Birthday Party in Cross Plains — Brownwood Bulletin

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Era Lee Hanke of Project Pride has been busy advertising the 2006 Robert E. Howard Days festival. Here’s an article that ran in the Brownwood Bulletin for Monday, April 17 2006:

Birthday party in Cross Plains
Robert E. Howard centennial celebration planned for June
By Gene Deason
Brownwood Bulletin

CROSS PLAINS – Fans of fantasy fiction writer Robert E. Howard have been returning to his hometown for 20 years, but Cross Plains is expecting the largest crowd ever in June for the centennial of the author’s birth.

“A centennial celebration is only going to happen once in your lifetime, so you don’t want to miss it,” said Era Lee Hanke, president of Cross Plains Project Pride.

Howard created the fantasy hero Conan, who decades later captivated a new generation in the 1982 movie “Conan the Barbarian.”

She said the Robert E. Howard United Press Association is joining the organization she leads in co-hosting the annual Robert E. Howard Days. The amateur press association founded in 1972 is dedicated to the study and discussion of Howard and his writings.

Registration forms and a tentative schedule of events for the three-day centennial set June 8-10 were mailed to interested individuals last week.

Featured as guests of honor at this year’s event will be Glenn Lord and Roy Thomas.

The agenda is still being finalized, but among the scheduled activities are the viewing of Howard Payne University’s Howard book collection, a bus and walking tours of Cross Plains, a reading by Howard biographer [redacted] from his new book, a screening of a portion of a Howard documentary by Ethan Nahté, tours of the Howard homestead museum and panel discussions by a group of Howard scholars.

Howard was born in January 1906 in Peaster, but he lived in Cross Plains while he was creating his literature. He committed suicide on June 11, 1936.

Lord is perhaps the most universally recognized and admired figure in Howard fandom. For nearly half a century he has been championing Howard and his work, from his landmark publication of the first REH poetry collection, “Always Comes Evening” (Arkham House, 1959) and his legendary REH fanzine, “The Howard Collector” (1960-1972), through over 30 years as the literary agent for the owners of Howard’s works, to his current involvement in working with the editors of the Wandering Star/Del Rey and Wildside Press Howard books, and the forthcoming updating of his monumental bio-bibliography, The Last Celt (Donald M. Grant, 1976). Lord has mentored two generations of REH fans, scholars and editors, and was one of the attendees at the Robert E. Howard Memorial Gathering, the first official Robert E. Howard Day in Cross Plains, in 1986.

Thomas was the driving force behind Marvel’s comic book “Conan the Barbarian” in 1970, and for 10 years and 115 issues — in collaboration with artists such as Barry Windsor-Smith, Gil Kane, John Buscema and others — he set the standard for the depiction of Howard’s Cimmerian hero in a visual medium. The award-winning comic spawned many others, and through such magazines as Savage Tales, Savage Sword of Conan, Kull and the Barbarians, Kull the Conqueror, Roy introduced thousands of new readers to Conan and to Howard’s other characters and stories, including Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and various horror tales. In addition, he constantly reminded his readers that these stories were based on the work of Howard.

His addition of nonfiction articles about Howard and his fiction helped introduce them to the originals, and contributed to the growth of Howard fandom and the “Howard boom” of the 1970s. After several years away, Thomas returned to Conan and the characters of Robert E. Howard in the 1990s, working with Marvel, Dark Horse, and Cross Plains Comics. His afterwords to Dark Horse’s current reprints of the original Conan the Barbarian issues (The Chronicles of Conan) offer informative backstage glimpses into the creation of this milestone comic. In addition to comics, Thomas has worked on adaptations of Conan into film, television and animation.

Information about the Robert E. Howard Centennial is available on the Web at