Sanity Prevails

Looks like I figured correctly when I earlier predicted that the vast majority of those overpriced eBay Howard items would remain unsold. Almost every one of the auctions ended without a single bid, even while lots of other people listed items at low starting prices and had them bidded up into the correct ballpark.

Out of the dozens of auction winners in the past few days, the only one that qualifies as a sucker bought two of Van Hise’s chapbooks for at least double what he would have paid anywhere else. I guess if you’re real lazy, real dumb, or real loaded you don’t care what you pay, but it’s embarrassing nonetheless.

eBay madness squared


In a previous posting, eBay madness, I noted some of the Howard items being hawked for ridiculous prices at that site. Apparently I spoke too soon. Has there ever been a time when there was such a magnificent variety of Howard items on eBay, and at such absurdly bloated prices?

Grant Conans for $200 a pop when they are easily available elsewhere at $20? Bob Price booklets for up to $100, not as a hotly contested bid but as a minimum starting price? A freaking REH Days postcard that is widely available for fifty cents each June being offered by James Van Hise for a “Buy It Now” price of $20? This is outrageous.

And the weirdest thing is that all of this stuff has hit within the last week or so, and from a wide variety of different sellers. If one dealer had tried to game the market in this way, that’s one thing. But with so many items listed from multiple sellers, it makes you wonder what is happening. Did the World Fantasy Convention somehow convince dealers that there is a large Howard market out there, a market they were previously unaware of? Is there just a centennial swell at play? Whatever it is, it’s damn strange.

Browsing through the list one can see the Grant Conans, the Gnome Conans, assorted pulps, the Bob Price booklets, assorted REHupas, Howard Collectors, the Baen paperbacks, Jonathan Bacon’s old Fantasy Crossroads, all the early Dark Man issues, all three issues of Cromlech, foreign fanzines signed by Glenn Lord, Amras, Lone Star Fictioneers, an Always Comes Evening for a flat $1500, a 1937 Weird Tales for $275. It’s also amazing how many items are listed at set prices, with the dealers refusing to let them be auctioned so that the market could naturally determine the highest bid.

I guess it’s just possible that collectible prices for REH are actually going through the roof, but I think it’s much more likely that these dealers are fishing for suckers, and most of these items will never sell at such ludicrous prices. That’s the reason the dealers have them locked down with high “Buy It Now” prices rather than auction them, because they are fairly sure they would never get these amounts in an open market. I’m not a collector (thank God), but if I was I would forget about this forum and do my searching at abebooks or addall, where prices are reasonable and fairly competitive. Looking at all of this sitting out there blows me away. I’m really interested to see how much of it sells. Wow.

Cross Plains Universe a hot item


Apropos to my last post is news that Cross Plains Universe, the book of Howardian-themed stories written by Texans and given away at the World Fantasy Convention, has become a hot item on eBay, with each copy offered being sold for $35-$40. For those of you who want a copy, especially one signed by many of the writers who attended the con, keep your eyes peeled. One copy was recently offered with a “Buy It Now” price of $25, and someone snapped it up right away.

Those of you who read The Cimmerian will be privy to a behind the scenes story in November about how the book almost was derailed at the last minute by Paradox Entertainment lawyers on the warpath. All week at the convention I heard various stories about the incident, and it soured a lot of people on Paradox’s stewardship of the Howard legacy. With luck it was a one-time faux pas, and in the future the newly formed REH foundation will help to prevent such things from happening.

UPDATE: Paradox’s Licensing Manager Leigh Stone writes in to say that the sundry stories floating around the con about the production of the book were “entirely untrue,” while Rusty Burke assures me that Paradox “bent over backwards” to help with the book and hence have been unfairly mis-characterized as bad guys in this scenario. This flatly contradicts the numerous anecdotes we all heard at the con, so I’ll be sure to include the Paradox/REH Foundation side of things in the TC trip report as well.

UPDATE #2: The WFC people have announced that they have extra copies of this book, which can be had for $19 here. Of course, if you want the signed copies, you’ll still have to haunt eBay.

eBay madness


Lately I have noticed that various sellers on eBay have been posting certain Howard items for absolutely ridiculous prices. Right now there is a copy of Dark Valley Destiny, signed by both de Camps (as most copies out there are) but not even in a slipcase, being offered for the laughable price of $60. With a little searching one could probably find a better copy with slipcase for $20 max, and probably a lot less.

Meanwhile, last week someone was trying to sell individual Don Grant Conan books for $200 per copy. When you consider all the things that series has going against it — incomplete, terrible art, lots of editorial mistakes and emendations — the true silliness of such a price sinks in. The books are not even that rare. Needless to say, he didn’t sell any of them.

