Great Scott

Caught Straight into Darkness this week. A bizarre film, it is an anti-war movie set in WW II, about two mismatched deserters who encounter a partisan army made up of “special” children, with echoes of Freaks and Johnny got His Gun. One of the soldiers, Deming, is played by Scott MacDonald, and while watching him I was struck by how much he looked like the famous Frazetta image of the berserk soldier firing the machine gun. He has a Celtic brutishness that would also qualify him, in my opinion, to play Conan or any of Howard’s Crusader heroes.

New Harold Lamb Collections From Bison Books



Two new books collecting Harold Lamb’s pulp adventure fiction are on the horizon and I could not be happier. Swords From the West and Swords From the Desert are slated to thunder into bookstores this September, courtesy of the Bison Books imprint from the University of Nebraska Press. Scott Oden (who wrote the introduction for Swords From the Desert) and Morgan Holmes have both weighed in on their respective blogs. I thought I would toss in my two debased dinars.

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World Fantasy Convention honors Cimmerian contributors

The latest progress report booklet from the 2009 World Fantasy Convention (being held October 29-November 1 in San Jose, CA) has announced that the Special Guests this year will be Richard Lupoff and Donald Sidney-Fryer. You can download a copy of the progress report here and read all about it on page 6.


A young Dick Lupoff

One of my reasons for starting The Cimmerian was to once again get some of the founding fathers of the modern pulp/fantasy critical arena on record about REH. Among many other accomplishments, Richard Lupoff wrote the seminal volume of Edgar Rice Burroughs criticism, Master of Adventure, (a book that served as one of Don Herron’s major influences when producing his Robert E. Howard critical volume The Dark Barbarian). Donald Sidney-Fryer is, of course, the premier Clark Ashton Smith scholar, doing much of the major early research and publishing the bio-bibliography Emperor of Dreams. Both have written perceptively about REH in the past, and were well-known admirers of the Texan’s writings. It was grating, therefore, to see both critics excluded from the various REH fanzines and journals in the modern era.

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Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta: 1935-2009


July 17, 2009, East Stroudsburg PA: Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Frazetta, the
wife of celebrated artist Frank Frazetta, passed away today to be with the Lord after a courageous one-year battle with cancer.

Eleanor Kelly was born in Massachusetts and moved to New York where she married Frank in November, 1956. She acted as his business partner as well as his lifelong companion. Known for her feisty personality as well as her intuitive business acumen, she was instrumental in successfully establishing record prices for Frank’swork throughout her life.

She is survived by her husband Frank, her four children, Frank Jr.,Billy, Holly and Heidi, numerous grandchildren, and many friends.

A public memorial is planned and details will be announced
shortly. In the meantime, the family requests privacy.

Rob Pistella
Stephen Ferzoco
On behalf of the Frazetta Family

That was the announcement that went out over the internet on Friday, July 17. This is my belated tribute to Ellie. (Continue reading this post)

A Unified Theory of Conan


I’ve been writing about Conan off and on since the first movie came out, and we all wondered how Milius could have gotten the character so glaringly wrong. As I’ve been thinking about Conan I’ve come to be aware of the fact that Conan wasn’t just the character Howard happened to be writing about when he was really hitting his stride as a writer — Conan is the most fully realized of Howard’s many heroes. Words like “realistic”, “well-rounded”, or “iconic” aren’t applied to Bran, Kane, or even the brooding Kull — at least not with much frequency. But though rightfully viewed as “larger than life”, there is a lot of depth in Conan — he represents a type that goes way back.

Back, some might say, to “the abysses of bellowing bestiality through which humanity [has] painfully toiled.” [Coming of Conan the Cimmerian p292] In Absinthe Pie #5 Bo Cribbs wrote an essay in which he spoke of aggressive tendencies in humans, and how they could probably be traced to our pre-human ancestors. Citing from Robert Ardrey’s African Genesis about the work of anthropologist Robert Dart, he suggests that Australopithecus africanus was an ancestor of modern man and that he was a killer who instinctively used tools to kill. Dart’s evidence was baboon skeletons found with crushed skulls at the same sites as the Australopithecus remains. The skulls all bore the “characteristic double depression” fitting the distal end of an antelope humerous, which were also found in quantity, though no other antelope bones were. One Australopithecus skeleton showed the effects of being hit by the same type of leg bone — a millions-year-old murder, whether driven by anger or competition or whatever. Man arose from the primates because he was a killer — killing preceded the standing erect, the receding snout –most significantly, perhaps, the emergence of a large brain. You could say we had our Cain before we had our brain.
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REH in The New York Times Magazine, Courtesy of Jack Vance



Last week, Robert E. Howard got name-checked in the New York Times Magazine, due in equal measure to Jack Vance and Carlo Rotella. Jack’s contribution consisted of being the subject of the article and of having been a fan of Weird Tales during the Depression. Rotella did his part by being an assiduous journalist and a reader of discerning tastes.

