Birthday Party in Cross Plains — Brownwood Bulletin

Era Lee Hanke of Project Pride has been busy advertising the 2006 Robert E. Howard Days festival. Here’s an article that ran in the Brownwood Bulletin for Monday, April 17 2006:

Birthday party in Cross Plains
Robert E. Howard centennial celebration planned for June
By Gene Deason
Brownwood Bulletin

CROSS PLAINS – Fans of fantasy fiction writer Robert E. Howard have been returning to his hometown for 20 years, but Cross Plains is expecting the largest crowd ever in June for the centennial of the author’s birth.

“A centennial celebration is only going to happen once in your lifetime, so you don’t want to miss it,” said Era Lee Hanke, president of Cross Plains Project Pride.

Howard created the fantasy hero Conan, who decades later captivated a new generation in the 1982 movie “Conan the Barbarian.”

She said the Robert E. Howard United Press Association is joining the organization she leads in co-hosting the annual Robert E. Howard Days. The amateur press association founded in 1972 is dedicated to the study and discussion of Howard and his writings.

Registration forms and a tentative schedule of events for the three-day centennial set June 8-10 were mailed to interested individuals last week.

Featured as guests of honor at this year’s event will be Glenn Lord and Roy Thomas.

The agenda is still being finalized, but among the scheduled activities are the viewing of Howard Payne University’s Howard book collection, a bus and walking tours of Cross Plains, a reading by Howard biographer [redacted] from his new book, a screening of a portion of a Howard documentary by Ethan Nahté, tours of the Howard homestead museum and panel discussions by a group of Howard scholars.

Howard was born in January 1906 in Peaster, but he lived in Cross Plains while he was creating his literature. He committed suicide on June 11, 1936.

Lord is perhaps the most universally recognized and admired figure in Howard fandom. For nearly half a century he has been championing Howard and his work, from his landmark publication of the first REH poetry collection, “Always Comes Evening” (Arkham House, 1959) and his legendary REH fanzine, “The Howard Collector” (1960-1972), through over 30 years as the literary agent for the owners of Howard’s works, to his current involvement in working with the editors of the Wandering Star/Del Rey and Wildside Press Howard books, and the forthcoming updating of his monumental bio-bibliography, The Last Celt (Donald M. Grant, 1976). Lord has mentored two generations of REH fans, scholars and editors, and was one of the attendees at the Robert E. Howard Memorial Gathering, the first official Robert E. Howard Day in Cross Plains, in 1986.

Thomas was the driving force behind Marvel’s comic book “Conan the Barbarian” in 1970, and for 10 years and 115 issues — in collaboration with artists such as Barry Windsor-Smith, Gil Kane, John Buscema and others — he set the standard for the depiction of Howard’s Cimmerian hero in a visual medium. The award-winning comic spawned many others, and through such magazines as Savage Tales, Savage Sword of Conan, Kull and the Barbarians, Kull the Conqueror, Roy introduced thousands of new readers to Conan and to Howard’s other characters and stories, including Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and various horror tales. In addition, he constantly reminded his readers that these stories were based on the work of Howard.

His addition of nonfiction articles about Howard and his fiction helped introduce them to the originals, and contributed to the growth of Howard fandom and the “Howard boom” of the 1970s. After several years away, Thomas returned to Conan and the characters of Robert E. Howard in the 1990s, working with Marvel, Dark Horse, and Cross Plains Comics. His afterwords to Dark Horse’s current reprints of the original Conan the Barbarian issues (The Chronicles of Conan) offer informative backstage glimpses into the creation of this milestone comic. In addition to comics, Thomas has worked on adaptations of Conan into film, television and animation.

Information about the Robert E. Howard Centennial is available on the Web at

REHupa #140 (August 1996)

It’s been fun getting word that various people are griping that the first two REHupa mailing auctions I’ve held were both won by Howard collector Mark Corrinet, who many people are referring to as a “rich lawyer” who has cornered the market on REHupa mailings for all time. How dare he outbid the people who themselves were prepared to outbid everyone else for exactly the same reasons? The fact is, anyone out there could have outbid Mark if they wanted the mailings in question bad enough. It is, after all, how I myself acquired them in the first place: I bid high, not what I thought they were worth today but what I thought I would be willing to pay for them even if it was more than the general fanboys said they were worth. Apparently Mark is smart enough to do the same thing. After all, REHupa mailings are not getting any more plentiful, and once a mailing contains a first printing of a Howard item or some other treasure, it will be the first printing for all time. These things are only going to go up, up, up in value as the years go on, despite the people today who ridiculously claim that Mailings are worth no more than ten or twenty dollars, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. What rubbish. Such people either have never purchased mailings and don’t know what they are talking about, or else they don’t understand the collecting mindset.

