The Boy Who Delivered Sean Connery’s Beer

As an enterprise, The Cimmerian is nothing if not ecumenical; before deciding on skull trophies for the Cimmerian Awards, Leo briefly considered statues of Hanuman with the male attributes grossly emphasized, as is of course de rigeur down Zamboula way. So I’m going to borrow Ashkenazi Judaism’s concept of the Yahrtzeit (German: Jahrzeit) the “time of [one] year,’ when a relative’s death is commemorated and a Yahrtzeit candle burns for 24 hours. David Gemmell died a year ago this past weekend, on July 28, 2006. He once said “I write about love and honor and courage and the spiritual and I get dismissed as a hack and slay writer. It would be annoying, if I let it be,” and the danger now exists that he’ll be dismissed as a dead hack and slay writer, which would be annoying, if we let it. I’ll do my part to stave off such an eventuality when Troy: Fall of Kings, the third in a series that recreates the flesh and blood inside the Homeric bronze, is published (which will be on August 27 in Britain; Americans are expected to wait until December 26, but was invented for just such occasions). For the moment, as the functional equivalent of a Yahrtzeit candle why don’t we allow Gemmell to speak for himself, from some vintage interviews long since lost to the broken-link-strewn gulfs of cyberspace:

When Del Rey sought to launch him in the U. S., an interviewer at the publisher’s website commented on his “Dickensian” biography:

I don’t know about Dickensian, but my background certainly helped me when I became an author. Running [a gambling syndicate at his school] taught me about human frailties, and my stints as a nightclub “doorman” made me realize just how easy it is to intimidate people if you just take the time to learn the moves. . .step swiftly into the other person’s territorial space, then speak softly, etc. The journalism, and the consequent interviews with politicians, gangsters, film stars, scientists and men from the armed forces gave me a huge cast of characters to call upon.

One of those characters dated back to the period before Gemmell was jotting on his notepad. He volunteered to an interviewer “If a Spielberg or Lucas offered to make Legend the movie, and mentioned Sean Connery for the role of Druss, I’d be sorely tempted. By the way, as a boy I used to deliver Sean Connery’s beer when he was a struggling actor living in West London. I was disappointed every time he answered the door, and was constantly peeking past him to catch a glimpse of his wife, the beautiful British star Diane Cilento.” The Connery of the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade-through-The Hunt for Red October era would indeed have been an ideal (but never idealized) Druss–after all, the axeman has been known to address protégés as “laddie.”

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The Collector’s Corner: McMania!


What’s Hot: The Howard Review #1, World’s Rarest REH Fanzine #1, Cryptic chapbooks, REHupa ephemera, Bison’s Lord of Samarcand, The Phantagraph.

As I predicted in last week’s Collector’s Corner, Dennis McHaney’s Howard Review #1 was bid into the stratosphere. $877.77! If memory serves, an original Howard typescript sold for around that much a few years back. Who could have guessed that all those drugs taken by Howardheads in the 1970s would pay off in such spectacular fashion? Dennis is on a major eBay roll, with sale after sale marking new collecting highs in Howardland. It’ll be fun to see what he pulls out of the archives next. Probably a Jenkins Gent From Bear Creek. In any case, this clearly marks The Howard Review as THE major REH fanzine collector-wise, past or present. Nothing else even comes close.

McHaney also sold another rare item this week, a proof copy of an attempt at an REH magazine called REH: World’s Greatest Pulpster, with an interesting history of the sort that collectors go ga-ga over. As Dennis put it in his auction description:

ROBERT E. HOWARD: WORLD’S GREATEST PULPSTER became the title of a book in 2005, written by Dennis McHaney.

The title was first used in a proposed small press Howard journal in 2001. Material was gathered, proof copies printed, and then the project was abandoned when the publisher decided he didn’t want to do any more “small scale” Howard publishing.

Most of the material in the aborted magazine later appeared in the 12th and 13th issues of The Howard Review, and the title was used for the publisher’s award winning book on Robert E. Howard. Even the cover art was used elsewhere, in an amateur press association publication for The Robert E. Howard United Press Association.

In the Fall of 2001, the publisher printed five proof copies of the magazine Robert E. Howard: World’s Greatest Pulpster 1, a 48 page magazine which was given a lot of attention, in the fan press and on the internet. You can still find mention of it in outdated and neglected websites. The Howard small press was really stagnant at the time, and the actual publication of this magazine would have breathed new life into the field. The guy behind the magazine decided to take a long vacation instead, and the completely finished new Howard fan press magazine just simply went into limbo.

This magazine title may be resurrected in 2008, with volume 2, # 1, but this auction item is Vol. 1 number one.

Of the five copies of this magazine that were printed, three were sent to proofreaders, and the other two copies were retained in the publisher’s personal files. This is one of those copies. The magazine contains two Robert E. Howard stories, “The Tomb’s Secret,” and “Black Talons,” four Howard poems (see scan of contents page), and articles by Fred Blosser, Charles Gramlich, and Dennis McHaney.

There was a lot of Roy G. Krenkel art in the issue, published there for the first time, but also used in the two Howard Reviews that followed this.

This is a unique item. Is it the rarest Howard fanzine in existence? Could be.

Indeed it could, and when the bidding had ended, collectors had responded to this tease to the tune of $103.51. I picture Dennis in his apartment in Austin, tossing money into the air and cackling wildly. And I like the mention of his award-winning book — the Cimmerian Awards continue to gain traction in the Howardian marketplace of ideas.

Last week I said that if the next Cryptic chapbooks to be auctioned sold for more than $50, then it would be a strong confirmation that they continue to hold value in the modern Howard marketplace. The results are in, and the booklets that Reverend Bob wrought are doing OK. North of Khyber: $127.50. The Coming of El Borak: $105.50. The Adventures of Lal-Singh: $100.00. Lewd Tales: $89.00. Pay Day: $65.00. Even The Sonora Kid squeaked in over my benchmark at $51.00. These ugly little buggers are performing all the more admirably when you look at some of the items they are selling better than (more on those in a bit).

