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PCA Conference: Call for REH Papers

Posted by indy on 19th September 2010

REH scholars Justin Everett and Dierdre Pettipiece have sent out the “Call for Papers” for the 2011 Popular Culture Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas, next April. This is open to everyone (you, too, can be an “Independent Scholar”) and is becoming a bigger deal each year. Now that both Howard’s popularity and importance in literature as well as pop culture is enjoying a huge resurgence, recognition in more scholarly circles is certainly enjoying the benefits of that.

REHupa Bloggers Amy Kerr and Barbara Barrett presented papers at this conference earlier this year in St. Louis and were very well received. As the interest in the more scholarly aspects of Robert E. Howard’s work continues to grow, more and more folks will be paying attention to something that a number of us have known for quite awhile.

So, please read over the proposal below and if you’re interested at all, follow up with our great Howard Friends Justin and Dierdre. We were lucky to have them at Howard Days this past June and to find out they’re not the stereotypical “scholarly-types”, but pretty cool folks with a infinite passion for Ol’ Two-Gun Bob Howard that they want to share! Looking forward to having them come back in 2011! In the meantime:




APRIL 20-23, 2011

Pulp Studies Area

Robert E. Howard is arguably one of the most influential writers to contribute to the evolution of American fantasy, adventure, western and horror, but he continues to be one of the least-studied contributors to early pulp magazines.  His contemporaries H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber and others have received more critical attention though Howard almost single-handedly created the sword-and-sorcery genre that was imitated by C. L. Moore and Fritz Leiber, and continues to influence contemporary writers.  Though a number of biographies have chronicled the pulpster’s brief and tragic life, very little analysis of his work has appeared.  The recent publication of The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard by the Robert E. Howard Foundation in three volumes, and the upcoming A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E . Howard, have set the stage for invigorating Howard scholarship.

The proposed session will consist of 20-minute presentations that discuss Howard’s contributions to the development of the genre of sword-and-sorcery, and may address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • The evolution of the genre through specific “series,” including Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, Kull, the Gaelic heroes, El Borak, Conan.
  • Howard’s boxing stories and the concept of manhood.
  • The development of themes in particular series:  moral justice in Solomon Kane; racial degradation in Bran Mak Morn; the immorality of civilization in Kull’s Valusia; the barbarism/civilization debate as manifest in the Conan tales; El Borak as a modern barbarian; Howard’s women.
  • The evolution of Howard’s idealized barbarian hero across different series or within a particular character (Kull’s evolution from Am-ra to Kull; Brule and the Picts; Bran Mak Morn and the degenerate Picts; Conan’s manifestations as youth, pirate, and eventually king; El Borak as evolutionary hero).
  • Howard’s horror stories:  “Pigeons from Hell” and other tales.  Cthulhu mythos in Howard’s tales.
  • Elements of sword-and-sorcery in Howard’s historical tales and horror tales.
  • Howard’s theory of race and its contribution to the development of the barbarian hero.
  • Howardian influences in other writers such as Leiber’s Lankhmar series and Moore’s Jiril of Jiory.
  • Evolutionary themes in Howard’s work.
  • Howard’s epistolary relationships with other writers.
  • Howard’s influence on later writers such as Robert Jordan.

Please submit 250 word abstracts of proposed papers to: or

Submission Deadline:  November 15, 2010

Posted in Conventions, news, Popular Culture |

Friending Imaro

Posted by Damon Sasser on 31st August 2010

It looks like everyone’s favorite Ilyassai warrior has found his way onto Facebook.  Charles Saunders’ epic hero now has his own fan club page where you can keep up with his latest adventures and those of his creator.

Here is a recent update from Charles from the Facebook page on all the great fantasy fiction he is currently working on:

Next up in my publishing pipeline is Dossouye II, the sequel to the Dossouye volume that came out in 2008. That book was a compilation of previously published stories about the Black Amazon. Dossouye II is a brand new novel.

After Dossouye II comes Imaro V. This volume can be considered a book-length epilogue to Imaro IV

Next in line is The Warrior’s Way, a collection of the Imaro short stories that were not incorporated into the novels. Seven of the ten stories in this book were previously published in the 1970s and 1980s; three are brand-new, written during the time period of 2007-2008.

