What is REHupa?
REHupa (pronounced “Ray-HOOP-uh”) stands for The Robert E. Howard United Press Association. We are a long-running amateur press association (a.p.a.) whose focus is the life and writings of legendary pulp writer Robert E. Howard. REHupa was founded in 1972 and has since grown to become the foremost source of Howard scholarship and fandom in the world. Many of the most important people in Howardia (authors, publishers, artists, scholars) are long-time members of REHupa.
REHupa provides a uniquely informative and engaging forum for members to learn about Howard, contribute their own thoughts and research, and plug into the current state of Howard fandom and literary criticism. Discussions are far ranging, though centering on the common theme of REH and his work.
An amateur press association is an organization — popular with fans and scholars — through which individuals or groups can publish and share their own self-produced publications, called “zines.” A.p.a.s may have a narrowly focused topic, such as REHupa, or be of more general interest. One of an a.p.a.’s greatest benefits is that it provides a medium through which people with an interest in writing, art and graphics, printing, etc., can practice these crafts non-professionally. REHupa has been around for over thirty-five years, making it one of the longest-running and successful a.p.a.s in existence.
Former REHupan Ed Waterman has written an interesting History of A.p.a.s for those who are interested.
Who founded REHupa?
A teenage Howard fan named Tim Marion took it upon himself to found REHupa in 1972. He dropped out a few years later, but by then the a.p.a. had taken on a life of its own, and has been going strong ever since.
What kinds of people are in REHupa?
The membership of REHupa is very eclectic. Our ranks include teachers, professional writers and artists, scholars and professors, and many hardcore pulp and fantasy fans. Most of the biggest names in Howard fandom are associated with us. Our membership tends to share one common desire: we all consider studying the life and works of Robert E. Howard to be an excellent hobby, and we enjoy writing and sharing our REH knowledge and experience with each other on a regular basis.
What is a Mailing?
A “mailing” is the cornerstone of an a.p.a.
On a fixed schedule (usually bimonthly or quarterly — each a.p.a. sets its own time frame), every member of an a.p.a. is required to write an amateur magazine (called a ‘zine) that concerns the subject matter of the a.p.a. These magazines are very free-form. Some ‘zines are professional-looking efforts, others are simple typed pages. Some are only a few pages long, others can be a hundred pages or more. Each individual member decides on the look and content of their ‘zine.
The member then makes a set number of copies of their ‘zine (one for each member of the a.p.a., plus a few extras) and mails these copies to the head of the a.p.a. (known as the OE, or Official Editor). The Official Editor takes these copies, along with everyone else’s ‘zines, and creates a combined Mailing. A Mailing is a large, stapled publication containing one copy of each member’s ‘zine. Depending on the size of individual ‘zines, mailings in a healthy a.p.a. like REHupa can run anywhere from 200-400 pages or more. These mailings are then mailed out to the members, who now possess a copy of everyone’s work in a combined, easy-to-read format.
So the primary benefit of being a member of an a.p.a. is that you receive mailings on a regular basis, containing hundreds of pages of interesting, well-written, and rare information concerning a subject you are interested in.
In addition to normal content, most members also include Mailing Comments in their ‘zines. The Mailing Comments part of a ‘zine is where a member comments, critiques, and discusses past mailings. Members interact with each other, arguing and agreeing with various points of view, providing additional information on interesting subjects, and generally getting to know one another. Oftentimes Mailing Comments can become more interesting to read than the mailings themselves.
It is the enormous amount of information one receives via the mailings, along with the voluminous feedback and discussion one receives via mailing comments, that makes being in an a.p.a. special and rewarding. Because everyone is required to contribute, they are fairly serious about the subject at hand. So the content of an average mailing is much more interesting and potent than the content of other less formal forums (like newsgroups or email lists).
This is the true power of an a.p.a.
Are there sample mailings I can read?
Visit the Hall of First Zines to see what several REHupa members contributed for their first efforts long ago. In addition, most of the content on this site originated in the pages of REHupa as features in various mailings. One of the benefits of REHupa is that you generally receive Howard-related information months, or even years, before anyone else does.
Who is eligible to join REHupa?
Many people seem a little intimidated about joining REHupa. They are big fans of Howard and his writings, but they think that one has to be a Howard expert or scholar before REHupa will accept them, and that even if they did join they would have little or nothing useful to say.
REHupa is a laid-back, easygoing group of enthusiasts who welcome new members with open arms. Most of us joined not as “experts” but simply as interested fans. People usually start small, and work their way into larger projects as they learn and become acclimated to the group. We do have people in REHupa who are “experts” of the highest order, but we also have many who are just fans, and who read and write ‘zines solely for fun. Nothing wrong with that. REHupa is very malleable, and you can make it whatever you want. Your ‘zines can be fannish in nature or more scholarly, long or short, meticulously printed or Xeroxed at the last minute.
The only real criteria for joining is that you have an interest in Howard which is deep enough to compel you to write a small ‘zine every couple months. That’s it. Anyone interested in Robert E. Howard is welcome and encouraged to join REHupa. The only hard line we draw is that you have to be 18 years or older to join.
Why is there an age limit?
The main reason is to protect the a.p.a. from frivolous lawsuits that seem to spawn everywhere these days whenever a minor is exposed to material that could be (however ridiculously) construed as adult. We do not consider our mailings particularly vulgar or lewd, but in these politically-correct times stranger things have happened.
