Archive for the 'Howard the Pugilist' Category

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Another enjoyable Howard Days has come and gone, and it is safe to say that any who attended were glad they did.  The number of attendees on June 10th and 11th seemed to be a bit above average, reflecting a trend toward straining the capacity of current venues and program formats.  The panel audiences are already larger than could be served by formerly used facilities like the Cross Plains Library and the Howard House Pavilion.  Panels this year were held at the CP High School and the CP Senior Center.  Many new faces were evident at the banquet in the Community Center.  The weather was hot but otherwise pleasant, though mosquito repellent was sometimes required.

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The day before the festivities began, the staff of the Cross Plains Review newspaper kindly offered a tour of their old facilities, complete with antique printing press and other equipment.  Original copies of editions containing articles about or by Robert E. Howard were on display.

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On Friday, following the bus tour of the CP area hosted by Project Pride veteran Don Clark, a panel composed of Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, and Susan McNeel-Childers discussed the first 30 years of Howard Days celebrations.  REHupans Burke and Vern Clark made an initial foray to Cross Plains in 1985.  Impressed by the wide open spaces of Texas and even more by how imaginative Howard must have been to have envisioned stories in such settings, Burke thought that other serious fans might be lured to visit Cross Plains, and so organized a trip there the next year by ten REHupans, including Cavalier and Glenn Lord.  The Friends of the Library, headed by Joan McCowen, gave a gracious reception to those they called international scholars on June 6th, which the mayor proclaimed to be “Robert Howard Day.”  Those the visitors talked to included Cross Plains Review editor Jack Scott, head librarian Billie Ruth Loving, REH heirs Alla Ray Kuykendall and Alla Ray Morris, and Charlotte Laughlin of Howard Payne University in Brownwood.  Laughlin would act to preserve what remained of REH’s personal book collection that his father had donated to HPU and which now resides in the Howard House.  Seeing the commercial possibilities in attracting more such visitors, the founding members of Project Pride (originally created to spruce up the downtown area of Cross Plains) bought the Howard House in 1989, which Project Pride then renovated and operated as a museum with the aid of donations.  Alla Ray Morris contributed $10,000 to Project Pride just before her death in 1995. The money was used to install central heat and air conditioning and to remodel the inside of the house. Project Pride also received a portion of Alla Ray’s estate and that money was used to build the pavilion next to the house and finish the remodeling. The pavilion was completed in 2000 and dedicated to Alla Ray. By that time Howard Days had become an annual 2-day event organized by Project Pride and REHupa, who have done so much to welcome and educate fans of the Texas author and to change the once-low opinion of many of the residents regarding Howard and his admirers.

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Guest of Honor Michael Scott Myers spoke at the banquet and was interviewed by REHupan Mark Finn at a Friday panel marking the 20th anniversary of the film The Whole Wide World, which Myers had adapted from the memoir One Who Walked Alone, written by Howard’s sometime girlfriend Novalyne Price Ellis.  Myers was a speech student of Ellis during her last years at Louisiana State University.  As a movie publicist, Myers saw the potential in making a small independent film based on her book, but many individual factors have to align before such a movie can be made.  Myers optioned the book for $20 and wrote the script between 1989 and 1994.  Director Dan Ireland and the actor portraying REH, Vincent D’Onofrio were on board early on.  Replacing actress Olivia d’Abo, who had become pregnant, in Novalyne’s part was Renee Zellweger in her first major role.  TWWW was filmed over 3 and a half weeks in the summer of 1996 for $1.2M.  While it did well at the Sundance Film Festival, an unfavorable release date held the film back until positive reviews led to its success on home video and cable TV.  It served as many people’s introduction to REH, and the film helped to bring a less narrow, more nuanced, and very human portrayal of the author to the fan public.  Ellis did see and enjoy the movie.  After the interview, TWWW was screened in the high school auditorium.

The Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards were bestowed Friday afternoon.  The winners are spotlighted elsewhere on this blog.

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REHupans Mark Finn, Chris Gruber, and Jeffrey Shanks staged another of their always entertaining “Fists at the Ice House” presentations outdoors at the site where Howard boxed with his friends and locals.  This sport, REH’s part in it, and his boxing fiction were the subjects.  Experts on these stories, the speakers recommended them highly to all.  Even if one is not into the sport, the surprisingly good humor of the yarns will be enough to get one through them.  And Howard’s enthusiasm and versatility shed light on important aspects of the author’s personality that one might have no clue about if one is familiar only with his fantasy tales.  Howard’s boxing and boxing stories served as vital releases for the pressures and frustrations that were dogging him at the time.

