REH Word of the Week: skein


1. A length of thread or yarn wound in a loose long coil.
2. Something suggesting the coil of a skein; a complex tangle: a twisted skein of lies.
2. A flock of geese or similar birds in flight.

[Origin: Middle English skeine, from Old French escaigne, “a hank of yarn.”]


He knew men, and he knew that to gain his end he must smite straight with this tigerish barbarian, who, like a wolf scenting a snare, would scent out unerringly any falseness in the skein of his word-web.

[from “The Shadow Kingdom”]

Alton McCowen, R.I.P.


Just received the following missive from Arlene Stephenson of Project Pride in Cross Plains:

Fellows, felt the guys would all want to know that Alton McCowen passed away late yesterday [Friday]. EMS picked him up, died shortly after from an aneurysm. We were all just kind of getting used to the fact that Joan [Alton’s wife, and a founding member of Howard Days] had been diagnosed with lung cancer and getting lined up with treatment options.

No arrangements have been made yet. The home address is 15980 FM 880 S, Cross Plains, TX 76443.

Photo by Russell Andrew

Alton was an irreplaceable paragon to both Howard Days and the town of Cross Plains. I first knew him as Cross Plains Librarian Joan McCowen’s stoic husband, quietly moving in the background helping with all of the little tasks that go into making REH Days work. As I befriended more folks in Cross Plains, I learned that Alton was not just an occasional assistant to Project Pride, but an invaluable presence at the Howard House proper, doing much of the upkeep and restoration duties year-round.

Later still I learned of his artistic side, as it was he who had taken the old pickets of the replaced Howard House fence and begun making picture frames out of them to sell in the gift shop (that story was told by Era Lee Hanke in “Old Pickets Find New Homes” in The Cimmerian V2n4) — all of you lucky enough to have bought one of those while they were available have Alton to thank for it.

Photo by Russell Andrew

It was in 2002 that Alton hung around the festivities long enough for me to have my first real conversation with him. We talked for hours about the history of Cross Plains and Texas, and when Ed Waterman and I began asking questions about the flora and fauna of the region, he suggested we take a ride so he could escort us down the back roads and point out various landmarks. We drove away the afternoon with Alton showing us tinhorns where the old town had been, and the difference between things like live oaks and mesquite, and of course he made a point of showing us some post oaks & sand roughs, explaining to us neophytes their importance to the geography of the region.

Meeting Alton thus became the highlight of the weekend for me, and as a result I came up with the idea of arranging a yearly bus tour for REH Days attendees, with Alton as guide. Project Pride was enthusiastic about the idea, and so 2003 became the first year with a “Cross Plains Bus Tour.” Those of you fortunate enough to take one know how informative and entertaining they were. Amazing vistas of Cross Plains and environs, combined with a detailed knowledge of the region imparted by Alton in his laconic, inimitable manner.

Photo by Matt Herridge

In the last two years eye trouble prevented him from handling the guide duties the way he used to, and so locals Don Clark and Jack Baum, along with Howard scholars Rusty Burke and [redacted], picked up the slack. Now that Alton is gone, I hope those gentlemen will continue to run the tour Alton created for us. Perhaps they can call it “The Alton McCowen Bus Tour” in his memory.

Photo by Russell Andrew

I feel grateful that this summer I was able to spend several hours of quality time with Alton, catching up on Cross Plains gossip, listening to his vision and health woes and his many historical reminiscences, and especially looking at some wonderful old pictures of his family he had discovered, taken when he was just a boy, sepia photographs as clear and evocative as the ones we have of REH from the same time. We had a particularly great talk together — who knows, maybe because on some level he suspected it might be our last. In any event, it leaves me with strong, fond memories to remember him by, and that’s a priceless gift.

Photo by Russell Andrew

Back in 2002, after a weekend of getting to know each other, Alton approached me and my compatriots on Sunday morning, after Howard Days had ended, and gave us each a treasure: a long wood shingle from the original roof of the Howard House, specifically from the area right over Howard’s bedroom, shingles that many years earlier had quietly sat over REH while he pounded out his stories. Alton had patiently written a short note of provenance and signature on each one, and that year we went home with a piece of memorabilia that most fans never get to see.