Also, I recently completed another Imaro story for the Sword and Soul anthology I’m putting together with Milton Davis.

Farther down the pipeline is Nyumbani Tales, a collection of short stories that do not have either Imaro or Dossouye as lead characters. However, one story features Imaro’s mother, Katisa, and two are about Imaro’s sidekick, Pomphis.

So be assured there will be more Saunders fiction coming out over the next couple of years.

Posted in Influences, Popular Culture |

George Scithers, 1929 – 2010

Posted by Damon Sasser on 20th April 2010

George Scithers, editor of Amra, the Conan and Sword and Sorcery fanzine and later the editor of the revived Weird Tales, passed away on April 19:

Writer, editor, and publisher George H. Scithers passed away yesterday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, from complications following a massive heart attack suffered the morning of April 17. He was 80. He had been in declining health for the last few years, due to complications from diabetes and a heart condition.

Scithers was a writer, editor, publisher and military engineer (with the US Army 1946-1973, retiring with the rank of Colonel). He began publishing fiction of genre interest with “Faithful Messenger” for If  in 1969, and wrote a spoof cookery book (suggested by Damon Knight’s famous 1950 Galaxy story), To Serve Man: A Cookbook for People (1976) as Karl Würf; but his main sf activities were as an editor and publisher. He began his active involvement with sf and fantasy in 1959 as editor of the famous fanzine Amra (1959-1982), which specialized in Sword and Sorcery, particularly the work of Robert E. Howard; it won Hugos in 1964 and 1968. Scithers published two Mirage Press anthologies drawn from it: The Conan Swordbook: 27 Examinations of Heroic Fantasy (1969) and The Conan Grimoire (1972), both with L. Sprague de Camp, co-founder with him of The Hyborean Legion, a group devoted to Howard studies; earlier, De Camp alone had been responsible for the Amra-derived The Conan Reader (1968). In 1973 Scithers founded the Owlswick Press, which continued intermittently to publish sf and other material of quality until 1993.

Posted in news, People, Popular Culture |

Steve Tompkins: Tribute to A Fallen REHupan

Posted by Damon Sasser on 23rd March 2010

The late Steve Tompkins was a longtime member of REHupa.  While he was not an active member at the time of his death, being a REHupan is liking being a Marine, once you are a REHupan, you are a REHupan for life. Today is the first anniversary of his passing and the many remembrances and tributes that have been posted the past 24 hours show just how much he is missed.

While Steve had contributed thousands upon thousands of words to Howard and fantasy scholarship, at the age of 48 he was just scratching the surface of what he was capable of contributing in years left un-lived. His keyboard and voice have been silent for a year, but his many essays and blog postings will live on as long as there are eager Howard fans out there willing to expand their knowledge.

I have a tribute to Steve on the TGR website, and there are numerous ones over at The Cimmerian blog and one at Jim & Ruth Keegan‘s blog.

And, listed below are links to some memorable ones from last year:

Rusty Burke

Morgan Holmes

Howard Jones

Brian Murphy

Deuce Richardson

Charles Saunders

Steve Trout

While Steve is not on this earthly plane, he still lives on in our hearts and minds.

Posted in People, Popular Culture, REHupa history |

The Big, Fat Fantasy Novel

Posted by morgan on 23rd February 2010

There is an episode of the T.V. cartoon King of the Hill where Hank Hill’s wife, Peggy, buys a bookstore. Awkward son, Bobbie is looking through the shelves and discovers a whole shelf of at least 20 books. He pulls one off and say “Cleo the Huntress and the Elves of Evermore.” Before you know it, Bobbie is wearing a horned helmet (one horn sticking out of the top) and talking about the justice of the unicorn. I thought it was a hilarious piece of satire on never ending fantasy book series.

Karl Edward Wagner also did it in “Neither Brute Nor Human” when his fictional alter ego, Damon Harrington, writes a high fantasy series for “Columbine Books”–Talyssa’s Quest: Book One of the Fall of the Golden Isles.  All good satire has a basis in reality and sad to say we have books like this.

