Presented in three sections, the 141st mailing of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association has much to offer. Part of its historical value lies in the fact that it was the first mailing in which Garrett Romaine appeared. Romaine was the editor of an online Howard zine, one of the very first on the Internet, called The Howard Review, the archives for which you can read at Ed Waterman’s Barbarian Keep website. At this time, in October 1996, Beyond the Borders had just appeared in bookstores. This completed the Baen series, now considered the first shot fired in the current Howard boom.Section One kicks off with a letter from L. Sprague de Camp, who offers a challenge to REHupa members to write their own version of the history of Howard publishing if de Camp had not been involved. As he says, “Others — notably Glenn Lord — were in a position to do what I did at that time. But as far as I know, none of them did.” This aspect of the history is delved into at length in The Cimmerian‘s forthcoming May 2006 issue (V3n5), wherein the fortieth anniversary of Conan the Adventurer is celebrated. De Camp also announces the release of his autobiography Time and Chance, a book which has a lot of insight for Howard fans interested in the way de Camp handled Howard in Dark Valley Destiny.
Garrett Romaine includes a copy of his The Hyborian Review Vol. 1 No. 5, which has a list of “Great REH quotes,” a website link to scans of REH cover art, a review of Conan and the Amazon by John Maddox Roberts, as well as a look back at other Roberts contributions to the Conan saga.
James Reasoner presents Rough Edges #2, Which looks back at some of Howard’s serious westerns such as “The Last Ride.” He also mentions a conversation he had with Glenn Lord about anachronisms in Stephen King’s Green Mile books, and gives a glowing review of David Gemmell’s Legend, which various REHupans (notably Steve Tompkins) had been recommending to the readership for a few years. He also prints some information on Novalyne Price and a school she worked at, which was later reprinted as “Small World” in The Cimmerian. So this marks the first ever publication of that information, making REHupa #141 that much more valuable.
David C. Smith includes Vol. 2 No. 4 of his zine Bocere, wherein he tackles such esoteric subjects as possible Czechoslovakian editions of the Red Sonja novels Smith authored with Dick Tierney, and he also gives lots of Mailing Comments which touch on various aspects of Howard’s career.
Morgan Holmes’ Forgotten Ages #23 has an essay titled “The Enigma of the Picts” which fans of Howard’s Bran Mak Morn stories will find interesting. It includes a lengthy list of the Picts in literature and historical sources. Charles Gramlich’s Razored Zen #24 has his usual array of Howardian observations in thirty-three packed pages, including a long interview, many reviews, and lots of other Howard tidbits.
Section Two begins with with a deplorable handwritten zine from Jim O’Keefe, arguably the worst member REHupa ever had. He would submit illegible handwritten zines that were an utter waste of time. Dan Preece’s Bloody Pulp! #3 is much better. He includes a long defense of de Camp against the years-long haranguing he endured at the hands of Rusty Burke and the infamous Memphis Mafia faction of REHupa. Regardless of what side of the debate you are on, it’s interesting reading such arguments, for their historical value if nothing else.
Rob Preston’s Service for a Vacant Coffin has a PulpCon 1996 report, complete with price lists of what various issues of Weird Tales were going for at the show, including many “newsstand fresh copies.” Interesting stuff.
James Van Hise presents The Road to Velitrium #15, which includes the first appearance of his color cover used for The Fantastic Worlds of Robert E. Howard, infamous because it doesn’t illustrate an actual Howard story, but one of the Conan pastiches, which are vilified in the book itself. He also includes his usual bitching at everyone else for not doing things as well as he thinks he does them, along with lots of reprints and scans of other people’s work without any regard to their copyright. Finally, he announces the forthcoming Conan TV series, which would ultimately bomb.
Big Jim Charles’ zine is much better, giving a defense against Rusty Burke’s recently published purist manifesto and making a case for pastiches being good or authors in terms of keeping their work viable. Richard Toogood also presents a MINAC (Minimum Activity) zine dedicated to pastiches. Indy Cavalier’s Cold Steel #63, and talks not only about the release of Beyond the Borders but also the Chicago ComiCon that year. Rick McCollum wraps up the second section with The Ossuary of Acheron, which gives a long report on his June trip to Cross Plains. Such reports are always nice to have, and contribute much to the historical record. He also has lots of Mailing Comments and reviews.
The last section of REHupa was a “late mailing” by Steve Tompkins, so the whole section is his own stuff. It features a color cover of Boris Vallejo’s art for Charles Saunders’ Imaro series. Inside is “The Wound and the Spear” a long essay about the Imaro series, along with “Dark Valet Destiny,” a thorough destroying of S. T. Joshi’s general views of Howard via a discussion of Robert Silverberg’s risible story “Gilgamesh in the Outback.” He also presents his usual array of Mailing Comments.
All in all, a great mailing, with lots to offer the Howard fan and collector.