I’ve since followed Alton’s example and given mine away to another Howard fan who I knew would appreciate and care for it, but I will never forget his gesture, or the many other kindnesses he bestowed upon fans over decades of work as a member of Project Pride. He will be dearly missed.


Alton’s wife Joan (on left, with Anne Rone) must be devastated, and I’m sure she would appreciate any condolences thoughtful Howard fans would send her way. Use the address Arlene provides above.

MARK ADDS: Both Alton and Joan have been good, loyal friends of Howard fans over the years, giving of themselves over and over again, and not just during REH Days, either. Joan helped me on several of my own special projects, and I always enjoyed Alton’s stories and observations during the bus tour. He was also instrumental in helping me piece together the history of the ice house, which has become a feature during the walking tour. Rest in peace, Alton. You will be missed.

LEO ADDS: Here’s Alton’s obituary:

Alton McCowen, age 75, of Cross Plains, passed away Friday, August 24, 2007 in Abilene.

Funeral services will be at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, August 27, 2007 at Higginbotham Chapel in Cross Plains with Matt McGowen officiating; burial will follow in the Cross Plains Cemetery.

He was born to Raymond Alton and Donie (Scott) McCowen in Shreveport, LA on September 14, 1931. After graduation Alton joined the U.S. Air Force. He married Joan Thomas in Park Ridge, IL on March 31, 1951. After leaving the service they made their home in San Diego, CA where he worked at the San Diego Gas and Electric Company until 1977 when he retired and moved to Cross Plains. After moving back to Cross Plains, Alton then worked as a general carpenter and handyman.

He is survived by his wife Joan McCowen of Cross Plains; numerous cousins including, Burlie Paul McCowenof Abilene, Bobby Jack McCowen, Rubin McCowen, Charlene McGowen and Jimmy McCowen all of Cross Plains; and Bonita Horton of VA.

There will be a time of visitation and sharing of memories Sunday, August 26, 2007 at Higginbotham Funeral Home at 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers donations maybe made to the Cross Plains Public Library, PO Box 333, Cross Plains, TX 76443.

REH Word of the Week: piker


-noun [slang]
1. a person who does anything in a contemptibly small or cheap way.
2. a stingy, tight-fisted person; tightwad.
3. a person who gambles, speculates, etc., in a small, cautious way.

[Origin: 1275-1325; Middle English: petty thief, equiv. to pik(en) to pick + -er.] In America, dates from 1860s when poor migrants from Pike County, Missouri traveled to California.]


“I’m through and I’m takin’ down my stake! You gits no more of my money, damn you!”

“Why, you cheap-heeled piker!” I roared. “I thought you was a sport, even if you was a hossthief, but–“

[from “Evil Deeds at Red Cougar”]

Cross Plains Review on microfilm

Just an FYI — there was a short bit in a recent Cross Plains Review that noted the library had begun amassing a collection of old issues of the newspaper on microfilm for researchers to use. That’s good news: the more people that hunt through those back issues, the more REH related material we are likely to find.

This was forcefully brought home at the Caddo Peak BBQ at this year’s Howard Days, when some of us got to see a previously unknown photo of Dr. Isaac Howard, by far the youngest we’ve ever seen him, which had been found in a late 1930s issue of the Review which had been stored in a trunk for seventy years.

What other treasures still lurk within those pages? With microfilmed copies at the town library, it should prove easier to find out.

Joe Lansdale checks in…


…with some comments on my response to his article on Almuric from a few weeks ago.

JOE: I enjoyed Leo Grin’s comments on my comments on Almuric. I really like Howard and I really like Almuric, so let’s get that up front. I wasn’t being demeaning in any way. I think this wasn’t his best work, but I find it appealing, and it is a favorite of mine because of the type.

