Motor City Madness

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I discovered the following gem several years ago while reading through some old REHupas, and wonder if my fellow blogger Steve Trout remembers it. Steve is currently the longest serving REHupan, having been a member since 1976 with only a short gap of inactivity during all those years.

In his ‘zine Beltric Writes #10 for July 1979, Steve ran a copy of a Howard-related newspaper item he had come across. The funny thing from a modern perspective is the author of the piece. Steve wrote, “This here on the right is from the letters column of the Detroit News,” and then reproduced the following tidbit:


There must be something special about the 11th of June. It was on June 11, 1936, that Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian, committed suicide. On June 11, 1979, the Detroit News decided to drop the Conan the Barbarian comic strip. And also on June 11, I decided to drop the News.

— Gary Romeo, Royal Oak

Back then, of course, Gary was unknown to Trout and the rest of REHupa, he was just a name in a newspaper. It would be almost two decades later, in October of 1997, when Gary would sign up with REHupa and formally “meet” Trout and the rest of the a.p.a.’s top-flight Howardists. I’m guessing Gary never knew that his first appearance in the pages of REHupa was actually in 1979! Earlier even than Rusty!

PS — June 11, 1979 has an even greater, non-REH resonance for me: that was the day John Wayne died. The thirtieth anniversary of the Duke’s death is this year.

Steve adds: Yes, I came across that some years ago. Gary actually visited my sf fan club during those years, but we didn’t meet. Obviously, a pastiche-lover even then.