Lester and Judy-Lynn Del Rey are often blamed for the big fat fantasy novel starting with Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara. That book is actually small in comparison to what would come later. Tor Books is the outfit that really got the door stoppers going with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. I never got suckered into reading that series. I recognized it for what it was early on. Jordan took the soap opera whether it be General Hospital or Dallas and put it into a fantasy setting. I once coined the term Lord of the Rings 90210 to describe this phenomena. Tor struck gold with the idea and went on to publish Terry Goodkind who seemed to put out even bigger novels! This is very 1990s. Books got bigger as the prices went up.  For laughs, I used to go to Amazon and read hostile reviews of Robert Jordan’s last books by former fans. They realized the joke was on them as they went through high school, then college, then to post-graduate  jobs while Jordan just kept the books coming while not appreciably moving the story along. George R. R. Martin followed suit. I did read his series as the first three books came out in somewhat regular intervals. There is now a five year gap since the last book with vague messages that the next one will be out later this year. I am not holding my breath. Odds are Martin dies before he gets around to finishing his series.

I have to say I am hostile to the big, fat fantasy novel and series. I grew up reading pulp era writers and writers influenced by the pulps who knew how to tell a rousing story at 80,000 word max. Is The Broken Sword more for being less? I would say yes. Lord of the Rings looks downright lean in comparison to what has come along the past 20 years. What really irks me is the dialogue driven story. The old fictioneers moved the story along with some description, action interspersed to keep the reader’s attention, and some dialogue to add tension. I recently read three of Charles Willeford’s “Hoke Moseley” detective novels in rapid succession. Willeford would introduce a new character, describe him, make a few comments about their personality, and the move on with the story. Too much modern fantasy fiction has page after page of inane dialogue trying to create the personality of a character. Somewhere on the web I read that women like drama in their lives, men don’t.  Maybe that explains the big, fat fantasy novel, it attempts to get the female gender side of accounts receivable with verbal “drama.” All that dialogue crowds out other things like a well choreographed fight scene. Action appears to suffer interestingly. I was getting increasingly irritated with David Gemmell as his Rigante books especially seemed to have way too much space devoted to domestic scenes and family dialogue. Luckily, old time story telling did not completely die out. Paul Kearney came along with the Monarchies of God series which was in fighting trim and full to the brim with action. This post started out as a review of a big fantasy novel by a sword and sorcery writer who turned to this book form. I had more to say about the form in general and decided to a post on the big, fat fantasy novel in general first.

Posted in Popular Culture |

Guest of Honor for PulpFest 2010 Announced

Posted by Damon Sasser on 3rd February 2010


PulpFest 2009 replaced PulpCon last year and was an amazing success.  One of the organizers, Howard bookseller Mike Chomko has an update on this year’s event, which will be held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Columbus, Ohio from July 30 through August 1. Here is Mike’s update:

PulpFest 2010 is proud to announce that award-winning author, editor,  screenwriter, and biographer William F. Nolan will be the Guest of Honor at this year’s convention.

Nolan, an authority on Max Brand, Dashiell Hammett, and Black Mask magazine will help PulpFest to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Brand’s first appearance in Western Story Magazine as well as the first issue of Black Mask.

An accomplished fictioneer in his own right, having written numerous works in the fantasy, horror, and science-fiction genres, Nolan is perhaps best known as the co-author of LOGAN’S RUN and author of its sequels. He’s also a
multiple award-winner, including the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association.

For further details on this exciting development, please visit the PulpFest 2010 website to read the full post. For more on Mr. Nolan, please click the “guest of honor” link within the post or look for the topic under the “programming” category.

Posted in Conventions, Popular Culture, Pulps |

Dwellers in the Mirage

Posted by morgan on 17th January 2010

980050564 Here is a 1965 Paperback Library edition of A. Merritt’s Dwellers in the Mirage. The battling warriors with horned helmets presages the big sword and sorcery boom that would begin in 1966 with the first Conan Lancer paperback.

You don’t see this particular edition too often. Paperback Library editions have a tendency to fall apart due to the cheap glue (like Lancer). There are some Gardner Fox historicals from Paperback Library written under pseudonyms that are almost impossible to find from this era.