But I think most male fiction is a yearning for adventure, and it’s a little boy’s yearning all dressed up in daddy’s clothes. Only daddy never wore them where we want to go with them. It’s why we became professional writers. Howard wrote about realism from the standpoint of little boy desires and fantasy. I think all writers do that, males anyway. I don’t care if it’s got guns and shootouts and death in it. It’s always about a yearning for adventure or a pain at the loss of innocence, and the desire to be pure and young again.

It’s all the blood and thunder that makes this stuff adventure that may not necessarily be for boys, though it is primarily, but makes it wish fulfillment. Killing enemies and seeing all that blood is what keeps teenagers buying Fangoria, as well as some of us who still visit that part of us. It’s not a put-down, it’s just simply, from my viewpoint, the way it is.

Virgins may have been an overstatement, but it has that feel of “Wow, I never knew sex until the hero came along, and I’m so willing, and he’s so wonderful and ravishing.” Nice, but, adolescent still.

Also, it’s just an opinion. Nothing to loosen the bowels over; opinions are, as they say, like assholes, and everyone has one, and from time to time opinions make assholes of us all. I plead guilty. But this was a heartfelt piece, and how I see it. You can see it another way, and that’s okay.

Keep on reading.

Second Time’s A Charm


Locus Online just announced the nominees for the 2007 World Fantasy Awards, and The Cimmerian has officially made the cut for the second year in a row. Assuming that the 2007 judges possess similar sensibilities to last year’s august crew, it’s clear that this nomination came about for one reason only: grass roots support from a silent horde of individual Howard fans lurking out there in the dark corners of the field.

You guys.

I’m grateful to every reader who took the time to send in a vote for TC. Not only that, but you guys also helped a few other Howard-related projects get on the ballot:


[redacted]’s biography, Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, was nominated for a “Special Award, Professional.” This comes on the heels of the nomination he received for a Locus Award, as well as the winning of a Centennial Cimmerian Award for the book. In addition, the tome published to coincide with Howard being the theme of the 2006 World Fantasy Convention, Cross Plains Universe: Texans Celebrate Robert E. Howard (edited by Scott Cupp and Joe Lansdale), is nominated in the Anthology category. That gives us three categories to get shut out in this year. Good jobs all around.

A World Fantasy nomination carries a magical aura with it that tends to sparkle and glimmer around a project for a lifetime and beyond. Whispers. Carcosa. Ash-Tree. Night Shade. Nyctalops. These are names that send us scurrying for our checkbooks each time a new Coming Attractions is posted, and that lure us into logging countless hours of primo fantasy reading decade after decade. Granted, TC will probably never win. Howard continues to rise in the estimation of knowledgeable fantasy enthusiasts, and someday he may become the same kind of World Fantasy darling that Lovecraft and his modern-day ilk are. But by the time the new generation of fans comes of age and infiltrates the field deep enough to make that happen, The Cimmerian will likely be long gone.

Nevertheless, such nominations help legitimize this strange, often lonely passion we share for the work of a long-dead Texan fantasist. Just like articles in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, they serve as useful benchmarks to mark the road toward a new level of maturity in Howard studies. Small, fleeting totems — and yet each provides a little boost to his critical reputation. Over time, they add up.

I’m proud to have such loyal and thoughtful readers, and I hope to keep on delivering REH criticism and scholarship to you for as long as I am able. Thanks, guys.

MARK ADDS: I too would like to thank everyone who wrote in Blood & Thunder and I’d particularly like to thank those of you on the various lists who rallied the troops to make that happen. I’m flattered and touched that the book made it this far. Sarcasm above aside, it IS an honor to be nominated; it makes you more visible within the professional community and it ensures that other like-minded people are aware of your efforts. So, thank you folks, and here’s hoping that the awards banquet will be fruitful for all!

Cold Light and Winter Soul-Reflections


Has anyone ever devised a deadlier zinger about a major author than Oscar Wilde’s “Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty”? Many people, among them some professed cineastes, would also claim that Ingmar Bergman made movies as if it were a painful duty, or at least made movies the watching of which is necessarily a painful duty. After the Swedish director’s death last week just about every obit or tribute online that offered a comments section was gate-crashed by reverse snobbery-afflicted knuckle-walkers and know-nothings who sneered that the Bergman cult was/is an affectation of pseudo-intellectual, popular culture-despising coastal or campus elites — blue-staters, most likely supporters of public television and Volvo drivers. Oh well, in many ways Bergman was the heir of Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, so we might say attacks by trolls are part of his Scandinavian heritage.

