Capping Off A Year’s Worth of Celebrating Conan

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Those of you who subscribe to The Cimmerian‘s indispensable print journal have been privy to an abundance of material relating to Conan’s seventy-fifth anniversary in 2007.

It all started with the fourth entry in our Cimmerian Library series, Yours for Faster Hippos, which reprinted the historic critical broadside in the battle for Conan’s legacy, Don Herron’s “Conan vs. Conantics,” along with much other primal matter relating to the world’s most famous fictional barbarian.

For those of you who value the work that L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter put into popularizing Howard’s creation, V4n1 of TC presented “The Would-Be Cimmerian,” Ben Indick’s article on de Camp. Meanwhile, Gary Romeo looked at the way REH’s Conan laid the base for the S&S genre in V4n3’s “The Father of Sword-and-Sorcery.”

In V4 numbers 4 and 5 we covered all the major Conan events held this year. There was the Howard Days which featured a guided trip to the birthplace of Cimmeria, Enchanted Rock State Park in Texas. And the Windy City Pulp Con that featured Conan’s seventy-fifth birthday as its theme. PulpCon honored REH legend Glenn Lord as the Guest of Honor. And Gen Con in Indianapolis held a “Robert E. Howard Day” which was overrun with panels, booths, games, and tributes to REH and his irrepressible hero.

In October, we had an interview with one of the premier heirs to Conan’s S&S throne, Charles Saunders, whose Cimmerian-inspired hero Imaro roared back into print last year, and who is planning to get the rest of the series published soon, via print-on-demand if necessary (you heard it in TC first).

Of course, all year The Lion’s Den has presented tens of thousands of words worth of debate on all aspects of Howard’s epic creation, ranging from Darrell Schweitzer’s gutter disdain for Howard’s world-building skills to the Himalayan heights of respect that other fans achieved by leading us on a tour of the realistic realpolitik inherent in the Hyborian Age.

And throughout 2007 the TC blog has been packed with all sorts of posts detailing Conan’s impact, legacy, and mythic resonance in the fantasy field. Check out entries such as:

Uncollected Letter In A Locke-Box?

Which Conan Are We Celebrating, Again?

Lancer or Del Rey

The World of the Lancer Conan Paperbacks

Kavalier (Not Cavalier), Clay, and REH

The Fortress Unvanquishable, Even For Sacnoth

Honoring the Howard Collector

Different On-Ramps To The Road Of Kings

Hearts In Mouths

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe

Conan Movie News

Thoth-Amon, Voldemort, Lord Voldemort, Thoth-Amon

Conan Stalks Into The Hallowed Halls of National Review

Frazetta & Howard, Moorcock & Howard

The Lion In His 75th Winter

Nowhere on the Internet have you read as much in-depth coverage of our favorite Adventurer.

Now that the end of Conan’s Semisesquicentennial is upon us, The Cimmerian is bringing the curtain down on this important milestone with an appropriate panoply of items. December’s V4n6 is now available, and it features a full-bore Conan at 75 Symposium. History, scholarship, collecting, comics, poetry — it’s all there. Readers will be treated to a great verse written especially for the occasion by Fred Phillips, the unveiling of a newly discovered Conan typescript that is bound to cause a bit of revision to the Wandering Star/Del Rey Conan series, an essay that provides an engrossing front-row seat at the genesis of Conan in the pages of Weird Tales, another essay that brings to light the little-known first authorized appearance of Conan in comics, and much more. It’s our way of putting a towering exclamation point on a full year’s worth of anniversary memorialization among Howard’s vast readership.

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I’ve also finished at long last the Index issue for V3. Once you take a look at it you’ll see why it took so long. The breadth of subjects covered by our twelve-issue Centennial blowout is scarcely to be believed. If you missed out on that Volume, you are light-years behind the rest of the crowd in terms of knowledge about REH, period. This is evidenced online on a daily basis, as various fans ask questions or make speculations about things that have long ago been methodically detailed in the pages of The Cimmerian. Thirty issues in four years — that’s 1200 pages of Howardian research and scholarship that the fence-sitters and wallflowers have missed out on. There’s only a couple dozen copies of V1n1 and V1n2 left, and once they trickle away, acquiring a complete set of TC becomes a whole new ballgame. I’d hate to be one of the guys a couple years down the road, finally figuring out what he missed and desperately looking to play catch up. Belatedly getting with the program will soon become an extraordinarily expensive endeavor.

