Whole Lotta Waiting Going On

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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.