At the World Fantasy Convention, the dealers were fairly well stocked in Howard materials, everything from the latest hardcovers, trades, and paperbacks to all of the old books, fanzines, and ephemera, even some REHupa mailings. But there too I noticed that the prices in almost all cases were prohibitive. Paperbacks that usually sell for $5 or so online were listed at $15 or even $20 per copy. I did notice one discrepancy, though: there were two copies of Heroes from Bear Creek from one dealer, and each was listed at only $20, far below the $50-$100 it usually sells for on eBay these days.

It seems that with the resurgence in interest in Howard and the thrill of the centennial, some of the more craven collectors and speculators are testing the market by dangling items out there at high prices and seeing if anyone bites. I like to see Howard collectibles move up in price as a sign of his increased viability and popular interest, but it’s an organic process connected to rarity of the item and contents, print runs, quality, etc. There’s a difference between good Howard collectors and suckers, and the sellers on eBay are slowly learning the difference. It’ll be interesting to see how long the prices on some of this stuff remain inflated before people get real again. Eventually they will return to the tried and true method of starting them at a low price and then letting the auction process work its magic, instead of placing stuff out there with outsized reserve and “Buy It Now” prices.

The Cimmerian Library #3


When I announced the September issue of TC a few weeks ago, I plum forgot to alert you all to another item that appeared at the same time. The third volume of The Cimmerian Library is now available, one that begins a branching out for this series of books, drifting from Robert E. Howard into related subjects.

Arkham House expert John Haefele has given us the first of what will be many chapbooks dealing with the publishing achievement of August Derleth. The tome is titled A Bibliography of Books and Articles Written By August W. Derleth, Concerning Derleth and The Weird Tale and Arkham House, and it forms the most complete bibliographical record ever compiled about Derleth on these subjects. The book contains a wealth of information on Robert E. Howard and dozens of related authors, listing where you can find Derleth discussing each. Also included is an excellent introduction by Haefele detailing the efforts various people have made to compile this information in the past, a story which in itself is a real education for the weird fiction fan.

At $8 the book is a steal, and as the print run on Cimmerian Library editions is only 100 individually-numbered copies, best snap one up before they disappear forever. Haefele promises more booklets related to Derleth and Arkham House, so this will eventually be a part of a series that will form a welcome subset of The Cimmerian Library, filling the gap in weird fiction scholarship left by the decline of Necronomicon Press over the last few years.

So head on over to the Order Page to get this and the other volumes in this series. More are being planned as you read this — stay tuned to this blog for all the details.

New Howard Bibliography Ready to Roll

Paul Herman (editor of many Howard books for Wildside Press) has announced that his massive new bibliography on Robert E. Howard will be available shortly. It’s called The Neverending Hunt, and it’s jam-packed with lots of never-before-published information. Paul is the two-time Cimmerian Award winner for Best REH Website, by virtue of HowardWorks — but this book will have much in it that even that colossal site lacks.

For instance, have you ever heard of “Over the Rockies in a Ford?” Of course you haven’t. That’s because it’s a complete, unpublished Howard story that has never seen print anywhere before. If you are a collector of first editions of Howard’s work, you’ll need to order this book.

Have you ever wanted to know exactly how many poems of Howard’s have been found over the years? How about his letters? — just exactly how much exists out there, unpublished and unknown, for you to pine for? Well, wonder no longer — Paul has included not only a Prose Index, but also a Verse Index and a Letters Index, and I guarantee you’ll be astounded at how much Howard stuff remains unpublished and uncollected. We are talking hundreds and hundreds of items for you to add to your collecting lists.

And then there are all the publications that have appeared since Glenn Lord’s standard bio-bibliography appeared as The Last Celt in 1976 (and TLC‘s biblio was only updated up to 1973). Books in English, periodicals, anthologies, chapbooks and products in other unusual formats, plus samplings of books in non-English languages and comics. And just for fun, there are several “best of” lists included to give you an idea of what stories, etc. have garnered the best reputation over the years — perhaps there will be some there you haven’t read and will want to seek out. All of it has been assembled by Paul and pored over by the best Howard scholars and collectors in the business. The result is a 630 page labor of love that no Howard fan can afford to be without.

Collectors take note and beware: whereas a Wildside edition will be coming out early next year, it still isn’t decided yet in what format it will appear, hardcover or trade paper. But regardless of that, Paul is releasing a first edition of the book in a few weeks under his Hermanthis imprint. This edition will be limited to 100 signed and numbered copies (many of which are already spoken for), and it will be a superior grade hardcover. High quality binding, good paper — Paul took the time to look for a printer he really liked. So again, if first edition appearances of Howard stories is your game, you need to act on this now and pre-order.