As it so happens, Mark buys the mailings for his father, Howard fan extraordinaire Jay Corrinet, the same man who owns Howard’s original typewriter. Now in poor health, his Howard collection is one of the few things that continues to bring him great joy, and so Mark’s high bids for mailings comes from the most laudable of motivations, a son’s love for his father. Those of you out there who want to convince me that Mark is an opportunist, someone so very different from noble souls like yourselves, will have a tough road to hoe on that score.

Another complaint I have heard is that Mark is buying up duplicates of mailings, which is supposed to mean he cares not about reading them, but only hoarding them like Smaug the Terrible. Not true. Mark replies, “As a matter of fact I just arranged to purchase the majority of REHupas that were part of de Camp’s collection, combined with the ones I have, gives me over 70 of them. So there are a lot that I have no interest at all in. So tell the “fans” that I am going to start bidding up front with one bid. If I bid they better damn well plan on spending serious money. If I don’t bid up front its all theirs and as I said there are a lot of them I no longer need.” If Mark does have duplicates, most likely they are from having to purchase entire collections as a set, and the dupes will hit the market again someday.

So there you have it. A great many of the ones I’ll be selling are of no interest to Mark, so the people not willing to pay what the mailings are worth will have a shot at stealing them. But somehow I’m guessing that even with Mark out of the picture on some items, there will still be bidding wars as people try to snag what are clearly essential parts of any Howard collection worthy of the epithet “great.”

I’ll be posting new REHupas on eBay at a fairly snappy pace from now on, probably one a day, so there will be many opportunities for everyone to bid on the ones they want and possibly come away with a few of them. Keep an eagle eye on eBay, you never know what else is going to come up.

The next mailing on the agenda is REHupa #140 for August 1996. Coming in two meaty sections which combined total over two hundred pages, it offers a lot of interest to the Howard collector.

Section #1 has some great cover art by then-REHupan Dan Preece. Morgan Holmes was the OE during this time, and the a.p.a. was still recovering from the most sordid event in its history, the first time a member had been expelled. Western writer James Reasoner (whose blog you can read by clicking on the link under the BLOGROLL on this very blog) joined the a.p.a. in this issue. James is no longer a member, but here you can read his very first ‘zine. At this time, the a.p.a. had only nineteen members, giving you an idea of how rare this mailing is compared to the issues that sported thirty-plus members (and hence around thirty-six copies, including the six spec copies the OE normally requests). Honorary Members (a thing later discontinued) were still in play during this time, and that roster sported the names L. Sprague de Camp, Novalyne Price Ellis, Glenn Lord, and Roy Thomas. If you recall, this mailing occurred right after the 1996 Howard Days, and so has some trip reports of that event. In addition, The Whole Wide World was getting set to be released; in fact, some of the members had seen advance footage of the film at Howard Days. Therefore, this mailing is interesting on a number of fronts.

L. Sprague de Camp contributes a letter that shows him at his most bawdy, commenting in graphic terms on Robert E. Howard’s sex life or lack thereof. Glenn Lord offers an interesting two-page letter that gives some of the sordid details surrounding Howard publishing at that time. Remember, this was when Glenn had been forced out as agent to the heirs and there was tons of legal wrangling and mudslinging going on. You can’t read about it anywhere else but here.

There’s also a reprint of a Howard article that ran in Texas Monthly, some quotes about Howard from The Fantasy Fan news section, a scathing review of Conan of Aquilonia by Adrian Cole, an obit for the son of Tevis Clyde Smith, who died prematurely young in 1965, a Howard Days trip report by Reasoner, another by Dan Preece, a third by David C. Smith (author of the Oron books an a current REHupa member at the time), a reprint of a long Karl Edward Wagner interview, and lots of art, reviews, mailing comments, and tidbits about REH that you won’t find anywhere else.

Section Two begins with an absolutely silly article about the ruination of trees for paper use by Steve Trout, fun to read simply for its unintentional humorous value. J. D. Robinson begins redeeming this section with a nice article about Blood & Thunder in the silent movies of Howard’s era. Indy Cavalier presents Cold Steel #62 (to this day Indy has never missed a mailing since he joined REHupa) that has a great trip report of Howard Days that year, complete with lots of pictures. He even includes some newspaper articles published about the event and about Jack Scott. Rusty Burke’s zine Seanchai 78 has a lot to offer, including comments on Howard Days and several pieces that would later find their way into The Dark Man, making these appearances the first printings of these items. He also presents an expanded version of the article about de Camp’s editing that later appeared in Fantastic Worlds of REH.

