinds of poetry, except for “beat poetry.” She had nothing against the style; it just didn’t appeal to her. Both John and Winona read some of Howard’s prose and John was impressed by its apparent effortlessness —  its flow and smoothness — its ability to express a mood or a description of something in what for a painter would be a few simple but elegant brushstrokes.

But John has no specific memory of Winona saying anything about Howard’s poetry — good or bad. She did write a poem about the day he died called “Storm Over Cross Plains,” which appeared in Simba #2 (Simba Reproductions, 1978).

Storm Over Cross Plains
by Winona Morris Nation

Celtic chieftans rode the wind.
Lightning sharpened the fearless swords,
Of Conan, Conar and Glek and Dork
All the dark avenging lords.

Their mythical steeds rearing wild with power
Their voices shouting with primal glee
He heard them calling in the cosmic storm
And said “My own have come for me”.

Nearer they came, their fury growing
The thunder of their summons rolled.
And he looked above the little town
And felt the fear in him grow bold.

“From this night on I ride with them,
I will fight against our bitter foe.
Seeking the monsters of the mind.
To vanquish them; to bring them low.”

His answer sped across the night.
Swift and certain was his reply
And the Texas town slept on not knowing
What was happening in the sky.

Winona’s best friend was fellow poet Betty Shipley, who later became Poet Laureate of the State of Oklahoma. The pair wrote in two totally different styles of poetry. Winona’s was of the classical style, while Betty’s’ poetry was off the cuff, witty, modernist and often hilarious. Betty and Winona were sort of the “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” of the Oklahoma Poetry Society. They cleaned up at every poetry contest each year, leaving pretty slim pickings for everyone else.

As a student, Winona would place third in the National Collegiate Poetry Contest, behind poets from Princeton and Yale. As a professional writer she received the Lasky Literary Award and has been chosen as one of the top twenty poets in America by Atlantic Monthly.

The Y ChapelBetty was John’s friend in those bleak days when he was cleaning Winona’s house and putting her things and Harold’s in big storage boxes. She’d make him stop and take him to lunch a couple of times a week just to get him out of the house. The two of them attended a memorial service  for Winona on November 10, 1992, in the Y-Chapel of Song on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma. The memorial was conducted by her mentor, Dr. Cliff Warren. According to John, Betty is gone now, which is tragic since she would have been a great source on Harold and Winona.

John wants to start something similar to Howard Days for Winona — some sort of annual celebration of her life and works. Her century old childhood home is still standing, a big two story farm house out on the prairies of Stephens County, Oklahoma. Winona’s hometown is Comanche, just north of the Red River on US 81. Indeed, there was some talk a few years back in her community of converting the elegant old mansion into a museum, one room of which would be devoted to Winona. When John returns to Cisco, Texas later this year, he plans to go to Cross Plains for a the tour of the Howard House Museum. His goal is do something akin to what has been done to the Howard House to Winona’s old homestead.

The next step for Winona is Oxford, England. She is basically unknown now even in her home state of Oklahoma, which has a very poor record of promoting its artists. So gaining a following, even a small one in England, would be a victory. John and a writer friend are going to “beard the English Poetic Lion in its den” and get a verdict once and for all on the enduring artistic merit of her work — if any.

Here is another example of Winona’s poetry from Fantasy Crosswinds #2 (Stygian Isle Press,1977):

The Red Rain
by Winona Morris Nation

The wet red rose
Drips blood, and I stop.
Alerted by a possible ominous meaning,
I can not define or correlate.

I know of no precedent that would establish
The likelihood of such an occurrence.
It exists in the mind as a bizarre explosion of disbelief.
An idea for which there is no antecedent.

Yet, I see the rose drip red.
And there is no acuity in the mind that can convince
Me it is not so.Cyrano de Bergerac

Like Howard, Winona never saw a collection of her writing in a book during her lifetime. Eight years after her death, If I Still Hold Earth As Dear, a volume of her poetry was published by Vantage Press. Additionally, all of Winona’s works have been put on computer disks in a year-long effort by her sister-in-law Fredrica Morris, Winona’s brothers wife, now an incredible 97 years young and looking to make the century mark. As for Harold’s writings, Winona told John that Harold had sold the copyrights of his books (there are five that John knows of), years before he passed away.