Every once in awhile something sells on eBay that is a little bit of something published in REHupa, a few sheets of a ‘zine or a piece of artwork, whatever. Dennis McHaney, still riding high from his other auctions, popped up with a tiny little booklet printed by him and run in REHupa several years ago, a reprinting of the charming Howard story “‘Golden Hope’ Christmas.” This short-but-sweet tale was written by Howard when he was only sixteen, and it’s a great thing to read over the holidays. (Here in Los Angeles Rah Hoffman, Donald Sidney-Fryer, Terry McVicker, and myself did exactly that a few years ago right before Christmas, taking turns reading aloud until we got through both “‘Golden Hope’ Christmas” and Lovecraft’s “The Festival.” Great fun.) With things like this it’s nearly impossible to guess how much it’ll go for. But hey, this is Dennis (as in Denni$$$$$) we’re talking about, right? The booklet ended up selling for $51.65, a fairly astronomical figure when you’ve seen in person how small and unassuming the thing is. But it’s well-made for what it is, with nice color artwork on the cover by J. Allen St. John, and it has the whole rare/REHupa/McHaney cachet attached to it. I’d guess that the entire mailing the booklet appeared in would sell for around the same price or perhaps a little more. Maybe a lot more now that people have seen how much the booklet sold for.

I hadn’t noticed until Cimmerian contributor (and two-time Cimmerian Award winner) John Haefele brought it to my attention, but one of the Bison Books (released in 2005) has actually gone out of print in hardcover: The Lord of Samarcand and Other Adventure Tales of the Old Orient. In my opinion it’s indisputably the best book of the bunch simply due to the incredible stories it contains in one place for the very first time. As [redacted] mentioned in The Cimmerian awhile back, this book makes not one, not two, but three earlier books of Howard’s Crusader-era tales superfluous. For those of you who haven’t read these stories, you’re really missing out. They rock, and achieve all of the blood-and-thunder and exotic mysticism of the Conan tales, in addition to some darker themes and bitterly and poetically brutal endings that many of the Conan stories lack. John was lamenting to me that he never acquired the hardcover state of this book while it was available. Now he’ll have to go to the used markets, and they have already priced in the tome’s out-of-print status — most copies are now listed for $50 and up.

Our last hot item for this week might seem strange, because it hasn’t been up for sale in a while. But in conversation with a Cimmerian reader about some private REH purchasing he was engaged in, I realized that while issues of The Phantagraph are available at fine genre book dealers such as L. W. Curry, none of the issues that feature Robert E. Howard’s “The Hyborian Age” are available anywhere on the Internet so far as I can tell. Not a single copy, in any condition. This is about as rare as you can get in this modern eBay and AddAll.Com age, and it made me wonder how much those issues would sell for if auctioned. At L. W. Curry the highest priced Phantagraphs (featuring things like Lovecraft’s appreciation of William Hope Hodgson) go for $100 and up, depending on grade. Even though The Phantagraph never finished printing the entire Howard essay (the three-issues that featured parts of it only took readers up to Conan’s time) I’m guessing they are still worth a bundle. A few years after the REH Phanatagraphs saw print, the fanzine’s publisher Donald Wollheim printed the whole “Hyborian Age” essay in a book by itself that now sells for $800 and up. If and when individual REH issues of The Phantagraph hit eBay again, I’d expect them to go for the same kind of prices that McHaney got for early numbers of The Howard Review. $500 and up for each would not be out of line I expect.


What’s Cold: Wandering Star Complete Conan of Cimmeria, Howard Boom paperbacks, Valeria statue, Red Sonja pastiches, Necro Press REH Selected Letters 1923-1930, REHupa #183, New Howard Reader #1, Amra.

The fall from grace in Howardia of the Wandering Star series continues apace with the startling auction last week that saw a copy of Conan II sell for an anemic $97.89. We’re talking about an unopened, pristine deluxe copy in slipcase, with color plates and all the trimmings, and signed by artist Gary Gianni. If this becomes the normal selling price for this item — and I think it will, or indeed drop even further — then those of you who purchased this for $200 and up back when it came out will be feeling pretty grim. At this price point I’m tempted to buy it just so I’d have Conan II in hardcover. For the record, there has been a lot of talk among fans of somehow getting people to pre-order copies of Conan III in an edition that more or less matches the first two Wandering Star volumes, and then use the pooled money to get the run printed for those who want to complete their sets. Nothing definite has come of this talk, but who knows, perhaps someone will get it done.

I talked a bit last week about how a new REH reader determined to get a large amount of his fiction quickly could do so cheaply by grabbing a few paperback lots off of eBay. This remains true, and the inexpensive nature of these items is highlighted by what sellers are not able to get away with. Case in point: the recent auction where a seller tried to sell a lot of “23 Conan and various authors” at a minimum price of $75.00. Sorry bud, but these books generally go for $2.00 or so per paperback when sold in bulk (and often when sold singly). At that rate, $50 (or to be honest, much less) would have been a much more reasonable start price. Of course, I always think the best starting price for any auction is .99 cents, with the logic that the market will nearly always find the proper sell price for each item. Very rarely the seller gets screwed by that strategy, but in my experience not often enough to kick about. I’m always amazed at the guys who list something again and again for a price way beyond what anyone would reasonably pay, hoping to catch a sucker off guard. A second lot of 18 Conan-and-related books did sell, and for a much more reasonable price of $39.00.

Another item that was priced way too high to begin with was a pastiche of Red Sonya (if you can call it a “pastiche,” since Howard never invented the Sonja with a “j” character, which originated in the Marvel Comics — his Red Sonya with a “y” appeared only in the excellent REH short story “The Shadow of the Vulture,” one of the stellar tales in the aforementioned out-of-print Bison book). Writers David Smith and The Cimmerian‘s poet laureate Dick Tierney wrote this particular Red Sonja novel, but it understandably failed to sell at a minimun buy point of $49.99. Meanwhile a Howardian pop culture item, a bust of Valeria of the Red Brotherhood from the story “Red Nails,” went unclaimed at a listing price of $49.99. Small wonder — a quick Internet search turned up brand new copies for $37.00 and change.

A slew of Howard items sold for prices that either arguably signal a reduction in their value and general collectivity, or else are a one-time fluke. Necronomicon Press’ REH Selected Letters 1923-1930 now finally has some competition from the Howard Foundation’s Complete Letters, and the effect might prove dramatic. This copy sold for $45.66, which sounds like a lot on the surface, but which I think is about half what I saw it selling for a few years back at the height of its popularity. REHupa #183, on the other hand, doesn’t have new competition per se, but the #180s are of fairly recent vintage and there have been a number of them sold on eBay over the last year or so. This one went for what I consider the low end for REHupas in this day and age, $26.00, which a scant few years ago was considered the high end. I’m going to be selling more REHupas in the near future, most of them much older and rarer (some from when the a.p.a. had only ten or so members!) so we’ll see how those fare.