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The first panel on Saturday concerned REH and artist Frank Frazetta, who painted the covers of most of the Lancer Conan paperbacks of the late 1960s which did so much to attract readers to Howard’s fiction.  The panelists were REHupans Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, Gary Romeo, and Jeff Shanks.  Cavalier called the publication of Conan the Adventurer the single most significant event in the history of Howard publishing and the one that drew him in personally.  Shanks noted that this was the 50th anniversary of that event.  Frazetta had illustrated comic books, but it was his covers of Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks that got him noticed.  Frazetta’s artistic resonance with the material made for an impressive product that was greater than the sum of its parts.  Burke said that the Conan stories had come out earlier in book form as Arkham House and Gnome Press hardbacks.  Writer L. Sprague de Camp was a fan of REH and, working with agent Oscar Friend, took on the editing of the Conan reprints.  Romeo explained that de Camp assiduously shopped the stories to publishers, finally hooking Lancer’s Larry Shaw, as well as Frazetta by letting him keep the ownership of his art.  Romeo thinks that Frazetta’s art was a big part of Conan’s appeal, but not as much as the prose itself.  Burke added that, though you can’t judge a book by its cover, the cover can be important in providing an essential good first impression of and introduction to the character.  Shanks observed that, even though the images were static, Frazetta’s dynamic, exciting poses were a game changer for fantastic art.

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With Howard days just four months from today, here is the panel schedule for the two day event happening June 10th and June 11th:

Howard Days 2016 Panel Schedule

FRIDAY June 10. Panels to be held in the Cross Plains High School Library

11 am: 30 YEARS OF HOWARD DAYS. The origins and history of Howard Days will be discussed, along with a showing of photos from over the years. Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier and Susan McNeel-Childers of Cross Plains will tell their tales.

1:30 pm: The Whole Wide World and One Who Walked Alone. Guest of Honor Michael Scott Myers will discuss the movie, the book and Novalyne Price Ellis, as interviewed by Mark Finn.

2:30 pm: Presentation of the Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards. Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier and a cast of several. 30 minutes.

9:00 pm: Fists at the Ice House. Mark Finn, Chris Gruber, Jeff Shanks and Patrice Louinet will entertain you with a spirited discussion of the Pugilistic Bob Howard, complete with readings from Howard’s boxing tales. Held on the actual site of the Ice House where Howard boxed.

SATURDAY June 11. Panels to be held at the Cross Plains Senior Center

 11:00 am: REH and FRAZETTA: Celebrating the Fifty Year Legacy of the Lancers. Come hear a lively discussion about this benchmark event in Howard Publishing along with the importance of Frank Frazetta’s iconic cover paintings for the series.

Panelists to include: Gary Romeo, Special Guest Val Mayerik, Jeff Shanks and Rusty Burke (with an opening monologue by Bill Cavalier).

1:30 pm: The Life of Robert E. Howard – A discussion of Howard’s life, his working habits, his mannerisms, his routines, his quirks, his interests. We’ll talk about Howard the Man as opposed to Howard the Writer and also show some rare Howard artifacts (typescripts, photos etc.). Panelists to include: Mark Finn, Patrice Louinet, Chris Gruber and Paul Herman.

2:30 pm: The First Annual Glenn Lord REH Symposium. A presentation by several REH scholars regarding Howard the Writer, with special essay readings by Daniel Look,  Jonas Pridas, Todd Vick, Dierk Guenther. Moderator: Jeff Shanks. 90 minutes.

More details and a complete schedule of Howard Days events will be forthcoming. Stay tuned to the this blog, the Robert E. Howard Days Facebook page and the Robert E. Howard Days blog for updates.

The Hyborian Age

Since we are half way through 2015, I thought I’d pause and highlight the various Robert E. Howard books and publications that have appeared so far this year.

The latest and my personal favorite is the recent edition of “The Hyborian Age,” one of the rarest Howard items sought after by collectors. I’ve only seen one copy in person at that was at a behind the scenes tour at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin where a copy was being prepared for a public display of Howard materials. It was sight to behold. Of course I couldn’t actually handle it, but it was still a thrill just to see it.

Here is a description of the facsimile publication of the “Hyborian Age” from the Skelos Press website.