Teenagers wishing to participate in Howard studies have many forums to do so, especially with the rise of the Internet. There are email lists, newsgroups, and many other venues where they can talk to Howard fans (including most REHupans).
On the Internet, there is no liability if a teenager downloads a book cover showing Conan posing with a scantily-clad woman, or if he reads a treatise on the meaning of suicide. But in a mailing (distributed via the US Postal Service), many arcane and easily abused obscenity laws come into effect. We would just as soon not have to deal with any of those issues, however unlikely they are to occur.
Hence the age limit.
What are the benefits of joining?
The benefits of REHupa are many and varied. The most important is the mailings themselves — six times a year, you get a treasure trove of Howard information delivered to your doorstep. Hundreds of pages of research, criticism, reviews, and discussion, all centered on Robert E. Howard. You often get little freebies like books, posters, and other projects REHupans work on, as well as rare compilations of things like unpublished letters and photographs. You get loads of artwork that doesn’t appear anywhere else, you get detailed recaps of Howard news and events, and you make lots of close friends who share your interests.
Another benefit, sometimes overlooked, is the experience you gain when creating and publishing your own ‘zine. You will find yourself reading books you never considered, doing research into fascinating areas of history you never explored before, and sharply improving your writing skills as you put together your ‘zines. Many REHupans have cut their teeth in REHupa, only to go on to write fiction, essays, or to become well-known artists. It is a training ground of sorts, where you are constantly being encouraged and critiqued by experts in the field. In an environment like that, you can’t help but to improve your writing and people skills.
And then there are the people. Most REHupans have many other interests besides Howard, and you will soon find yourself broadening your horizons in many more ways than you anticipated. You’ll be recommended to dozens of good books in all fields, you’ll meet and become friends with REHupans who live near you, and you’ll have a ready pool of knowledge whenever you need it. REHupans are a close-knit bunch who often help each other out in various ways. Rarely in your life will you be able to find such a group of friendly, knowledgeable individuals to call friends.
Does REHupa cost anything to join?
Dues are $5.00 a year, and you maintain a small account with the Official Editor for mailing expenses (generally around $20.00 will cover a year’s worth of mailings). That’s it. Of course, you are also responsible for creating copies of your own ‘zine, but you can spend as much or as little on this as you like.
The only other cost of membership (and the most important one) is MINAC. MINAC stands for MINimum ACtivity. REHupa operates on a bi-monthly basis, meaning there are six REHupa mailings every year. All members are required to contribute a minimum of two pages of Howard material every other mailing. That comes to an average of half a page each month, which is well within the reach of even the laziest among us. Of course, most people contribute much more than this, but two pages every four months is the minimum required to remain a member.
If at any time you fail to meet these requirements, you will be dropped from the group without prejudice, meaning that you are “kicked out,” but you can always rejoin later, as long as there is an open slot. Many REHupans drop in and out as their daily schedules change over time.
But the rule is: no MINAC, no membership.
Can I still buy or receive mailings, even if I am not a member?
Nope. The Official Editor can give you a sample mailing to peruse if you are really interested in joining, but to get a regular copy you must be a member in good standing; i.e. you must write ‘zines in order to get everyone else’s ‘zines.
No MINAC, no mailings.
Is there a limit on the number of members who can join REHupa?
Yes. REHupa is limited to thirty members.
This is mostly to prevent the group from getting too unwieldy or unfocused (it takes a lot of work for an OE to put together a mailing for thirty members. Much more than that would be impractical). As stated above, some people tend to drift in and out of the group, so slots do open up fairly frequently. But if the membership is full, you do have to wait for a slot to open.
Is there a waitlist in case the membership is currently full?
Yes. For $5.00 you can put yourself onto the waitlist, and when a new membership slot opens up, waitlisters are invited to join in the order they appeared on the list.
While on the list you are encouraged to contribute to mailings, and if there are extra mailings you can buy them from the OE. This allows a determined waitlister to basically function as a full member, and once a slot opens you’ll already be up and running.
Don’t let the fact that membership is full discourage you. Get on the waitlist and start contributing anyway.
Can non-members or ex-members join the REHupa email list?
No. The REHupa e-mail list is for members only, designed for the OE to communicate with members about a.p.a. business (mailings, dues, and the like), and as a private forum for members. There are already several public Howard email lists that are open to everyone, places where most REHupans can be found as well, so the interested Howard aficionado can always talk with REHupans on these lists.
Is there any advice that you have for someone thinking of joining?
First, don’t be discouraged or intimidated about joining. If you really want to join REHupa, and if you find Howard and his writings interesting, then join. You’ll have a lot of fun, and you can always just drop out if it’s not your cup of tea, no harm done. Try it, you may like it.
Second, if you do join, don’t be a baby. In REHupa there are many different opinions and mental make-ups. We are a friendly but oftentimes rowdy bunch, subject to rip-roaring arguments one minute, and laughing over beers the next. The people who get on in REHupa are those who can offer and accept strong opinions without being hurt or mad every time someone doesn’t agree with them. Everyone in REHupa has been in the verbal “hot seat” at one time or another. The trick is to laugh it off and move on, not to get hurt or offended.
And that’s basically it. As stated earlier, we are a friendly yet focused group who welcomes newcomers with open arms. So if you’re a Howard fan who finds yourself wanting to be more, give REHupa a shot.
I want to join. Who do I contact?
Simply email or write the Official Editor and tell him you wish to join. He will give you further information and instructions.