REHupas on sale at eBay


Just a heads-up to all Howard fans out there looking to increase their holdings of REHupa mailings. In the coming days I will be posting a bunch for sale. The first five are already up, with more to follow in the coming days. For information about why REHupa mailings are so collectible, go here.


Also, for those of you looking to complete your Deluxe sets of The Cimmerian, there have been some lots for sale at eBay that include some of the out-of-print issues you are looking for. The latest is here.

Some Rare REHupas on eBay


I haven’t gotten around to auctioning off the rest of my REHupa collection yet — confound it! — but Mark Corrinet is now getting rid of the numerous extra copies he was forced to purchase when building his own collection. Up on eBay right now are four really hard-to-find issues, numbers 63, 64, 83, and 94, all dating back over twenty years. If you’ve ever wanted to acquire some of these, now is a rare chance to do so. My own earliest copies are in the #90s and #100s, so there’s no overlap with Mark’s first batch here. Get ’em while you can, or you may never have another opportunity. You’ve been warned.

Let That Be Their Last Battlefield — Until The Next One

Last weekend, hours before learning of the simultaneous Herron and Burke Black Circle inductions, I had occasion to look something up in the second zine I ever contributed to a REHupa Mailing: #135, back in October 1995. My offering shared Section One of the Mailing with not only a letter from L. Sprague de Camp (wherein he directed “Mr. Tompkins” to his “Barbarians I Have Known” article) but also Rusty Burke’s Seanchai #76, in which he returned from an absentee phase to find that “the state of his beloved REHupa” was “NOT GOOD” (The fall of 1995 was a Time of Troubles — no staplers went missing, but a good deal of perspective did — that almost culminated in a breakaway APA; imagine the Seventies absorption of the Hyperborian League, only in reverse).

Seanchai #76 makes for interesting reading in 2007. While de Camp is nowhere accused of pontiff-buggering, Rusty does have this to say in his Mailing comments to the Tritonian Ringbearer: “The only explanation I can think of for the quite substantial changes you made to [“The Frost Giant’s Daughter,” “The Black Stranger,” and “The God in the Bowl”] is that you thought they weren’t very well written and you could do better.” There’s an endearing outburst about Milius’ Wheel of Pain — “An utterly stupid conception. What the hell was the damned thing for? It didn’t appear to do anything” — and another about the Marvel Conan’s being “largely responsible for the popular misconception of Conan as a fur-clad hulk, and for making pimply-faced, snot-nosed, greasy-haired, whale-bellied subliterate adolescents think they’re Conan and/or REH fans.” Rusty didn’t know the half of it; as we’re now aware, Marvel’s non-Roy Thomas stories even made some of them into staunch supporters of the unsinkable armada that is the Nemedian navy, ready to burst into “Anchors Away” every time the state-of-the-art shipyards of Belverus and Numalia turn out another dreadnaught.

Most striking of all was this, after a denunciation of the incorporation of the post-Howardian bridging paragraph from the 1967 King Kull in the actual text of the 1978 Bantam and 1995 Baen versions of “Exile of Atlantis”: “Until some enterprising publisher decides to make me the editor of the definitive REH editions, such mistakes will continue to be propagated, no doubt.” Marcelo Anciano didn’t become a member of REHupa until months later, so Rusty can’t have already been in secret talks with the Wandering Star bibliomancer…Another comment that jumped out at my 2007 self was this, to James Van Hise: “I really don’t know why it’s so hard to get literate REH fans to write about his work. The comments I get from guys like Don Herron, Dick Tierney, etc., is that they’ve pretty much said what they have to say about REH and unless they were to suddenly get inspired, well, they’ve moved on.” One Barbaric Triumph, multiple articles, and one Doom of Hyboria later, it is clear that inspiration took its own sweet time, but did show up eventually.

Burke and Herron (Sequenced thusly the names sound too close to Burke and Hare for comfort, don’t they?) are now right where they belong. With Glenn Lord enjoying the emeritus lifestyle (and perhaps reflecting on how living longer is the best revenge where grande dames and their dismissive references to “truck drivers” are concerned), the two junior Black Circlers can get to work on stationery, T-shirts, podcasts, and maybe even a microbrewery. This was definitely the preferable outcome — had their rivalry continued vote after vote, they might have become the Howard Studies equivalent of the black/white guy and the white/black guy in the third season Classic Trek episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” locked in unending combat on an otherwise dead world.