Dwellers in the Mirage is probably my personal favorite by Merritt. It is a mix of sword and sorcery and lost race with a Lovecraftian beasty thrown in for good measure. It may be the tightest of the Merritt novels. Paperback Library had a 1962 printing with a generic cover and then this edition. You can tell something was brewing out there. Maybe the Frazetta covers for Ace editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs got things started. Avon would reprint Dwellers in 1967 with their artist, Douglas Rosa who was doing the Merritt and Talbot Mundy reprints at the time.  I like the 1965 Paperback Library cover. The artist is unknown.

Posted in Popular Culture |

Windy City Pulp Con 2010

Posted by indy on 5th January 2010

WC PulpCon

Like the Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu shown here, the 10th Annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention is just around the corner, or at least close enough to start making plans to attend! Keep April 23-25 open on your convention calendar and y’all come out to the Chicago suburb of Lombard. Check it all out at

As the smell of decaying pulp magazine paper is like an aphrodisiac to a large number of folks who peruse this blog, you won’t want to miss the very best Pulp and Paperback Convention there is. You’ll find a huge room filled with all the “good old stuff” we like: pulps, paperbacks, hardbacks, magazines, comics, original art, movie, radio  & tv memorabilia, science fiction/fantasy/mystery/adventure stuff – well, you’re getting the idea. Plus, you’ll find auctions, an art show, a film room and a con suite. And specifically to this blog, there’s always a good supply of select Robert E. Howard items as well.

Additionally, a passle of Howard Heads show up to swap lies and Talk ’bout Bob, and the REH Foundation hosts a luncheon for it’s Legacy Circle members in attendance. World renowned pulp expert and REHupa Blogger Morgan “Doc Pod” Holmes always attends, and usually Prince Valiant (and REH!) artist Gary Gianni makes an appearance.

So, for a roomful of great stuff along with REH Fellowship, I hope you can make it. No excuses now, I don’t want to hear you crabbin’ about how you meant to be there!… C’mon out, support the dealers and add to your Howard collection. I guarantee a great time!

Posted in Conventions, Popular Culture, Pulps |

In Defense of Gary Romeo

Posted by indy on 16th December 2009

All right, let’s everyone take a pill. I said I wasn’t going to get into this, but I can’t help myself.

The Howard Community at large has recently been thrown into blazing-pistolas-brandishing-Bowie mode by some minor-league blogging by some woman who doesn’t have one freaking clue what she’s writing about:

Maggie Van Ostrand wrote her Crazy Bob article based on what she read in L. Sprague de Camp’s REH Biography, Dark Valley Destiny. She read the opinions and conjecture and general b.s. Sprague brought forth in his book, further  extrapolated her own opinions and conjecture, and then went looking for support for her “facts”on the internet. Well, the article she found to prop up her hack job is right here (under CRITICISM) on the REHupa Website: Revisiting Dark Valley Destiny by Gary Romeo.

I’m not going to get into the merits or demerits of Gary’s article. Gary is well-known as a de Camp apologist/supporter – I’ve always admired him for that, and I’ve said so before - our Texas friend sticks to his guns, by gawd, and stands up to ALL the heavy-hitters in Howard Fandom! And he & I are in agreement when I say that the Lancer Conan the Adventurer is probably the book that has had the most impact in the last 43 years for the career of REH. L.Sprague de Camp and Frank Frazetta notwithstanding.

But thanks to Ms. Van Ostrand’s article, Gary Romeo is now taking an unfair whupping around the Howard internet community. So, all of you who are: get off his back. Leave him alone. Gary Romeo is NOT the problem, and he is taking unfair shit for his long-standing opinions. Get Off Gary! I’ve got news for you: Gary standing up for his opinions is Howardian Behavior that we should all admire!

So, direct your ire towards Maggie Van Ostrand and her stupid hack-job article – a number of us already have in the “comments” section there – and blame HER. It’s her fault for her crappy article. Besides, she writes just like L. Sprague de Camp did while writing DVD: make your conclusions first, then only use the “information” (opinions, conjecture, 3rd party accounts) that supports your conclusions. And don’t forget to make stuff up, too. Who’s gonna check your facts, anyway? Whoa – guess she didn’t know about Howard Fandom! Duck yer haid, Maggie!

OK, that’s all I got right now – don’t make me come out there.

