Category Archives: Robert E. Howard

Another Robert E. Howard Birthday

This is a good thing.  It’s Howard’s eleventy-first birthday.  I’ve been writing these tribute posts for a few years now, and I’m at the point I’m about to start repeating myself if I haven’t already.

So for those of you who may have stumbled in here from someplace else and aren’t quite sure what’s going on, Robert E. Howard was born on January 22, 1906.  He was  one of the greatest and most influential writers of fantasy and horror of the 20th Century, although those genres constituted only a small portion of his writings.

Rather than regurgitate biographical details or wax eloquent about his greatness, I’m going to pay tribute by looking at one of his works.  This is a practice I’ll be engaging in for other writers about whom I regularly read and blog. Continue reading

Blogging Brackett: “Enchantress of Venus”

Planet Stories Fall 1949“The Enchantress of Venus”
Originally published in Planet Stories, Fall 1949

I first read this story in high school in the SFBC edition of The Best of Leigh Brackett.  It was my first introduction to Eric John Stark, arguably Brackett’s greatest creation.  In my opinion it is arguably her best work at shorter lengths.

Stark is an Earthman, raised by a tribe of aboriginals in Mercury’s twilight belt.  (The astronomy geek in me is compelled to point out this story was written before Mercury’s 3:2 rotational/orbital resonance was discovered.  Mercury doesn’t have a twilight belt because it doesn’t keep the same face towards the Sun.)

Stark is black, although whether he’s of African descent or permanently burned by the Sun, Brackett never explicitly says anywhere (that I can recall).  His tribal name is N’Chaka, which implies the former rather than the latter. Continue reading

Daughter of Naked Slave Girls, Illustrated Edition

tribesmen-of-gor-230A few years ago I wrote a post entitled “Why Modern Fantasy Needs More Naked Slave Girls“, in which I said that too many people were taking modern fantasy too seriously and killing all the fun by trying to impose their views on everyone else.  This was before I moved everything over from Blogger.  At the time I transferred everything over, it was the second most viewed post I had written.  (A review about a book on the Bayeux Tapestry was the most viewed.  No, I don’t know why.)

Well, apparently we need to revisit that topic (naked slave girls, not the Bayeux Tapestry) because some people haven’t gotten the message.  The latest dustup involves the Conan board game that set records on Kickstarter, like over $3 million.  There have been a couple of posts recently that have taken the makers of the game to task because of the art used.  The picture in question, which will be shown below the “Read More” tag, shows a damsel in distress.  And we can’t have that now, can we?

I’m going to include some pictures here that some hothouse flowers might find offensive.  I did put “Illustrated Edition” in the title, you know.  If you’re one of those, be advised that I don’t provide fainting couches or smelling salts, and this is my space, so it won’t be a safe space.  If you can’t handle that, go somewhere else. Continue reading

Roy G. Krenkel Was Born 98 Years Ago

krenkel earthscoreI’m trying to get ready to start the second summer term, so this is going to be short.  But I wanted to point out that today was Roy G. Krenkel’s 98th birthday.  Krenkel is best remembered today for his work with early comics giants such as Al Williamson and paperback covers for Ace, DAW, and Lancer.

Krenkel was a friend of Frank Frazetta, of whom Frazetta said, “I met Roy Krenkel back in 1949 or 1950, and he has never ceased to be a constant source of inspiration to me—a truly conscientious artist who will not tolerate incompetence.”

krenkel kullMuch of Krenkel’s best remembered work was for fantasy adventure, particularly Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard.  Edgar Rice Burroughs grandson Danton Burroughs considered him to be one of the great ERB illustrators.  krenkle-thuvia

Report on Howard Days 2016

Howard House 2016Yes, I know this year’s Howard Days was nearly 2 weeks ago, but we left for New Mexico on family vacation right after I got back.  (Other than no AC in the car when the temperature was 105F, we had a great time.)  I’m playing catch-up catch up on blogging.

Howard Days has grown, something that was emphasized since this year marked the 30th anniversary of the first Howard Days.  While things officially don’t start until Friday, people are showing up on Wednesday evenings.  Space is becoming a consideration, with events this year moved from the library to the high school auditorium or the Senior Center across the street from the library.  There were a number of new attendees, which is always a healthy thing for an event, and I’m not referring the 10,000 or so mosquitoes that showed up. Continue reading

Skelos Kickstarter is Launching

FB_IMG_1461612969109-2The Skelos Kickstarter is going to launch on Tuesday (May 10).  Skelos is a new journal that will publish fiction, articles, and reviews related to Weird Fiction.  It’s edited by (in alphabetical order) Mark Finn, Chris Gruber, and Jeff Shanks.  They’ve lined up an impressive first issue.  I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the contributors.  *blushes modestly*

I’ll have more to say when the Kickstarter launches next week, but for now here’s the press release Jeff sent out earlier this evening.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: skelospress@gmail.com

SKELOS: THE JOURNAL OF WEIRD FICTION AND DARK FANTASY LAUNCHES KICKSTARTER ON MAY 10TH

May 5, 2016 – Skelos Press is proud to announce the launch of its new flagship journal with a Kickstarter campaign that will begin on Tuesday May 10th. The first issue of SKELOS: THE JOURNAL OF WEIRD FICTION AND DARK FANTASY will feature a never-before-published fantasy piece by Robert E. Howard (Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane) illustrated by the legendary Mark Schultz (Xenozoic Tales, Coming of Conan, Prince Valiant). Also featured is a new sword and sorcery novelette by Keith Taylor (Bard series, Cormac Mac Art), a long-awaited sequel to his classic tale “Men from the Plain of Lir” originally published in WEIRD TALES. This story will be illustrated by the fantastic Tomás Giorello (Dark Horse King Conan). Another highlight of the issue will be a tale of dark fantasy from World Fantasy Award nominee and John W. Campbell Award nominee Scott A. Cupp.