So how do you do that? Pop Paul an e-mail and give him your info. He’s charging $50 per copy, and as I said, this is a high-grade hardcover, 630+ pages, everything in a small 10pt. font and no illustrations or other padding. Just an enormous volume of the factual information Howard collectors and scholars need to keep on top of the tsunami of REH publishing that has gone on for the last three decades, and that continues through this centennial year. The book is updated through July 2006, so you’re getting the absolute latest information.

Paul says he’s all finished with the proofs, and that the first printing of the book should be available in early October. Attendees of the World Fantasy Convention can expect to see copies there only if he doesn’t sell out in the interim, so if you want one of these superior hardcovers, best pre-order now before it’s too late.

This book is a significant event for the centennial. It’s the result, literally, of twenty-five years of research on Paul’s part, and he’s consulted with people as varied as Patrice Louinet, David Gentzel, Dennis McHaney, and others too numerous to mention. And of course Glenn Lord, the Dean of Howard fandom. All of these guys are noted collectors and scholars in their own right, and with The Neverending Hunt you get the sum total of their bibliographic knowledge at your fingertips. That’s huge, and it’s another way in which this centennial year has exceeded all expectations.

ROB ADDS: This is one of the things that I’ve been waiting for: a complete listing of letters and poems. Plus all the things that have come out since 1973. And I finally get to make a mark on the “Unpublished” list. “Over the Rockies in a Ford” is one of the Bill Smalley stories that Howard wrote early on. The very first story he ever submitted, to Adventure, was “Bill Smalley and the Power of the Human Eye,” which was rejected and is only available in an old issue of The Dark Man.

Berkley/Putnam Conans: Hardcovered, But Soft-Pedalled?

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What follows is excerpted from “A View From Corona #13,” a January 11, 2003 editorial by Jeremy Lassen. All of Lassen’s Views From Corona are worth reading, and he’s stockpiled good karma as the Night Shade Books editor who convinced Charles Saunders to write “Betrayal in Blood,” an all-new novella dealing with truculent sword-and-sorcery hero Imaro as a haramia (bandit) chieftain for whom nothing exceeds like excess until the armies of the feuding kingdoms he’s been raiding unite against him. “Betrayal in Blood” is now available as the concluding section of Imaro, the extensively revised version of Saunders’ 1981 novel published by Night Shade earlier this year.

(Continue reading this post)

Big REH collection for sale

REH editor Paul Herman announces the following:

For those with some money to burn and a Jones, I have just heard that Wayne Stolte is selling off his entire REH collection. Wayne was a 20 year collector, always purchased the best copies he could find, always Broadart’ed the covers, everything in bags. I got to personally meet him back in the 1980s, good egg, and a serious dude when it came to taking care of his collections, as anal as me!

Wayne is also the guy that created the hardback volume Flight. It was limited to 20 copies, and is the rarest REH hardback, excepting the original Gent from Bear Creek. The few he made available were quickly snarfed up and NONE have ever shown up on the secondary market, period. Well, a copy is now for sale, as well as 15 boxes of other REH material.

Wayne consigned the stuff to Cobblestone Books, as they are old friends of his. Their contact information is below. I talked to the dealer this AM, he has just started digging through it all and pricing it. He is planning to send out mailers to whomever wants to be included, maybe 50 books at a time, as he weeds through the boxes. So, for those that are interested, you may want to get on the mailing list.

Just my two cents, this is one of the larger and best kept caches of REH stuff to ever pop out, so if you got something serious you’re looking for, you may want to chase this.

I think we’re at that point in history where a lot of the classic fans from the sixties and seventies are going to start coughing up collections as death or old age beckon. It will be interesting to see what sort of new generation entrenches itself.

The Centennial Push


The latest sign that Howard’s centennial year marks a critical watershed for the author is the news that a poor reading copy (!?!) of A Gent from Bear Creek (Jenkins, 1937) has just sold on eBay for a “Buy It Now!” price of $8500 (hat tip: Damon Sasser). Cimmerian readers will recall that a mere four years ago I purchased a much better copy of this book for $3700 ($4000 once the currency exchange was figured in), at a time when there were less known copies of the book than there are now.

Granted, $8500 isn’t first edition Dracula numbers yet, but it’s a huge jump in four years, even as more copies of the book have been discovered. And don’t forget, this copy of the book was in terrible condition. What does this say about the Howard Museum copy, which I thought was in pretty bad condition at the time, but which now looks to be under-insured at $10,000? And my God, what does this say about Glenn Lord’s pristine copy, the only one in the world with the dustjacket intact (although other dustjackets exist in English library archives), and one that is signed “August Derleth’s copy,” giving it that extra bit of cachet? Would Glenn’s book fetch Dracula numbers?