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Conan 3 is finally coming


Terry McVicker, popular REH bookseller and fan, sends in the following announcement:


CROM! Subscribers, friends, and fellow enthusiasts, we’ve all had a very long wait, but after six years the concluding volume of the three-volume Complete Conan will finally appear. Wandering Star Publishers, aided by Book Palace Books in London, will publish Conan 3 this coming December, 2009. I have been assured by the insiders working on this book that the quality standards established in the previous two volumes will be exactingly met, and we will not be disappointed. All the same designers and book builders of the previous volumes are participating once again. At long last we will see the lovely artwork of Gregory Manchess presented in the format he envisioned.

Pre-publication price, good until October 1st, is $205, and given the quality and the cost of materials — which never goes down — this is very, very reasonable. If you are a previous subscriber and would like your matching number, please send me an email with your Subscriber Number. As a thank you to all my patient subscribers, I will pay your shipping. You may pay by credit card via Paypal (I will be happy to send you a Paypal invoice), cheque, or money order.

When Wandering Star had their flyers printed, ₤130 equated to $195. Now that same ₤130 equates to $ 215! When the book is ordered from Wandering Star, their Pounds remain constant but our dollar value changes, so you really don’t know what the final sum will be. As a solution to the foreign exchange variance I’m charging a flat fee of $205.

If you had missed the previous two volumes, and would like to purchase a complete set with matching numbers, the price is $620 including shipping (California residents: please remember to include your 8.75% sales tax).

Terence A. McVicker, Rare Books
1745 W. Kenneth Road
Glendale, California 91201

This is good news for those of you who have been craving the third volume. I especially like that the production standards are set to equal the first two. Terry is a great dealer and a personal friend of mine, and I heartily recommend dealing with him when ordering this book. It’s cool that those who waited to buy all three at once can now get them from Terry for one flat price, and all the same number to boot.

Half-Blooded Movie


Wife and I caught Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince today. We’ve both read the books, which makes watching the movie a little less interesting. Still, it was something to to do on a summer afternoon. Our local critic noticed the large teen soap-opera content, as Harry, Ron and Hermione work through youthful entanglements. The rest of the movie is largely given over to providing background, or the search for background. There are not nearly so many action scenes as in the previous movies, though the few they have are pretty high quality. But four or five action scenes in an almost three-hour movie ain’t much. This movie seems to see its role as setting up the audience for the two Deathly Hallows films, and it is a success as far as that goes. As an entertainment, though, it’s kind of weak.

A Review of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #13

My copy of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #13 came in the post on the same day that a long-awaited guest arrived. Due to previously scheduled essays, I’m only now getting around to singing this issue’s praises. Morgan Holmes has already weighed in on the REHupa site, but I hope that this review will complement his.

I must admit that I never read the earlier issues of “TGR” when they were published back in the 1970s. I was but a wee lad back then. However, I have perused the “Out of Print” section on Damon C. Sasser’s website. REH: Two-Gun Raconteur has always been a worthy publication, mixing real Howardian scholarship, quality art and fannish fun. That was definitely my impression when I bought the first “relaunch” issue in 2003.

REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #13 greets you with a full-color cover depicting Kull and Brule whaling away at serpent-men. Sasser went with color covers (one of the advancements of civilization we can all be thankful for) a while back. That move got my unequivocal support at the time, and this cover changes that opinion not one whit.


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A French REH book gets an English translation


French Howard fan Simon Sanahujas writes in:

Last year, in February, I made a road trip in Texas with a photographer ( Gwenn Dubourthoumieu). Our purpose was to follow Howard’s trail and try to find the landscapes and places which inspired him for Conan and the Hyborian Age. Last year we published in France an art book about that, called Conan le Texan, and now it’s translated and available in English. It’s eighty pages with more than sixty color pictures.

Here is the page on the publisher’s website. And the link where it can be ordered.

And here is the entire design from the French edition (very large page, you’ll have to scroll it on the right).

Best Regards,

Simon Sanahujas

The book looks quite nice, with some very professional pictures, layout, and design. If you are interested in Texas from a Howardian perspective, check it out.