Congratulations to Don and Rusty. But why was it spelled “Hyperborian” instead of “Hyperborean” back when the League and its REH/CAS agenda were around?

Whole Lotta Waiting Going On

It’s a waiting game hereabouts. Waiting for the choicest anecdotes from the 2007 Howard Days (Were Leo ever to have a flashback to film school, the Sturm und Drang might surpass last year’s already-legendary Frank Coffman Nam flashback). G-8 summit in Rostock-wise, waiting to see if George W. Bush’s eyeballs will boil in their sockets if he tries to look into Vladimir Putin’s soul again. Waiting to learn if it’s all over for Tony Soprano — drop-kicked by his therapist, his underlings mostly dead or dying, and crouched in a safehouse with only an M-16 to comfort him — as of Sunday night. Here in NYC (against whose hundreds of soldiers Tony’s “glorified crew” in North Jersey stands little chance) we’re routinely assured that the Triads, the Vietnamese, the Albanians, and of course the Russian Mafia are much more dangerous than such Sicilians as have not yet been wiretapped and RICO-Acted into history’s landfill, and yet just this week a Gambino Family captain was hit as he sat in his car outside a Brooklyn social club (Ah yes, the social club — the Wild East’s equivalent of the Wild West’s saloon). Waiting for J. K. Rowling’s (slightly less sanguinary?) grand finale next month. And, most forlornly of all, waiting, thanks to a blog post by Howard Jones, for a samizdat copy of John Hocking’s never-published second Conan novel to find its way Tompkinsward…

One wait is thankfully over, that for REHupa’s June Mailing, #205. Given the consistently target-missing sniping about the “comic book art” of the Wandering Star/Del Rey books, I’m delighted to report that James Van Hise turns over his zine The Road to Velitrium to a sampling of Jim and Ruth Keegan’s ink wash interior illustrations for The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume One. The art hearkens back to the Twenties in general and Weimar Republic poster art in particular, from the interregnum before the cabarets closed and cinema became Goebbels-compliant. A Niord-versus-Satha showdown could be some lost poster for Fritz Lang’s Die Niebelungen: Siegfried, and Kormlada (of “The Grey God Passes” fame) is a bitch goddess who could blow Pola Negri and Theda Bara off the silent-but-silver screen. And I don’t see how Chris Gruber can fail to be pleased by the Keegans’ apotheosis-achieving Mike — this grinning canine could out-bulldog Drummond.

Gary Romeo risks being the pot in a proverbial said-the-pot-to-the-kettle combo by chiding Don Herron for being “a pretty negative guy in the main though,” but partially redeems himself by noting that “Big-nosed girls on covers” are not the optimum “new REH art for a new age” (That Salem Town debacle betokened neither rhyme nor reason, just rhinoplasty-in-waiting). Charles Gramlich is building a second home on Talera. “The Hyborian Age” is the square peg in the round hole of Dale Rippke’s Complete Timeline of Howard’s Fiction. Damon Sasser is purveying typewriter porn. On the evidence of her second zine, Amy Kerr seems unlikely ever to retell “Beyond the Black River” entirely in dog barks, as a notorious-if-not-much-missed female REHupan once did. Morgan Holmes confesses the classic rock past he flashes back to while watching Dazed and Confused. Patrick Burger removes Boston from the turntable and substitutes Shostakovich. Don Herron’s The Carter Collector is clearly what any serious Carterologist needs to acquire next after Tara of the Twilight and Robert M. Price’s Lin Carter: A Look Behind His Imaginary Worlds.

Scotty Henderson’s The Keltic Journal reprints a Castle of Frankenstein review of The Dark Man and Others by one Charles Collins, who way back when anticipated a belief that Jim Charles holds as firmly as he does his handguns: “People of the Dark is the only Conan story in the book, and a rather inferior one at that.” Larry Richter is still righting, or rewriting, the wrongs of de Camp and Carter’s “Black Tears,” and we can but wish him well and hope that he overcomes an apparent compulsion to misspell “Zuagir.” Fresh from reducing the Lion’s Den to an elementary school playground in the April TC, Dennis McHaney slags Larry’s cover for the “Isle of the Eons” TDM and opens our eyes to the fact that the journal in question is “a thing that keeps rearing its ugly head and doesn’t know when to give up and die.”