Skelos Press is proud to present a facsimile edition of one of the rarest and most valuable of all Conan and Robert E. Howard publications – the legendary 1938 chapbook The Hyborian Age published by LANY Cooperative. Originally compiled by Forrest J. Ackerman, Donald Wollheim, and several other notable fans of the time, this booklet contains the first full publication of Howard’s world-building essay “The Hyborian Age,” along with the first published map of Conan’s world. It also includes the first appearance of the famous essay “A Probable Outline of Conan’s Career” by P. Schuyler Miller and Dr. John D. Clark, as well as an introductory letter from H. P. Lovecraft. This modern facsimile edition includes a new introductory essay by Howard expert and pulp scholar Jeffrey Shanks discussing the history of this publication and the back-story behind “The Hyborian Age.”

This  facsimile edition is the next best thing to owning an original copy and a whole lot cheaper. You can purchase it from Amazon.com.

girasol-WeirdTales-July1933Girasol Collectibles, which is ceasing publication of its pulp replicas, published its final two issues Weird Tales, both featuring a Howard story:  Volume 22 Number 1, July 1933 (“The Man on the Ground”) and Volume 25 Number 2, February 1935 (“The Grisly Horror”). These replicas, which allowed fans to read Howard’s stories as they first appeared, will be sorely missed by the many fans (myself included) who collected them.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t toss out a shameless plug for the new issue of the REH: Two-Gun Raconteur print journal, even though sales very been good for issue 18, I still have copies available.

An outfit called Fiction House Press has published four books of PD material, mostly lifted from the Gutenberg Australia website. Titles include Red Nails, A Gent from Bear Creek, The Devil In Iron (which includes “A Witch Shall Be Born” and “Jewels of Gwahlur”) and Queen of the Black Coast (which includes “The People of the Black Circle”). I  imagine everyone has these stories in one form or another already, but still outlets like Fiction House continue to publish them over and over again just because they can.

Le Guide Howard (The Howard Guide) by Patrice Louinet is a nice little volume that was published in April. It is currently available only in French, but Patrice is hard at work on an English version. Here is a description of the book (translated from the publisher’s website):

His texts have shaped the codes of fantasy. His characters (Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane …) marked generations of readers. For fifteen years, Robert E. Howard knows a true literary resurrection.

Free of interference of those who have appropriate after his death, his founding work is now accessible in all its strength through friendly editions of his work.

Written by Patrice Louinet, one of the biggest specialists in the world of Howard, this guide full of new information explores the many facets of a rich work, debunks the past prejudices, and gives us many reasons to (re) read again and again.

Summary:

Thanks
Introduction
I. Ten myths about Howard
II. The twenty new need to have read (and why)
III. Biography
IV. Twenty other texts that also deserve your attention
V. Few terse words in ten other texts
VI. Conan, the real and imitation
VII. On Howard
VIII. Adaptations
IX. Around Howard
X. Dear Mr. Lovecraft
XI. Read Howard
Conclusion

So if you are like me and can’t read French, fear not because an English edition will soon be forthcoming.

Bobby Derie complied the Addenda and Index to The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, which was published by the REHF Press early this year. In addition to Addenda and Index, Derie created abstracts of all the letters in the three volumes on a Wikithulhu webpage. It’s a perfect tool for scholars and researchers to get a handle on what they are looking for. Here is the blurb for the book from the REHF website:

11594_10203070105425884_2880174201235088716_nThe Robert E. Howard Foundation Press is proud to present this long-awaited index to the three-volume The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard. Compiled by Bobby Derie, author of Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos, with a foreword and annotations by REHF Award-winning author Jeffrey Shanks, this important reference work provides a much-needed tool for researchers studying the correspondence of the father of sword and sorcery and the creator of Conan the Cimmerian. Also included are seventeen letters by Howard newly discovered since the publication of The Collected Letters, including several drafts of letters to H. P. Lovecraft, all wrapped up in fine cover by Jim & Ruth Keegan. This index is a must-have for fans and scholars wishing to explore the fascinating epistolary corpus of one of the greatest fantasy adventure writers of the 20th century.

 

Ordering details also appear on the webpage.

The fourth and final volume of Fists of Iron: The Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard was published in April:

The REH Foundation Press is proud to present Fists of Iron, Round 4, the final volume of a four-volume series that presents the Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard. This volume features the collected Kid Allison stories and measures in at 347 pages (plus introductory material). It will be printed in hardback with dust jacket, with the first printing limited to 200 copies, each individually numbered. Cover art by Tom Gianni and introduction by Mark Finn. Now shipping.

