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)

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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Enjoy CP

This weekend is the 2009 Howard Days, and I wish great joy to those who can make it; we won’t be able to attend once more. But I thought some of you would be interested in the first trip I took to Cross Plains — one that could well be considered the forgotten Howard Days.

Everyone knows, pretty much, about the 1986 trip where the town was visited by Rusty Burke, Vern Clark, Bill Cavalier, Nancy Collins, Mark and Deanna Kimes, Steve Ghilardi, Tom Kovacs, and Graham Flanagan, on the fiftieth anniversary of Howard’s death. It was far from the first time people had come on that pilgrimage, as Leo wrote once, but it was probably the most significant. Eventually Project Pride, the Howard Museum, and Howard Days would all derive from this beginning — but it didn’t happen all at once.

Although I didn’t go on this first trip, I heard much about it; especially how it was impossible to really grasp the isolation of the post oaks and sand rough region without going there myself. So when the next time a trip was planned, I made sure to go. Burke was still in Houston, so that was where we met up. I flew in, only one of two times I ever flew that didn’t involve work. It was 1989 then, in November. They had just bought the Howard House, but not yet done anything with it. The group consisted of Rusty, Vern, Indy, Tim Arney, Gary Adrian, and myself. Though Glenn Lord couldn’t go to Cross Plains with us this time out, I did get to meet him in Houston for the first time, a great and funny guy. I believe we had good weather for the trip, as best I can recall, despite it being November. I can remember sitting on the Howard porch at night, and a stray cat coming up to us, whom we promptly named “Bob.”

We did all the traditional stuff, it seems: visited the house and the library, went to the Howard Paine University and the Brownwood grave, and were feasted by generous locals. As with the first trip, we got fed by Project Pride members Charles and Lou Rodenberger (a tasty chili, instead of the now standard — though wonderful — brisket on Caddo Peak). I remember they had a marvelous library, not what you’d expect from the Cross Plains area. We also met Charlotte Laughlin and her husband, who had done the heavy lifting in determining the books in Howard’s library. Perhaps most unique was a trip to the “other” Caddo Peak (East, not West), which was technically not legal, and decidedly hazardous. I still have a piece of rattlesnake skin I collected there. It was a beautiful sunset view, though, perhaps even more so than the familiar one.

Perhaps the reason this Cross Plains trip has been so overshadowed by the others is that it coincided with the 100th mailing of REHupa, which was a huge event on its own. It will always be a big event for me, however, though I have been back there a few more times, as it was my first.

A Texan Feast

“In fact, I’m something of a gourmand — I believe you spell it that way.” Robert E. Howard to H.P. Lovecraft, ca. December 1932.

Howard Days in Cross Plains is just around the corner. Thus and therefore (and especially since I’m unable to attend this year), I find myself yearning for fare of the Texan persuasion. My first trip to Howard Days (in 2006), I stayed over in Dallas the night before. One of my Texan cousins steered me to a little hole-in-the-wall called Lee Harvey’s in a fairly disreputable quarter of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Excellent burgers, cold beer and billiards (and discussions regarding Dan Brown and the Knights Templar) made for a memorable evening.

Soon after pulling up to the Alla Ray Morris Pavillion in Cross Plains the next day, I savored the hearty fare purveyed by Joan McCowen and the other estimable members of Project Pride. Nachos and chili just do a pilgrim’s soul good, I must say.

The gustatory highpoint (figuratively and literally) of both my trips to Robert E. Howard’s hometown would have to be the Saturday night barbecues at the Caddo Peak Ranch. Do not breath a word of this to my Kansan brethren, but Texan BBQ has it all over KC barbecue. Marjorie Middleton (and many others) put on a mouth-watering spread of Texan proportions, with attendant Lone Star hospitality.

However, my trips to Cross Plains were but the latest of my personal forays into the splendrous fields of Texan cuisine. Ever since the Christmas of ’76, I’ve visited Texas and sampled its culinary wares. Having relatives in the Dallas area helps mightily in that regard. Probably my most memorable visit (in regards to Texan food) was in 1980. In the short week I was there, my uncle took me to the legendary Tolbert’s Chili Parlor (founded by a Texan with the most Howardian moniker of “Frank X. Tolbert”) and a Tex-Mex restaurant (name unremembered) which served a delectable (and still unknown-beyond-Texas, at the time) dish called “fajitas”. Yeah, I thought my Uncle Gary Bradbury was pretty cool.

Robert E. Howard was, by his own admission, a bit of a “gourmand.” Judging from what Rusty Burke cites in “The Gustatory REH,” Howard was not laying claim to a false title. For a small-town Central Texas boy who reached manhood before the Second World War, REH’s tastes in food were wide-ranging (indicative of his far-reaching studies in numerous other areas). In his letters, Howard speaks of his appreciation for Mexican, Italian, German, Creole (and, by extension, Caribbean) cuisines. Such might be more likely expected (in that era) from a well-heeled sophisticate born to a more cosmopolitan clime.

That said and noted, I believe Robert E. Howard would be highly pleased by the latest (July 2009) issue of Saveur magazine, which is on newsstands as we speak. Most fortuitously (considering that Howard Days are just around 120-121_saveur_cover_306the corner), the editors and writers of Saveur (several of whom have Texan connections) decided to dedicate their most recent issue to the food-ways of the Lone Star State. To my knowledge, Saveur has never devoted an entire issue, cover to cover, to just one region, state or country (depending on whether you’re a Texan or not, the “state” or “country” designation may be problematic).