John is currently writing an account of his mother’s life as seen through his eyes. He expects the volume will run over 500 pages and has written 200 pages so far. When the book is finished, John is returning to the USA to get some things sorted out —  particularly related to Harold and Winona, their writings and their lives together.

Winona once told John that Harold’s wish for an epitaph for a possible memorial was: “He loved the purity of his white plume.” Of course, the white plume Harold referred to was from Edmond Rostand’s famous play Cyrano de Bergerac:

All my laurels you have riven away… and my roses; yet in spite of you there is one crown I bear away with me. And tonight, when I enter before God, my salute shall sweep away all the stars from the blue threshold! One thing without stain, unspotted from the world in spite of doom mine own and that is… my white plume.

The plume represents purity and love that have not been ruined by external forces.

 Winona’s poems courtesy of John Nation.
This entry filed under Harold Preece, Howard Days, Howard House Museum.

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.

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WorldCon in San AntonioJust like it happened in 2006, this year there will be a “two’fer” in Texas for Howard fans. While everyone is focusing on Howard Days (and rightfully so), there is another venue where Howard will have a heavy presence waiting in the wings.

This year’s Worldcon (held in conjunction with LoneStarCon 3) will happen over Labor Day weekend in one of Howard’s old stomping grounds, San Antonio. The event runs August 29th through September 2nd and will be held in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. There are several membership options to fit your budget and schedule. With a membership, you are eligible to participate in the voting for the prestigious 2013 Hugo Awards and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Howard scholar and biographer Mark Finn is spearheading the organization of the Howard themed panels, as well as other events. Needless to say, with Mark at the helm, you can be assured of a fantastic Howard experience.

Here is up-to-date information on the Howard activites from Worldcon’s most recent Progress Report:

Six Guns, Sorcery, and Serpents: the Many Worlds of Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) was a pioneer of both heroic fantasy and the weird western. His brief but influential career produced an array of colorful characters: Conan the Cimmerian, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, Kull of Atlantis, El Borak, and many others, all from his home in rural Cross Plains, Texas. This exhibit features several special artifacts drawn from the Robert E. Howard House and Museum, as well as the Cross Plains Library. These special holdings are being exhibited for the first time ever outside of the Museum, especially for LoneStarCon 3!

Contributors to this unique and one of-a-kind exhibit include Dark Horse Comics (publishers of several REH comics lines), Paradox Entertainment (the rights holders of the Robert E. Howard literary estate) and several private collectors. Much of this material has never been seen before, and will be on display only for the duration of LoneStarCon 3. In addition, several noted REH experts will be on hand to talk more about the items on display, and to answer your questions about the Robert E. Howard House, Howard Days, and more!

Of course, as the convention nears, I’ll be posting the full slate of Howard events once everything is finalized. Here is the link to Worldcon’s website for all the information. If nothing else, it is a damn good excuse for coming to Texas twice this year!

Robert E. Howard House Museum

Well, looks like it is time to geared up for Howard Days 2013. Hard to believe it is only two months from now that everyone will be gathering in Cross Plains for the two day celebration of the life and works of Robert E. Howard. The theme of this year’s Howard Days is “REH in the Comics.” To bolster that theme, REHupa OE Bill Cavalier posted recently on the REHupa website that TGR contributor Timothy Truman will be this year’s Guest of Honor. Truman is a Renaissance Man of many talents: writer, artist, musician, editor, etc. Currently, Truman is writing Dark Horse’s adaptation of The Hour of the Dragon.

Here is the preliminary schedule of events and activities:

2013 Howard Days Schedule (Summary Version)

Friday, June 7th:

8:30 – 9:00 am: Coffee and donuts at the Pavilion, compliments of Project Pride.

9:00 am – 4:00 pm: Robert E. Howard House Museum open to the public.

9:00 am – 4:00 pm: REH Postal Cancellation at Cross Plains Post Office.

