Miskatonic U.’s Film School

One need not necessarily like the work of H.P. Lovecraft to like that of Robert E. Howard — witness biographer/blogger [redacted], who has been known to break into the Special Collections section of the Brown University Library in Providence for the sole purpose of rubbing spoiled seafood against the Lovecraftiana kept there. But one can’t be a serious Howard aficionado without recognizing that REH really liked HPL’s weird fiction and striving to understand why. And being forced, or forcing oneself, to choose between the 2 writers, championing one while cold-shouldering the other, is a form of self-inflicted impoverishment like forcing a choice between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Sure, it can be done, but why would one want to? Joseph Curwen and Xaltotun both make life better (although they might not be pleased to hear it).

It won’t be long before a set of shelves designed in accordance with non-Euclidean geometry will be required to house all the new books “by” or about Lovecraft. One of the most enjoyable is Andrew Migliore and John Strysik’s The Lurker in the Lobby: The Guide to Lovecraftian Cinema, which has been expanded and updated from the 2000 edition. The fact that expansion and updating were so obviously warranted serves to underscore the realization that an equivalent book for Howard would cry out for a title like The Hours of the Drag-On or Clay Pigeons from Hell and make for brief and depressing reading. The Lurker in the Lobby comes tricked-out with a preface by S.T. Joshi and “Pickman’s Gallery,” a full-color midsection of “preproduction art, movie stills, and promotional posters” by Richard Corben, Mike Mignola, William Stout, Bernie Wrightson, and other artists.

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Maybe Not A Boom, But A Drumbeat

I thought about inaugurating this blog by pointing out just how mistaken Patrice Louinet, the prolific and otherwise perceptive Howard scholar, is in his belief that Monica Bellucci would make a better Dark Agnes de la Fere than would the French actress Virginie Ledoyenmais non! Bellucci would be hard pressed to get out of the way of her own mammaries while fencing. But instead I’m going to revisit TC V3n5, which is fondly remembered in Tompkinsian precincts as The Special Apoplexy Issue. Gary Romeo’s “Viagra for the Soul,” Richard A. Lupoff’s “Long Ago and Far Away,” and Leon Nielsen’s “Pseudo Boom” all contained assertions that had me glimpsing the world through an echt-Howardian crimson mist for hours after I encountered them.

Each and every paragraph of Nielsen’s “Pseudo Boom” could not be more sincere in its concern, from a bookseller-cum-collector’s perspective, about How Well Howard Is Doing. Such a perspective is of course valid and valuable, but hardly panoptic — monitoring eBay transactions can tell us a lot about copies sold, but next to nothing about worlds rocked and doors opened. Nielsen overlooks or under-esteems significant developments while bizarrely fawning upon the Baen Books Howard paperbacks of the mid-90s, which he applauds for their “higher degree of textually pure versions” and “Ken Kelly’s splendid cover paintings.” (Splendid? Seriously, splendid? Like I said, Special Apoplexy Issue) He contrasts the scads of reprintings of the Lancer/Ace/Sphere Conans — Gary Romeo used to hand them out at homeless shelters and Vegan restaurants once a month — with the lone printing of the Baens, but we need to keep in mind that the latter were packaged with covers representing Kelly at his worst rather than those that represented Frazetta at his best, and were unified as a series only by their author, not by a gigantomorphic protagonist.

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Conan sighting in the Los Angeles Times


The following cartoon appeared in the Los Angeles Times supplement West magazine this morning, showing the Governator in the role that made him famous, and once again cementing the cultural iconography of Howard’s best-known character into our consciousness. (click on pic to enlarge)

Howard Days 2006 Trip Reports Online

A few bloggers who attended Howard Days have posted pics and commentary for your edification.


Over at Rough Edges, prolific author James Reasoner has his report. James is a Howard Days regular, having attended for many years now, so he gives a veteran’s take on the festivities.


Meanwhile, professional horror writers Christopher Fulbright (We Have Returned…) and his wife Angeline Hawkes (Back from R. E. Howard Days and More Pictures of Robert E. Howard Days) have their own takes on the event, complete with many photos. Christopher attended a few years ago (you can read his trip report of that one here), but this was Angeline’s first time.

Cornelius continues to tear up Texas


Just heard an update from Ethan Nahté, the Dallas man working on a Howard documentary, on the continuing American adventurers of Cornelius Kappabani, leader of the German band Bifrost, who came all the way from across the pond to attend Howard Days this year, and who put on Cross Plains’ first-ever German New Age/punk/heavy metal performance of tunes set to Howard’s poetry.

Ethan says, “We’ve been showing Cornelius a good time. Took him to a party last night to play guitars. He stayed the night with us last night and tonight. We live next to the airport so we’re taking him to catch his flight Monday morning and ship him back to Germany.”

Texas will never be the same again.

Changes at The Cimmerian

In an effort to improve the experience of Cimmerian readers and to further Howard studies on the Net in general, I am making some changes at the website for The Cimmerian that I hope will make a difference.