This volume rounds out the collection nicely and is a must have for any true Howard aficionado. Copies are still available. Also, a fifth companion volume is in the works.

The tenth issue of Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword comic appeared in April:

This issue is packed from cover to cover with stories by some of comics’ greatest creators. Ron Marz teams up with Richard Clark to tell a thrilling tale of human sacrifice and swift justice starring Solomon Kane. Alex de Campi and Marc Laming adapt Howard’s famed fable “The Gods of Bal-Sagoth” and John Ostrander pens a brand-new story starring the Cimmerian swordsman Conan! Plus we reprint the timeless Kull tale “Demon in a Silvered Glass” by Doug Moench and John Bolton!

This Dark Horse anthology series always has a wide variety of Howard characters featured in each issue. Issues 1 through 8 have been published in two paperbound books, with four issues in each one.

Finally, if you are either a Friend of REH or a Legacy Circle member of The Robert E. Howard Foundation, three newsletters have been published so far this year, with two more planned. The REHF Newsletter appears quarterly.

As for the second half of the year, who knows what is in store for Howard fans. A lot of things are cooking, we’ll just have to wait and see what is served up.

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It’s been said that Howard Days only keeps getting better, and this year was certainly no exception.  It was a laid-back event seemingly enjoyed by all.  The turnout appeared to be about average, but extra local attendees packed the banquet tables.  The weather was clement and, though it was hot, it wasn’t extremely so.  It even rained late Saturday.  The spring rains had greened up the foliage, but unfortunately had driven so many snakes out of the ground that the Saturday evening barbecue had to be moved from the Caddo Peak Ranch to the Pavilion.  The Middleton family couldn’t be present, but it was nice that they continued their generous contribution to our event.

After the bus tour of Burkett and Cross Cut, the first Friday panel was held, as they all were, at the CP Library, where REHupan Ben Friberg videotaped them for posting on Youtube.  In keeping with the Howard/Lovecraft theme celebrating HPL’s 125th birthday this year, the panel “Conan vs. Cthulhu” featured REHupans Mark Finn and Jeff Shanks and short-story writer Scott Cupp.

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As Finn explained, REH and HPL were longtime friends and correspondents.  Lovecraft especially was a prolific letter writer, penning over 100,000 letters to many correspondents, most of whom were of a very literary, erudite bent.  This correspondence preserves much of what we know of both men.  These exchanges were more beneficial to Howard because they helped him perfect his craft.  Their letters seem almost schizoid in nature, first because they seemed to follow two interweaving tracks, one answering the other’s previous letter point by point, and second because their exchanges could at times be friendly and encouraging, relating experiences and sharing clippings and postcards, and at other times be strident and contentious as they debated issues of a social, historical, or political nature.

Shanks opined that HPL should have paid more attention to REH’s suggestions and example, though they may have led him to insert some action in his “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”  They discussed concepts, entities, and backstory from their tales, even injecting references to them in their stories (such as REH’s reference to HPL’s Yog-Sothoth), making them cutting-edge pioneers in the now common art of crossover appearances and shared universes.  Cupp noted that each enjoyed writing about their native areas, which resulted in viewpoints that might be conflicting, but were always insightful.  Shanks cited a primary example of this being Howard’s stories “The Children of the Night” and “The Black Stone,” riffing off Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos stories.  Finn added that “Stone” is widely considered to be the best CM story not written by HPL.  Prior to writing it, REH had been talking about the drift and spread of mythic concepts in his letters.  Both men had gotten their ideas about Little People from anthropologist Margaret Murray and author Arthur Machen.  Lovecraft took this in the direction of regression toward fish-like creatures, while Howard employed it in portraying devolution of Picts and Turanians into savages, as in “Children.”  This type of theory is outdated now, but it had some scientific basis then.  The science behind these ideas fascinated them both.

