Last days to buy The Cimmerian


I just know I’m going to get some outraged emails at 12:01am on September 1 from people irate that they had no adequate warning of my decision to stop selling back issues after August 31, and upset that I’m being such a hardass about my deadline (I’ve already had people vainly ask me to extend the deadline just for them, or let them keep things on layaway for days, weeks, or months, despite my very clear blog post last time about those things). So to be perfectly clear as we come down the home stretch:

August 31, 2009 is the date after which all excess unsold copies of The Cimmerian will be destroyed. If you want any after that, you’ll have to wait for already-sold copies to appear on eBay, or scavenge at the REH Museum in Cross Plains for what copies they might still have.

No, I’m not going to change my mind. No, there will be no extensions or copies held on layaway.

August 31 is the date. Get ’em while you can.

And to be assured of getting your order, your don’t just need to send me an email requesting the issues by the deadline, your money needs to be sitting in my PayPal account by midnight of the night of Aug. 31–Sept. 1, Pacific Time. Any monies sent after that time will be refunded and the orders will go unfilled. And any email conversations that we might have had before the deadline that were ultimately not sealed by a payment will be considered void.

I’ve been overwhelmed with orders the past few weeks and am slowly working through them whenever I get free time, so if you’ve sent in money and I’ve confirmed receipt, don’t worry, you’ll be getting your package soon. Any questions, feel free to ask. If you have been sitting on the fence for the last five years, you have until Monday evening to get in on the action.

I can’t make it any more clear than that.

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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Donald M. Grant: Requiescat In Pace

Donald M. Grant died the other day in Florida. The name might not mean much to those but recently come to Robert E. Howard fandom. To REH fans like myself, who came of age before 1990, Donald M. Grant and the publishing company he founded represented a source of quality hardcovers featuring the fiction of Howard, Harold Lamb, Karl Edward Wagner and others that was unmatched anywhere else.


It took me a few years to realize that some of the Zebra paperbacks that introduced me to Robert E. Howard’s work originated as DMG hardcovers (cut me some slack, I wasn’t even a teenager). Once I did, I tried to get hold of such when I could afford them. Grant’s publishing house printed the first collection of Howard’s verse I ever owned. Donald M. Grant, Publishing, Inc. is still the only English-language publisher to have printed One Who Walked Alone and Post Oaks and Sand Roughs. While I own a beautiful copy of The Road of Azrael published by Mr. Grant, I am sad to say that an edition of the DMG The Sowers of the Thunder, generally considered one of the finest illustrated books to ever showcase the work of Robert E. Howard, eludes me. (Continue reading this post)

A Natural Man


You heard about Samson, from your birth
Strongest man that ever lived on Earth 1

Of the Old Testament Biblical heroes, Samson stands out as the most strikingly larger than life figure. So much so, in fact, that there was heated debate among Talmudic Scholars at one point whether he even existed. There was a supernatural element to his birth:

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Rage of the Behemoth: A Review


The new sword-and-sorcery anthology from Rogue Blades Entertainment, Rage of the Behemoth, has hit the streets (and my mailbox). In this newest offering from RBE, editor Jason M. Waltz has upped the ante. Overall, this collection of S&S tales exceeds its worthy predecessor in both quality and consistency. Waltz’s theme for this book is that each protagonist must face a “behemoth”; in other words, a “large monster” of some sort. Despite my initial scepticism, the idea works well.

Right off the bat, Rage of the Behemoth just looks better than its older sibling. Johnney Perkins turned in an eye-catching painting for the cover of The Return of the Sword. His work on the multiple covers for Rage of the Behemoth is another big step forward for him. Waltz has also enlisted the talents of the Frenchman, Didier Normand, for the multiple covers featured in this edition. Normand’s art is obviously influenced by Frank Frazetta (which Normand admits). However, Normand not only captures, to an extent, the look of the Michelangelo of Brooklyn, he also does a good job of capturing the feel and energy of Frazetta (in my humble opinion). At his best, Normand reminds me of the late-’70s Ken Kelly. I’ll be keeping an eye on this guy. Interior artist, John Whitman, turns in some solid line-work for the book, but I found myself wishing that the inking was a bit better.