9:00 am – 11:00 am: Bus Tour of Cross Plains and Surrounding Areas.

10:00 am – 5:00 pm: Cross Plains Public Library open.

11:00 am: PANEL: REH in the Comics.

Noon: Lunch hosted by Project Pride. Donations Welcome.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm: Pavilion available for REH items Swap Meet.

1:30 pm: PANEL: Tim Truman, Guest of Honor.

2:30 pm: PANEL: Travels with Bob, Rob and Bob

5:30 – 6:30 pm: Silent Auction items available for viewing and bidding at Banquet site.

6:30 pm: Robert E. Howard Celebration Banquet and Silent Auction at the Cross Plains Community Center.

Following the Banquet and Silent Auction: The Fourth Annual Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards.

9:00 pm: PANEL: Fists at the Ice House (meet at the Pavilion and walk to the Ice House).

Afterward there will be some extemporaneous REH Poetry Reading at the Pavilion.

Saturday, June 8th

9 am – 4 pm: Robert E. Howard House Museum open to the public.

9:00 am – 4:00 pm: BARBARIAN FESTIVAL held this year at Treadway Park, 3 blocks west of REH House.

10:00 am – 3:00 pm: Cross Plains Public Library open.

10:30 am: PANEL: REH and Dark Horse Comics.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm: Pavilion available for REH items Swap Meet.

Noon: The Robert E. Howard Foundation Legacy Circle Members Luncheon.

Lunch and Festival Activities at your leisure during the day.

2:00 pm: PANEL: REH and Texas.

3:30 pm: PANEL: What’s Up with REH? (at the Pavilion).

5:00 pm: Sunset BBQ at the Caddo Peak Ranch.

Note: The Robert E. Howard House Museum will be open again this year on Thursday (June 6th) from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. No docents on duty.

 Howard Days Pre-Registration

You do not have to pre-register to partake of the weekend’s festivities. All are welcome to attend, visit the House and enjoy all of the activities free of charge. Project Pride likes to pre-register folks primarily to get a head count of how many will be attending the Banquet on Friday night. All the panels, tours, Swap Meet, Pavilion activities e, etc.,are presented at no cost.

Your registration fee covers coffee & donuts Friday morning, lunch at the Pavilion at noon on Friday, the Friday Evening Banquet and the Saturday evening BBQ at Caddo Peak Ranch.

The cost for pre-registration this year is only $15.00 per person. Please send your name(s) and address with a check or money order:

Project Pride
Attn: REH Days 2013 Pre-Registration
P.O. Box 534
Cross Plains, TX 76443

Or you can or register via PayPal: ProjPride@yahoo.com.

Please pre-register before June 1, 2013.

As you can see, it will be a Howard Days to remember. So don’t procrastinate, sign up now — there are only 120 seats available for the banquet. Be sure and check back here, on the TGR Facebook page and the follow new TGR Twitter account for further details.

The-Robert-E-Howard-Foundation

And for you Legacy Circle Members, if you have not done so, there are only a few days left to get your nominations for the REHF Awards submitted for awards that will be given out at this year’s Howard Days banquet.

This is the second post for 2012 of the online version of Nemedian Dispatches. This feature previously appeared in the print journal and is now on the blog. On 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:

The Complete Marvel Tales
The publisher of the highly acclaimed complete collection of The Fantasy Fan has just completed his next project — a hardback book that collects the five issue run of William Crawford’s Marvel Tales. Each issue was filled with fantasy from top Weird Tales writers, with Howard’s “The Garden of Fear” appearing in the second issue. Publisher Lance Thingmaker will start shipping pre-orders this week. To order, contact the publisher. The price of the book is $50.00 (includes US postage), but if you mention the TGR Blog, you can save $10.00 and pay only $40.00 (includes US postage). Just like The Fantasy Fan, this volume is sure to be an instant collector’s item.

The Sword & Sorcery Anthology
This new anthology is chock full of sword wielding heroes and heroines battling all manner of terrifying denizens and sorcerers written my true fantasy masters. Howard leads off the collection with “The Tower of the Elephant,” followed by the likes of C. L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Poul Anderson, Michael Moorcock, Karl Edward Wagner and many more. Published by Tachyon Publications and edited by David. G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman.