Joe Marek’s late 1990s fanzine The New Howard Reader was by all accounts one of the most content-rich REH fanzines ever — and also one of the ugliest. Each issue was jam-packed with rare REH stories, poems, fragments, and letters, things that were only available in widely scattered, hard-to-find sources. Joe did a service by making the deal with the Baums and doing the legwork to bring all of that material together in the same place. Unfortunately, two things worked to the series’ detriment. First was the scarcity — each one was printed in a limited run of about fifty copies. The second was the editing and production value. Tons of typos in the earlier issues, and everything printed on the cheapest possible paper with paper-thin covers fronted by badly scanned and pixelated artwork. I was amazed when Joe once reported in REHupa that he lost money on these things, going deep in the hole to get them printed. By the look of them you’d think he paid a buck or so each to make them, then sold them for around $15. They are in fact so unremittingly butt-ugly that I refuse to buy them on principle, and to this day I don’t own any copy of much of the material included in that magazine’s run. I love Dennis McHaney’s comment in the auction description:

I would describe the condition of this copy as near mint, except that it was folded and stapled crooked, as you can see in the scans of the front and back covers. Given the sloppy production values of the fanzine, this is probably not an unusual condition….

Ain’t it da truth. Because of their content and scarcity, they have been going for really high prices ever since they drifted out of print. $100 for one issue was not unheard of not too long ago. So it was a surprise this week to see #1 sell for a comparatively meager $21.48. [redacted] or some other knowledgeable blogger will have to figure out if most of the stuff in this issue has now been made available in other areas, which would partially explain the low selling price.

Finally, a tried-and-true low seller continues to struggle in the Howardian bazaar of the bizarre: Amra is now failing to sell at minimum prices of $12.00 (for #62) $9.95 (for #65) and even $2.00 (for #106 and $107). #24 and #26 each sold for $16 a few weeks ago. Not very impressive for this ostensibly Howardian fanzine.


Things to Watch:

Complete Set of Grant Conans: Put this under the “insane in da membrane!” department. Homeboy has a complete set of Grant Conans listed for $349.95. This for a series that was full of terrible art, gargantuan typographical errors (their edition of The Hour of the Dragon left out over 500 words!) and which ultimately was never finished. That minimum price breaks down to around $32 per book. Meanwhile, individual titles in this same series regularly go unsold for $20 each. If I wanted an incomplete Conan set for hundreds of dollars, I’d get the two Wandering Star volumes.

Cormac Mac Art and others: the insanity continues with this idiotic listing of a complete set of Baen paperbacks (you know, those of the corrupt texts, cheesy Ken Kelly covers, and prematurely browning paper) for a heart-stopping price of $49.99. That’s $9 per book — at a time when individual volumes are ice cold, regularly failing to get bids of even $3. Toss in the fact that the spines on all of these are creased, and you’ve got a radioactive auction. Stay far away, unless you’re Homer Simpson.

Howard Review #7: Will this rare item hit the level of #1 and #2, or will it peter out in the low double digits the way recent sales of #5 have? Hard to tell — as I said last week, there is serious blood in the water from those last spectacular auctions, and the moneyed sharks are circling. But I think this is going to go for less than those earlier ones. I’ll take a guess that it will top out at around $100. If it does exceed that and becomes another legendary haul for Dennis, I’m going to kick myself for not begging him for old copies back when he was drunk and susceptible to chicanery at Howard Days.

REH Selected Letters 1931-1936: The first chapbook in this set went for under $50 last week, and that one is rarer in my recollection. Look for this to underperform, too. At a $15 minimum asking price, it may not even get a single bid. After all, if you want to read the letters you can get the unabridged Complete Set from the REH Foundation, and the cheap quality of all the Necro Press chapbooks are nothing to write home about.

Arkham Skull-Face and Others: I list this here because the guy selling it did a ballsy thing which I like: even though this is an expensive and much sought-after collectible, he listed it with no reserve and is letting the market take its course. That should make for an exciting auction. We’ll see if it goes for the usual $400+ for a slightly battered copy with pretty good dj, or if it creeps higher in furious bidding. At this writing there is already one bid for $9.99, so keep an eye on it and see how high it goes. My guess? $550.

REH Word of the Week: guerdon


1. a reward, recompense, or requital.

-verb (used with object)
2. to give a guerdon to; reward.

[Middle English, origin: 1325-75; from Old French gueredon, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German widarlon, Old English witherlean; final element influenced by Latin donum gift]


Ride with us on a dim, lost road,
To the dawn of a distant day
When swords were bare for a guerdon rare —
The Flower of Black Cathay

[part of the epigraph to the tale “Red Blades of Black Cathay,” a story about the resistance of the eponymous kingdom to the hordes of Genghis Khan (1162-1227). L. Sprague de Camp would no doubt have pointed out that, as used by Howard, “guerdon” is technically anachronistic, as according to the dictionary’s etymological data the word didn’t come into use until a century after the events of the story.]

The Layers of REH Collecting

Guest blogger Paul Herman ponders some of the reasons why REH collectibles rise or fall in price:

PAUL: To comment on your blog today about collectibles on eBay, I think you correctly spot that once a newer, better edition comes out, a certain number of folks lose interest in interim editions that previously had some claim to fame. Note that some things that are true first appearance, like pulps or Always Comes Evening, those just keep going UP in value. Even the reprinting of the entire WT run by Girasol, straight Xerox of the original pages, didn’t hurt pulp values any.

Note that, IMHO, there are “layers” of collectors (like Shrek’s onion). The Every-Publication Completists want a copy of every publication, no matter how minor. While there is not a lot of them around, there is enough of them with big money to make sure that rare items will always drive a high price. The Every-First-Appearance Completists want the first appearance of each work, and don’t need the later editions. They might purchase the latest version to get the best text, but they still want that first appearance. So things like pulps continue to have high prices, even though all the stories are heavily reprinted and readily available, even when the entire pulp is exactly reproduced. There is a lot more of these folks than the first group, and can get by on a smaller budget. A subset of those folks would be the folks who want only hardback, but I don’t know that I’ve ever met one of them.

Then comes Completists — Level II, who want a copy of every work, but don’t need six versions of the same story. A much more massive group. They are the ones selling Baens now, and there is no one to buy them. A subset of that group is the Perfectionists, who are always chasing the latest version of “perfect” text, and only want one copy of each work. Again, these folks are now dumping Baens, and no one to purchase them.

So, I think you’re correct that things like the Baen editions will go down, but we’ll have to see about the Cryptics. They have rareness, AND First Appearance cachets, so they may or may not go down once the stories are reprinted, we’ll have to see. The Grant Conans have dropped, but some of the others, like the early poetry volumes, stay high. It will be fun to see how all the various Lancer, Ace, Zebra books do, as time goes on.