SKELOS is edited by Mark Finn, author of the World Fantasy Award-nominated BLOOD AND THUNDER; Chris Gruber, editor of Robert E. Howard’s BOXING STORIES from the University of Nebraska Press; and Jeffrey Shanks, co-editor of the Bram Stoker Award-nominated UNIQUE LEGACY OF WEIRD TALES.

Editor Mark Finn stated, “I’m excited to be part of the editorial staff for this journal. We are finding and publishing material that we love to read, and read about. There’s a long-standing tradition to weird fiction, and we think we can contribute something new and exciting to it.”

The first issue will contain short fiction from such talented writers as Charles Gramlich, Dave Hardy, Jason Ray Carney, Ethan Nahte, Scott Hannan, and Matt Sullivan; a fully illustrated adaptation of Grettir and the Draugr from the Icelandic sagas by Samuel Dillon; weird verse by Frank Coffman, Pat Calhoun, Kenneth Bykerk, and Jason Hardy; Insightful essays by Nicole Emmelhainz, Karen Kohoutek, and Jeffrey Shanks; reviews by Charles Hoffman, Bobby Derie, Keith West, Todd Vick, Paul McNamee, Deuce Richardson, and Josh Adkins; and with illustrations by Mark Schultz, Tomás Giorello, Samuel Dillon, and David Cullen.

The Kickstarter campaign will run until June 10 and the issue will begin shipping in late June with an ebook version available at the same time. More information can found at the Skelos Press Facebook page – www.facebook.com/skelospress – or you can follow the project on Twitter @SkelosPress.

Howard Hits 110

REH_beerYep, everyone’s favorite author from Cross Plains was born 110 years ago today.  I’ve got too many irons in the fire to write a long tribute today.  I’m in the middle of reading “The Man-Eaters of Zamboula”, which is the topic of discussion at Howard Andrew Jones’ blog today.  Check it out, because there’s always some good discussion there.

Even though he died nearly 80 years ago, he still casts one of the longest shadows over the field of fantasy and imaginative literature.  The only two authors who still have as much influence are (arguably) H. P. Lovecrat and J. R. R. Tolkien.  So read something by Howard, a story, a letter, a poem.  Marvel at the way he could write a scene or a bit of verse.  Spend some time in a land undreamed of.  And raise a Cimmerian size glass in Howard’s memory.

Happy Birthday, Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith (8)January 13, 1893 saw the birth of Clark Ashton Smith.  Along with his friends and correspondents Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft, Smith was regarded as one of the Big Three at Weird Tales during was is generally regarded as the magazine’s golden age.

Given his stature in the field, it’s a little surprising how brief his career as a writer of fiction was.  Most of his fiction was written between 1929 and 1934.  Smith’s first literary love was poetry.  He also worked as an artist.  Clark Ashton Smith was never able to completely support himself through his artistic endeavors, and he frequently did manual labor around his hometown of Auburn, California.

Smith’s fiction is not for the week of vocabulary.  He wrote several story cycles that take place in exotic imaginary lands in prehistory or on other planets.  Smith’s Collected Fantasies is back in print in paperback and electronic editions.  (Click the individual titles for links to electronic versions.)

Blogging Leigh Brackett: “The Vanishing Venusians”

imagesThis was the second Leigh Brackett story I ever read.  How do I remember that detail?  Easy, it’s the second story in The Best of Leigh Brackett, which was the first Brackett book I ever read (in the SFBC edition you see there).  And in those days, I read anthologies and collections in order.  This was still a few years before I went through my read-anthologies-backwards phase.

I found the story to be powerful, with the image of snow capped mountains in the distance to be a powerful one.  I still find the story powerful today.

Note:  there will be spoilers after the “Read More” break. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Margaret Brundage

Brundage WT Bat GirlMargaret Brundage was born on this date in 1900.  Brundage gain fame, some would say infamy, illustrating covers for Weird Tales in the 1930s.  She was born Margaret Hedda Johnson and was married briefly married to “Slim” Brundage, a painter with radical politics.  The had one son.  I guess that means the rumor I heard that she used her daughters for models isn’t true.

The best way to honor Brundage is to show examples of her work.  Since the illustrations won’t be to everyone’s taste, and some folks get offended waayy too easily these days, the illustrations will be after the “Continue Reading” break.  What follows may not be approriate for youonger readers and the uptight.  There’s a reason she’s been called “Margaret Bondage.” Continue reading