Me, I think The Dark Man‘s recent covers are breaths of fresh air in what had been a mephitic tomb of overused REH photos, but chalk up yet another one for the miracle of human diversity. An emergency TDM Review Board meeting has been called — members are already sliding down the firehouse-style pole from the Board’s living quarters into the blastproof conference bunker — to determine if there’s any point to continuing without a McHaneyian blessing. Should we pack it in? Or maybe, just maybe, this most incisive of critics will be mollified if we use a cartoon wherein Conan treats Lin Carter’s grave to a golden shower as the next TDM cover.

Lastly, Tim Arney wishes the filmmakers who botched Pathfinder would go sit on a horned helmet, but an actress named Moon Bloodgood, who plays the movie’s proto-Pocahontas, just might have him forgetting all about Bill Cavalier’s missus.

REHupa Mailings Holding Their Own

After releasing The Complete REHupa in August of 2006, I wondered if that digital archive would reduce the value of the paper mailings. Don Herron assured me it wouldn’t. “True collectors need the paper,” he said. I knew that logically he was right, that there is something special and tactile about holding a mailing in your hand, perusing the different styles of paper, appreciating the full-color zines. None of that translates to a B&W digital format designed for quick ‘n’ dirty reading and printing.

But how many of the collectors out there have been scooping up mailings solely to read the contents, and how many to have them joining their first editions and other miscellany in their collections? If there are far more of the former, would that lower the average selling price of the mailings as The Complete REHupa made its inexorable spread throughout the REH fandom sphere?

In a way it was a moot point to me, as I am determined to get rid of my old mailings regardless. I’m the kind of guy who, with very few exceptions, is as happy with an e-text as I am with a real book. I just want the words — the magic is created in my mind, not in the quality of paper or the art of a published book. There are exceptions to this, and occasionally a book I really like speaks to me in such a way that I want to have it on the shelf. But I can’t stand clutter and vast areas of my living space taken up with books I seldom read, and I am about as far away from the packrat mentality as can be.

So now that The Complete REHupa is finished through mailing #199, the large stack of mailings I accumulated in my research has to go. Far better to find them a home where they will be cherished and well cared-for. As I prepared to offer them on eBay, I mused whether they might now go for a much lower price than they went for as recently as early last year, when $50-$100 was the average for the mailings I sold. A couple years ago the average price was $20 per, but as of last spring that price point was way out of date. Clearly a jump had occurred due to increased interest in Howard and increased education among collectors about the essential value of these mailings. Heading into 2007, would all of that hold? Or would we see prices slipping back into the old range?

Last week I put the first two of many mailings up for auction, and the results are in:


REHupa #156 (April 1999) is an important mailing both due to its coverage of the death of Novalyne Price, and to the inclusion of Pictures in the Fire, a great booklet detailing all of the known photos of REH at that time along with all of their published appearances. That’s not to mention the usual plethora of other items included in the typical mailing. This one sold on eBay for $46.75, which many behind-the-times fans consider excessive but which I consider a steal. I anticipate special mailings like this going steadily up-up-up in value as time goes on.


REHupa #91 (May 1988) is the infamous “lost mailing” of REHupa, formed out of ‘zines culled from the four winds of the a.p.a. after the Official Editor vanished with all the a.p.a.’s assets: mailings, treasury, even the stapler. It didn’t get mailed until a year after the event, and then only to those who were members at the time the crisis occurred. As such it is a truly rare mailing with a particularly small universe of extant copies. After some furious bidding the auction ended with this one selling for $158.52, which some people gasp at but which I think is a fair, even cheap price. I’ve seen far less go for far more on eBay, and this is a true Howard collectable that one is not likely to see for sale very often. When at least two people are ready to shell out $150 for it, that says something.