Rick McCollum also presents a long trip report from Cross Plains in his own inimitable manner, including many good quality pictures and newspaper articles. He also has a nice weird comic with Howard as a character, the “Lost Ashley Dust pages,” Ashley Dust being a professional comic he once drew that featured Howard among others. Steve Tompkins weighs in with a large Expecting the Barbarians, with long essays on Howard’s “The Vale of Lost Women” and Charles Saunders’ Imaro books, plus lots and lots of mailing comments.

All in all, a very substantive mailing with lots of reading and collecting magic between the covers. Let the e-list dinks squawk all they want, but I thought these mailings were easily worth $100 a copy even when I bought them a few years ago, and several years has not changed my opinion in the least. REHupa has a ton of rare Howardia within the 30,000+ pages that have been printed over the last 34 years. For the serious Howard collector, a decent run of these mailings is an absolute must. Simple as that.

Happy bidding…

More Cross Plains Fire Stories

In the Cross Plains Review for March 16, 2006 there was a good story on the December 27, 2005 Cross Plains fire that devastated the town. The article is reprinted below for your edification:

Man With Ties to Cross Plains Writes His Take on the Wildfire

Editor’s Note: Cleve Wiese, a graduate journalism student at New York University (NYU), wrote this story after visiting Cross Plains in the days following the fire. He is the son of Larry and Patricia (better known as Sissy Barr) Wiese and the grandson of the late Clara Nell Spencer.

CROSS PLAINS, TX-Hollis Sherrell recalled fighting the flames with a garden hose as they approached his back yard. Finally realizing the futility of this defense, he climbed in his old pickup and, with the tank of pure oxygen he relies on to breathe situated in the seat next to him, made his way along a once peaceful country lane turned tunnel-of-fire.
“Boy, I told that truck, you better keep running because if you don’t, me and you both are sunk,” he said.

When, despite overpowering heat and blinding smoke, he finally made it to relative safety, he said he noticed something forgotten in the pickup-bed: an open container of gasoline.

Stories of death-defying heroics and miraculous escapes like Sherrell’s have abounded in Cross Plains in the days since devastating wildfires wreaked havoc on the quiet community on Dec. 27, destroying (according to Red Cross estimates) 116 homes and killing two people.

Immediately after the fire, the town looked like a war zone. Random details sporadically leapt out from scenes of general destruction: a strand of Christmas lights dangling from a caved-in carport, a pair of charred bicycles neatly laid in front of a gutted house, a blackened cross rescued from the rubble of the destroyed Methodist Church. The pastures along Highway 36, where the fire began, had turned to seas of black dotted by gray piles of ash-once hay bales.

But, even then, the predominate mood in the town seemed to be one of hope, even gratitude. A sign in front of one local church read, “Lord, as bad as it is, it could have been so much worse. We are thankful.”

In Connie Kirkham’s main street beauty shop, just three days after her home was destroyed, Mary Jones wanted to talk about the one thing she’d miraculously recovered: her pet. At her job as a cashier in the local grocery store, mere hours after leaving her house had burned, Jones happened to overhear a city worker mention a dog saved near Jones’s property and sleeping in his truck. She immediately closed her register, despite a line of customers, and went outside to verify the good news. The dog was hers.
“We thought she’d died in the fire because it came so fast,” she said. “We call her the little miracle dog.”

Ed Duncan, standing in front of the home he’d saved with a garden hose, casually recounted the death-defying extraction of a keg of black powder from a burning shed filled with firearms.

“(My son) sprayed me with water while I went in there to get it,” he said, “I knew it’d blow out our windows and probably our neighbor’s too.”

Insurance company representatives were a common sight around town in the days following the fire. Some, emotions overriding official capacity, were clearly over-whelmed by the carnage before them.

“Our insurance man cried today,” said one resident.

But not everyone could rely on insurance policies to help them recover.

“I’d just guess probably 30 percent of (the fire victims) didn’t have any insurance,” said Rolan Jones, Justice of the Peace. “Some of them had insurance but not enough to cover losses, and some of the ones I’ve talked to ,were well insured.”

For many, West Texas culture and the idea of insurance inherently clash.