REH did not write many Cthulhoid stories, recognizing it not to be his forte, but did include references to the CM in a lot of his tales, such as “The Tower of Elephant,” “Xuthal of the Dusk,” “A Witch Shall Be Born,” “The Scarlet Citadel,” “The Vale of Lost Women,” and “The Valley of the Worm.”  In “Men of the Shadows,” REH’s Lemurians descended from fish-men that he might have read about in HPL’s “Dagon.”  If so, this would be Lovecraft’s earliest influence on Howard.  HPL and REH name-dropped Tsathoggua into stories after first seeing it in a tale CAS had sent them prior to publication.  Shanks said that Howard owned Otto Augustus Wall’s book Sex and Sex Worship (Phallic Worship), using information from it in “Stone” and using it as the partial inspiration for his fictional book, Justin Geoffrey’s Unausspechlichen Kulten, much as Lovecraft had done with Abdul Alhazred’s Necronomicon.  REH may have been the first to write stories about Lovecraft’s fictional works like “The Call of Cthulhu” as if it were actual reality, which is common practice now.

Regarding the two authors’ famous barbarism vs civilization debate, Finn thinks it is significant that HPL lacked the frame of reference that REH had on the Western frontier, and so derided Howard’s views on such matters as the trampling on personal rights by policemen, as occurs in “The God in the Bowl.”  REH did send that typescript to HPL, and apparently even wrote “Pigeons from Hell” as a kind of answer to and parody of the latter’s New England horror fiction, showing that the South could be just as scary a setting for a horror story. As an advisor to the creators of the new Monolith Conan role-playing game, Shanks has been incorporating CM-related (as well as Clark Ashton Smith-related) ideas into it.  Howard added the sexual dimension to CM toad-like deities like Tsathoggua.  An audience member pointed out that recent updates by critics Kevin O’Brien and Bobby Derie have made the CM much sexier than it originally was.

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Guest of Honor Mark Schultz was spotlighted in the second panel and of course later at the banquet.  He illustrated Wandering Star’s and Del Rey’s first volume of the Complete Conan, while other artists did the other volumes.  Schultz welcomed this, since each had his own interpretation of Conan, none being definitive.  He found art director Marcelo Anciano great to work with, in part because Anciano had a clear idea of what he wanted and provided a formal pattern for it.  Schultz has been drawing since childhood, starting with dinosaurs, then Tarzan, and finally Howard, whom he found was much deeper than Burroughs.  Schultz has always been fascinated with the fact that REH and HPL were dealing with the transition from the supernatural to the scientific.  Schultz first studied at Kutztown State University.  Then he went into comics because he liked illustrating stories, being an admirer of illustrators like Pyle, Wyeth, Cornwell, Frazetta, Williamson, and Wood.

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Schultz’s first comics were the Xenozoic series, which he will be going back to in a new book.  For 10 years, he has been the primary writer on the Prince Valiant comic strip.  He wonders if Prince Valiant was inspired by Howard, though they may have been influenced by the same sources.  Schultz admits he is a slow, analytical worker and that a really productive artist would better know when to stop.  He finds it easy to adopt REH because the author is so sparse but dead-on in his descriptions.  In order to avoid Howard’s anachronisms, though, Schultz prefers to depict ancient, rather than medieval, armaments and forces.  The pulp artist he admires most is Hugh Rankin because of his moody, horrific interpretations, rather than focusing on musculature or action.  Schultz studies his intended subjects, but mainly goes with what is most effective dramatically.  He is careful to be as realistic and convincing as possible before he adds a fantastic element, much as REH did in his fiction.  His favorite comic artist is Wally Wood.

In his eloquent banquet speech, Schultz said he likes to illustrate science fact as well as science fiction and fantasy.  He really responds to the storytelling, adventure, atmosphere, weight of deep time, command of language, and personalization in Howard’s tales.  REH was using genres and tropes from old European fiction, while injecting his own dedication to individualism and love of freedom, making his stories far more layered and textured than one would expect from genre fiction.  Howard chose his descriptive words carefully and economically, which Schultz regards as a mark of true genius.  He has two new books coming out this summer: Portfolio and Storms at Sea.

Following presentation of the Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards, which has been covered elsewhere, there was a bus trip to REH’s grave in Brownwood’s Greenleaf Cemetery.

Scott Cupp’s wife made the interesting point that the Cross Plains Post Office has not been abolished, as so many rural post offices have been, because of the extra business provided by the REH Days pictorial cancellations and the mailing out of so many REH Foundation books.

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During the traditional Fists at the Ice House talk Friday night, Finn, Gruber, and Shanks read parts of humorous Costigan and serious Kid Allison stories, as well as Howard’s historical commentary.  They then read boxing poems, even one in which Finn adopted the voice of Mohammed Ali.  They talked about REH’s motivations in writing his boxing stories, which were doubtless based in part on his personal experiences boxing with his friends at the CP ice house, not to mention his extensive knowledge of boxing history.  Afterward, many attendees went to the Pavilion to recite poetry or just talk.