Jeezis wept, Joe Blog-Reader thinks, is he really going to inflict a post about Ingmar Bergman on us? I can’t help it, having arrived in New York City as a college freshman just in time for the twilight of the pre-videocassette arthouse/repertory cinema era. It didn’t take long before I had ascertained that Fellini and Fassbinder were not for me, but Buñuel, Kurosawa, and especially Bergman were.

(Continue reading this post)

REH Word of the Week: Nurmi



-Proper noun

Paavo Johannes Nurmi (June 13, 1897 Turku — October 2, 1973 Helsinki) was a Finnish runner. He was known as one of the “Flying Finns”; a term given to him, Hannes Kolehmainen, Ville Ritola and others for their distinction in running. During the 1920s, Nurmi was the best middle and long distance runner in the world, setting world records on distances between 1500 m and 20 km.

Nurmi won a total of nine gold and three silver medals in the 12 events he competed in at the Olympic Games from 1920 to 1928. In 1932, Nurmi was unable to compete at the Olympics, as he had received money for his running and was thus considered a professional.

[read more at Wikipedia]


“They’s no time like the present, before all those tramps come to. Ready? On your mark — get set — go!”
And Oslof and me left Blue River at a rate which wouldst have made Nurmi blush.

[from the ending of “Blue River Blues,” an incomplete Sailor Steve Costigan story.]

The Collector’s Corner: The House Derleth Built


What’s Hot: Arkham Howard Books, REH Weird Tales, Grant slipcase editions, Individual Grant Conans, REH Poetry, REHupa, Perils of Sailor Costigan.

When a guy gets serious about REH collecting, generally the first thing they hunt for are good copies of the two major REH books from the premiere fantasy press of the twentieth century, Arkham House. Looks like the magical patina shimmering around these books is in no danger of vanishing anytime soon. Augie Derleth’s version of The Dark Man and Others just sold for $179.48, a fairly typical price, and his Skull-Face and Others ended up going for $518.13, also a typical price. Note that last week I predicted that this one would top out at around $550 — I guess I’m not as stupid as I look.

After the Arkham volumes, our new collector might make a stab at grabbing some of the pulps Howard made famous. You can occasionally get a steal of a deal on eBay with these, but for the most part online auctions have sent the price of pulps through the roof, making it harder than ever to add a lot of them to your collection. The guys who bought them as recently as ten years ago are felling pretty good about themselves. This week we’ve seen some confirmations of this: Weird Tales July 1932 (“Wings in the Night”) sold for $49.95, an issue of Argosy (10/17/36, containing REH’s “Gents on the Lynch”) went for $49.99, and most impressively the classic December 1932 issue of Weird Tales (containing the first appearance of Conan in “The Phoenix on the Sword”) topped out at a monstrous $600.00. Those old babies still have the magic, and I pity the collector just starting out, daunted by everything he needs along those lines.

It’s often eye-opening to see what fairly average books can do with just a bit more gussying up. Two 1970s Grant titles just sold for big bucks due to having special cases and signatures. The Road of Azrael, a copy signed by the late great Roy Krenkel, sold for $131.50, and a cased copy of Red Nails went for even more, a very respectable $144.50. I see that as a lesson to all the people out there making Howard items: put a bit more thought into the general design and all the little collecting touchstones, and it will do much to make your contribution to the field a lot more valuable.

Maybe those cased Grant books made folks a bit loopy, because amazingly this week there was a pretty good showing for the much-maligned-by-me Grant Conans. And this feat can’t be blamed on a single desperate or uninformed collector — most of them sold to different guys. A Witch Shall Be Born ($31.01), People of the Black Circle ($41.09), Pool of the Black One ($52.05), Hour of the Dragon ($27.55), Rogues in the House ($29.99), Black Colossus $29.99, Jewels of Gwahlur ($35.00). Pretty amazing, but perhaps it was just a matter of different people filling little holes in otherwise complete Grant collections (whereas to pay $40 each for a whole set is much more unrealistic). We’ll have to keep an eye on the Grants and get a better long-term idea of what they are worth.