Posted in L. Sprague de Camp, People, Popular Culture, REHupa history |

The Pulp Swordsmen: Tros of Samothrace

Posted by morgan on 27th September 2009

One of the great series from the pulp magazines in general and Adventure in particular is that of Tros of Samothrace.  Fritz Leiber does a good job of describing Tros: “A Greek mystic and man of action, who comes from the Aegean isle with his father to warn the Britons to resist Caesar at all costs. Tros’ father belongs to a branch of the mystic brotherhoods that believes in nonviolent resistance to evil, Tros to a rather more practical branch which approves violence in a good cause after every effort has been made to avoid it and to mislead the enemy with honest but deceptive words. Tros is an Odyssean character, by temperament an explorer seeking to widen horizons. He is a dauntless fighter, a swordsman without peer, and a resourceful leader of men.”

n26564This was a departure for Talbot Mundy. He had been known for writing tales of India and Africa in the pages of Adventure the past fourteen years. He shifted gears and moved into historical territory previously owned by Harold Lamb, Arthur D. Howden-Smith, Farnham Bishop, and Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. Mundy caused a ruckus by portraying Julius Caesar as a charismatic villain.  The stories in Adventure were:

Tros of Samothrace     Feb. 10, 1925       

The Enemy of Rome   April 10, 1925          

Prisoners of War           June 10, 1925   

 Hostages to Luck                  August 20, 1925  

Admiral of Caesar’s Fleet         October 10, 1925

The Dancing Girl of Gades     December 10, 1925

The Messenger of Destiny         Feb. 10-Feb. 28, 1926 (3 part serial)

The first six stories were novellas, the last a novel. All were collected in 1934 as Tros of Samothrace which came in at 949 pages. Gnome Press later reprinted it in 1958. An Avon edition in the late 1960s collected the stories into four paperbacks. The first three paperbacks each collected two novellas while the fourth was “The Messenger of Destiny.” Zebra Books reprinted the series with nice Barber covers in three volumes. Zebra just chopped a novella in half midway.

Mundy wrote four more novelettes in the mid-1930s:                                         

Battle Stations            May 1,1935

Cleopatra’s Promise      June 15, 1935

The Purple Pirate           August 15, 1935

Fleets of Fire        October 1, 1935                                                                 

 These four novelettes were collected as The Purple Pirate in 1935 right after the last story appeared in magazine form. Avon and Zebra both had paperback editions later.

n48403The Tros stories have a reputation. L. Sprague de Camp once said of someone who described the stories as Conan raised by Quakers. The stories will go on and on with talk. All of a sudden there is a great battle scene whether with Romans, Northmen, in the arena etc., and then the story will go back to talk. I am partial to The Purple Pirate as the action took up a bigger percentage of the overall story. There are some great battles contained within these books. The books are also very anti-Roman. You can imagine a 19 year old Robert E. Howard enjoying these stories immensely in the winter and spring of 1925 while taking notes. Howard would have also read Mundy’s long letters to “The Campfire” in Adventure including the one regarding warfare between Ancient Britons and Vikings in the June 10 issue. Those Northmen in “Kings of the Night” are right out of Mundy. It would be interesting to see someone put together an edited blood & thunder Tros of Samothrace, what Rusty Burke calls a “good parts” edition.  There are two related books by Mundy. The first is Queen Cleopatra (1929, no magazine publication) where Tros is mentioned. You can find Ace, two Avon editions, and a Zebra paperback edition.  Caesar Dies originally appeared as “The Falling Star” in the October 24, 1926 issue of Adventure. This is a novel about Commodus for you fans of the movie Gladiator. Centaur Books reprinted the novel in paperback in 1973.

Tros of Samothrace is an important series. It is obvious when you read it that Robert E. Howard had. Fritz Leiber credits the book with opening up a new world for him. H. Warner Munn is another who was a fan and when you read Munn’s The Lost Legion, it becomes apparent. If you go to the used bookstores, the Tros books are generally shelved in the science fiction and fantasy sections. The Zebra editions have rather small print but the Avon editions I have noticed are often falling apart 40+ years later. Time for a new set of paperbacks to come out. This time without “Heroic Fantasy in the Tradition of Robert E. Howard” with Howard’s name bigger than Mundy’s.

Posted in Popular Culture, Pulps |