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The first Saturday panel was on the A Means to Freedom collection of Howard’s and Lovecraft’s letters to each another.  REHupan Rusty Burke noted that only REH’s letters survive, HPL’s letters having been accidentally burned by Dr. Howard in the early 1940s. Fortunately, Arkham House publisher August Derleth had transcribed the latter earlier.  The text of all the correspondence in the books was checked by David Schultz, while Burke and Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi did the research and annotations.  Burke said that HPL and REH were very different individuals.  Lovecraft affected an 18th-century New England gentleman, while Howard was proud of his Southwestern heritage.  Unlike HPL, REH was quick to take offense.  Panelist Jonas Prida remarked on the schizoid character of their correspondence and that each related their own life experiences regardless of whether they thought the other was actually interested in them.  Panelist Dierk Guenther said that Howard is an extremely unreliable informant, so at any one time it is difficult to tell if he is being serious or making fun of Lovecraft, which makes reading the correspondence interesting but frustrating.  Burke observed that they encouraged each other’s interests and efforts, but said it was so akin to goading that the two probably would not have maintained their friendship if they had ever met.  Prida added that they were very concerned, not only with the craft of writing, but how each could make a living as a writer.

Guenther said that REH was obviously very proud of being from Texas and was very knowledgeable about its history and culture.  Aside from “Vultures of Whapeton,” Guenther isn’t impressed with Howard’s straight westerns.  Asked if REH would have continued with westerns or returned to fantasy had he lived, Burke opined that it would probably have depended on sales, but thought he would have done more weird westerns like “Nekht Semerkeht.”  Prida said that, hard as it was to do (HPL couldn’t), Howard could bridge genres so as to appeal to another market if he couldn’t sell to a particular pulp.  As to whether they respected one another, Burke stated that their attitudes developed with time.  REH started out very deferential, but progressively became more argumentative and sarcastic.  HPL recognized the other’s skill, but thought his stories were too bloody and commercial.  In their political discussions, Lovecraft expressed admiration for Fascism as it preserved social order and favored mechanization as leading to a better, less toilsome life.  Howard strongly disagreed, prizing individual freedom and accomplishment.  Thus, they were diametrically opposed to one another regarding the relative importance of society vs. the individual.  As far as seeing themselves as literary figures, Burke said that HPL did so to some extent, though a lot of that was a pose, while REH knew what fiction was good and popular, but was more concerned with commercial success than literary recognition.  Guenther added that Howard did regard himself as a pioneer in regional writing.

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REHupan Bill Cavalier introduced the Saturday panel on Fantasy Gaming by saying that, after starting to play Dungeons & Dragons in 1978 because it allowed him to be Conan, he discovered that REH had had more influence on the creation of D & D than any other author, as he confirmed with its creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.  Panelist Shanks explained that there have been several Conan role-playing and video games over the years, as well as the board game Age of Conan, but all these incorporated pastiche material and none had a Howardian feel.  Panelist and REHupan Patrice Louinet recently became an advisor to a French effort by Monolith Games to produce a Conan board game because he is an REH purist and wanted to make sure the game would be true to its source material, which he also wanted to promote the reading of.  The project involves the best designers available.  The Kickstarter campaign has raised $3.3 million, the largest amount ever pledged for a board game.  The game will debut at GenCon 2015 in July/August.

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Shanks became advisor to Modiphius Games’ effort to create a Conan role-playing game because previous versions by TSR, GURPS, and Mongoose had incorporated pastiche material, and Modiphius wanted to return to the original pulp stories.  Shanks piqued their interest by describing Howard as “Burroughs meets Lovecraft.”  The Kickstarter support promises to be huge.  Shanks got them to call it Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed of.  He then enlisted Finn as a writer.  Panelist Finn said that they will produce supplement books for different phases of Conan’s life, each with different settings and rules.  Shanks got Louinet to help as an advisor and he himself is serving as art director.  Shanks will be able to select the artists, who will include Schultz, Kelly, Sanjulian, Truman, Giorello, and many others.  Finn added that they all got involved in these gaming projects because of the opportunity to pull in new Howard readers, while removing pastiche material.  Some content will have to be invented, but it will be kept as Howardian as possible.