So it looks as if Don’s oft-stated claim of being “right 95% of the time” still stands, and the savvy collectors out there are indeed still enamored with paper. I’ll be unloading the rest of my REHupas in the coming weeks, and will be interested to see what some of the more recent mailings go for. A copy of #185 just went for $15.50 on eBay, a real steal for the lucky guy who snagged it. It won’t be long before that one feels as old and rare as #91 and #156, with the prices creeping up accordingly. I can’t say it enough: all of these collectors beaming with pride over their copies of the Arkham House Skull-Face and Others and their copies of the Cryptic chapbooks aren’t even in the running anymore. The real giants of the field are on to much rarer game: the Jenkins Gent from Bear Creek of course (another book which I, a non-collector, have owned at one time), but also “almost-but-not-quite impossible” feats like a complete collection of REHupas, which when taken together contain many first edition appearances of original REH and serve as a running history of Howard fandom and publishing for the last thirty-five years.

My sense is that right now there is a reshuffling going on in the Howard collecting sphere, with mailings being passed around to a new group of people eager to get them. Once these errant mailings are all safely tucked away in various hoards, they will become really scarce on the open market for a long while, until those collectors start dying off. In addition, Howard is being reseeded into the popular culture with movies, comics, and books. A second boom is clearly underway, at least in our little niche world, and if one or more films are successful then the Boom can spread worldwide, with many more people than ever before becoming interested in Howard. Once that happens, $200 for one of those mailings will seem dirt cheap. That’s my call, anyway. We’ll see what happens.

Different On-Ramps to the Road of Kings

Over at the REHupa blog not-quite-elder-statesman and pulphound-of-Tindalos Morgan Holmes debuted yesterday with a post entitled “A Howard Fan’s Journey Into the 21st Century: Part 1.” When I got to know Morgan in the mid-Nineties, he steered me to [redacted]’s five-novel Bard series (along with David Drake’s The Dragon Lord the most efficacious methadone with which to treat an addiction to Cormac Mac Art) and “Death’s Friend,” arguably the single best story Charles R. Saunders has written about Imaro; I steered him to David Gemmell. As Howard fans are in the habit of doing we also swapped origin stories, and Morgan’s was an eye-opener for me. Happening along in the wake of the baby boom, he essentially skipped the Sixties and that portion of the Seventies that preceded the proto-purist epiphany of the Berkley Conan collections. He had in a sense to double back later on to read Conan the Buccaneer and Conan of the Isles in the Ace reprints–O happy youth, to have Karl Edward Wagner cater his very first Cimmerian-themed party, one that wasn’t crashed by the emetic Sigurd of Vanaheim. To this day Morgan is not spirited away to a rec room reverie of Watergate hearings and Elton John singles the way some of us are whenever Barry (Windsor-)Smith’s tour de force work on “Red Nails” (The decidedly non-vegan stegosaur! That Tolkemec!) is mentioned, and he has no strong opinions about Roy Thomas either way, although my guess is the sword-and-sorcery savant in him might have enjoyed Conan the Barbarian fare like the two-part Elric guest-shot, the John Jakes-plotted issue, the adaptations of Norvell Page’s Flame Winds, a David A. English story, and Gardner Fox’s Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse, or Thomas’ “Shambleau”-homage “The Garden of Death and Life.”

So the at least slightly atypical route that Morgan took to the Road of Kings prompts reflection that Time’s winged–and scythed–chariot has cut down the vanguard that met Robert E. Howard in the pulps as surely as it took the World War One veterans who still turned out for the Memorial Day parades of my childhood. The (few thousand?) readers who were initiated by the Gnome Press Conans can’t be far behind them. Assuming the Del Rey editions stay in print or at least serve as the template for subsequent re-launches, as the years drift or whiz by, for an eventual majority of Howard fans the jeremiads and j’accuses about posthumous collaborations, the “cut from the same cloth” generalization, Prince Conn, Juma the Kushite, Conan the Conqueror-versus-The Hour of the Dragon, and of course “The Treasure of Tranicos: Felony or Misdemeanor?” will be as distant and difficult to grasp as the Arian heresy and the Albigensian Crusade are for us. Not that the hoped-for traffic jam on the Road of Kings is likely to turn into a garlanded, starry-eyed, singing-from-the same-hymnal pilgrimage; the paradigm for Howard fans (except, overwhelming anecdotal evidence suggests, at Howard Days) will almost certainly remain Breck Elkins and buffalo hunters forced to “share” the same saloon…