And although we’ve sometimes staggered and swayed during that time, we’re not done yet. Volume 5 is ramping up as I write this — coming soon: new TC issues, new Cimmerian Library chapbooks, and the ballots for the fourth annual Cimmerian Awards. Let’s make 2008 another great year to be a Howard fan.

The Collector’s Corner: Lost Issues and Issues We Wish Would Get Lost

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WHAT’S HOT

The “Lost Issue” of The Howard Review: Dennis describes the history of this issue in his auction, how it was an aborted issue that is only now being reprinted in REHupa, with only four copies reserved for the outside world. As such, the piece generated the same amount of interest that many of McHaney’s other items have, selling in the low hundreds ($257.07). A first printing mimeo (copy #2) of The Howard Review #1 recently went for $52. Surely there must be a subset of Howard collecting fandom developing, concentrated on the McHaney line of releases. There’s enough “lost issues” and “special editions” and “proof copies” to keep such an acquirer busy for a long time.

REH pulps: A September 1936 Action Stories went for $383.88, while a July 1936 Weird Tales with classic “Red Nails” cover went for $255.01. Both had lots of bids, 12 and 24 respectively, which demonstrates a healthy interest. Other pulps with absurd starting prices, however, didn’t get any bids. These are prices that were unheard of in the pre-eBay years, and they show that the market for collecting pulps is alive and well. Those who got in the hunt early have holdings that have appreciated many times over what their money would have done in most other investments.

What I’m waiting for is someone to digitize all of these pulps and make torrents out of them. When that happens (as it already has for comics and RPG rule books) will the prices go down for these? Not likely. They already are almost exclusively owned by collectors, and not general fans buying them only to read their contents.

Writer of the Dark: this old fandom warhorse from the 1980s is still going strong, selling yesterday for $190.63 in heavy bidding.

Lancer paperbacks: The rub on these was that they were a set of Lancers in exceptional condition. Bought when new, only read once, etc. Ended up going for the princely sum of $99.27. Other similar lots went for $78 and $76. Every time you hear a cash register ding, a de Campian gets his wings.

Eclectic REH chapbooks: it seems that anything REH that has just a little spin on it to make it “never-before-seen” or “different from other published versions” is catnip for Howard collectors. The latest is a little chapbook for an alternate version of “An Elkins Never Surrenders,” hardly one of the more famous tales in the Texan’s canon. Originally printed for the historic #200th mailing of REHupa last year, it was just sold at auction for an impressive $47.07. If you saw it up close, you would understand why I say that figure is “impressive.” People buy this sort of thing for the content, not the presentation, hypnotized by the “few-of-a-kind” siren song.

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WHAT’S COLD

Arkham House Skull-Face and Others: One copy without dust jacket was advertised with a BUY IT NOW price of $250, but failed to sell. Another with a dust jacket had a BUY IT NOW price of $450, but ended up selling for a BEST OFFER price of only $300. Judging by past auctions, these prices are a bit soft compared to earlier in the year. One theory: the sellers are starting the auctions at minimum prices too high to spark the kind of furious bidding feeding frenzy that pushes prices up into the $500 range. Another theory: Christmas is a bad time to sell high-priced items like this, as most people have their time and money tied up in buying Christmas gifts for the family rather than choice high-ticket items for their own collections.

Complete set of the incomplete, horribly illustrated, error-ridddled Grant Conan editions: the seller wanted a minimum of $1500 for his set. He, um, didn’t get it.

Wandering Star series: This just keeps getting worse and worse. First Conan III never appears, then WS head honcho Marcelo doesn’t continue designing with Del Rey, then their website disappears, and now three of the books together (Conan I, Bran, and The Ultimate Triumph) have sold on eBay in unopened condition for $290 in heavy bidding. Set against that, we have a copy of Conan II that went for $159.99, but which was the result of a single bid for an inflated minimum price — in other words, a sucker got taken. A Bran went for a $65.00 BUY IT NOW bid, another for $49.99, more in line with current trends. These are terrible prices for what was supposed to be the “pay the high price, but treasure it for a lifetime” REH Library of Classics series. Don Herron was right (he’s almost always right) way back in 2004 in TC #1’s “Conan the Expensive”: they tried to do too much too slowly, and ended up becoming just another in a looooong like of broken, half-finished sets.