“Some people don’t believe in insurance,” said Jones. “You have to give them a ticket every time you see them driving.”

The Cross Plains United Fire Relief Fund was set up in the days following the fire through the Texas Heritage Bank to assist these and other fire victims left with little or nothing.

But some things can’t be replaced. Sherrell said his wife, an artists, lost about 50 original paintings. They lost their cat. He lost his gun collection and a number of family heirlooms, including an old butter mold.

“It’s made a million pounds of butter,” Sherrell said. “I got up that morning played with that cat, drank some coffee. Didn’t have any idea what was going to happen that day.”

REHupa #94 (November 1988)

Well, the auction for #93 is over, with Mark Corrinet taking home the prize for $46.00. Given the rarity of these mailings and the prevailing prices of many Howard items these days — pulps, first editions, etc. — I’d say Mark got a deal. Those of you who underbid will be waiting a loooooong time before another #93 comes up for sale again.

Which brings us to our next auction, the one for #94 (November 1988).

This mailing is only in two sections compared to #93’s four, yet it nevertheless holds much of interest for the Howard collector. The previous Official Editor, Mark Kimes, is dropped from the a.p.a. with the words, “All Fled, All Done…”; REHupa would never discover what caused Mark to abandon his post and jump ship without any explanation. Indy Cavalier performs the Emergency OE duties for the very first time, giving out an assortment of interesting news. Charles Hoffman and Marc Cerasini, the authors of the Starmont Reader’s Guide to Robert E. Howard join with this mailing (they wouldn’t stay long), as does Tim Arney (who would stay long, indeed to this very day). Also, this is the first mailing that Bo Cribbs participated in — the very copy you are buying belonged to Bo, and was purchased by me several years ago.

Section #1 has cover art by Indy Cavalier, and contains among many other things nice letters from L. Sprague de Camp, Glenn Lord, and Karl Edward Wagner. Don Herron’s zine presents the first appearance of his essay “Swords at the Academy Gates” — Rusty read the essay here and asked Don if he could use it to anchor the premier issue of The Dark Man, at this time still several years in the future. Steve Trout has a little article called the “Howard Library Poetry Corner,” Marc Cerasini prints his essay “Come Back to Valusia Ag’in, Kull Honey!”, there is a huge “bibliography of the Cthulhu Mythos” by one Chris Jarocha-Ernst, Charles Hoffman gives much Howard commentary plus a map of Kull’s world, something you don’t see a lot.

Section #2 has some nice art on the cover by Rick McCollum, and contains a long trip report by Rusty Burke on NolaCon II, and another long one by Indy Cavalier. Vern Clark includes a huge listing of the books Howard owned, including many cover scans, and many ultra-rare pictures from a banquet where Novalyne Price gave a speech on Howard. And of course, there are dozens of book reviews and mailing comments about everything under the sun. All in all, a fun mailing with several first printings and a lot to read.

According to the Table of Contents, apparently there were several items franked (i.e. included by a member as an extra bonus) in this mailing that are no longer here. One was a copy of Dennis McHaney’s The Howard Review #8 (still available from Dennis, I think, or if not then from eBay for those who are patient). The other franked item that is no longer there was a bunch of Weird Tales and Amra flyers which it says were franked by Darrell Schweitzer. I’m pretty sure I don’t have these misplaced in the huge pile of mailings I have, but if I ever do run across them I will send them along to whoever wins this auction.

But as if to make up for that deficiency, this mailing has something special that no other copy has: a personal letter written from REHupan Steve Trout to new REHupan Bo Cribbs (who owned this mailing). I found the letter stuck in Section #2 in front of Indy Cavalier’s zine Cold Steel, and that’s exactly where you will find it if you win the auction. It talks about various sundry matters, and serves to give this copy a personal touch and provenance that no other copy will have. For the collector interested in such details, a very nice touch.

Happy bidding!

Fire and Sword

Cimmerian contributor David A. Hardy has created his own website at, and filled it with with a plethora of original book reviews and fiction, along with information on his personal appearances and contributing to the Cross Plains Relief Fund.

Dave is up for two Hyrkanian Awards this year, one for V2n1’s “Conquistadors of Doom” and the other for V2n5’s “Trail of the Veiled Prophet.” He also has been nominated for the Venarium Award, given to the most impressive new scholar to hit the scene in 2005. If you haven’t voted yet, do so here. Meanwhile, look for an excellent new Hardy essay, his longest yet, coming up in the April 2006 issue of TC.