New Howard blog debuts


Those of you who have been enjoying the Cimmerian Blog over the past year will be gratified to know that a brand new full-fledged blog has debuted over at Three longtime stalwarts of that fine organization — Official Editor Bill “Indy” Cavalier and former Official Editors Morgan Holmes and Rusty Burke — have taken over the reins of the day-to-day management and updating of that site. That trio is set to feed you regular doses of Howardiana — news, reviews, and esoteric arcana from their secret Howard vaults. Between the three of them they have well over fifty years of Howard experience under their belt, so you know you’ll be getting some good stuff.

Indy has already popped up the first post titled “The Blog of Black Indy,” which introduces the bloggers and gives us some details on all the Howard events you should be planning for this summer. Meanwhile Rusty told me that he has some miscellaneous stuff tucked away in The Burkives that he’ll be sharing with you soon, so keep a lookout for that.

In case it’s not obvious, this is a Really Cool Thing. Having a second blog out there dedicated exclusively to Robert E. Howard should create a lot of back-and-forth between our blog and theirs, with posts from one side generating interesting responses and additional information from the other. It’s the kind of friendly competition which spurs everyone on to greater productivity, and ultimately creates a much more dynamic online presence for Robert E. Howard. I know of very few authors of any stripe or level of success that has two blogs dedicated exclusively to their life and work.

When you stop to think about it, it’s yet another way that Two-Gun Bob is proving himself to be more than capable of handling any amount of thought and scholarship people care to undertake on his behalf. I always hear people from outside the Howard field say, “Don’t you ever run out of things to write about REH?” Well, let’s see — REHupa’s been in existence for thirty-five years straight, there are several regular Howard magazines cranking out new material, there’s a yearly Howard festival with panels and tours, there’s panels at conferences like the Popular Culture Association shindigs, and there are endless books, fanzines, and reprintings of his writing.

No, I don’t think we’ll be running out of things to talk about anytime soon.

In fact, I’m hoping that this is the beginning of a trend. So far we have a Cimmerian blog, a REHupa blog, and a REH: Two-Gun Raconteur blog, not to mention other Howard-related sites like Bill Thom’s Coming Attractions blog. I would think that it’s only a matter of time before The Dark Man gets their online act together and starts a blog for the REH academics, or that Paul Herman adds a blog to Howard Works and populates it with an assortment of Howard heavyweights. The more the merrier. As it is we are so much more alive than our sister fandom of Lovecraft studies that it’s scary, but if a few more fans get into the act, who knows what heights of scholarship and entertainment can be achieved online?

So bookmark and add it to the REH sites you stop by each day. I’m sure you’ll find a lot of pleasant surprises there as they ramp things up, along with contributions from other REHupans as well. Being a web-connected Howard fan just got a whole lot more fun.

STEVE ADDS: I can just about handle the concept of Lovecraft studies as “our sister fandom,” despite squamous-and-rugose issues, but draw the line at referring to the new REHupa venture as “our sister blog.” Those three guys are all hairy enough to have done time in the Forest of Villefere.

LEO RESPONDS: You ain’t lyin’, sister.

Awards Season Special: Presenting the Lemurians!

Everyone is voting early and often for the 2007 Cimmerian Awards, right? In honor of the ongoing event, I’m here to hand out the Lemurian Awards for the 12 all-time best essays about Howard’s work. Why “Lemurian”? Well, TC‘s annual Awards for the 3 best essays are called the Hyrkanians, and as we know from “The Hyborian Age,” the Lemurians were the ancestors of the Hyrkanians (“Now the Lemurians enter history again, as the Hyrkanians…”) In honor of that prominent Lemurian and patron of the black arts Rotath, the actual awards will be skulls, like those we’ve come to know and lust after these past 3 years, only golden this time. (Our thanks to Auric Enterprises for the generous donation of the gold that went into the sculptings, and if you can’t place Auric Enterprises it’s time to reread Goldfinger). Given their model, I can’t guarantee that these Rotath-derived golden skulls will be curse-free, but faint heart ne’er toted trophy homeward.