AND LEO ADDS: I think that the Cryptics will magically become less rare once, as Rob says, other volumes make them superfluous to guys you call Completists — Level II (gents just looking to collect the best copy of each REH story or poem). And with less rarity will come less value, leaving some guys stuck with Cryptic chapbooks they paid $100 for while $10 copies float around eBay unsold. The Wandering Star books are like that now — guys paid $1000 for a copy of The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, but now that the Del Rey Kane is in trade paper (with better text than the WS version) the market seems glutted with WS copies looking to be unloaded, in some cases for pennies (or perhaps dimes) on the dollar.

The threat of a Complete Letters set in hardcover is set to eviscerate the price structure of a host of previously in-demand items, such as Jonathan Bacon’s Runes of Ahrh-Eih-Eche and the Necronomicon Press Selected Letters chapbooks. A Complete Poetry might very well do the same thing for all of those high-priced, thin gruel poetry collections that have appeared over the years. I imagine the Lancers will gradually become more like collecting pulps: it won’t be too hard or expensive to procure poor quality versions, but the real Holy Grail will be hunting for Very Fine copies of same.

And running with your “layers of collectors” notion, the one big factor that is always subject to change is how many guys are in any one layer at any given time. So if, say, a new REH movie lures a bunch of folks to start selling their comic books or old Creepy and Eerie collections in favor of building up a Howard collection instead, things could get a lot more crazy round these parts.

The Collector’s Corner: All Hail Yggdrasil


What’s Hot: Yggdrasil #1, The Howard Review, Cryptic Publications chapbooks, Writer of the Dark, Wandering Star ephemera, REHupa Mailings, Almuric.

Back on July 9, [redacted] mentioned that a virtually unknown one-shot fanzine called Yggdrasil, which was little more than a few saddle-stapled sheets, was rising past $160 on eBay. Well, the insanity of the collecting mindset never ceases: the issue ended up selling for $308.03. The “magazine” — it pains me to even use that term in this context — contained nothing more than a reprint of a frequently published tale (“The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune”) along with a sprinkling of APA-level commentary by a former REHupan. Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s put this in perspective: in 2000 the members of REHupa paid just a bit more than that for an old book that had been both owned by REH and signed to him by the book’s editor. That book, As the Poet Says–, is now sitting in the Howard House.

I’m sure Yggdrasil is a brilliant and timeless bit of ‘zine-making, but the mania of collectors who must have every little scrap of Howardiana at any price is creepy. And the scuttlebutt is that as little-known as Yggdrasil is, there is actually a fairly large universe of copies in existence, just not circulated yet. Now that The Amazing $300 Pamphlet has been mistaken for a Gutenberg bible, I’d expect to see many more appearing on eBay and changing hands. And let’s lay down odds concerning whether the collector who bought this one will soon be found dead with a gun in one hand and a bloodied Yggdrasil in the other. Every collector dreams of snagging that rare one-of-a-kind item, so why not have an opportunity to bid on “the only copy splattered with the brains of a Howard fan!!!! — A must for your collection!!!”

Howard fanzines have historically not appreciated in value that much, with occasional exceptions. Who knew that early issues of The Howard Review were in such demand? That publication’s editor, Dennis McHaney, just sold two copies of #2 together for $109.50, and this is not long after selling a copy of #3 for $547.50. The Cimmerian doesn’t have the original Howard stories, poems, and fragments that THR did, but if they appreciate even half as much I’ll cancel my 401k, secure in the knowledge that by the time I retire I’ll be able to live off of selling copies of my Awards issues with Dennis’ mug in it. “The face of the guy who made the ‘zine you paid half a G for back in 2007!!! Must own!!!”

With the REH Foundation threatening to bring all kinds of rare Howard into print, it should be interesting to see how the value of some of the old Cryptic chapbooks holds up. So far, the crappy little buggers are hangin’ in there: North of Khyber ($127.50), The Coming of El Borak ($105.50), The Adventures of Lal Singh ($100.00), Pay Day ($65.00), and The Sonora Kid ($51.00). I still remember picking up a copy of The Coming of El Borak a few years ago at the Los Angeles Paperback Show for $15. Most of them contain juvenile junk, stuff REH would be embarrassed to learn has seen print.

Other stalwarts in the arena are keeping their value. Tom Kovacs’ Writer of the Dark has just enough scarcity, collectability, and rare content to keep it selling for (as it did recently) $177.50 (I doubt his new REH book, “Winds of Time,” will have anywhere near the same cachet). REHupa mailings continue to fetch decent prices — #181 (June, 2003) went for $47.01. I maintain that the price of REHupas is going to rise as more collectors cop to the necessity of adding them to their holdings, and as loose ones are taken off the market and are increasingly no longer to be found.

A couple items surprised this week. A second printing of the 1977 Almuric paperback went for $10.27, and several pieces of Wandering Star ephemera sold big, albeit with misleading descriptions. A Conan sketchbook featuring Mark Schultz art was advertised as “EXTREMELY RARE!” when it is in fact anything but. If memory serves a few thousand of these thin and elegant little chapbooks were produced and sold cheaply for a few bucks per, and they were being handed out in such abundance that for awhile you could hardly give them away. Tell that to the guy on eBay who just bought one — unsigned, it appears — for $62.80. Another piece touted as “A MUST FOR ANY TRUE COLLECTOR!!!” is a little one-sheet (looks Xeroxed) flyer from now-defunct Wandering Star distributor Endurant Books featuring a bit of Gianni art, which sold for $22.45.

The guy selling these Wandering Star items (former REHupan David Burton, unless I miss my guess) has over time morphed into the most annoying self-promoter in the Howard field, with every scrap of paper hawked on eBay in tones usually reserved for holy relics and accompanied by more exclamation points than a Rosie O’Donnell-infested View transcript. I look forward to when he gets around to selling the terrible drawing of Conan he did for REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #7, one that he could advertise truthfully as “THE FIRST CONAN WITH SIX FINGERS!!!” You can’t make this stuff up. As Indy Cavalier said in REHupa at the time, “Now we know who really killed Inigo Montoya’s father.”


What’s Cold: The Hyperborean League, The Last Celt, Howard Boom era paperbacks, Grant Conan hardcovers, The Dark Man #1, Baen series paperbacks, Amra, Del Rey Kull.