As you can see from the blog posts below, I have invited well-known Howard scholars [redacted], [redacted], and Steve Tompkins to blog at thecimmerian.com along with me. Each brings a new set of opinions and skill sets to the discussion, and as a result this blog should finally grow wings and become a place for Howard fans to check each morning.

In addition, I will begin the process of converting all of the old Cimmerian website into this new blog format, with the blog page eventually becoming the main Cimmerian homepage. This should allow for a much more content-rich browsing experience, with everything searchable and indexed for readers.

One of the fun new things I’ve included on this new blog homepage is a Robert E. Howard random quote generator. Each time you visit or refresh, a new Howard quote appears at the top of the screen. Right now there are only a few dozen in the database, but I will be gradually adding more until they represent swaths of inspirational and electric writing spanning the whole of Howard’s career. If you have any favorites you want to see there, email me with the quote and the name of the story or letter it came from, and I’ll add it to the database.

Now that this blog is officially on-line, stay tuned for regular updates containing news, reviews, scholarship, and opinions about REH and related genres and writers. Welcome to The Cimmerian Online.

Dennis McHaney reveals his Atlantean Award


Check out the first pic of Dennis’ monstrous Atlantean Award, won at Howard Days 2006 for Best REH Book by a Single Author. The book in question is Robert E. Howard: World’s Greatest Pulpster, available at Lulu Books. The Awards Issue of The Cimmerian will hopefully be hitting the street in July, containing full coverage of the ceremony, lots of pictures, interviews with the winners, and a full breakdown of how the voting went down. Always lots of fun.

New Conan movie news


Rusty Burke, fresh from his stint at the 2006 Robert E. Howard Days, has posted some new Conan movie news at Dennis McHaney’s REH Inner Circle email group (hat tip: Don Herron):

Announced in VARIETY:

Barbarian back at gate Yakin to write, direct ‘Conan’


Looking to re-establish Conan as more than a chat host, Warner Bros. has set Boaz Yakin to write and potentially direct “Conan the Barbarian,” a new take on the Robert E. Howard-created character.

WB is eyeing an early 2007 production start for the film, which will be produced by Irving Azoff, Jon Jashni, Richard Alexander and Akiva Goldsman. Peter Sederowsky and Fredrik Malmberg of Paradox Entertainment, the intellectual property company that controls rights to the Howard estate, exec produce.

Yakin, best known for writing and directing “Fresh” and for directing the gridiron hit “Remember the Titans,” has been a fan of the Howard series since childhood and came up with a take that impressed the studio.

Yakin’s concept is more faithful to the Howard story than were the two Dino De Laurentiis-produced “Conan” films that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as the sword-wielding conqueror.

WB has tried diligently to revive Conan and got close twice. “The Matrix” directors Larry and Andy Wachowski circled, and then Robert Rodriguez emerged, but hiring the latter became problematic after he quit the Directors Guild of America so he could co-helm “Sin City” with Frank Miller.

Date in print: Thurs., Jun. 15, 2006, Los Angeles

Rusty then added:

Interesting sidenote is that “Boaz” and “Yakin” are both names from Howard stories. “Boaz” was an anthropologist cited by a character in “Children of the Night” (actually meant to be Franz Boas, the noted anthropologist); “Yakin” of course is part of the compound name “Bit-Yakin,” as in “The Servants of Bit-Yakin” aka “Jewels of Gwahlur” aka “Teeth of Gwahlur.”

I didn’t attend the Paradox panel at Howard Days, but to my knowledge Sederowsky and Malmberg didn’t mention anything about this project during their speeches. Like the other Conan projects that have threatened to take flight only to crash back to earth, we’ll have to take a wait-and-see approach to this one.

New Cimmerian issues on website


Finally got around to updating the website with the May and June issues of The Cimmerian. Subscribers have had the May ish for a few weeks now, and the June issue will ship in the next few days, having debuted at the 2006 Robert E. Howard Days. Next up, the July issue and the Awards issue, due in a couple of weeks. The crazy centennial schedule proceeds apace.

Cimmerian Slipcases
Slipcases are also down to their last few copies, due to several sales at Howard Days. The Complete Deluxe Sets I put together are even starting to sell. It’s only a matter of time before whole issues start going totally out-of-print. If you are a Howard collector who lamented that you missed things like The Howard Collector, Amra, or the Cryptic chapbooks back when they were relatively cheap and freely available, here is another chance to collect something before it goes out-of-print and the prices reach outrageous levels.

A Pulitzer Prize winner on Robert E. Howard

For those who missed it last January 22, here is a link to Michael Dirda’s evaluation of Howard’s Conan series, as published in the Washington Post on the occasion of Howard’s 100th birthday. Dirda was the 1993 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, so it’s pretty cool that someone of his stature not only grooves on Howard but was savvy enough to know when his birthday was and to promote Howard accordingly.