Is there something fishy about the Lemurians? Damn straight, and why not; after all, there was something fishy about the (pseudo)historical Lemurians. “Men of the Shadows” describes them as “the half-human Men of the Sea. Perhaps from some strange sea-monster had those sprang, for they were scaly like unto a shark, and they could swim for hours under the water.” (There’s another hint in “The Cat and the Skull’ when Howard assures us that Kull is as at home in the water as any Lemurian). Wherein lies the fishiness? These choices are litcrit-intensive. I may be in the minority in Howard fandom in that I had some decent experiences as well as some appalling ones in English classes, but to me all litcrit really means is, articles that engage with Howard’s work. Yes, I find Howard the man fascinating, but I find him fascinating because he wrote the stories and the poems. Articles dealing with his life come a distant second, and articles dealing with his impact on the lives of fans come an even more distant third. My 12 Lemurian picks are ludicrously subjective and self-indulgent, and I’m sure Leo would be willing to extend his hospitality to guest-bloggers bristling with counter-lists. Lastly, the numerical sequence implies no hierarchy or qualitative ranking whatsoever; #1 is not necessarily superior to #12. It was hard enough selecting what I deem the dozen best without also trying to arrange them in order of merit. Save for the lone whippersnapper, these essays have not only stood the test of time but been granted tenured teaching positions by time.

(Continue reading this post)

Once More Unto the Post Office…

Enter the OE, bookmarking his place in “The Black Stranger”:

Rather proclaim it, Doc Pod, online and off,
That he which hath no ideas for this Mailing,
Let him gafiate; his name from the roster stricken,
And dues refunded put into his man-purse;
We would not zine in that fan’s company
That spares not his weekend to zine with us.
This day is call’d the feast of [Tim] Marion,
He that outlives this day, and comes safe to #201,
Will stand a tip-toe when this Mailing is nam’d,
And rouse him at the thought of August of ’06
He that shall zine this day, and live to look like Burl Ives,
Will quarterly one night neglect the remote,
And say ‘Twas not always but a single section.’
Then will he fetch his stacks and show his zines,
And say ‘These printing problems I had in Mailing #200.’
All shall be Mylared; or sold off on eBay,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What pages he filled that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as usual suspects —
Indy the OE, Rippke and Trout-in-the-Dark,
Richter and Gramlich, Romeo and Sea-Burke
Be in their flowing cups beerily remembered.
This story shall the good fan teach his son;
And deadlines shall ne’er force FedEx,
From this Mailing to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered —
We few, we serconn’d few, we apa of brothers;
For he today that sheds his ink with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so minacked,
This day shall excuse his reprint;
And gentlefans at innercircle now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That zined with us for Mailing #200.

LEO ADDS: That was wonderful. Although once we receive Indy’s package, you may change your tune to “We didn’t land on Mailing #200, Mailing #200 landed on us!”

Another REH Milestone


In a centennial year filled with milestones and anniversaries of all kinds, yet another is upon us. In 1972 teenager Tim Marion started REHupa, the Robert E. Howard United Press Association. This August the a.p.a. will release its two hundredth mailing. That’s a lot of talk about Robert E. Howard archived between covers.

Official Editor Bill “Indy” Cavalier has been cracking his bullwhip and urging all members to make stellar contributions to the August mailing. From the rumblings I’ve heard, it’s looking to be a whopper. I’ll be interested to see if every member will come through with a ‘zine of some kind, a feat that’s been hard to accomplish for past anniversaries.

REHupa has been in a strange period of flux for the last few years. Any three-decade history contains ups and downs, but when I joined in December of 1999 the Internet had boosted the a.p.a.’s ranks to a full roster of thirty members. In addition, advances in publishing software and printers allowed members to create bigger ‘zines than ever before. During the first few years of the new millennium, the a.p.a. regularly hit 300+ pages per mailing, a staggering figure, led by the Big Three ‘ziners of the era — Rick McCollum (who had been in the a.p.a. more or less since the ’70s, and who often hand-wrote and illustrated ‘zines topping one hundred pages) with his Oh! Acheron, Steve Tompkins with Expecting the Barbarians, and myself with Steel Springs & Whalebone!. Between the three of us, we would often make up half the mailing or more. With many other members frequently hitting the twenty-page mark during that time, the a.p.a. was as exciting as it has ever been, filled to the gills with Howard sercon (a.p.a.-talk for “serious content,” i.e., on-topic REH discussion).