The Hyperborean League is not as known as it should be. Created in the 1970s by Don Herron and an assortment of talented REHupans disgruntled at the direction (or lack thereof) of the REH a.p.a., it splintered off from REHupa proper and released mailings of much higher quality than REHupa was doing at that time. Eventually REHupa got better, and The Hyperborean League folded back into it, but until that happened THL put out some great, collectible mailings. Glenn Lord’s zines were so good that they later were collected in book form as Glenn Lord’s Ultima Thule. These mailings are more rare than REHupas, more packed with Howard content, and they are seldom seen on the open market. Strange then to see one put up on eBay by Cimmerian reader Lee Breakiron and yet not sell for the listed price of $75.00. That’s relatively cheap considering what many REHupas, much more recent and much less scarce, have been going for. (And contrary to Lee’s comment in the listing that the gents “couldn’t spell Hyperborian,” the spelling is in fact correct — both REH and CAS used “Hyperborea”).

Glenn Lord’s The Last Celt has lost a bit of steam over the years, perhaps due to so much of its contents appearing in other arenas, and to its Bibliography finally being supplanted by Howard Works and now The Neverending Hunt. Whereas before a decent hardcover version of the book would sell for $50-$100 every time, now we see some copies going unsold (the latest failed to find a purchaser at $60).

The paperbacks from the Howard Boom era (1966-1983) remain in the basement of the Howardian Collecting House due to the huge number of copies floating around and the superseding of most of them by various Wildside and Del Rey hardcovers. For those of you just discovering REH, buying a large lot of paperbacks on eBay for $25 or so is the easiest way to introduce yourself to a lot of new REH quickly and cheaply. I love the smell of that browned brittle paper, too — reminds me of Howard’s descriptions of “breath like a whisper from the past, laden with musk, scents of forgotten things, breathing secrets that were hoary when the world was young.”

We can throw the Baens into the basement as well at this point. There was a time not so long ago when they looked like they might scratch and scramble up to a higher level of collectability. Some copies were selling for as much as $25. But that was then, before Del Rey eliminated the need for at least three of the volumes, and before the shoddy paper they were printed on began browning on even otherwise pristine copies. While you can find independent booksellers trying to sell complete sets of the Baens for $200 and up (sometimes way up), a savvy collector with patience and an eagle eye can procure them for as low as $1 each. Copies advertised for as low as $3 aren’t even getting any bids on eBay. Time has not been kind to this series on a number of fronts, and it will probably get worse over the next few years as more books come out (such as the Del Rey horror volume) that reduce the need for them on the average REH fan’s shelf.

What’s more alarming lately is how cheap the Del Rey trade paperbacks are going for. Even the Kull book, released just last November, can be had for $3 and shipping. I hope this isn’t an indication that they are selling poorly, but of course it probably is. Heck, a hardcover edition of the book, put out by the Science Fiction Book Club, sold recently on eBay for a paltry $1.29. Granted, SFBC tomes are printed on awful paper and have fairly shoddy construction, as I discovered when first handling them at last year’s World Fantasy Convention. I’d love to have the Del Rey’s in hardcover, but not with that paper.

One set of hardcovers that may be an eerie precursor to the ultimate fate of the deluxe Wandering Star editions is the Donald Grant set of Conan books from the 1970s. Billed at the time as a deluxe set, with illustrations and good construction, the set was marred by bad art, textual errors, and its incomplete status, and even though the large font makes them more pleasant to read than any other edition of Conan, their prices at auction are perilously low, hovering around the $20-$30 range for most titles. A few guys on eBay keep trying to unload these at $45 and up, and it just ain’t happening, the auctions almost always end without a single bid.

And lastly, while McHaney is raking in big bucks for his old publications, other old fanzines are struggling in the marketplace. A copy of The Dark Man #1 failed to sell at a $10 asking price, and several copies of Amra from much earlier aren’t selling for less. What this portends if anything is anyone’s guess, but I think it could be a sign that as the market becomes flooded with byproduct, collectors are going to grow more selective about what they “need” to collect. Printing quality may play an increased role in what gets bought, too.

Independent Booksellers


Leaving eBay behind and looking towards the more expensive and hard-nosed independent booksellers, we are reminded that in collecting Rarity is King. This is amply demonstrated by the advertised prices for the Wandering Star Leather Editions, most printed in limited editions of around fifty copies:

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane Leather Edition: $4008.60

Bran Mak Morn: The Last King Leather Edition: $1541.77

Conan of Cimmeria I and II Leather Editions: $1428.70 ea.

Well, good for them I guess, but the fan on the ground is left to wonder whether there would be enough dough in the WS coffers to print Conan III if the hide used to make these books had been left on the cows and goats.

Even as the Grants sit in the doldrums of REH collecting, the Gnomes still pack a punch. A complete Gnome Press Conan Set on one site is going for $3300.00. A fairly outrageous price, but for a fine or very fine set all in one place, there’s a chance someone will snatch it up. Arkham House’s Always Comes Evening: is also occupying a place of honor in the REH collecting starscape. One copy I spied is listed at $3000.00. Not bad for a book that Glenn Lord barely got published fifty years ago.

The REH Collecting Legacy of Leon Nielsen


With the death of Leon Nielsen, let us pause to consider his book on collecting REH. There have been complaints — “no Frazetta illos, typos, guessimated prices that are now out-of-date” — but I think they are overblown. Especially for a new collector getting his feet wet, the book gives a really detailed overview of the scene, taking the time to point out all sorts of details that most other sources take as read. Grading is discussed, as are a variety of collecting terms, and the knowledge is then applied to REH specifically. The biographical information is solid and well-expressed, and the various lists of things to collect depending on your interest and focus are fun and useful. Leon sent me a signed copy last January, and although I’m not a collector myself I’m glad he did. I’ve referenced it time and again, and think that long hence it will take on the aura of a snapshot of the collecting universe of REH in our era, one that future generations will find fascinating.

Things to Watch


HAWKS OF OUTREMER: This was always one of the more expensive hardcovers from the 1970s, but it was recently superseded by the Bison released Lord of Samarcand. So the question is, will it continue to command prices of $50-$100? There’s a copy on eBay now listed for $79.95, so let’s watch and find out. My prediction? Not a chance in hell it will sell for that price.

LEWD TALES: Another crappy Cryptic Chapbook — will it match the performance of the ones sold last week? Probably. If it hits $50, then Cryptic is still the bomb.

FANTASTIC WORLDS OF ROBERT E. HOWARD: For me, this book has been steadily falling in prestige over the last few years. The copy currently on eBay is advertised as containing “the best of REHupa” from that era. Partly that’s correct, the book does have some good items in it. But there are also some unconscionable stinkers in the mix, and combined with the comic sensibilities at play in the layout and much of the art, I don’t think it holds up. A first printing is listed for $25 — I can’t see it selling at that price.