Adventures in Science Fantasy
From the REH Foundation Press comes a collection of Robert E. Howard’s sort of science fiction stories. The centerpiece of this collection is Howard’s interplanetary adventure novel, Almuric, backed up by a dozen or so other science fantasy yarns from Howard’s Underwood. The book features a stunning wraparound cover by Mark Schulz, an introduction by Michal Stackpole and is edited by Rob Roehm.

Kindle:

“Hawk of the Hills”
Now available, a Kindle edition of the El Borak story, “Hawk of the Hills.” This Francis X. Gordon yarn was first published as the cover story in the June 1935 issue of Top-Notch, an adventure pulp magazine.

Clothing:

The 2012 Howard House Museum T-Shirt
Michael L. Peters’ design won this year’s competition for a new t-shirt design for this year’s Howard House Museum t-shirt. In addition to this design, you can see more of Michael work in the upcoming issue of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur. To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the first appearance of Conan, Michael has done a “Rogues in the House” portfolio.

The t-shirts can be ordered via Project Pride’s PayPal account: ProjPride@yahoo.com

The shirts are available in both black on white and white on black. Sizes run Medium though XXX Large. Price is $15.00 per shirt, plus $3.00 for US shipping and handling. Overseas shipping will be more. To get the rate for overseas shipping, send an e-mail to Project Pride.

Coming Soon:

Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #5
Coming August 29, 2012, a new issue of Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword. Contents include: Paul Tobin and Francesco Francavilla team-up to bring Dark Agnes back to the pages of Savage Sword with their adaptation of “Sword Woman”; Steve Niles partners with Christopher Mitten to adapt” In the Forest of Villefère”; Ian Edginton and Richard Pace adapt the Bran Mak Morn yarn “Men of the Shadows” and the legendary Howard Chaykin writes and draws a brand-new King Conan story.

New Books from the REH Foundation Press
As noted in a previous post, at least three volumes of Howard stories are nearing completion and several of them may make it into print by the end of the year Those books include: a Pirate Stories book, Volume I of the Boxing Stories and an Autobiographical book. Of course there are a number of books from the Foundation Press still available.

Skullcrusher: Selected Weird Fiction, Volume One
Coming in September, publication of the first volume of a two-volume collection of classic fantasy stories by REH. The stories in this collection feature all of Howard’s most famous creations — Conan, King Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn — alongside others such as Cormac Mac Art, James Allison, Red Sonya, and Cormac Fitzgeoffrey — in a definitive anthology of sword and sorcery, weird adventure, and occult horror in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.

Conan Meets the Academy

Scheduled for a Spring/Summer 2013 release, this volume from McFarland & Company, Inc. takes on Howard’s Conan as its only subject. This collection of Conan essays focus on the following topics: stylometry, archeology, cultural studies, folklore studies, and literary history, additionally the essays examine statistical analyses of Howard’s texts, as well as the literary genesis of Conan, later-day parodies, Conan video games, movies, and pop culture in general. By displaying the wide range of academic interest in Conan, this volume reveals the hidden scholarly depth of this seemingly unsophisticated fictional character. The book is edited by Jonas Prida

 

Another Howard Days has come and gone, and with it the euphoric high that can only come with 72 plus hours of full immersion in something that you have a true passion for, alongside dozens of others who share your passion and are some of the few people that can truly understand it. This was only my third Howard Days and so I don’t have the larger perspective that many others do, but for me this year’s Howard Days was my favorite. It didn’t have the giddy excitement of my first year or movie-infused madness of last year—but those weren’t necessarily bad things. It was more subdued perhaps, but it also created more opportunities to just hang out with friends new and old and geek out with folks who “get it.”

