Archive for the 'Mark Finn' Category
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.

Eight of the nine boxes containing Howard's typescripts.

Eight of the nine boxes containing Howard’s typescripts in the holding area for new acquisitions at the Harry Ransom Center.

On Friday, July 26th, I was privileged to be among the select few present at the pretigious Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas Campus in Austin when the Lord family formally donated the 14,000 pages of Robert E. Howard typescripts Glenn had collected throughout his lifetime. To say it was a momentous occasion would be an understatement. The entire collection fit into nine boxes (eight of which are shown above) and contains stories, poems and letters. In addition to Glenn’s wife Lou Ann, son James, daughter Glenda and his three living granchildren, myself, Jack and Barbara Baum, Rusty Burke, Mark Finn, Paul Herman and Dennis McHaney were also in attendance.

Left to right: Damon Sasser, Mark Finn, Jack Baum, Barbara Baum, Dennis McHaney, Glenda Felkner, Lou Ann Lord, Danielle Smith, Rusty Burke, Paul Herman, Stephen Cupples, Ryan Smith and James Lord.

Twenty years before his death, Glenn Lord was pondering what to do with his massive collection of original Howard typescripts when he would eventually pass away. That was 1991 and Paul Herman was attending law school at the University of Texas and while visiting with Glenn one day, Glenn asked Paul what he should do with his vast collection, which included thousands of pages of Howard’s original manuscripts. Glenn considered the Houston Public Library. While the library is a fine organization, it is not a world-class archival facility. They wouldn’t know what to do with such a valuable and rare collection. A light bulb went off above Paul’s head and he suggested the Harry Ransom Center. While he had never been to the facility, he knew of it and they work that was done there to preserves valuable, historical items. So he got in contact with Dr. Richard Orem, who was and still is the head librarian for the Center. What is the Harry Ransom Center you may ask? Here is a brief description from the Center’s Wikipedia webpage:

The Harry Ransom Center is an archive, library and museum at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in the collection of literary and cultural artifacts from the United States and Europe for the purpose of advancing the study of the arts and humanities. The Ransom Center houses 36 million literary manuscripts, 1 million rare books, 5 million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art. The Center has a reading room for scholars and galleries which display rotating exhibitions of works and objects from the collections.

Paul asked Dr. Orem if he knew who Robert E. Howard was. Dr. Orem replied he did and further stated the Center had a collection of his books. Then Paul asked him if he had ever heard of Glenn Lord. Dr. Orem replied in the affirmative and said the Center had a set of The Howard Collector. Next Paul laid out the proposal for Glenn to donate the Howard typescripts when he passed on. Dr. Orem enthusiastically agreed and arranged for Paul to take a behind the scenes tour of the facility. Impressed, Paul soon returned with Glenn and they were given the grand tour. And so it was settled – when the time came, Howard’s typescripts would be donated to the Center, preserved and maintained for future generations to view, study and use for scholarship.

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Rusty going through one of the nine boxes that was brought up from the holding area while myself and Ben Friberg look on. Luckily Ben had his camera with him in case Rusty tried to pull a Sandy Berger.

Well, that time has come. The formal announcement was made today and soon Howard fans and scholars will have complete access to Howard’s manuscripts.

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Typescripts for “Guns of the Mountains” and “Nekht Semerkeht.”

It took a bit of doing to get the boxes of typescripts ready to donate, as described by Paul over on the Robert E. Howard Forums, but the collection is right where it belongs — saved for posterity just as Glenn wished it to be. An invaluable legacy that will live on forever.

Here is a video from Austin television station KXAN on the donation of the Lord collection to the Harry Ransom center filmed by Ben  Friberg.

Photos courtesy Barbara Baum, the Harry Ransom Center and Dennis McHaney.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get the complete details for PulpFest 2013 here.

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

In Print:

Fists of Iron - Round 1

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

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

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

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

 On DVD:

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

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

Coming Soon:

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff ruining someone's shot of the Howard House.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dinner & Drinks at Humphey Pete's

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

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Fists of Iron - Round 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

This is the first 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:

Pirates_web

Pirate Adventures
This collection of Howard’s pirate stories, verse and related material from the REH Foundation Press, is now available. In addition to great pirate adventures, the book features a fantastic pulpish cover by Tom Gianni and an Introduction by Rob Roehm.

The Dark Man Vol 7, No. 1
The new issue of TDM has arrived. Contents include: “The Writer’s Style: Sound and Syntax in Howard’s Sentences” by David C. Smith, “I and I Liberate Zimbabwe: Motifs of Africa and Freedom in Howard’s “The Grisly Horror” by Patrick R. Burger and “Robert E. Howard and the Lone Scouts” by Rob Roehm, plus reviews and more. The new TDM is available in electronic form as well as hard copy and can be ordered from Lulu.com. Also, TDM is in the process of making all back issues of the journal available free of charge in electronic form.