THE HOWARD REVIEW #1: McHaney struck gold with #3 and to a lesser but still impressive extent with #2. Will a copy of #1 match or exceed that haul? My guess is yes. The sharks are circling, and there is still blood in the water from the last few McManiac auctions. This one should be fun to watch at the close, and the next time I’m in Austin Dennis is buying the drinks for sure.

CROSS PLAINS UNIVERSE: There was a short burst of interest and activity swirling around this book last November after its debut at the World Fantasy Con. Many people who hadn’t attended the con wanted a copy, some who had purchased supporting memberships hadn’t received their complimentary copy, and books were in play with different signatures attached to them. The one on eBay now sports three sigs and is listed at $9.99. I think it has to go to someone at that minimum, but who, and at what final cost, is anyone’s guess. I’ll go out on a limb and say that it’ll net $30+.

REHupa #183: Another fairly recent issue. Years ago copies would generally go for $20. Lately this has changed dramatically, and I think permanently, and you usually see them hitting $50 and often $100 and more. $200 and up is not out of the question for these as a bit more time passes, especially if interest in REH is peaked by new Hollywood fare, bringing in new waves of fresh collectors looking to establish a beachhead in Howardia. I’ll predict this one to go for $50, but wouldn’t be surprised (or feel the buyer had been cheated) if it goes for twice that.

Proof to THE BLOODY CROWN OF CONAN: This item is interesting, in that galleys and proofs sometimes fetch high prices, depending on author and title. I know that at Howard Days a few years back I convinced the Del Rey guys to donate a few to the silent auction, and they sold for pretty major money, $100 and up. Of course that was before at least one of the books had been released yet, so the buyer was getting a bonafide preview of an unreleased volume. I don’t see eBay being an environment conducive to this going for a lot of money, at least without a signature on it or an artist’s doodle.

SWORD WOMAN: first printing of this paperback, one that usually fetches at least a few bucks more than the ocean of other REH paperbacks washing up on eBay’s colorful shores. $3.00 as an opener isn’t a deal breaker, especially if it’s in pretty good condition. Heck, I might drop a bid on it myself.

ROB ADDS: Part of the reason, I’m sure, that the Cryptics continue to sell well is the fact that they contain REH fiction that is not available anywhere else. Sure, the Bran Mak Morn play from Bran Mak Morn: A Play & Others was included in the Wandering Star/Del Rey collection, but not “The Black Moon,” a Steve Harrison story; that Cryptic book is still the only place to find it. And the same is true with the others, each one contains something that can’t be found any place else. The only Cryptic book that is entirely superfluous is Lewd Tales, thanks to the Collected Letters of REH Vol. 1, which includes all three of the items from that old chapbook.

Another Centenary


Recognizing the incorrigible tendencies of two of TC‘s bloggers (including the one he sees in his non-Tuzun Thunian mirror), Leo has added “Tolkien” to his list of blogpost-categories (My guess is that Finn, never furry of foot though occasionally hairy of eyeball, will probably avoid the new category like a Sarin leakage site).

Another of my favorite writers, whose acquaintance I made several years before that of Tolkien (1971), or Howard (1972), just might merit a post here inasmuch as like the other two, he left the dreamlife of the 20th century very different than how he found it. Plus big doings are promised for his Centenary next year: Ian Lancaster Fleming was born on May 28, 1908.

Penguin, the current publisher of all 14 of Fleming’s Bond books, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Charlie Higson’s surprisingly successful Young Bond series (not to be confused with the Saturday morning-blighting stopgap 1991 animated series about James Bond, Jr.), is launching a Bondian imprint, Penguin 007, with its own website. Together with Ian Fleming Publications Limited, Penguin is organizing “a large programme of celebratory events that will run throughout 2008,” a centerpiece of which will be “a major exhibition featuring never-before-seen materials.” No word yet on whether annual Fleming Days will be inaugurated at Goldeneye, the author’s Jamaican hideaway, but the Centenary will also be marked by a specially commissioned one-off Bond novel, Devil May Care, by British writer Sebastian Faulks. Here’s hoping it’s way superior to Conan of Venarium, the Harry Turtledove pastiche that plopped onto bookshelves a couple of years before Howard’s Centenary and against all odds managed to be more even more unreadable and indefensible than Conan and the Spider God or the worst efforts of Steve Perry.

(Continue reading this post)

Tolkien Purists Strike Back!


A few weeks ago I finally read — inhaled is more the word — J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Children of Húrin, which turned out to be everything I hoped for and then some. What a joy to encounter characters in full bloom that were mere hints and wisps in previously published versions of the tale in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle Earth.

In a few places an extra sentence or two has been added to paragraphs I idolized in the old sources, which feels a bit incongruous warring as they do with long-memorized quotations in my head. It’s the same way I feel whenever I read the new version of REH’s “The Dark Man” in The Ultimate Triumph, which restores an extra final paragraph that was accidentally left off all appearances published since its original Weird Tales debut in the 1930s. I actually prefer the bastardized version that I’ve known for so long, finding it a more poetically succinct denouement, and deliberately used that iteration for my coda to “The Reign of Blood” in The Barbaric Triumph.

All of this is small potatoes, though, compared to the biggest purist disappointment I’ve experienced in my life: the criminal mangling of Tolkien’s meticulously crafted plot in the Lord of the Rings films by Peter Jackson and his partners in permutation, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens. The changes are well documented on the Internet and in deference to my blood pressure need not be rehashed here, save to say they are distressingly numerous, pointless, irreverent, and — from this purist’s point of view — ultimately unforgivable. I find it difficult to think about those movies, much less watch them — strong words coming from a major cinemaphile and hopeless Rings romantic. For awhile now I’ve grudgingly accepted that Tolkien on the big screen is something I will have to go through life actively avoiding.

Enter The Two Towers: The Purist Edit.

Some fans out there decided to expand on the achievement of The Phantom Edit, which was an attempt by a Star Wars fan to re-cut Episode I: The Phantom Menace into a much leaner, more serious film, minimizing the presence of the hated Jar-Jar Binks and making other wonderful choices that made the film far more watchable than George Lucas’ painfully hackneyed original. This time out, some Tolkien purists used modern computer editing technology to re-cut Jackson’s second and most popular Rings installment into a film that adheres as closely as possible to the original book. Well over a hundred changes were made, both major and minor, with everything seamlessly blended and integrated back into a Hollywood-quality edit. Over forty minutes ended up being cut from the film, but the result is rumored to be glorious. As the trailer on You Tube says:

No elves at Helm’s Deep….

No Dwarf jokes….

Ents make the right decision….

Arwen stays in Middle-Earth….

