Most Howard fans who pride themselves on the size and scope of their collections think that their holdings are impressive simply by virtue of owning many hardcover first editions and fanzines, along with perhaps one or two bits of authentic Howard via an original letter or typescript. The truth, however, is that there is a sizable amount of ephemera that must be hunted down before one can boast one of the best Howard collections in the world. Near the top of this list is a Holy Grail achieved by only three or four people over the years: a complete collection of REHupa mailings.REHupa stands for The Robert E. Howard United Press Association, an organization that has served as the intellectual center of Howard studies and research since its inception in 1972. Every two months for thirty-four years, REHupa has released a “mailing,” i.e. a printed, stapled 8 1/2 x 11 publication ranging anywhere from a half dozen to 500+ pages in length. These mailings contain “zines,” small fanzine publications written and published by individual REHupa members. The quality and content of each zine varies depending on the author and luck of the draw, but over the years a vast store of Howardia has been published within REHupa’s pages. Some mailings contain never-published Howard letters, or constitute the real first printing of various Howard stories or poems. All manner of essays, indexes, articles, trip reports, and pictures have been printed in REHupa, which together form a virtual history of Howard fandom for the last thirty-four years. Rare artwork, REH calendars, bookmarks, buttons, and other miscellany have been handed out with the mailings. Any Howard fan who has seen a complete collection of REHupa in person doesn’t soon forget it. Stacked up together, they would stretch almost to the ceiling of your room. All told there are nearly thirty thousand pages of material between the covers of all those mailings, with the authors reading like a laundry list of Howard notables.
And perhaps the most important thing of all is how rare REHupa mailings are. For most of its history there has been a limit to how many members can be in REHupa, and hence for most mailings only thirty or so copies were made and distributed. Allowing for damaged and lost copies over the years, the potential collecting universe is small indeed. Mailings are seldom sold or traded, making it hard for an interested Howard collector to begin acquiring them, even if they have lots of money to burn. It’s a collecting nightmare, yes, but the challenge can be a fairly pleasant one.
Mailings do come up on eBay or at Howard Days often enough to tantalize collectors without becoming a common sight like so many other Howard treasures. But while it’s fairly easy to get a hold of some issues of REHupa, amassing a complete collection is next to impossible. Perhaps only a half-dozen copies of the first fledgling issue was printed. Still, such issues have been known to come up as old fans die off or sell off their collections, and so the hunt for a complete collection of REHupa can be thrilling, while not nearly as frustrating as acquiring, say a Herbert Jenkins Gent From Bear Creek. It behooves hardcore Howard collectors to consider starting a collection of REHupas, one that will grow over the ensuing years into an impressive array of mailings.
To those who accept the challenge, many fascinating discoveries await you. Some mailings have never-before-published REH pictures, documents, and writings. Luminaries like L. Sprague de Camp and Glenn Lord contributed to REHupa for decades, offering many insights about REH that have not otherwise seen the light of day. Lengthy, wide-ranging discussions about Howard are preserved in REHupa in fascinating detail, offering the collector hours of fun reading. Thousands of drawings of REH and his characters have appeared in REHupa, both on the covers and in the interior pages, including rare sketches and roughs from artists such as Frazetta, Krenkel, and Gianni. All of this should convince collectors that a sizable holding of REHupas is a cornerstone to any REH collection wishing to call itself great.
Over the last six years, I have acquired and enjoyed the collections of several vintage REHupans, as well as the mailings I myself appeared in as a member. Not a collector myself, my main reason for snapping them up whenever I saw them on the market was so I could read their contents. Now, having read every REHupa in total, and with my interests in Howard turning into other directions (namely the producing of The Cimmerian every two months) the time has come for me to sell off my REHupa holdings, and allow some other collector to relish them for awhile. Starting now in March, I’ll be offering issues on eBay fairly consistently over the next few months. The cumulative size and scope of this offering is unprecedented — never have eBay collectors had the opportunity to acquire so many issues of REHupa over such a short period of time. For fans convinced of the necessity of a REHupa collection, and wishing to start one of their own, this constitutes an extraordinary opportunity to snatch up an impressive array of issues quickly. Even better, since the mailings will be offered one at a time, you don’t have to worry about one huge cache being priced way out of your league — you can pick and choose which issues to fight for. I’m hoping that by the end, several fans will have gotten a healthy start on building their own REHupa collections, initiating a hunt that will bring you many years of collecting pleasure.