World Fantasy Convention honors Cimmerian contributors

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The latest progress report booklet from the 2009 World Fantasy Convention (being held October 29-November 1 in San Jose, CA) has announced that the Special Guests this year will be Richard Lupoff and Donald Sidney-Fryer. You can download a copy of the progress report here and read all about it on page 6.


A young Dick Lupoff

One of my reasons for starting The Cimmerian was to once again get some of the founding fathers of the modern pulp/fantasy critical arena on record about REH. Among many other accomplishments, Richard Lupoff wrote the seminal volume of Edgar Rice Burroughs criticism, Master of Adventure, (a book that served as one of Don Herron’s major influences when producing his Robert E. Howard critical volume The Dark Barbarian). Donald Sidney-Fryer is, of course, the premier Clark Ashton Smith scholar, doing much of the major early research and publishing the bio-bibliography Emperor of Dreams. Both have written perceptively about REH in the past, and were well-known admirers of the Texan’s writings. It was grating, therefore, to see both critics excluded from the various REH fanzines and journals in the modern era.

The Cimmerian rectified this, with each appearing several times within its pages and contributing greatly to the field of Howard studies. Lupoff’s “Long Ago and Far Away” (V3n5) was a highlight of the Centennial year, telling us far more about the genesis of the famous Conan Lancer editions (and the could-have-been Canaveral Press editions) than we ever knew. I especially appreciated the character sketch and interesting details regarding Lancer editor Larry Shaw. DSF, meanwhile, hit a grand slam with “Robert E. Howard: Epic Poet in Prose” (V3n12), a piece so fine it was ultimately voted a Cimmerian Award by readers, marking it as one of the very best essays of that jam-packed Centennial year. Both authors also reviewed REH books in TC — Lupoff did The Barbaric Triumph, and DSF Échos de Cimmérie (reading it in the original French, natch) — in addition to other contributions.


A young DSF, fresh out of the Marines and in bodybuilding trim, circa 1960.

When I look back on The Cimmerian during the half-decade it was published, sweetening the brew of REH scholarship with voices like Lupoff and DSF rank high among its accomplishments in my estimation. It’s telling that TC is the only REH venue to have published either of this year’s World Fantasy Convention Special Guests. I consider it just one of many latent signs of the inherent quality of the journal.

After many near misses, I was finally able to meet Dick at this year’s Mission Hills paperback show here in Los Angeles. DSF is a close personal friend who I see at least once a week, given that we live so close to each other. Both are great guys who will make fantastic guests at the World Fantasy Convention. (DSF will be coming fresh off his stint as a Special Guest at Howard Days in Cross Plains last June.) If you are planning to go to the forthcoming San Jose con, you might bring copies of TC with their articles in them for autographing. And be sure to tell them how appreciative you are about the work they’ve done on behalf of REH over the years. Congratulations to both for this well-deserved honor.