Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard

It was 106 years ago, on January 22nd, that Robert E. Howard was born. It would be another 23 years before he would create the most profitable character during his short lifetime - Sailor Steve Costigan and his sidekick Mike the bulldog - and several more years before Conan would sweep through the pages of Weird Tales and into the minds and hearts of millions.

I know that I speak for all Robert E. Howard fans when I say that our lives, and indeed the world itself, would be far less interesting without his imaginative genius.

Long live the memory of America's greatest fantasist - Robert E. Howard (1906-1936)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Complete Boxing Fiction and Verse: Volume One - In the Can

Good news, folks! Volume One of the highly anticipated Robert E. Howard boxing stories project is in the can. Patrice Louinet, Mark Finn and I have been working diligently to bring you the complete boxing stories in one definitive, handsome, must-have set. In fact, we are already working on Volume Two and I cannot wait to see these books on my shelf.

This set will include every known scrap of boxing related fiction and poetry produced by Pulp era author, Robert E. Howard. It will be a must for Howard collectors and completists as well as scholars and critics eager to get the inside scoop on this aspect of the Texas author's ouevre.

I don't want to get ahead of myself so I'll keep you posted with more details as we near publishing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Glenn Lord, Howardian Herald 1931-2011

Glenn Lord, Director Emeritus of the Robert E. Howard Foundation, husband and father of two, died on December, 31st, 2011. Who is he and why should you care? I could try to quantify the man's work, his life, his impact upon the small but growing community of Robert E. Howard fans but I wonder if that would suffice; if it would paint a clear enough picture. Perhaps...

...I could say that Glenn was instrumental in shepherding Robert E. Howard's work back into publication, that he was responsible for hunting down nearly all of the lost transcripts that still existed years after the author's untimely demise, or that he was unrelenting in his search for information about an author that had almost faded from the literary scene. I could say that his promotional efforts paved the way for many Howard critics and fans by making ALL of the author's work available to the masses in easy to afford paperbacks as literary agent for Howard's literary estate. I could recite the compositional narratives that he produced in support of his life's passion, I could list his written promotion of the author Robert E. Howard beginning with his first essays and ending with his work as Director Emeritus of an organization that exists solely due to the efforts of two people: Robert E. Howard, the author whose work is valued by so many, and Glenn, the man who tracked it down and safeguarded it against the twin dangers of  Time and Indifference. I could say that he was also a true fan, interested not only in the commercially viable Conan stories but also in the lesser known works that help the rest of us to revel in the full depth and sophistication of an unparalleled imagination. I could say that he was an adventurer whose vision and dedication helped preserve a unique history that continues to shine long after he has passed. I could say that he was supremely dedicated to preserving the legacy of a long dead author the world had almost forgotten about as I recount the many miles, months and years he drove from town to town, spoke with countless people, and tallied for the rest of us the three dimensional life of Robert E. Howard.

I could say all that and more and not have gained an inch on the measuring stick of his life and importance to those of us who knew him. I knew Glenn, though I cannot say I knew him half as well as I would have liked. We maintained a correspondence for a short time in 2004-2005 as I prepared the volume of Robert E. Howard's boxing stories. He was always gracious in sharing his knowledge and eager to hear what new insights had been gleaned of Howard's work. I was lucky enough to meet him several times over the past decade and found him to be congenial, down to earth, and full of humor. I had never wanted to bother him but it was Leo Grin and Paul Herman at a Howard days celebration who finally convinced me that he would love to chat for a spell. It turned out that he was very interested in my ideas concerning the boxing stuff and we spent at least a little time together at each subsequent Howard Days discussing Howard and life in general. He was likeable, affable and a gentleman. I liked him very much.

My favorite memory was his praise of the Boxing Stories volume I put together for Bison Books (University of Nebraska Press.) We had scaled Caddo Peak with a group of folks and, due to the pervasive heat, I had asked if he was alright. "It's hot" he replied. We had reached the top and the sun was beating down fiercely when he shook off my offer of help as we covered the last few feet to the top. When we got to the top, he paused for a while and then said, "You know, that Boxing book you produced...that was well done." I stammered a 'thank you' before moving with him toward the center of the peak. Together we stared at the scene that was unfolding below. Beautiful fields, hills in the distance, and the Middleton Ranch below us as the sun began to descend across the sky. I made very little small talk. I have never wanted to be a pest - but he asked for my help several times on the way down but, in truth, he really didn't need it despite his age. "Thanks, Chris" were his last words to me in this life. He was always the star of any Howard get together and was never truly alone for very long. So many fans - all wanting to shake the hands of the man that saved a literary treasure from destruction. I never wanted to intrude. Now, I wish I had been more insistent.

Now, as I sit here and realize that what I've just written is woefully inadequate as a remembrance I can take solace in the fact that there are others far more capable of writing a worthy 'thank you' to a man and icon the likes of Glenn Lord. Dennis McHaney scolded some of us who lamented the loss of Glenn, and it's timing, as a harbinger of doom and gloom for the new year by insisting that it was a sad, capstone event for the past year and that we ought to look forward with renewed hope with Glenn's example as a guide. I think he is spot on.

Nevertheless, I just want to make one thing clear - thank you, Glenn Lord, for making my time on earth, through your tireless efforts of  Howard preservation and publication, better. I am better for having read the work of Robert E. Howard - thanks to you; I am better for having glimpsed the kind of drive necessary to see projects thru - thanks to you; I am better for your having taken the time and effort so long ago to preserve the work of a legend - it appears even legends require help to preserve a worthy legacy from those best equipped to deliver the goods so to speak. You had the goods my friend, in spades if I do say so myself, and my life is literally better for your influence.

Thank you Glenn Lord and may you always Rest in Peace.