But every golden era must eventually come to an end, something Howard well knew. Rick bowed out of the a.p.a., bedeviled by a series of “real life” problems. Both Steve and I saw our page counts plummet as our energies gradually drifted into other Howardian endeavors. In some ways, this metamorphosis was a good thing — The Cimmerian wouldn’t exist sans my decision to stop producing mega-‘zines, nor would this blog — but in another sense it was a drag to see REHupa flying ever lower over the treetops. In the last year or two, our thirty-member roster has sometimes struggled to squeak out a hundred pages between us.

All things considered, the decline of REHupa hasn’t meant a decline of interest in Howard, but rather a healthy redeployment of energies for the new information age we find ourselves in. There was a time not so long ago when REHupa was an essential way station for Howard fans, the only place where an obsessed aficionado could keep up with new revelations, essays, and products. Old mailings were often a bazaar of the bizarre, chock full of want lists, advertisements for small press items, and announcements of new books. Members came to the a.p.a. via little blurbs in The Last Celt, the Lancer/Ace reprints, The Dark Barbarian, and the Marvel comics. To many it was like finding an oasis in the desert — one far more hospitable than Hyboria’s Xuthal. Back in the day, REHupa wasn’t just appreciated but needed. It kept a core interest in Howard’s career intact through times when no one else gave a damn.

Nowadays, REHupa increasingly feels more like a bi-monthly family reunion, or perhaps a private club with wood-paneled walls and aromatic cigars and comfortable chairs. A place to relax and talk Howard, enjoying the company of friends, but in the end a luxury, not a necessity. The necessary part of REHupa has gone public via an assortment of books, magazines, art projects, and websites. Communication between fans now happens instantaneously via e-mail, and need not wait for a bi-monthly mailing or hastily scrawled letters. There’s an Information Superhighway out there now, and more of us are using it exclusively — to the detriment of the mom and pop a.p.a. located downtown.

This transition from paper to pixels wasn’t easy, it’s taken place over a period of at least five years, leaving many bodies and battles lying in its wake. The REH-e-APA website was an early attempt to create an online Howard a.p.a., spearheaded by REHupan and former Dark Man editor Frank Coffman. For several years, REHupans had been debating among ourselves whether to morph the a.p.a. into an online format, but always the majority (myself included) ended up coming down on the side of conservative preservation of the a.p.a.’s status quo. Why argue with thirty years of success? Why potentially destroy a good thing?

I was never a fan of REH-e-APA, because I saw it not as improving Howard studies but cannibalizing it. It created a Darwinian competition for a limited number of people and essays without growing the field at all. When you have an a.p.a. and a journal gobbling up content and starved for more, the last thing you want is yet another venue fighting over the exact same turf. A fair number of people joined REH-e-APA, eager to take advantage of the web, and for awhile it didn’t lack for contributions. But the cost was dear. REHupa began its page count slide as it lost material to REH-e-APA, and The Dark Man entered its Dark Age of years between issues, with the excuse being that no one was submitting content — the very kind of content that was being siphoned away by REH-e-APA. That Frank was the head of both REH-e-APA and The Dark Man, in effect using one of his endeavors to kill the other, was strange in the extreme — taking two semi-thriving concerns and turning them into three anemic ones is not my idea of progress.

Meanwhile, an example of a web idea that filled a need and maximized use of existing technology, that grew the field instead of cannibalizing it, was HowardWorks. It presented very useful data in a full-color, searchable format that no conventionally published document could match. Rather than suck the life out of other concerns, it made it easier for the writers at those places to complete their essays. It supplemented and aided the creation of other venues rather than sapping them of strength. And in doing all of this, it won the Cimmerian Award for Best Website two years running.

