Another Cimmerian Contributor Goes West


Don Herron reports that legendary fan/scholar Ben P. Indick has died:

The Mighty Inbendick has fallen.

In the REH context, long before you and other new guys came along to conspire with in boosting Howard’s name, Ben was a major wingman in whatever plans I made, the experienced fan writer — or longtime independent scholar — covering the flanks for me, the new guy. I am pretty sure I first encountered Ben when I joined REHupa with mailing eleven in 1974, and he immediately joined me when I bailed out of the dismal REHupa of that day to start The Hyperborian League. And from there we plotted the book that emerged in 1984 as The Dark Barbarian, with Ben handling the job of surveying Howard’s westerns. He did quite a few other nods to REH as well — unlike many of the so-called scholars today who seem to want applause for even acknowledging Howard’s existence, Ben was treating him with respect alongside Lovecraft, Tolkien, Bradbury and others all along. His prolific record is in print for anyone to check.

Indeed. Ben contributed a nice article about L. Sprague de Camp and Conan, “The Would-Be Cimmerian” to TC V4n1, wherein he revealed that de Camp had once traded him the carbon for REH’s “Wolves Beyond the Border” for some Arkham volume de Camp wanted. He was in REHupa when I was five years old, and of course had a long history in fandom before that. One of my favorite Mighty Inbendick appearances is the polite, I’m-too-busy-to-answer letter that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote regarding Ben’s “long and interesting letter and comments” in 1966 — that bit appears in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, page 366.

His presence in the field stretched back almost to the very beginning, and by the end he had made it all the way to age 86 in relative style, engaged in his passions until the end. A proud member of First-and-a-Half Fandom, he was active in the arena since the 1940s. His books included The Drama of Ray Bradbury, A Gentleman from Providence Pens a Letter and From Entropy to Budayeen, concerning the works of the late George Alec Effinger. Ben contributed essays to every critical anthology edited by Darrell Schweitzer through 2006 and, as mentioned above, notably provided his longtime friend Don Herron with “The Western Fiction of Robert E. Howard” for the landmark collection of Robert E. Howard criticism The Dark Barbarian in 1984. In later years he took great pleasure from his son Michael Korie’s career, the younger Indick having become a celebrated, Tony-nominated Broadway lyricist.

We thus add a red nail in his name to the grim Cimmerian totem of honor, alongside other fallen contributors Leon Nielsen, Bob Baker, Jay Corrinet and Steve Tompkins. I’ll leave you with a reminiscence Don Herron wrote for his good friend on the occasion of his eighty-sixth birthday last month:

I first encountered my longtime pal Inbendick in REHupa, the amateur press association devoted to Robert E. Howard, when I joined in 1974, if the thirty-five years we’ve spent as pals since then constitutes longtime. Ben and I have been involved in so many projects together — Fear Itself and other books on Stephen King, The Dark Barbarian, and on and on — that just listing the titles would fill a page, maybe two pages. Maybe three. Best of all, during those years I have gotten to hang out with the man himself, first when he and Janet visited San Francisco and went on the Dashiell Hammett Tour in the early days, and also several times when I blew through New York. I remember one time in the early ’90s when Ben and I were kicking around the Big Town and he mentioned how much he loved the Brooklyn Bridge, which I told him I had walked across the day before. Ben said he’d never walked across the bridge! New Yorkers always amaze me, but we cleared that one up fast by hiking across the Brooklyn Bridge right then, me for the second time and Ben for the first. And one day he showed me all over midtown, walking my famous walking feet almost off — as it happened, that exploration coincided with the first Cow Parade in New York, so as a bonus we got into hunting down all the crazy art cows we could find, at least 80 out of the 300 or so set up all over the city — dashing out to a median divider we found the cow painted up by Peter Max! Yeah, just standing there in the middle of the bustling street. Good times, all, with a guy I certainly consider one of my best friends ever.

Happy birthday, boss!

And now, rest in peace. Ben Indick — 1923-2009.

“…with bright-gold helmet, breastplate and ring…” (Tollers would have loved this…)

One of the most significant archaeological discoveries ever made on British soil was announced this week. The news? An amateur treasure-hunter in western Staffordshire recently discovered an Anglo-Saxon hoard of unprecedented size and richness. The location of the “Staffordshire hoard” (dated to the half-century betwixt 675 and 725AD) places it within the north-western boundaries of the Dark Age Saxon kingdom of Mercia.