I was thinking that the announcement that Subterranean Press was continuing the Deluxe editions that Wandering Star let drop would have bolstered the price of the ones that were already in field, the logic being that, instead of dumping a forever-incomplete set, collectors could now look forward to completing it. But this makes me wonder if many collectors are considering the Subterraneans as faux, and hence will still consider the WS editions as incomplete and essentially damaged beyond hope. Might I remind you that the Del Rey’s are now and forever the first editions of Conan III, Kull, etc., a major selling point that Subterranean cannot claim. Subterranean Press might end up eating their shirt on this deal, depending on how much it’s costing them to get the rights, how many copies they intend to print, etc.

Comic book REH: whether it’s the Marvel Conans or the Cross Plains Comics abominations, it’s hard to even give them away these days. Last week, copy after copy went unsold by virtue of the seller attempting to eek out small margins in their minimum bid prices. They are in no position to bargain, and if they really want to sell the stuff they’ll have to price them at 99 cents and let the market decide what they are worth. Even then they may not sell, necessitating combining them into larger lots. Grim times for REH in comics.

Small Press Howard fiction: meaning the collections from outfits like Wildside. The superabundance of such books over the last few years has finally surpassed the arena’s ability to keep up. Readers have been making decisions over how many versions of the same story they need, and have been forgoing the rest of the options out there. It looks like the ones who have made out best are the Bisons and the Del Reys, leaving Wildside and lesser publishers getting the short end of the stick. I actually look forward to the time when simply publishing public domain Howard isn’t enough, when the quality and/or completeness of the contents matters more, as do the introductions, the font size, the construction of the books, the cover design, the illustrations (or refreshing lack thereof), etc. I don’t just want the stories for the umpteenth time, I want a good reading experience. The recent reprinting of The Hobbit in The History of the Hobbit set gets it right on all counts.

The Dark Man: I can’t remember seeing an REH-themed publication so completely in the dumps collecting-wise. It seems that in all of the magazine’s three major incarnations, the desire among fans to read and collect them is nil. Copy after copy fails to sell on eBay at the cover price, much less any sort of markup driven by time and demand. In the coming years, fans will get to argue over when was the moment that The Dark Man jumped the shark. Was it the format changes? The infamous publishing gaps of whole years? Their recent trend towards wreathing REH in the garland of Gay Studies? Probably it’s a combination of all of this and more.

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WHAT TO WATCH

Arkham House Skull-Face and Others: The seller has it listed at a $450 minimum, which I believe will doom it to getting no bids. You can start low and let the bidders work their way up to those amounts, but starting that high usually doesn’t work.

Wandering Star Complete Conan of Cimmeria II: listed at $225. See above on why this won’t sell at this price without a major sucker coming along at unawares.

Dark Valley Destiny, paperback version: this yahoo is asking for $64.75 MINIMUM, for the paperback version of a book whose hardcover, signed, slipcased version typically sells for $20 or less. For $64.75 it better include a lock of de Camp’s hair or something.

Spanish versions of the Conan lancers: these are interesting. Priced at $25 the copy, will they sell to the ravenous REH collecting crowd ever on the lookout for the strange and rare? Are these editions in fact strange and rare among collectors who look for such things? I think they are plenty rare enough on this side of the pond to go for the minimums, at least. If there are a few guys out there with the same gleam in their eye, they could end up going for more. We’ll see.

The Acolyte #11: Ah, Francis Laney’s old mag, already up to $21.50 after 5 bids. I have a soft spot for this because my buddy Rah Hoffman (87 years old and counting) was a friend of Laney’s and contributed art and so forth to The Acolyte during it’s now-legendary run in the 1940s. In fact, Rah has an awesome photo taken at an army base where he was stationed while awaiting deployment to the European theater as a JAG officer during WWII. The photo was taken by an official Army photographer for publicity and print purposes, so it is exceptionally lit and razor sharp. It shows the base’s recreation room, with various soldiers talking, laughing, playing pool, etc. In the back, Rah planted himself at a table as if reading, and held up the subject of his concentration so that it is clearly visible in the ensuing photo. What was he reading? An issue of The Acolyte, of course.

That’s good old Rah for you — he has many, many stories about early fandom, filled with names we all know and revere, such as Robert Barlow, Charles Hornig, Emil Petaja, Hannes Bok, August Derleth, C. L. Moore, Clark Ashton Smith, and on and on. There’s much Howard material in some of those old magazines from the 1940s, stuff that the vast majority of modern Howard collectors — even the most knowledgeable — have no clue about. I’ve seen many examples, thanks to leisurely tours of Rah’s collection, the issues of which were acquired on the ground, at the time, from the original editors. It’s indescribably helpful to have him there at my side telling me all about the various names mentioned, people who to us are long forgotten fans, but to him were living and breathing friends. People who laid the groundwork of our field, but who now get precious little credit for the seminal work they did.