I Am Providence PaperbackI Am Providence (Softcover Edition)
Published in 1996, S.T. Joshi’s award-winning biography H.P. Lovecraft: A Life provided the most detailed portrait of the life, work, and thought of the Old Gent from Providence ever published. While that book was massive, that edition was greatly abridged from Joshi’s original manuscript. This expanded and updated two volume edition restores the 150,000 words that Joshi omitted and, in addition, updates the texts with new findings. A must have for Howard fans, this reasonably priced softcover edition is the next best thing to owning a copy of the hardcover edition, which is now out-of-print and much sought after by collectors.

Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian
Editor Jonas’ anthology takes on Howard’s Conan as its only subject. Two TGR contributors, Frank Coffman and Jeff Shanks, are among the many contributors The collection of Conan essays focuses 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 volume is published by McFarland & Company, Inc.,

Coming Soon:

The Alluring Art of Margaret BrundageThe Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage
Currently being printed and available soon, this volume is an extensive tribute to  Brundage  and her art. Her fantasy, science-fiction, and horror paintings graced the cover of many an issue of Weird Tales and other pulps during Howard’s lifetime. The sexy, alluring and sensationalistic Brundage covers even featured Conan nine times. She was the first female cover artist of the pulp era and her work was controversial for the day, often featuring bondage themes, with semi-nude young women bearing whips. The book comes in three editions, all with full color art. Visit the publisher’s website for more details and ordering information.

The REH Foundation Press
Four volumes of boxing stories are coming soon from the Foundation Press.  This will be a  comprehensive collection of REH’s humorous and straight boxing yarns. Needless to say, getting the volumes done was a massive undertaking by Patrice Louinet, Mark Finn, and Chris Gruber.

Also in the works for the near future is a volume of Howard’s straight western stories. One has to imagine the humorous yarns will get their own volumes a little later on. Additionally, the limited hardcover edition of Mark Finn’s Howard biography, Blood and Thunder is sold out and Rob is prepping it for the Foundation Press’ Lulu.com Storefront. So it will still be available for purchase via POD.

Shortly after Howard’s death, Dr. Howard had himself appointed Temporary Administrator of his son’s estate since Howard allegedly died intestate (without a will); much as been written about a missing will. Howard biographers L. Sprague de Camp and Mark Finn have addressed the issue, along with other Howard scholars. In a nutshell, it appears Howard left a typewritten will leaving everything to his friend Lindsey Tyson. While going though his late son’s papers, Dr Howard found the will and destroyed it.

One of the duties of an Administrator of a deceased person’s estate is to file with the court a document that lists that person’s assets. Dr. Howard did that on June 16, 1936 when he petitioned the probate court in Callahan County to be appointed Temporary Administrator. That document appears on this page. (Hat tip to Rusty Burke for the document scans.)

As shown below, the bulk of Howard’s estate was cash and savings. What caught my eye was most of his money was in the Post Office in Brownwood. This was news to me since I didn’t know the Post Office was in the banking business; so I did a little research.

Back in Howard’s day, banks were suspect  for a safe place to put your hard earned money – the Great Depression saw to that, with some 9,000 banks nationwide going under during the 1930s.

Unlike banks at the time, the United States Postal Savings System (“USPSS”) was federally insured. The USPSS was administered by the US Post Office Department, which is known today as the USPS (United States Postal Service). The savings program started in 1911 and ended in 1967. It was originally founded to encourage immigrants to get the cash out of their mattresses and into a banking institution. Participants were allowed to keep up to $2,500 with the USPSS. The depositors were told their money was backed by “the full faith and credit of the United States Government.”

However, beginning in January of 1934, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) provided insurance to private banks. Initially, deposits were insured up to $2,500; over the years that has increased to $250,000. Obviously the creation to FDIC was a blow the Postal Savings System since it made banks as safe as the USPSS. But folks still used it – perhaps having more faith in a 159 year-old institution in lieu of some newfangled government insurance program.

The USPSS issued certificates in a number of denominations, depending on the amounts deposited. The Postal Savings System paid 2 percent interest per year on deposits. There is a nice little write-up on the USPSS here if you’d like to read more about the program.

Since the Cross Plains Post Office was too small for the USPSS, Howard used the one in Brownwood. It is also interesting to note he kept cash in Brownwood’s First National Bank instead of a bank in Cross Plains. Perhaps he did not want some gossipy bank teller telling anyone his business. I imagine he kept some cash on hand for walking around money and minor emergencies, such as car repairs.

One more item of interest: starting in 1921, participants in the USPSS were fingerprinted. This was done for identification and to aid with detecting any fraudulent activity. So, while his fingerprint card was likely destroyed decades ago, at one point in his life Howard was fingerprinted!