J.R.R. Tolkien was deeply interested in the history of Mercia. He traced his maternal (and much of his paternal) line back to that realm. Tolkien spent almost all of his childhood within the bounds of the now-vanished kingdom. He is known to have stated that he felt a sense of instant familiarity and kinship with the distinctive Mercian dialect of Old English when he first encountered it, early on in his philological studies. A good deal of The Book of Lost Tales was localized within what was Mercian territory. He even seems to have believed that Beowulf, possibly the one work of literature closest to his heart, was composed in Mercia at roughly the time that the “Staffordshire hoard” seems to have been inhumed.

Mercia itself ought to be known in some degree by anyone who is familiar with Tolkien’s legendarium. It can be seen, in a very fantasticated form (in much the same way that REH’s envisioning of medieval Ireland resembles Hyborian Age Cimmeria) in The Lord of the Rings. Namely, Rohan; or, as the Eorlingas themselves called it: the Riddermark. Riddermark. “The ‘Mark’ of the Horsemen.” The word “mark” in this instance is derived by JRRT from the Anglo-Saxon word “mearc” (the basis, ultimately, for the name, “Mercia”) which is itself sprung from an even older term for “line or boundary.” By linguistic extension, that noun in Anglo-Saxon came to mean “border” or “frontier” (though only its more common and primal sense survived into modern English). Words such as “marquis,” “Denmark” and “march” (as in the sense of a “Bossonian March”) fossilize this archaic meaning like ancient beasts in amber.


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REH-Related News From Coming Attractions


Courtesy of the indefatigable Bill Thom over on the Coming Attractions website…


GRYPHON BOOKS Collectable Paperback Show

New York City Collectible Paperback & Pulp Fiction Expo #21, the big 2009 show will be held on

Sunday, October 4, 2009, at the Holiday Inn on 57th Street in NYC.

A limited number of 6′ and 8′ tables available but book tables asap.

Call Gary at 718-646-6126 after 5pm EST

Confirmed guest authors and artists include:

ELAINE DUILLO, famous cover artist.

LINTON BALDWIN, Lion Books crime author.

ANNETTE & MARTIN MEYERS, mystery author couple who also write as Maan Meyers.

SANDY KOSSIN, classic vintage paperback cover artist.

JACK KETCHUM, horror and fantasy author.

C.J. HENDERSON, crime, fantasy and SF author.

MARVIN KAYE, fantasy author and Sherlockian anthologist.

PETER STRAUB, masterful horror and fantasy author.

MORRIS HERSHMAN, Manhunt author and soft-core author as Arnold English.

RON GOULART, master storyteller, SF writer, pulp and comic book scholar, more.

KEN WISHNIA, hard crime mystery author.

MARCUS BOAS, fabulous fantasy artist.

ANN BANNON, Famous Gold Medal author of lesbian pulp novels.

MARIJANE MEAKER, (aka Vin Packer, Ann Aldrich), tentative to appear

RHODA PLOTKIN, wife of famed cover artist Barney Plotkin,

STAN TRYBULSKI, crime author.

Several of the projected attendees slated for the Expo above have Howardian connections. Not least among them is Gary Lovisi, publisher of Gryphon Books and organizer of the event. Lovisi is a devotee of REH and has worked with former REHupan and Friend of The Cimmerian, James Reasoner. He has also published Richard A. Lupoff’s Barsoom, a thoughtful look at Edgar Rice Burroughs’ seminal science-fantasy creation.

Elaine Duillo, by all accounts, is a fascinating and talented woman. She broke into the field of paperback cover-art when it was absolutely dominated by male painters. She also happens to be the wife of John Duillo, who was the “Other Conan Artist” for the Lancer editions.

I don’t know of any direct linkage to the Man From Cross Plains when it comes to Jack Ketchum. He is a damned good horror author and seems to get mentioned in the general vicinity of REH (google-wise) on a fairly regular basis. Birds of a feather, perhaps. He might have revealed a liking for Howard in Book of Souls, but I know not one way or another. Someone oughtta ask the man straight out, since he was obliging enough to make himself a static target for one day in this year’s lonesome October.