Looks like Darrell Schweitzer is selling this copy. I can’t agree with Darrell that Laney was “one of the most intelligent and articulate” fans of the period — that’s a typical mistake made by guys who know these characters only through browsing the fanzines and not through personal anecdotage. Laney was a fanboy through and through who made more than a few mistakes in his classic autobiographical take on the fandom arena, Ah, Sweet Idiocy! The doomed Paul Freehafer was the truly exceptional mind from the early LASFS group that included Hoffman, Laney, and so many others, but he died so young that his influence is felt more through the people he befriended like Rah than via a printed record of scholarship. Laney deserves props for pubbing The Acolyte and for being a mover and shaker in First Fandom, but most of his contributions are of interest to pure fans rather than scholars (if you thought the fandom fights of today seem petty and weird, check out the ones Laney describes in Ah, Sweet Idiocy! It used to be even worse than today). Compare what Laney was doing to what fans like Donald Sidney-Fryer and Glenn Lord did, and the gap in intelligence and articulateness is profound.

The End of an Era

Cimmerian reader Jack Jones writes in with the following note:

Have you tried the Wandering Star link listed on your website recently? If not, you might take a look see. Things have certainly changed…

And how. All the predictions made years ago by naysayers like Don Herron and Big Jim Charles have come to pass. I have removed the Wandering Star link from my sidebar. Here ye, hear ye — the King is Dead! Long live Subterranean Press and Del Rey!

UPDATE: For nostalgia purposes, Cimmerian contributor Dave Hardy points out that the old version of the Wandering Star website (which hasn’t been updated in three years) can still be accessed at their old domain, http://www.wanderingplanet.com.

Bumbles Pounce

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Snowshoes discarded as an encumbrance, he slid down the frozen declivity until his feet struck something that snapped with an inauspicious crack. The rib-cage of a headless skeleton, the inhumanly slender bones of which identified it as one of the svartalfar. Now that the terrain no longer sloped away from him, his trek brought him alongside similar leavings again and again. This was the killing ground of something unimaginably powerful and insatiably bloodthirsty.

(Continue reading this post)

Robert Jordan’s new helpmate revealed

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Tor has announced that fantasy author Brandon Sanderson (The Mistborn Series) has been hired to complete Robert Jordan’s last book, thus putting to rest one of the most ambitious yet unwieldy fantasy series ever written, The Wheel of Time [hat tip: Damon Sasser]. You can read an interview with Sanderson about his new job here.

If he does what the fans consider a competent, even seamless job, then good on him. If he doesn’t, well — then Jordan’s fans will finally know what it was like for Howardists to sit through the Conan pastiche craze of the ’80s, one in which Jordan participated with gusto.

The Wheel of Time turns and turns….and turns and turns….and turns….

More D for de Camp fallout

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Here’s another blog lamenting the failure of the D for de Camp group to remember Big D’s centennial. I especially like the comment someone posted below the main post. Yep, Darrell’s excuses were L for Lame, no question.

REH expands at Wikipedia

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Anyone following the Grand Experiment that is Wikipedia knows that it hovers between the twin extremes of addictive/useful and error-riddled/lame-brained. The Howard entry has been no different. For the most part, my enormous rewriting of REH’s entry has remained intact since I posted it in September of 2006, despite my not having the time to properly footnote everything I included. But every few weeks someone comes along and tries to editorialize on the entry, usually to Howard’s detriment. The most recent example:

ORIGINAL SENTENCE

He is well known for having created — in the pages of the legendary Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales — the character Conan the Cimmerian, a.k.a. Conan the Barbarian, a literary icon whose pop-culture imprint can be compared to such icons as Tarzan of the Apes, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond.

MODIFIED SENTENCE

He is well known for having created — in the pages of the legendary Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales — the character Conan the Cimmerian, a.k.a. Conan the Barbarian, a literary pulp literature icon whose pop-culture imprint can be has been compared to such icons as Tarzan of the Apes, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond, albeit to a lesser degree of fame and literary success.

Note the ever-so-slight attempt to ghettoize Howard. Incorrectly, I might add — I would put Conan’s level of success against any of the above-mentioned luminaries. Sure, he doesn’t have as many films as James Bond, but he’s had lots more comics, video games, and pastiches. Conan is a byword among even moderately culturally literate people, and we need not be embarrassed at his popularity compared to any other character’s.