Interesting questions all, and their sum total indicates a sign of Howardian permanence the likes of which we have never seen. In the past, Howard’s reputation has risen and fell with the vagaries of the market and the waxing and waning interest in fantasy. Like so many other authors, he was a big fish in a small pond, a niche guy. Perhaps it’s a little too early to claim victory over this long-time state of affairs, but I don’t think so. The last few years have seen huge jumps in collector’s prices, tons of Howard roaring into print, new Howard magazines thriving, and perhaps most importantly more Big Media news coverage than ever before. Both the Cross Plains fire and Howard Days hit CNN and USA Today, and Pulitzer-Prize winning book columnist Michael Dirda gave Howard a birthday tribute in the Washington Post.

And now, with the centennial closing and fans preparing for the 2006 World Fantasy Convention — where Howard is the theme of this year’s festivities — we have a poor copy of a Howard book selling for eight g’s and change. It’s becoming more clear every day that Howard has burst through an invisible ceiling of some sort, and catapulted himself into a stratospheric orbit that isn’t likely to fail anytime soon. He’s becoming more mainstream, more acceptable to mix in polite society. A century on, he’s also benefiting from the strange effect that age has on things, making them seem more important and authoritative simply by virtue of their distance from our time. How lucky that Howard wrote in such a way that his work remains modern and accessible even as the passing of time grants him classic status.

It’s somewhat of a relief to realize that we can begin relaxing a bit and start solidifying other aspects of Howard’s legacy without ceaselessly worrying about keeping a sputtering engine churning over the next hill. He’s flying now, low to the ground perhaps, but flying steadily and serenely nonetheless. And I for one am enjoying the view.

ROB ADDS: Bill Thom, over at Howard Works, tells me that the book is headed for a private collection in Canada and has the following information about the book:

It has a Boots Book Slip at the first page of text, as well as a Boots
Lending slip on the verso of the rear cover.

Mucho Howard News at Coming Attractions


If you don’t have Bill Thom’s website Coming Attractions bookmarked for weekly perusal, you’re missing out on the most up-to-date and comprehensive news site for forthcoming Howard publications, not to mention Howard news in general.

Click on over to Thom’s site, and scrolling down currently gives you full coverage of the following Howard items:

BLOOD AND THUNDER: THE LIFE AND ART OF ROBERT E. HOWARD By [redacted] – Now available for pre-order!
THE CIMMERIAN, VOLUME 3, NUMBER 6, JUNE 2006 – Now available!
The Cimmerian Library – Volume 2 is now available!
CONAN AND THE SONGS OF THE DEAD #1 – Available in comic shops July 6th!
Dennis McHaney: THE MAN FROM CROSS PLAINS – Now available in hardcover!
Flesk Publications – Now available! – Mark Schultz: Various Drawings Volume Two
Wildside Press – Schedule update!The 18th Annual NYC Collectable Paperback & Pulp Fiction Expo – October 1, 2006!
Chronicles of Conan – New collections are coming soon!
Cimmerian Awards for 2006
CONAN #32 – Coming in September!
CONAN AND THE DEMONS OF KHITAI TPB – Available in comic shops June 28th!
CONAN AND THE SONGS OF THE DEAD #3 (of 5) – Coming in September!
The 100 Best Writers of Fantasy & Horror – Coming in November!
CONAN #29 – Available in comic shops June 21st!
CONAN #32 – Coming in September!
CONAN: BOOK OF THOTH #4 (of 4) – Available in comic shops June 21st!
CONAN AND THE MIDNIGHT GOD – New miniseries coming later this year!
CONAN AND THE SONGS OF THE DEAD #3 (of 5) – Coming in September!
CONAN – Boaz Yakin to write and potentially direct “Conan the Barbarian”
THE DARK MAN – Now available!
THE CIMMERIAN, VOLUME 3, NUMBER 5, MAY 2006 – Now available!
Dennis McHaney publications – On June 5, the following publications by Dennis McHaney that are now available on will cease to be available and should be considered OUT OF PRINT.
Girasol Collectables – THE WEIRD WRITINGS OF ROBERT E. HOWARD – Now available!
Girasol Collectables – NEW Robert E. Howard Book coming this Fall!
Howard Days – June 8-10, 2006
REH Comics Group: This group is dedicated to the characters created by Robert E Howard

And that’s just the news for the last few weeks. Each entry is accompanied by paragraphs of details, photographs, and links. For the Howard fan looking to keep abreast of centennial year development, there is no substitute. Bookmark it now, and while you’re at it visit the other Howardian website Bill Thom manages, Paul Herman’s HowardWorks, winner of the Cimmerian Award for Best REH Website for two years running.