The new poetry volume Winds of Time from Tom Kovacs (publisher of “What’s Hot” staple Writer of the Dark) sold for a decent figure for an in-print item filled with poems most of us already have in various editions: $53.52. Time will tell how well this book does over the long term of years and decades. Tom is known for putting out quality materials, and the book has a Glenn Lord introduction, so that helps.

REHupa continues to educate the “$20 crowd” that times have changed: #174 sold for $47.01, over double what some people were crying that REHupas were worth just a scant few months ago. As I’ve said before, get these while you can. Right now they are in flux, heading out of the hands of old members and into the hoards of a new set of REHupa collectors, the kind that hold onto such things for life. Once this shake-out finishes in a year or three, these will become rare on eBay. The time to get them is now.

The way I had heard it, Perils of Sailor Costigan was a collection of three Sailor Steve Costigan fragments, published in McHaney’s Howard Review at one point. Now here’s an auction showing it as a separate booklet and claiming that it contains four Costigan tales. Dennis will have to clear this up for me. Until then, I consider someone purchasing this for a BUY IT NOW price of $125 to be a bit excessive, yet another aftershock of the recent McMania online.


What’s Cold: Necro Press’ Selected Letters 1931-1936, The Howard Review, Baen Library, REH comic books, REH “Limited Edition” collector ripoffs, Berkley Conan hardcovers, The New Howard Reader, The Dark Man journal.

As I predicted last week, Robert E. Howard’s Selected Letters 1931-1936, a collection of heavily condensed letters from longtime chapbook producer Necronomicon Press, didn’t get a single bid on a $15 minimum. Necronomicon Press publishes booklets rich in content but of generally awful quality (the art especially is usually hideous) and although collectors will always need a fair amount of them in-house (John Haefele wrote the definitive article on REH in the press for The Cimmerian) I for one will be happy when I’ve sold off the last of them forever. Such items measure up to S. T. Joshi ‘s ideas of bookmanship perhaps, but for the discerning REH reader they fall way short of what I consider a minimum level of class and competence. This second Letters volume is infamous in REH circles for containing one of the all-time worst REH introductions, one from Reverend Bob Price opining that surely one cannot find the real REH in his letters the way you can in HPL’s. Too laughable for words.

It’s probably a stretch to call The Howard Review “cold” this week, but I’m comparing the recent sales to the gargantuan hauls of the past few weeks. The seventh issue was described in the auction description as “seldom seen…one of the rarest editions of this fanzine” and yet it only sold for $37.99, a far cry from what earlier numbers have sold for. A “second edition proof” of #3 did better, going for $102.50, but a copy of The Howard Review #5 received no bids on a mere $7 minimum. of course, that issue wasn’t very rare — the print run was a thousand copies. Another McHaney publication titled World’s Largest Robert E. Howard Fanzine (a book containing most of the contents of The Howard Review #1 and #2) nabbed a respectable $87.00. So not too cold, but the value of these various issues and states is varying widely. That’s what you get when a magazine has been around for thirty years and change.

The Baen Library “Homer Simpson” auction didn’t get a single bid last week, no surprise there. Individual Baens have a much better chance of selling, and for fairly decent (if not impressive) prices. Solomon Kane, for example, sold effortlessly last week for a BUY IT NOW of $5.99, which is amazing considering you can get the illustrated Del Rey with pure text for less than that if you shop around a bit.