Actually making it to Cross Plains this year was more challenging than usual due some severely nasty weather that had flights delayed or cancelled. Al Harron and the Scottish Invasion were stuck in the airport for hours and Bill “Indy” Cavalier and his wife Cheryl didn’t get into to town until 4:00 in the morning Friday. Several Howard Days regulars, including Damon Sasser, Frank Coffman, and Ryan Flessing, were absent this year for various reasons and were sorely missed. For me the trip to Howard Days was unusual as well, as I am actually in the middle of a three-week long family vacation as I write this. My wife, the kids, and I had driven from Florida to Maine (yes, driven!) and had rented a lake cabin. So for me Howard Days was a vacation from my vacation as I flew down to Texas from Maine, then back to Maine just in time to drive back down to Florida. Sheesh!

Of course the unofficial kick-off for Howard Days is Thursday night with dinner at Humphrey Pete’s. I got in on Thursday afternoon just in time to hitch a ride to Brownwood with Paul Sammon, Russell Andrew, and Al. I got to talk with (and listen to) Paul more this year than in the past and I have to say that he is one of the most knowledgeable and interesting people in Howard fandom. Paul has had many incredible experiences and has a wonderful outlook and perspective on life in general. I could listen to his stories and anecdotes forever. Al of course is my old TC blog comrade and it’s always great to see him as well as his entourage, the Wyrd sisters. There were more familiar faces when we arrived at Humphrey Pete’s of course: Rob Roehm, Dennis McHaney, Barbara Barrett, Ed Chazcyk, Jim Barron, and several others. Mark Finn showed up not long after we did, as well as Jay Zetterberg from Paradox. I believe Keith West and Scott Valeri were there as well, but I didn’t get a chance to speak with them until later.

After dinner we returned to the pavilion, where Rusty Burke was waiting with the guest of honor Charles Hoffman. I was thrilled to meet Chuck and was fortunate enough to room with him this year, which gave me more an opportunity to pick his brain and hear his amazing stories about his experiences in fandom. It was a true pleasure to meet him and visit with him and I very much hope he will make it back for future Howard Days. Other regulars began to show up at the pavilion too, including Dave Hardy, Chris Gruber, Todd Woods, and Tim Arney. This was the first time I got meet Tim and he was a lot of fun and very knowledgeable. The lovely Aurelia also returned to Howard Days (no doubt due to Al’s charming presence rather than the rest of us troglodytes).

Perhaps the most special visitors of all were there as well: Lou Ann Lord and her family. This was, of course, the first Howard Days after Glenn Lord’s passing and that reality was omnipresent throughout the weekend. I expect that this weekend was Lou Ann’s farewell to Howard fandom, and I believe that she will be moving on knowing just how important Glenn was to all of us and to all we do. None of this would have been possible without Glenn and nothing Glenn ever did would have been possible without the patience and support of Lou Ann.

Friday morning kicked off the first official activities of the weekend, including a bus tour of Cross Plains led by Rusty. Fans and visitors were just beginning to show up as I wandered over to the pavilion fueled by multiple cups of coffee and a deliciously greasy breakfast from Jean’s Feed Barn. Indy was there, having safely arrived the day before and other regulars soon began showing up including Paul Herman, Gary Romero, Ben Friberg, Joe Crawford, Alfred Bonnabel, as well as Chris Fulbright and Angie Hawkes with family in tow. I made my way through the Howard House only to discover a significant new addition: Robert’s own books from Howard Payne University. Apparently, HPU has donated the remainder of the Howard library to the museum and that was a wonderful surprise. Many of them are inscribed to Howard (and in one case by Howard) and being able to go through these volumes looking for things like highlighting or notes in the margin will be a scholar’s dream.

Another treat waited at the Cross Plains library as all of the typescripts in their collection were on display. It was wonderful to see things like a typescript with Steve Costigan whited-out and Dennis Dorgan typed over it. There is nothing quite like the experience of seeing these cultural artifacts with your own eyes.

The first panel was a dedication to Glenn Lord and Paul, Barbara, and Rusty did a wonderful job of celebrating Glenn’s life and work. It was incredibly moving, but never depressing, as it was truly a celebration of a wonderful life. It was hard not to tear up when Lou Ann spoke though and I thought it was truly a magnificent thing that she had come here to share with us fans her memories and experiences of her life’s companion.

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