Cimmerian alumnus, [redacted], provides the introduction for this volume. His lead-off sentence, a true keeper, is, “Mock Sword and Sorcery at your own peril.” The rest of the intro maintains that standard and tone. John O’Neill, publisher and editor of Black Gate magazine, turns in a good foreword.

Just to get it out of the way: the first two stories in this book are not really worth reading, in my opinion. The good news is that all the rest, to one extent or another, most definitely are. Let’s get to ’em… (Continue reading this post)

Solomon Kane trailer as bad as feared

Add Michael Bassett to the long, long list of insipid mediocrities who have attempted to improve/reboot/origin story/modernize a Howard character, whether in print, in comics, or on celluloid/video. May he never be unfortunate enough to meet REH’s shade in the grim hereafter….

UPDATE: As you can see above, the SK filmmakers have gotten the trailer removed from the site. Good move — they shouldn’t screen the film for critics, either.

Fellow blogger Al reports that some of the guys posting at think I’m being overly harsh on a film I haven’t seen. Fair enough — but the trailer, which I have seen, reeked of everything I dislike about modern movies. The completely divorced-from-believability video game monsters and CGI. The reduction of poetic dialogue from well-known works of classic American literature to banal Hollywood one-liners like “Come on!” The music that sounds like it was pounded out by a synth keyboard jockey instead of someone with a knowledge and skill at symphonic composition. The heroes being portrayed by metrosexual pretty boys instead of actors with the proper gravitas for the role. These aren’t movies but live-action video games, and the entire mode is at this late date banal, predictable, groan-inducing.

I hated Peter Jackson’s blockbuster, Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings films for the exact same reasons, wincing every time Legolas did a triple Jackie Chan flip onto an Oliphant or used a shield as a surfboard as he machine-gunned arrows into video game Orcs all around him, all accompanied by the crushing bass assault from a keyboard jockey given the (mis)use of a huge symphony orchestra. I maintain that people who take millions of dollars and use it to make such dreck are insipid mediocrities. There isn’t a single thing in that Solomon Kane trailer that I wouldn’t have expected from any ten-year-old given the same budget and told to go make a Solomon Kane movie. Not one thing.

A lot of Howard fans hate Conan the Barbarian, seeing it as an unforgivable dumbing down of the character, but my admiration for the film stems from the fact that it avoided most of there errors. Sure, it didn’t have the budget to go along with its vision, the main actors were all non-actors and thus sometimes stilted, and most importantly the character of Conan lacked the feral, fierce intelligence of Howard’s primal version. But consider what it did right. James Earl Jones and Max von Sydow, two of the greatest actors of their generation. A musical score that is now commonly ranked as one of the very best of all time, one that feels ripped from ancient history. Dialogue that carries the ring and chime and tang of Homeric verse, of Norse sadness, of Mongol pride and barbaric terror. Compositions and editing that strive for a certain windswept splendor and vastness — this isn’t a video game, it’s a damn film. It’s art. Which is exactly what you get when reading Robert E. Howard: this isn’t just a mindless pulp story, there’s something deeper thrumming under the hood, something important, something mystical and timeworn.

In bringing Solomon Kane to the screen, Michael Bassett and Co. have — according to my viewing of the trailer and my interpretation of the self-satisfied comments emanating from the participants’ mouths via interviews and such — made the same film that any Wii-obsessed ten-year-old might have made. Think about what that says about their respect both for your intelligence and for Howard’s work. If you disagree, and think that the movie looks “wicked cool” or whatever, fine — I freely admit that this movie was made for you! Knock yourself out, go see it a hundred times. As for me, I’ll pass — I grew out of video games, coincidentally enough, around the same time I discovered Robert E. Howard.

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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Last month to buy print editions of The Cimmerian


August 31 is the date after which all excess unsold copies of The Cimmerian will be destroyed. If you want any after that, you’ll have to wait for already-sold copies to appear on eBay, or scavenge at the REH Museum in Cross Plains for what copies they might still have.

No, I’m not going to change my mind. No, there will be no extensions or copies held on layaway.

August 31 is the date. Get ’em while you can.

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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