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Topping off the Saturday presentations was an interview of brothers Brad and Jeff Howard, whose great-grandfather was Dr. Howard’s brother, and Brad’s daughter Amanda.  They brought and displayed their Family Bible, which was published in 1857 and lists many ancestors going back to 1837, including REH and his parents, though it is not complete.  The book should give us significantly more information about the Howard family.  The Howards also brought their copy (only the 13th known) of the Jenkins 1937 edition of A Gent from Bear Creek, though it is in poor condition.  Louinet had first contacted the family in the course of his research into REH’s genealogy.

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And for the final icing on the cake, Louinet — who has been researching Howard’s family history tirelessly for years — discovered three photos of Howard with the Butler children, who lived next door to the Howards, playing pirates, along with a photo of Hester and Patch. These have already appeared online. However, Louinet did not have the originals. Joe Henderson, son of the Butler’s daughter, came to Cross Plains on Saturday and brought the originals of the four photos, plus four more and presented them as a gift to Louinet. The four additional photos, three of which have never been seen before, include two featuring the Butler kids with Howard, the famous photo of Howard drinking out of a giant beer schooner and a photo of the Butler house with the Howard house in the background.

And so came to an end another unique and rewarding Howard Days celebration.

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Photos courtesy of Russell Andrew, Rusty Burke, Rob Roehm, Jeff Shanks, Todd Vick and others

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In a few months, the fourth and final volume of Fists of Iron: The Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard will be published. The project is the most ambitious effort from The Robert E. Howard Press, known for tackling big projects (The Collected Letters, The Collected Poetry).

Nearly two years ago I interviewed the three man creative team behind this multi-volume collection and they confirmed what a huge, time consuming effort the project was. But judging from their answers, it was clearly a labor of love for the trio.

Each of the four volumes sports a fine cover painting by award winning artist Tom Gianni, who visually captures the essence of what Howard conveyed with his words, detailing the adventures of Sailor Steve Costigan and his other pugilistic characters.

Here is the fight card for the final round of The Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard:

Introduction by Mark Finn

Kid Allison:

“The Man with the Mystery Mitts”
“Kid Galahad”
“College Socks”
“The Wild Cat and the Star”
“Fighting Nerves” (Kid Allison version)

Mike Dorgan and Bill McGlory:

“The House of Peril”
“One Shanghai Night”
“The Tomb of the Dragon”

Other Tales:

“The Sign of the Snake”
“The Fighting Fury”
“Fighting Nerves” (Jim O’Donnel version)
“Fists of the Desert”
“Fists of the Revolution”

Miscellanea:

“The Jinx”
“Fistic Psychology”
“The Drawing Card”
Untitled fragment (“Huh,” I was so . . .)
“A Tough Nut to Crack” (Allison version)
“A Tough Nut to Crack” (Clarney version)
“One Shanghai Night” – synopsis
Untitled notes (Knute Hansen)

“The Lord of the Ring, Part 4” by Patrice Louinet

Before you know it, a call for pre-orders will go out, so stay tuned to the REHF website, this blog, the TGR Facebook page and TGR Twitter feed for the announcement. It is sure to be a knockout of a book.

04/01/2015 Update: Now shipping: Round 4 of Fists of Iron. Order your copy today!

Fists_3_coverWith the jack-o-lantern rotting on the front porch and a half-finished list of items needed for Thanksgiving dinner in a kitchen drawer, the bombardment of Christmas sales and advertisements that unmercifully pound our senses has begun. In this tempest of holiday commercialism, where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, there is solace within the pages of a spate of new Howard books and publications to calm one’s shattered and battered nerves. This year end publishing surge is a well-deserved reward for having survived yet another year of living on a planet that is seemingly coming apart at the seams. Escapism is the watchword for these troubled times, so let’s see what is on the reading menu for the waning weeks of 2014.

Now shipping is the third volume of the collected boxing stories of Robert E. Howard, Fists of Iron, Round 3. The volume is a smorgasbord of Costigan misadventures. If you are not onboard with the boxing stories, it is not too late. Volumes one and two are still available on the Robert E. Howard Foundation website. While you are there, check out the Membership details; being a member of the foundation is a great way to support REH, get discounts on books, the quarterly newsletter and some free swag to boot!

girasol-WeirdTales-September1934Neil Meacham over at Girasol Collectibles has been making many a Howard fan happy with the flurry of Weird Tales replicas featuring Conan stories he has been publishing the past months. The latest is one of Two-Gun’s best Conan yarns, “The People of the Black Circle.” Part one of the three part serial originally published in the September 1934, with a Brundage cover based on the story was published last month by Girasol, part two this month and part three will appear next month. It is really great to read Howard as he was originally published.

