Yes, 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.There were multiple anniversaries, such as the first Frazetta cover on a Lancer paperback and both the publication and film version of Novalyne Price Ellis’s memoir, One Who Walked Alone (filmed as The Whole Wide World).
There have been some excellent reports on the 2016 Howard Days, such as this one by Lee Breakiron and this one by David Piske. Also, Ben Friberg has uploaded Mark Finn’s interview with guest Michael Scott Myers and the boxing panel to YouTube. I expect there will be more videos coming. I’ll not repeat what they’ve said, especially since I don’t trust my memory on some of the details and didn’t make some of the panels that they did. Rather I’ll focus on some personal highlights.
I made it to Cross Plains Thursday morning. I’d planned on staying at the isolated farmhouse at the bottom of the hill from the cemetery like I did last year, but due to some infrastructure issues, the owner asked me to make other plans a couple of weeks before Howard Days. I ended up about 40 miles away in Eastland. It was a bit more of a drive than I wanted, but I managed not to fall asleep on the way to the hotel at night.
Thursday, I mostly hung around and talked with folks. I met Jon and Josh from the Cromcast. They were a blast to hang out with, and I hope they make it back next year.
Marvin Ellis, son of Novalyne Price Ellis, was there. I spent some time visiting with him Friday morning at the Pavillion. I didn’t realize who he was at first until he said something about Novalyne, at which point I read his last name on his name tag. Marvin was very friendly and easy to talk to.
Jeff Shanks, Mark Finn, and Chris Gruber, the editors and publishers of Skelos were all in attendance. The special Howard Days Collector’s Edition of Skelos arrived intact. Those contributors who were in attendance signed copies throughout the weekend.
And speaking of signing things, I took copies of Weird Menace vol. 1 and Tales from the Otherverse with me. I sold just over half my stock and signed most of the copies I moved. That’s the first time I’ve ever signed anything. I could get used to this.
I made it to most of the panels, but like I said above, there are some good reports on them that I’ve linked to above. You should read those reports if you haven’t. They’ll give you a play by play of the scheduled events. I can’t add anything substantial to what Lee and David said.
The banquet and barbeque were both excellent, with chicken fired steak Friday night and brisket and sausage on Saturday. I was the first person at the post office for the cancellation on Friday, so I got the first official cancellation.
The best part of Howard Days for me has become seeing friends that I only see there, at least most years. After I got home I jokingly referred to Howard Days as a tribal gathering and that I had gone to be with my people. Only I wasn’t really joking. Howard fandom is a great community to be a part of. The people are (usually) warm and welcoming, and the conversations are some of the most insightful I have all year. I stayed at the Pavilion Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights as late as I felt I could without going to sleep on the way to the hotel. Sunday morning I met a group for breakfast, then began the drive home.
All in all, it was a good Howard Days.
Update: Rob King of the Texas Tech University Southwest Collections/Special Collections Library notified me that they are digitizing back issues of the Cross Plains Review. Go to this link: http://hdl.handle.net/10605/272539 Use the search feature on the right and you can see the original issue of the Cross Plains Review that carried the notice of Robert E. Howard’s suicide. (Thank you very much for the link, Rob.)