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of the comics medium. The stylization and miniaturization of my favored literary works especially grates. I’m not shedding any tears, then, to see most REH comics doing abysmally in the ruthless eBay marketplace. REH’s Mythmaker (from the doomed and now long-defunct Cross Plains Comics) didn’t get a single bid for copies listed at $3.99 or even at $2.95. However, a much more egregiously silly comic, Bloodstar, sold for $37.99. Whether this is a good price for this item is for others to say. This early “graphic novel” (comics too often revel in such illiterate contradictions) is supposedly an adaptation of one of REH’s single best tales, “The Valley of the Worm.” In standard comic fashion, it utterly destroys the artistry of the original work: it now takes place in a — surprise! — “post-apocalyptic future,” and the main character prances around with a star on his forehead (Captain America should sue). According to one of the dink websites the comic guys added “romance and humanity” to Howard’s original, in part by naming the “romantic interest” Helva (I await the sequel where we meet her lovely sisters Vulva and Placenta). And on it goes: Spookhouse #2 (containing an adaptation of “Pigeons from Hell” among more atrocities committed against other authors) didn’t sell even at a minimum of $2.99.

Another nefarious result of the second Howard Boom is the growing horde of fans intent on milking REH collectors for whatever they can get for what are in essence useless and meaningless items. Take Medusa Expression, an imprint who has suddenly begun releasing so-called “collector’s editions” of public domain tales in limited runs. Trouble is, the book design sucks, the text quality sucks, and the stories are easily available elsewhere. But of course that is all beside the point: the hope is that there are at least 150 suckers out there who feel the overwhelming need to collect one of everything REH, no matter how awful. On eBay they’re currently trying to sell a snot-green The Daughter of Erlik Khan sporting a generic naked-lady cover for a $50.00 BUY IT NOW price. No suckers yet, but let’s see if in time they get rid of all their copies.

I always thought the Berkley hardcovers looked pretty cool, with Ken Kelly at his Frazetta-imitating best (I’m not complaining), and with those fine Karl Edward Wagner intros. But of course like so many other tries at making a good Conan series the set was never completed, and now they are just another group of failed books. This week a copy of the Red Nails hardcover sold for a paltry $3.99. This series will always be one of the sadder ones, laden as it is with the memory of Wagner’s ultimate demise, and with the thought that de Camp had the series killed in mid-stream via threats of legal action.

Somewhat surprisingly, a copy of The New Howard Reader #5 didn’t get a single bid on a $25.00 minimum. It’s possible that these previously high-demand items are about to plummet in value as the REH Foundation gets out much of the rare material found in these volumes. But at least they have a chance — the poor Dark Man #1 continues to languish in eBay limbo week after week, unable to find a nice REH fan’s collection to call home. If Don someday publishes a book of his essays, that will put this issue in even more trouble.

Things to Watch:


AUGUST 1928 WEIRD TALES: another blockbuster in the making, this ish contains not only “Red Shadows” but Tennessee Williams’ “The Vengeance of Nicrotis,” his first published story. For you comic fans out there, Williams was a writer, one who generally didn’t put stars and purple stripes on the faces of his characters (Stanley “Bloodstone” Kowalski, anyone?). The only problem is the minimum of $400 the seller put on it. If he had let it float, there is no question the bidding would have risen into that storied stratosphere, but will someone plonk down four bills just to get into the club? Probably — look for this to sell, perhaps for as much as the $600 the Conan debut issue went for.

ORIGINAL KEEGAN REH ART: Now this is cool, an original strip of “The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob” listed at $100. Now we see if the Keegans’ have built up a name in Howard art worthy of commanding the sort of prices normally reserved for the likes of Fabian, Gianni, and Krenkel. My guess is yes. With the two-volume Best of REH coming out soon and fully illustrated by the husband-wife team, their art is about to break out in a big way. $100 will look dirt cheap for this item before long. Look for this auction to heat up big-time in the closing minutes, as smart collectors vie for what is a ground-floor shot at a major bit of REH artistry.

And I like that “award-winning” remark in the description. True, true. The influence of The Cimmerian Awards continues to spread.

MORE CRYPTIC CHAPBOOKS: The Coming of El Borak, The Sonora Kid, Risqué Stories #1-#5, The Adventures of Lal Singh, Two-Fisted Detective. Has anyone else noticed that these are beginning to pop up quite often, seeming less and less “rare”? The ultimate question is whether these will continue to hold at the $50-$100 mark. After all, as they become less necessary to collectors, more of them will drop into the marketplace. Eventually the demand will lessen, and the price will fall. Has that time arrived yet? My guess is no — these will each get at least one bid and sell at $50 and up. Of course, if there are still a few guys out there needing these, they could go for double that.