In any case, some anonymous reader out there quickly reverted this change to the original wording, but that’s the kind of thing you have to constantly deal with when using Wikipedia. Admins are always rushing through your entry and deleting things as well, mostly pictures that they deem are not adequately shown to be in the public domain. It can get frustrating, and makes me think that if I am going to write an entire entry anyway, I may as well host it on my own site where it is safe from such predators.

There are lots of REH-related Wikipedia entries that still have to be created, much less written in detail. But I’m happy to report that it seems that various fans are helping him along. I was gratified to see a new page called List of Works by REH, compiled and created by one Adam B. Morgan. This is a list that largely mirrors sites like Howard Works and Dave Gentzel’s old checklist on his website. But it’s on Wikipedia in table format, which allows anyone to add little tidbits and trivia to any story they wish. Over time, this might turn into a pretty useful repository of data on REH stories. It’s always nice to be able to click somewhere and get the date something was written or published, or some other bit of needed information. Good job, Adam — and if you are a fan with some time on your hands, spend a few minutes to learn the ins and outs of Wiki-editing and create a few REH entries on your own. All the items in red on Howard’s page are currently lacking a page of their own.

Grim Lands: First Impressions

We’re barreling towards Christmas and, as always in early December, posting has become awfully light around these parts. Finn is running his movie theater, [redacted] is traveling for a school soccer tournament, and Steve is hiding behind the ten-foot-tall stack of books in his to-be-read pile, plotting new sorceries to unleash on his coterie of blog admirers. That leaves lonely old me to take a break from working on three different print issues of TC long enough to check in here and mouth off about the latest Howard book to hit the mean streets.

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THE BEST OF ROBERT E. HOWARD VOLUME 2: GRIM LANDS

This book appeared in late November, giving Howard fans the first complete Best Of set worthy of the name since Skull-Face and Others in 1946. In a sense, these two volumes are designed more for the reader who is not yet a fan — as Rusty has often stated, the intention was to be able to hand these books over to the unconverted and say, “Here — if nothing in these pages captures your imagination, then REH ain’t for you.” With Conan, Kull, Kane, Costigan, Elkins, and a host of minor celebrities all vying for the reader’s attention, I’m guessing that few people will walk away without something tickling their fancy. Whether your mind drifts towards low comedy or high drama, dark history or the bright glare of a boxing ring, blades of Damascus steel or the smooth gleaming barrel of a Winchester, there’s many things within these pages for you. I haven’t yet, but I intend at some point to read these cover to cover, savoring the interplay and the thrill of having Robert E. Howard’s finest tales and poems presented one after the other, without the usual low-grade filler bringing the reader down from the rhetorical highs of his best stuff.

The art matches the high standards set by Crimson Shadows, and indeed by the “Adventurers of Two-Gun Bob” comic strips the Keegans have been producing for Dark Horse’s Conan title. After flipping through this latest book, I stand by my previous proclamations that the Keegans have done the most well-researched, most daringly original, and, in a word, the best work out of all the Wandering Star/Del Rey artists. Not to take anything away from the others, but clearly there is a fire burning here that had been smoldering for years, a desire to do right by Robert E. Howard that was not going to be denied. Filtered through the prism of Ludwig Hohwein and spiced with thoughtful, often tenderhearted nods to everyone from Pyle and Wyeth to Ditko and Schulz, Jim and Ruth make full use of the massive literary sandbox they have been given to revel in. I don’t profess to have any real skill at judging art or spotting influences with any accuracy, but even I can notice that there’s an insistent stream of quiet, almost subliminal homages popping up here, referencing everything from old newspaper comics to the distinctive pulp cover art of the 1930s to memorable compositions of favored film directors. Even the most minor touches delight, such as the drawing on page 286 that manages to capture the indefinable gloss of an old image from the dawn of photography, showing us that touching familial warmth that often peeked out through the stiff poses and solemn demeanor of people caught in the firing-squad glare of then-futuristic Daguerreotype cameras.

