One of the first — and still ranked among the best — websites dedicated to Robert E. Howard just announced the achievement of reaching its tenth anniversary on the web: The Barbarian Keep. The Lord of the Keep, Ed Waterman, was instrumental in spreading Howard’s reputation on the Internet and bringing together like-minded Conan fans. He not only created The Barbarian Keep but also the REHupa website, and then he spent years adding content to both and popularizing them across the Internet. In the wake of Ed’s efforts the membership of REHupa skyrocketed, and thousands of fans were able to rediscover an author many hadn’t read since childhood.
I was one of those people. It was largely Ed’s two sterling sites that rekindled my interest in Robert E. Howard circa 1999, and put me on the long winding path to the editorship of The Cimmerian and to projects like this blog. And it was there that I learned all about the Glenn Lord Legal Defense Fund, the history of the editing and pastiching of Howard, and the existence of genre publications such as The New Howard Reader and The Dark Man. Who knows how many other fans Ed’s efforts have created over the last decade?
Lately Ed’s largely been out of fandom, but interested readers can enjoy his thoughts on Howard’s philosophical leanings in the essay, “The Shadow from a Soul on Fire: Robert E. Howard and Irrationalism,” which appeared in 2004’s The Barbaric Triumph. Lovecraft acolyte S. T. Joshi of “REH was a subliterary hack” fame haughtily singled out “Fire” for particular derision in The Dark Man #8, implying that Howard was de facto incapable of formulating anything resembling a profound philosophical position. Ed’s measured and superbly reasoned response in the following issue remains a classic ass-kicking in the field, one of the most lopsided intellectual battles I’ve ever seen.
All of this is ample reason to celebrate Ed’s decade of internet scholarship. So drop on over to the Keep and visit or revisit the treasure trove of riches to be found within. Here’s looking forward to the next ten years of webmastering excellence from one of the pioneers of Robert E. Howard studies on the Internet.