Also available from the Cimmerian Press is John D. Haefele’s A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos: Origins of the Cthulhu Mythos. This is the first volume from Leo Grin’s new publishing venture. The Cimmerian Press falls under the umbrella of LMG Books. Check out the website for more information. I am very please to see Leo get back in the publishing game. His The Cimmerian journal was far and away one of the best Howard zines ever, second only to Glenn Lord’s The Howard Collector

Swords-smSwords of the North from the REH Foundation Press is shipping next month. The book is one that the late, great Steve Tompkins dreamed of, what he called “The Northern Thing.” The volume is a comprehensive collection of all Howard’s “Northern Adventures,” featuring Cormac mac Art, Turlogh O’Brien, James Allison, and a number of other stories and poems. In a perfect world, this would have been the twelfth volume of the Del Rey series of Howard books.

A new volume from McFarland might be of interest to Howard fans: J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and the Birth of Modern Fantasy by Deke Parsons, edited by Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III. Per the website “The birth of modern fantasy in 1930s Britain and America saw the development of new literary and film genres. J.R.R. Tolkien created modern fantasy with The Lord of the Rings, set in a fictional world based upon his life in the early 20th century British Empire, and his love of language and medieval literature. In small-town Texas, Robert E. Howard pounded out his own fantasy realm in his Conan stories, published serially in the ephemeral pulp magazines he loved . . . ”

With Christmas coming, any or all of the above items would make great additions to your collection or gifts for other Howard fans, provided they haven’t been naughty and reading Conan pastiches.

Fists_3_cover

Okay boys and girls, time to start flipping couch cushions and looking for those wayward pazoors because the newest offering from the REH Foundation Press is on the way. Coming soon is the third of four volumes of the collected boxing fiction of REH, Fists of Iron, Round 3. Ordering details have not yet been posted on the Foundation’s website, but you’d better keep a close lookout for the information, because if you are a Sailor Steve Costigan fan, this is one volume you must have. Hell, you really need all four of them! Here is the pugilistic fight card for Round 3:

Introduction: “Big Talk Don’t Bust No Chins” by Chris Gruber

“Circus Fists”
“Vikings of the Gloves”
“Night of Battle”
“Sailor Costigan and the Yellow Cobra”
“Sailor Costigan and the Jade Monkey”
“Alleys of Darkness”
“Sailor Costigan and the Destiny Gorilla”
“A New Game for Costigan”
“A Two-Fisted Santa Claus”
“The Slugger’s Game”
“General Ironfist”
“Sluggers of the Beach”
“The Honor of the Ship” (originally untitled)
Untitled story (“A sailorman ain’t got no business…”) (aka “Flying Knuckles”)
“Iron-Clad Fists”
“Sailor Costigan and the Swami” (originally untitled)
“Alleys of Treachery”

Appendix:

“Night of Battle: (synopsis)
“Sailor Costigan and the Turkish Menace” (incomplete)
“Sailor Costigan and the Turkish Menace” (synopsis)
“Sailor Costigan and the Jade Monkey” (3rd person version)
“Alleys of Darkness” (synopsis)
“Sailor Costigan and the Destiny Gorilla” (synopsis)
“A New Game for Costigan” (synopsis)
“A Two-Fisted Santa Claus” (synopsis)
“The Slugger’s Game” (synopsis)
“General Ironfist” (synopsis)
“Sluggers of the Beach” (synopsis)
“Iron-Clad Fists” (synopsis)
“Alleys of Treachery” (synopsis)

“The Lord of the Ring,” (part 3), by Patrice Louinet

And let’s not forget Round 3 has a knockout of a cover by Tom Gianni. Tom was a special guest at Howard Days this year and while there, he snagged the 2014 REHF Rankin Award for best Howard artist. Indeed, it was well deserved for all the fine work he has been doing on the Foundation books dust jackets.

Speaking of the Foundation, they recently changed their mailing address. All correspondence may now be addressed to:

Robert E. Howard Foundation
PO Box 2641
Sugar Land, TX 77487-2641

The web site remains the same at: www.rehfoundation.org.

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.

Order and Pay Via PayPal:

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 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:

BT_front-web

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.