Unlike previous volumes, there are no drafts or miscellanea here, just an introduction by Rusty Burke and a much longer afterword by TC‘s own Steve Tompkins. In the years since Wandering Star’s first release in 1997, Rusty has developed a certain confidence of purpose with these introductions, a surety and clarity that serves both the book and Howard fandom well. The somewhat tentative, still-gelling musings of old have solidified into a measured case for Howard’s talent and worth that strikes a dulcet tone of strength, without resorting to either the hyperbolic screeches of fandom or the increasingly de rigeur cluelessness of most pro writers who write about REH. For those of us in whose minds Howard looms large, it’s sometimes difficult to resist overloading pieces for a general audience with excess baggage of a sort appealing only to die-hard Howardists. Like in his recent National Review interview, Rusty has become increasingly adept at riding this line, giving newbies the information they need while providing hints of avenues of further discovery to those so inclined. I’m more anxious than ever to see Rusty knuckle down and complete a Howard biography, because it’s more apparent each day that he’s reached a place in his mental wanderings where he could really do the subject justice.

Steve’s essay at the back of the book is the Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy from Brooklyn at his most unfettered, the literary equivalent of The X-Men‘s Magneto raising his gauntleted hands to the heavens and summoning an entire city full of metal to his beck and call in one apocalyptic expression of power. As mere mortals, the rest of us can do little but stand aghast at the sight and collect our SAG extra wages at the end of the day. I was so overwhelmed by this cosmic Twister game of lit-crit references — twenty-seven pages worth — that I felt strangely compelled to count them up:

Frederick Jackson Turner, Tom Pilkington, Edgar Allan Poe, John Clute, Verlyn Flieger, J.R.R. Tolkien, Brian Attebery, J.K. Rowling, Thomas Jefferson, L. Frank Baum, Walt Disney, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gordon R. Dickson, C. S. Lewis, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, D. H. Lawrence, Herman Melville, Philip K. Dick, Charles Lindbergh, Ian Fleming, John Wayne, Garry Willis, Amerigo Vespucci, George Templeton Strong, Charles Sumner, Preston Brooks, Walt Whitman, Henry James, John Dos Passos, Henry Miller, T. R. Fehrenbach, Paul Horgan, Richard Matheson, Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe, Tom Shippey, Henry David Thoreau, Herodotus, Cyrus the Great, Aubrey de SĂ©lincourt, A. R. Burns, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Howard Hawks, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Chabon, Stephen King, Harold Bloom, Paul Seydor, Sam Peckinpah, Leslie Fiedler, Ann Douglas, James Fenimore Cooper, William Carlos Williams, Richard Slotkin, Eugene O’Neill, Stephen Crane, Jack London, George Orwell, Alfred Kazin, Christopher Marlowe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rafael Sabatini, Billy the Kid, Shirley Jackson, Mary Hemingway, Archibald MacLeish, Richard Chase, George Steiner, Larry McMurtry, Katherine Ann Porter, Virgil, Cotton Mather, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Tony Tanner, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Carl Van Doren, James Branch Cabell, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Joe Louis, Max Schmeling, Bernard DeVoto, W. H. Auden, Richard Poirier, and The Brothers Grimm.

Many of the above-listed names are not only mentioned but quoted, some multiple times, with the excess overflowing out of the essay proper and into footnotes. And all of this doesn’t include the Howardian references, dragging in everyone from Novalyne Price Ellis and her cousin Enid to David Weber, Tevis Clyde Smith, H. P. Lovecraft, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Milius, Patrice Louinet, Rusty Burke, Clark Ashton Smith, Steve Trout, E. Hoffmann Price, and Farnsworth Wright. It’s ten essays for the price of one, and those of you who like to trip the light fantastic with my fellow blogger no matter how crowded the dance floor becomes will definitely get your money’s worth. I managed only a half-dozen pages before skimming the rest, then pushing my plate away with a belch and politely refusing the dessert menu. To each his own: some readers have an insatiable need for speed, and the rest of us get sick when the roller-coaster is amped up with that many G’s. In my case, this essay was akin to the centrifugal chamber in the James Bond film Moonraker, spinning me around and spitting me out with a (it is to be hoped not permanent) case of Howardian motion sickness. Perhaps I’m wrong — I’ve often come back to things after a spell to discover that I can engage with them much better the second time round. But any future attempts will have to wait — I’m still reeling with dizziness from the first ride.

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In other news, Paul Herman has announced that Howard Works, his Cimmerian Award-winning bibliographic website, is being taken under the umbrella of The Robert E. Howard Foundation. I haven’t the slightest idea what this means, but it should be fun to wait and find out. Eventually, many of the Foundation’s nascent initiatives are going to begin to grow and pay off for fans and scholars, it’s just going to take time for it all to mature. I always thought that Howard Works is well positioned to expand its reach beyond bibliographic information, and also include things like story summaries, character listings, indexes, and the like. We’ll see what happens.