Author C.J. Henderson is a long-time admirer of Two-Gun Bob. His “Teddy London” tales (the newest novel concerning which is imminent) owe a debt to Steve Harrison (as well as Conrad and Kirowan), in my opinion. Henderson also, allegedly, has a sword-and-sorcery novel in the works.

Marvin Kaye, as an editor, has chosen Robert E. Howard yarns for publication in the past. His own oeuvre is centered primarily in the realms of horror and fantasy (with a sideline in Doyle, one of Howard’s favorite authors). Another guy to button-hole at the Expo regarding his thoughts on REH.

I’ve covered Peter Straub’s contribution to forcing Robert E. Howard down the gullet of the literary establishment elsewhere. Somebody needs to walk up and shake his hand (or buy him a beer).

Writer Ron Goulart is fairly notorious for his put-downs of Robert E.Howard, and rightly so. Still, I’ve enjoyed his “Star Hawks” and “Gypsy” stories.

Marcus Boas is an unabashed fan of REH. He rendered paintings for several Donald M. Grant volumes dedicated to Howard’s fiction.

Honestly, considering how little I’ve heard about this exposition up ’til now, Gary Lovisi has put together a surprisingly strong line-up of guests, especially if one is a mystery/hard-boiled fiction fan. I would definitely consider attending if I lived twelve hundred miles closer.

Wait. There’s more…


Centipede Press – Coming soon!
In the works from Centipede Press is a retrospective about the writers from WEIRD TALES, called CONVERSATIONS WITH THE WEIRD TALES CIRCLE, which is a massive 600-page book about the writers from that era: H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Frank Belknap Long, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Bloch, Munn, Derleth, Seabury Quinn, Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore, tons of other people. There are all new portraits of the writers, interviews with them, essays by and about them, tons of photographs, letters, postcards, WEIRD TALES covers and histories about the artists, all sorts of goodies.

I have yet to purchase a book from Centipede Press, but this certainly sounds promising. Robert E. Howard did not write in a vacuum. Neither did Lovecraft nor Clark Ashton Smith. All influenced each other and all three were influenced to one extent or another by contemporaries like Quinn, Derleth and Moore. There was a free-wheeling give-and-take which characterized the best fiction produced during the first fifteen years of Weird Tales’ existence. It grew out of admiration and competition between the magazine’s contributors. They read each others’ work, took what they liked and then tried to top it. The influence of the “Dark Trinity” of Weird Tales upon subsequent generations of writers is, of course, legion.

It would appear that Centipede Press is attempting to chronicle and illuminate that peculiar time and place (and the fascinating talents that made it so special) in a very thorough fashion. That’s a tall order. If they pull it off, I definitely look forward to reading Conversations With the Weird Tales Circle.

French REH award news


Fabrice Tortey, editor of the recently released and well-received French REH critical volume Échos de Cimmérie reports:


Both Les nombreuses vies de Conan (edited by Simon Sanahujas) and Échos de Cimmérie are nominated for Le Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, a prestigious French award dedicated to SciFi, Weird & Fantasy fiction (category “Essay”). The winners will be proclaimed on October 28 during Les Utopiales, a famous Sci-Fi festival. The third book in competition for the category is Dans les griffes de la Hammer by Nicolas Stanzick, about Hammer studios and France.

The fact that two of the three essay volumes in competition are dedicated to Howard is significant. Let’s hope that it will be a springboard for Howard Studies in France!


But Fabrice — how can this be? I was told that Howard is one of the least-studied pulp authors! Invigorating scholarship has yet to be attempted, right? My God, THE ACADEMICS HAVEN’T EVEN PRESENTED THEIR PCA PAPERS YET!

But seriously, let’s all extend our congratulations to Fabrice, and wish him and his buddy Simon good luck at the ceremony next month. He worked really hard on his book for several years, and deserves all the credit in the world that comes his way.

Elmer Kelton’s Last Ride Into the West


Elmer Kelton died in San Angelo, Texas on August 22nd, 2009. Other than (possibly) Louis L’Amour, Kelton is the most honored writer in the history of the Western fiction genre. Born about two hundred miles west of Cross Plains and almost exactly two decades after the birth of Robert E. Howard, Kelton spent the last six decades writing novels about his native state (and its far-wandering sons). Many would say he did so better than anyone else.