WRITER OF THE DARK: Tom Kovacs publications have been doing well on eBay the last few weeks. Will this one continue the trend? Yep. This item has five bids already, and is up to $76.00. How high will it go? Two weeks ago, one sold for $177.50. We’ll see if this one does, too, and establishes that as the ballpark selling figure for this sort of thing.

GRANT HOUR OF THE DRAGON: Some guy’s got it listed for a minimum of $99. Hahahahahahahha……

BICENTENNIAL TRIBUTE TO REH: So far it’s got one bid at $49.99. I’m interested to see how high this goes. It’s pretty rare and has a pretty good rep among Howard insiders as being one of the old 1970s things with some quality stuff inside.

HOWARD REVIEW #9: $30.00 and rising. Go, Dennis, go!

BAEN LIBRARY: The same guy who failed to sell it at the Homer Simpson price of $49.99 has re-listed it at $39.99. Closer to reality, for sure, but still no cigar. List it at 99 cents already and let’s see how high it gets in true bidding.

NEW HOWARD READERS #3, #5, and #6: Dennis McHaney is having lots of fun in his eBay descriptions, subliminally teasing me on my complaint about people overusing terms like “ultra-rare!” He makes a great point when he notes that these issues are for the most part more rare than the original publications this magazine was designed to supercede and rescue all that obscure REH from.

GEORGE HAMILTON REH BOOKS: The Shadow of the Beast, The King’s Service, Spears of Clontarf, etc. These little collector’s booklets are another set of items that are useless to modern REH readers but still take up a small chunk of real estate on the lists of collectors. These are listed at $24.99. Too much? Or will they get some bids? Hard to say, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that these won’t sell at this price. Too much for too little.

REPORT ON A WRITING MAN CHAPBOOK: Another ugly Necro Press chapbook, but one that is still absolutely essential for Howard fans. All of the REH commentary by his best friend Tevis Clyde Smith assembled in one place, plus pictures of REH available nowhere else but in old TCS publications (sadly, the original photos are apparently lost forever). No REH fan can live without this booklet, it’s chock full of Howardian goodness. Expect this to sell and for a premium to boot.

REHUPA #146: Another day, another issue of REHupa. And an older copy, one that was pretty good. Make some popcorn and sit back — $20 would be disappointing, $50 average, and $100+ not unreasonable.

ACE CONAN BOXED SET: The first five de Camped Conans in their Ace versions, in a slipcase. Already three bids have been logged, and the total is up to $14.99. Yet another showcase for the theory that slipcases make everything seem better. How high it goes depends on how hot and bothered the handful of de Campians get out there.

REH IN TOP-NOTCH: This little booklet first appeared in REHupa courtesy of Jim Keegan, but here it’s being sold as a standalone item. What’s it’s worth? More than $10, I think. This is one of those infrequent little ephemeral items that is more than just a curiosity — its contents (art and info on all the issues of Top-Notch REH landed stories in) justifies collectors adding it to their hordes.

99-CENT STEALS: Someone just listed eighteen REH books at 99 cents each, including the Grant Conans and The Last Celt in hardcover. That’s what daddy’s talking about: now we’ll get a chance to see what these will go for in the real world, as opposed to the “trolling for suckers” world of the average eBay “Power Seller” hack.

REH Word of the Week: baluster


1. One of the upright, usually rounded or vase-shaped supports of a balustrade.
2. An upright support, such as a furniture leg, having a similar shape.
3. One of the supporting posts of a handrail.

[French balustre, from Italian balaustro, from balaustra, pomegranate flower (from a resemblance to the post), from Latin balaustium, from Greek balaustion.]


Belesa and Tina, forgotten on the stair, peeping between the balusters, saw Galbro fall behind the others, loitering until the heavy door closed after them.

[from “The Black Stranger”]