At first glance, it might seem that The Cimmerian is a cannibalizing endeavor akin to REH-e-APA, one that has sapped strength from other publications using the mercenary tactic of dangling money in front of writers. But such a viewpoint misses a large part of the realignment of the field that has resulted from The Cimmerian‘s debut in 2004. Increasingly, TC is powered not by old hands but by new guys who nobody had heard of a few years ago, producing essays and articles that never would have been attempted without TC sitting out there as an appealing paying market. These people don’t stay locked into TC, they drift off into other arenas and fill their pages, too. Unlike REH-e-APA, Howard Studies has palpably grown as a result of TC. All of the other stalwarts are still out there: REHupa, The Dark Man, REH:Two-Gun Raconteur, The Howard Review, etc. Each is chugging along at about the same pace they were before TC started printing large amounts of material.

So, if they are collectively printing about the same amount, and TC is now printing hundreds of additional pages, then where is all of this extra material coming from? From the theory, proven many times throughout history, that a rising tide lifts all boats. Just as on a much larger scale a company like Microsoft spawns thousands of smaller companies eager to provide products for Windows, so the steady, paying presence of a mag like TC serves to grow our field. You don’t think that Cimmerian Award winners are spurred to greater heights of effort for having won an award? Or that essayists have produced essays solely because of the knowledge that they’ll get paid for it? Or that other magazines have redoubled their production in an effort to keep up with the Joneses? Or that readers being hit with a new TC every other month are more likely to remain in the Howardian loop, buying other products when they appear and making decisions to attend events like Howard Days? If you don’t think the presence of a self-perpetuating growth engine in the field is a big deal, you’re not a good student of human nature or of history. Momentum is contagious, and success breeds success.

But that leaves the matter of REHupa, which has seen its pagecount drop over the past few years. Where does this Internet and publishing realignment leave that organization?

I read an article a few months back with parallels to this situation. It concerned the very last telegram sent by Western Union. At long last, after decades of winding down, telegrams finally were being phased out of existence — a bittersweet occasion, yet one that also betokened amazing achievement. After all, the lack of telegrams doesn’t mean that communication has lessened, but that it’s far more advanced and successful than before. The key phrase is at the end of the article:

Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse Code, sent the first telegram from Washington to Baltimore on May 26, 1844, to his partner Alfred Vail to usher in the telegram era that displaced the Pony Express. It read “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT?”

“If he only knew,” Chayet said of the myriad of choices today, which includes text message on cell phones, the Internet and virtually free long-distance calling rates.

“It definitely was an anachronism,” Noel said. “It’s amazing it survived this long.”

It’s amazing it survived this long.

My guess is that REHupa will quietly hum along for awhile longer, growing more irrelevant in practical terms with each passing year, without quite losing its charm. Eventually, the last of the old-timers will die off or give up on it. When that happens, my generation will give it a quiet burial and move on, having long ago built the next giant step forward, an online/self-publishing arena. It’s an environment destined to accomplish all the goals REHupa was built for and more, a world full of blogs and databases and e-texts, all hyperlinked and podcasted and printed-on-demand. It’s a world that the a.p.a.’s inaugural members in 1972, slaving and cursing over their ditto/mimeo/hectograph machines could only have dreamed up as science fiction. REHupa will be gone. The vast majority of its decades of research, scholarship, camaraderie, and accomplishment will be looted for gems, leaving a mountain of detritus as a footnote to an era, and to a vanished generation of fans.

But the spirit of REHupa, and the shockwaves generated from its existence, will be alive and well. Projects unnumbered will continue to benefit from its pioneering efforts. And — who knows? — maybe some enterprising soul will take on the monumental task of archiving its tens of thousands of pages, allowing them to be pored over by men unborn in 1972 (or 2006 for that matter), men who will wonder what people like Bill Cavalier, Rusty Burke, Glenn Lord, and Don Herron were really like. (I, of course, will be old yet hale, hearty, and worshiped by legions of cultist fans. Kind of like Jubal Harshaw in Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, but with better chicks.)

To those of us who appreciate history, that silly acronym (Cimmerian readers know we pronounce it “Ray-HOOP-ah”) will forever hold a special place in our hearts, reminding us of a time when we were young and fought the good fight for Howard the hard way. One mailing at a time.

Two hundred mailings. Wow.