No Osgiliath Detour….

Other changes listed at Wikipedia sound even more dear, such as Faramir once again resisting the Ring as Tolkien so poignantly envisioned. I also hope that Théoden is less a grumbling and bitter contrarian and more the noble and wise lord that in Tolkien’s book prompts Pippin’s charmingly understated evaluation: “A fine old fellow. Very polite.” In any case, while there is still far more wrong with Jackson’s vision than can be cured with a re-edit, I’m going to download this version and give it a fighting chance to win me over. Just watching the montage in the new trailer of a deadly serious Gimli reaping his grim axe-harvest at Helm’s Deep was enough to stir my blood in a way I thought Jacksonian imagery never would. And if this new Two Towers does it for me, perhaps I’ll hunt down the re-edit of the entire expanded trilogy that’s supposedly floating around out there somewhere.

I have every confidence that The Lord of the Rings will be remade someday by a director with more noble sensibilities than Jackson and his estrogen-fueled co-scribes, but until then this purist is mighty happy to see some anonymous shield-brothers striking back against the “long defeat” of the past few years.

Leon Nielsen, R.I.P.


John Haefele just sent me grim tidings from Wisconsin: his friend (and popular Cimmerian contributor) Leon Nielsen has died after a long battle with cancer.

As one of Leon’s editors I’ve been prepared for this news for some time, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Leon (1937-2007) was a Renaissance Man: a Catholic immigrant and Ranger/paratrooper from Denmark who distinguished himself in America’s Special Forces during the Vietnam War, then went on to become a well-known wildlife biologist, as well as a collector and appraiser of rare books. He himself wrote many volumes throughout his life — military training manuals, wildlife treatises and reference works, and of course several popular contributions to collecting and fandom. In our arena his standout efforts included two well-received books from McFarland, Arkham House: A Collector’s Guide (2004) and Robert E. Howard: A Collector’s Descriptive Bibliography (2006) — the appearance of the latter was a highlight of the end of Howard’s Centenary.

In the pages of The Cimmerian Leon was one of my most prized contributors. Beginning with a detailed speculation on the real-life underpinnings of Conan’s fictional homeland, “Asgard, Vanaheim, and Cimmeria” (TC V2n5 — October 2005), he went on to write several notable pieces for TC‘s vaunted Centennial run, including “Pseudo Boom” (TC V3n5 — May 2006) and “Legacy” (TC V3n12 — December 2006). He was also a prolific voice in The Cimmerian‘s letter column, The Lion’s Den, penning numerous missives that were virtually essays in themselves. That he managed to be such a force for good in Howard fandom over the last few years, despite battling cancer and undergoing months of debilitating chemotherapy, makes his achievements all the more impressive and appreciated.

The next time a mollycoddled popinjay like S. T. Joshi spouts off something like, “In my judgment, most REH fans, and even scholars, do not appear to have the breadth of knowledge in general literature to make a sound case for REH’s literary standing” (The Lion’s Den, TC V2n2 — February 2005) one need only point to the memory of Leon Nielsen: a globetrotting scholar and adventurer of the first order, one whose numerous triumphs will long outlive the pale bleating of deskbound mandarins.

Howard ended his memorial to his friend Herbert Klatt with the following, and — given Leon’s youth spent in the cradle of historical Cimmeria — I find it particularly appropriate to use it again here:

What shall a man say when a friend has vanished behind the doors of Death? A mere tangle of barren words, only words.

Still, I feel that if there is such a thing as a Hereafter that he will find a place among his fearless ancestors in the high hall of Valhalla and I like to think of him sitting at the right hand of Thor amid the glory of everlasting revel.

Yes, if there is a Hereafter, as Longfellow says,

There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the Viking’s soul!
Skoal! To the Northland! Skoal!
Thus the tale ended.

A Texas writer on REH


Cimmerian reader Michael Saler has tipped me off to an online excerpt of an interview with Don Webb, a writer from down Texas way and a big fan of both Howard and Lovecraft. His comments about HPL’s writing are especially illuminating. Always nice to see more writers commenting on our favorite author. We’ll politely ignore the fact that Don’s a devotee of the whacked out fringe cult The Temple of Set, bastard stepchild of the equally nutso Church of Satan. (In the interview, Webb mentions seeing The Whole Wide World in LA with Zeena Schreck — daughter of Anton LaVey, founder of the CoS).

On the same website, Cold Print, you can find more interviews of interest with folks like Michael Moorcock, Neil Gaiman, and Darrell Schweitzer.

A Howardian Fourth


Happy Fourth of July to all of the loyal Cimmerian readers out there. Here’s hoping there’s a lot of parades and BBQs for you to indulge in, along with perhaps a visit to a military gravesite or cemetery. I’ll be checking in on and paying my respects to Admiral John Ford, my all-time favorite movie director (whose current residence, the magnificent Holy Cross Cemetery, is just down the street from where I live), before hoofing it over to the home of another veteran of World War II, Rah Hoffman, for some patriotic food and fun with him and Donald Sidney-Fryer.

To satisfy your Howard craving for the day, you can read my Fourth of July post from last year to learn about what Howard thought of this particular holiday. And in case that’s too much of a downer, I’m including a brighter note below, specifically a perceptive blast from the past in the form of a review of Howard’s first hardcover collection in the States, 1946’s Skull-Face and Others.

With John Haefele’s wonderful essay on this same book (from TC V3n9) snagging a Hyrkanian Award at this year’s Cimmerian Awards, it’s a good time to look back on a commentary about REH written way back before there was the large amount of criticism, correspondence, and other material available to sway readers. The reviewer in question, British fan Arthur Hillman, had to rely simply on what had appeared in Weird Tales and elsewhere during those years, and he proves himself more than up to the task, making more profound points about our favorite Texan in a few short paragraphs than most others do in a lifetime.


This review appeared in the premier issue of Fantasy Review, a British semi-pro fan magazine that began publication soon after World War II had ended, when after a lengthy drought British fans were finally able to reconnect with their American counterparts. Listen:

Book Reviews
A Howard Anthology
SKULL FACE AND OTHERS, by Robert E. Howard
Arkham House, Sauk City. $5.00
Reviewed by Arthur F. Hillman

Among the many stories contained in this long-awaited and much-heralded volume are some of the gems from the brilliant crown of the late Robert Ervin Howard, who needs no introduction to readers of weird fantasy. Such tales as “The Scarlet Citadel,” “Worms of the Earth,” and “The Shadow Kingdom” have the inspirational spark that breathed life and fire into the puppets and panoramas of the gifted Texan. In these, and others, his splendid vigour of expression are self-evident.

