Frazetta’s “Conqueror” Sells For a Cool Million


Frazetta's "Berzerker," renamed due to legal disputes with de Camp.

After hanging in the Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg for ten years, the painting used for the cover of Conan the Conqueror is now in the hands of a private collector. All it cost the unnamed buyer was a reported one million dollars.

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Reasoner and Jones: Two Howard-heads Make Good

Hunt at the Well of Eternity

November has started off with a bang. Two scribes of proven talent and solid credentials vis á vis Robert E. Howard have something to crow about.

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Conversations with the Weird Tales Circle Coming Our Way


Just posted on Bill Thom’s Coming Attractions

Centipede Press: Conversations with the Weird Tales Circle
Now available to order with the majority being released in late November
and early December.

Conversations with the Weird Tales Circle is a massive, oversized celebration of the lives of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long, Seabury Quinn, E. Hoffmann Price, Henry Kuttner, C.L. Moore, Lee Brown Coye, Hannes Bok, August Derleth, Edmond Hamilton, Manly Wade Wellman, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Donald Wandrei, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, and many others. Each writer has their own section in the book, complete with a custom drawing of the author by noted artist Alex McVey.

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Fabrice Tortey wins Le Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire


Back in this post I clued you in that a pair of French Howard books, Les nombreuses vies de Conan (edited by Simon Sanahujas) and Échos de Cimmérie (edited by longtime Cimmerian subscriber Fabrice Tortey) were among the nominees in the “Essay” category for Le Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, a prestigious French award dedicated to Sci-fi, Weird & Fantasy fiction. Well, the results are in, and Fabrice’s Échos de Cimmérie took home the loot.

Here’s Fabrice (right) holding up his award certificate with his REH pal, runner-up Simon Sanahujas, playing the good sport.


Those of you who went to Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains last June were able to meet Fabrice — and if you subscribed to the print Cimmerian you’ve already read a trio of the essays from Échos de Cimmérie in English translation — so you know how both editor and book were eminently award-worthy. Congratulations to Fabrice for striking such a solid blow for Howard scholarship in France.

REH’s “Pigeons From Hell” Onstage at Greystone Mansion


The Nom de Guerre Theatre Guild is proud to announce that the 2009 Wicked Literature Halloween Theatre Festival will debut at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Wicked Lit will be produced as a joint venture between Nom de Guerre and Theatre 40 in association with the City of Beverly Hills Recreation and Parks Division.

The plays featured for 2009 include:

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe ~ Adapted and Directed by Paul Millet
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving ~ Adapted by Jonathan Josephson & Directed by Paul Millet
Pigeons from Hell by Robert E. Howard ~ Adapted and Directed by Jeff G. Rack (Continue reading this post)

First Word on Dark Agnes and Other Historical Adventures


Del Rey: DARK AGNES AND OTHER HISTORICAL ADVENTURES By Robert E. Howard – Coming in  2011!
John Watkiss has officially been announced as the artist for the next volume of Robert E. Howard stories, titled DARK AGNES AND OTHER HISTORICAL ADVENTURES.
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Reflections Upon Karl Edward Wagner, Fifteen Years Gone



  Karl Edward Wagner (1945 -1994) died fifteen years ago today. I never knew Karl. Nevertheless, his work as an author, essayist, editor and REH scholar has affected my views regarding the entire field of weird literature since I was barely a teenager. I believe that he should be remembered and due attention paid.

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The Iron Men Ride: Swords From the West


Adventure was considered the most prestigious pulp magazine in America. It was the very best that the pulps had to offer. And the very best author in Adventure was Harold Lamb.

Robert Weinberg, excerpted from his introduction to Swords From the West

I have been waiting for Swords From the West (or something very like it) for a long time. A massive book (over six hundred pages) bursting at the bindings with tales of conflict and courage, all sprung from the masterful pen of Harold Lamb.

The common thread which connects all the stories in this volume is that each one of the main protagonists are of European extraction. Sometimes their foes are fellow Europeans, other times the antagonists hail from points further East. As series editor, Howard Andrew Jones *, notes in his foreword:

What may be surprising is Lamb’s unprejudiced eye when portraying non-Western peoples. Lamb’s Mongolians and Arabs are painted with the same insight into motivation as his Western protagonists. He takes no shortcuts via stereotype: foreign does not necessarily equate with evil and villains can be found on either side of the cultural divide.

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I’m glad Bates is abandoning the restrictions against atmosphere stories. In a letter to me, some months ago, he said they preferred stories with a good plot and about three climaxes, I believe it was. Of course, he knows what the readers want, and I don’t blame him for trying to supply the demand. But as far as I’m concerned, a plot is about the least important element in a weird story. — Robert E Howard, Complete Letters Volume 2, page 230

I was kind of startled to see that admission. Howard critics, including some of his editors, have remarked on weak plotting, often over-ridden with coincidence, as one of his faults as a writer. Maybe, I thought, he only put plot on the back seat in case of the weird tale, when atmosphere and character might be more important. Not so.

Several pages later, Howard adds, speaking of “Lord of Samarcand/The Lame Man”:

But it’s the sort of thing I like to write — no plot construction, no hero or heroine, no climax in the accepted sense of the word, all the characters complete scoundrels, and everybody double-crossing everybody else.

I must admit that I missed that the first time I read it — being more focused on what it said about the characters Howard liked to use — but it again emphasizes his dislike of plotting. No wonder he preferred as is noted here and elsewhere, rewriting history in the guise of fiction. Here is a splendid example, again taken from Complete Letters Volume 2:

Relatives of mine were in Galveston when it was washed away in 1900, but fortunately all were saved, though many of their friends were drowned. One of their friends, having been out of the city at the time, hastened back to find that his whole family had perished. He fell like a dead man and when he recovered consciousness, days later, his hair was white as snow. Aye, men’s hair turned white then, and the hair of young men and the soft locks of girls. And then was a woman who walked across an ironing board from one crumbling building to another, stronger one, with a child in her arms, and the black night howling over her and the screams of the dying in her ears — the black waves foaming and lashing under her feet and the corpses wallowing and bumping against her feet. And just as she stepped into the comparative safety of the other building, the walls she had left collapsed and thundered into the raving waters and [she heard the] screams of her friends [as they] were drowned — with hundreds of others, [and] their bodies were never found. [..]
God, what black horror must have gripped the hearts of the people, when the doom of winds and waves struck them in the night — when they rushed from their houses with the thunder of the crumbling sea-wall in their ears, and were caught in the black madness that thundered over the doomed city — that shattered their walls, broke their roofs, swept their houses away like straw and strewed dead bodies for a hundred miles along the marshes.
[. . .]
Trains, halted by the rising water on the mainland, were deserted by their frenzied passengers — and these passengers told tales of corpses floated up to the windows that seemed to fumbles at the panes with dead fingers.
— Robert E Howard, Complete Letters Volume 2, page 321-2

I’m not sure how much of that is fact, how much is urban legend, and how much is purely Howard’s imagination, but it sure is a hell of a piece of story-telling, set free from any need of plot construction. It’s kind of a shame not much of that found its way into the finale of “Marchers of Valhalla,” but that story seems to be one of those that becomes hardly more than an outline as it reaches its end.

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.