So, a singular honor has been granted to Texan cuisine by the finest cooking magazine in print (which Saveur is, in my opinion). Several chapters in the July 2009 issue relate specifically to Robert E. Howard’s opinions and tastes. Here’s a few… (Continue reading this post)

Final Conan Volume Coming From WS/Book Palace Books

Muchas gracias to our amigo, Bill Thom, for informing all of us over on the Official Robert E. Howard Forum that Wandering Star has signed a deal to publish the final deluxe, hardcover volume in the Conan series.

Through an agreement with Wandering Star, Book Palace Books will bring out a deluxe hardcover of The Conquering Sword of Conan that will (presumably) match the earlier, Wandering Star editions of The Coming of Conan of Cimmeria and The Bloody Crown of Conan.

The book features 13 colour paintings and 52 tonal paintings in a
signed and numbered edition of 1000 copies.

Limited Clothbound edition of 1000 – $195Conan3Slipcase-L
Limited leatherbound edition of 100 – $500

Publication – November 2009

Not much else is known at this time.

Enterprising Reboot


I would suppose that everyone who is interested in the new “Star Trek” movie has seen it by now, so I won’t worry about spoilers. A long time ago, Fritz Leiber wrote a story — “Try and Change the Past” (Amazing Science Fiction, March 1958) — postulating that the space-time continuum resists change. If a time traveler alters the past, the future may be slightly changed, but soon the future finds its way to the former norm. “Star Trek” reminds me very much of this story; while the intrusion of a Romulan from the future changes the history of the galaxy in some major ways, by the end of the movie most of the crew of the Enterprise have found their way to the positions and characters that we know from ST:TOS.

First of these history alterations is the destruction of a starship commanded by James Kirk’s father. We see the fatherless Kirk grow up as a juvenile delinquent; him stealing and wrecking his step-father’s classic car is our introduction to the character. Next he is seen hanging out in a bar, hitting on the lovely cadet Uhura and getting in a fight. There is a James Dean rebel quality in Kirk 2.0, or to quote from Ted Anthony’s perceptive AP review:

[Chris] Pine’s Kirk is Shatner’s on Red Bull and vodka — rebellious and sarcastic, vaguely felonious, tragically hip, soaked in irony and maybe a bit ADD. He leaps, then — maybe — looks.

I found the scene where Kirk overcomes the Kobayashi Maru no-win scenario particularly highlights this aspect, as Kirk doesn’t even pretend not to be cheating. And somehow I suspect, egalitarian future and all, that if this Kirk had been raised by his father he would, like the 60’s Kirk, prefer blondes.

Ted Anthony paints Kirk as an iconic American character, born of the New Frontier but true heir of the old one, having a dual nature, exuberant and impetuous, yet serious and intelligent; “hawk and dove, humble and arrogant, futurist and traditionalist — and in the most American duality of all, childlike and completely adult.”

That last duality brings Breckinridge Elkins to mind, somehow.

Frontier scholar Richard Slotkin weighs in comparing Kirk with the persona George Bush tried to mould for himself, the “compassionate conservative” — but notes Kirk’s “right-wing style” is actually controlled by his “ingrained progressivism.”

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto (Spock) are well-cast as the young leads, which really helps. Add in a strong story which, from the get-go, allows the writers freedom to stray from the massive weight of Star Trek lore, a powerful villian played with dire scowls by Eric Bana, great effects and plenty of action and you have a film that should captivate old fans and new alike.

New Howard publications available


Damon Sasser is getting ready to debut the 13th issue of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur. You can pre-order and read a Table of Contents listing here. Of particular interest to Cimmerian readers are the tributes to Steve Tompkins included within.

The 12th issue of The Dark Man is also out, according to their website. Both former Cimmerian blogger Steve Tompkins and current Cimmerian blogger Steve Trout have items in the new ish.

And this year at REH Days, Dennis McHaney’s award-winning REH anthology The Man From Cross Plains will be made available in a newly revised edition, available at the Howard Museum Gift Shop. Details on this year’s REH Days can be found at the REHupa website.

AND DAMON SASSER REPORTS: By the way, The Dark Man website does not have the info on the new issue up yet. Here is the correct info from Bill Thom’s Coming Attractions:

THE DARK MAN Volume 4 Number 2 — Coming in June!

A new issue of THE DARK MAN is expected to be available for Howard Days in June.

The contents include:


“Elements of Sadomasochism in the Fiction and Poetry of Robert E. Howard” by Charles Hoffman

“Giant Intelligent Crabs, Oh My! Haggard and Howard” by Robert McIlvaine

“Sumathi Ramaswamy, The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories” Review by David R. Werner (University of La Verne)

“Ken, Asamatsu, editor. Night Voices, Night Journey Lairs of the Hidden Gods Volume 1” Review by Charles Gramlich

“Opinion: An Honorable Retreat: Robert E. Howard as Escapist Writer” by Brian Murphy (Independent Scholar)

This issue will run about 80 pages.

The Cross Plains Library gets a new website


It appears that the website for the Cross Plains Public Library is being updated, so pop over and take a look. Howard is prominently featured, of course. As reported on this site in 2007, the Library is featured in a nifty hardcover book called Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love. Cross Plains is one of the smallest towns in America to have its own library, an impressive feat that was the result of a bunch of dedicated and civic-minded book lovers working for many years to make it happen.

Click on over to their Books for Sale page, and you will see several items of interest to Howardists, not the least of which are copies of the original Howard typescripts on file there. An interesting associational item is On the Banks of Turkey Creek by lifelong local James Nichols, which contains lots of stories from the time soon after Howard died, in the 1940s. Anyone interested in the place Howard called home would benefit from that book.

Yet another item for sale there is their Transcript of the Oral History of Jack Scott. The late Mr. Scott had forgotten more about the history of the town than most people ever know, and interviews with him always proved valuable to serious Howard scholars. Those of you attending Howard Days next month will be able to pick up any or all of these items right there at the library.