Elmer Kelton’s won a Spur Award for his novel, Buffalo Wagons, in 1957. Before he was done, he’d win six more. In honor of that record-breaking achievement, and for the sheer sustained excellence of his entire body of work, the Western Writers Association voted him “The Best Western Author of All Time.”

I first became acquainted with Mr. Kelton’s work by way of the film, The Good Old Boys, which was adapted from his novel of the same name. Searching it out, I was struck by several things. This was a writer with a deep knowledge of the history of the American West. On top of that (and most importantly), the man could spin a yarn; a yarn filled with characters who acted and spoke authentically (to my mind). Kelton had this to say about the writing of The Good Old Boys: “(It) is probably the closest I have ever come to writing from sheer inspiration. Hewey Calloway and the other characters took hold of the story like a cold-jawed horse grabbing onto the bit, and about all I could do was hold on for the ride.”

The Time It Never Rained (1973), is a novel about the drought of the 1950s, a time when most Texan ranchers gave in and accepted “welfare” (in the form of hay and feed) from the government. Not much hot lead flying, but this novel burns with intensity drawn from the souls of the characters; proud people with their backs to the wall. People who see a way of life that endured for a century being changed irrevocably.

The Time It Never Rained and The Good Old Boys are the only novels by Elmer Kelton that I have ever read. There’s enough proof between the two for me to say that the man was a damned fine writer, I reckon.

Harold Lamb: John J.Miller Weighs in at The Wall Street Journal


Lamb’s obituaries in 1962 barely mentioned his fiction. By then, the cheap magazines that had published his yarns were long forgotten except by a few passionate collectors. Like a burial mound’s hidden hoard of treasure, they lay undisturbed, awaiting their rediscovery by Mr. Jones — and now a growing band of admirers.

Such is the coda of John J. Miller’s article concerning Harold Lamb’s career and the publication of Swords From the West, one of a brace of (very recently published) editions collecting Lamb’s work put out by Bison Books.


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Meet and Greet with Glenn Lord


For those of you who live in Texas or can get there, and have never met Glenn Lord (only the world’s greatest Howard fan, collector, and scholar), here’s your chance. On Saturday, August 29, some fans are holding a get-together with Glenn in Houston. The place: Joe’s Crab Shack, 12400 Gulf Freeway. The time: 1 p.m.–3 p.m. Don’t miss it.

In the Tradition of Terry Brooks!


For your Sunday morning entertainment: a blogette at The New Yorker judges the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis to be “on about a fourth-grade reading level.” She also wonders whether fantasy has anything “to offer adults — literary adults, adults who enjoy reading bonafide novels.” Soliciting ideas from a friend leads her to, among others, Terry Brooks and Terry Goodkind.You know, those masters of literary, bonafide novels.

Yep, that’s going to turn out well…..

American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny From the 1940s Until Now (Library of America)


John Collier • Tennessee Williams • Truman Capote • Shirley Jackson • Vladimir Nabokov • Ray Bradbury • Harlan Ellison • John Crowley • Joyce Carol Oates • Stephen King • Michael Chabon • Tim Powers • and 30 others

“What remains when the conscious and functioning self has been erased is mankind’s fundamental condition — irrational, violent, guilt-wracked, despairing, and mad.” — Peter Straub

In order to provide some closure in regard to my post last week, which discussed Terror and the Uncanny From Poe to the Pulps, I thought it fitting to take a quick look at Volume Two in the Library of America’s American Fantastic Tales series. Above, you can see a list of the marquee authors featured in this volume,as well as a blurb from series editor, Peter Straub (which paraphrases Lovecraft’s “oldest emotion” axiom, by the way).

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American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny From Poe to the Pulps: An Update


Edgar Allan Poe • Bret Harte • Charlotte Perkins Gilman • Ambrose Bierce • Edith Wharton • Ellen Glasgow • Robert E. Howard • H. P. Lovecraft • Clark Ashton Smith • Robert Bloch •

That’s the lead-in list of authors on the Library of America site for their forthcoming edition of American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny From Poe to the Pulps, edited by Peter Straub. Apparently, Robert E. Howard rates in the “Top Ten” of American weird/horror authors (published prior to 1940) out of a total of forty-five. We are grading on the curve here, but in a good way. Since one would assume all authors in a Library of America collection should be “A-List” writers of some sort, Robert E. Howard would seem to be in the “A+” grouping.

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