The addition to this collection of powerful stories of the “The Hyborian Age” (the imaginary historical framework around which many of his tales were set), and of “A Man-eating Jeopard,” that delightful character study of his own locale and upbringing, was also a happy choice. But what strikes a true Howard follower with something of a jarring note is the scarcity of “Conan” tales; those swashbuckling exploits of the Cimmerian adventurer whose savage resource and ruthless energy are a secret delight to our atavistic instincts.

Out of the 14 stories which appeared originally in Weird Tales, only five have been selected for this anthology by the productive Mr. Derleth. But he, probably conscious of the number of admirers of Conan the Barbarian, seems to have prepared his defence in advance of this criticism. His argument is that too many of Conan’s exploits, taken together, would sicken the reader with the total butchery and carnage involved.

To me this is sheer sophistry; the same excuse for a similar neglect might be applied equally to some of his other excellent volumes. One might as well say that too many of Lovecraft’s tales, taken together, would make his horrors small beer; that too much of Clark Ashton Smith’s exotic outpourings would bring on literary indigestion. But one does not drink a whole bottle of brandy without pause, and fantasy of a particular type should never be read in large quantities at one sitting. Such tales, delicate pieces of craftsmanship as they are, should be sampled sparingly, at a time and place specially suitable. This is only right and proper, as a reciprocal arrangement with the author who has lavished such care and attention on his work for your benefit.

Thus, with true discrimination, a reader could enjoy a whole bookful of Conan tales; and the present volume must be considered woefully inadequate in this respect. The two long stories, “Red Nails” and “The People of the Black Circle,” which are among the finest in the series, are both missing; instead we have “Skull Face,” which is very Sax Rhomerish and inferior to these two. For Howard’s imagination was soaring on stronger pinions as the years passed, and his earlier tales do not, in my opinion, compare with the promising epics he produced before his untimely death cut short his career.

Nonetheless, all true followers of Howard should get this book. But they should also insist that Mr. Derleth make expiation for his sins of omission and produce a second volume of stories of this natural-born writer, whose untamed genius puts to shame many of the stars in the literary firmament of today.

Don’t know about you, but I think that’s a stellar review, comparable with the short, somewhat contemporary piece written by Paul Spencer (and reprinted in our modern era in The Barbaric Triumph). And note that even in 1947 people were calling Howard’s most famous character Conan the Barbarian, not the “Conan the Cimmerian” championed by purists in our era. It seems that Hillman needed neither the comics of the 1970s nor the Gnome Press hardcover of the 1950s to prompt him to use that particular phrase.

I found the editorial of the first issue of Fantasy Review interesting for what it tells us about being a fan in those years, specifically how difficult it was to know what was even available. The editor was Walter Gillings, who was a central force in British fandom from the early ’30s until his death from heart attack in July, 1979. Gillings had a rough time in the war, as he was a conscientious objector and was fired from his job over his pacifist stance. But during those early years he founded Britain’s first fan group and edited a slew of important publications, and by the early ’50s more than a few people considered Fantasy Reviewthe most outstanding fanmag of all time.” Fantasy Review ran from 1947-1950, eighteen issues in total. But Gillings’ editorial in the first one is what struck me all these years later, filled as it is with talk of the War and the difficulties levied on fans of science fiction and the fantastic.


If your experience of science-fantasy goes back to the days when a magazine devoted to it was a rare discovery, you will probably remember Scientification — The British Fantasy Review. That there were in these islands at that time enough fantasy readers to justify a journal catering for their interests was a significant factor in the developments which followed. It was not long before the first British science fiction magazine, Tales of Wonder, appeared. Hard on its heels came Fantasy; and had it not been for the war, which separated most British readers from the American magazines as well, there is little doubt that the medium would by now have established itself firmly in the field of popular literature.

But the war did not stop the continued evolution of fantasy fiction in America, whence to a fortunate few have come evidences of a change for the better in the method of its presentation — not so much in magazines as in the more permanent form of books. This elevation of fantasy to a more distinguished sphere has brought an intense activity in the reading and collecting of volumes of both science and weird fiction, a trend which has had repercussions among well-informed readers on this side of the Atlantic.

With the return to peace and the effects of war-time influences on reading tastes, there is ample indication of a desire on the part of publishers on both sides to meet the increasing demand for fantasy. New magazines; new books; new publishing concerns specialising in the medium. The fantasy fan has no cause for complaint, now — except, perhaps, that there is nothing to keep him up to date with all the information he needs to pursue his fascinating hobby.

Hence FANTASY REVIEW. which has been revived under its new title to cover the entire field of fantasy fiction and its allied interests, to reflect its growing popularity here and abroad, and to serve the discriminating reader and collector. To fulfil this function, we have recruited experts in every branch of the medium to serve its readers, and we shall keep its columns open to all who wish to express their views on any aspect of the literature in which they delight. It is the journal of the fantasy reader — produced by fantasy readers. As such it should make a valuable contribution to the further development of the medium; and as a source of reliable information and guidance, it should be indispensable to all who are interested in any of its ramifications.


Too often we fail to comprehend the long and honorable legacy of the legions of fans who have come before us, and seldom to we stop to appreciate all of the hard work they put into popularizing the authors we revere, keeping their names and work in play through decades of neglect, until finally the stars aligned and a resurgence occurred. So on this day of remembrance and celebration, take a moment to offer silent thanks to the memories of men like Gillings and Hillman. If they hadn’t carried the torch through the greatest and most savage war the world had ever known, Howard and his fans would be much poorer for it.

AND ONE LAST LINK: Friend of The Cimmerian John J. Miller posted an amusing link over at The National Review that will elicit a chuckle from Cimmerian readers for sure. (for an encore, John should screen the hysterical Late Bloomer during the next NR cruise). And for those of you who are fans of Robert Heinlein, John’s got a great piece on the author’s centenary in the latest print edition of TNR, along with some thoughts on conservative sci-fi in general.

Steve adds: For this somewhat impure purist, Hillman’s use of “Conan the Barbarian” was rendered more palatable by his preceding reference to “the Cimmerian adventurer.” I like the notion of Howard’s later imagination “soaring on stronger pinions,” and it certainly behooves someone named Hillman to complain about the Derlethian snubbing of “The People of the Black Circle.” He might be unduly confident that no one drinks “a whole bottle of brandy without pause,” though.

A shame that Fantasy Review shut down in 1950; had they been able to stick it out until 1954 and 1955, they would have been well situated to comment on the single most gobsmacking postwar instance of the “elevation of fantasy to a more distinguished sphere.”