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Are We At the Beginning of Another "Howard Boom"?
Did Publishing Robert E. Howard's Humor in Paperback Hurt His Reputation?
The Robert E. Howard Trivia Quiz
Johnathan Bacon Tribute

Are We at the Beginning of Another "Howard Boom"?

Yes, I agree that we could be at the beginning of a Howard boom, like the one in the late '70s. I think there is some REH publishing that could be done, maybe even "should be done", at this juncture to help jump-start things and to get them moving even more rapidly. Such similar comments have prompted me to compile the following list:

        REH Publishing, etc. (1995-present)
        Cormac Mac Art, March 1995
        Kull, July 1995
        Solomon Kane, November 1995
        Bran Mak Morn, January 1996
        Eons of the Night, April 1996
        Trails in Darkness, June 1996
        Beyond the Borders, October 1996
        Robert E. Howard's Fight Magazine #4
        The Whole Wide World [motion picture]
        The Dark Man #4
        The Fantastic Worlds of Robert E. Howard, April 1997
        Ghor, Kin-Slayer, August 1997
        Conan the Adventurer [television series]
        The Whole Wide World [released to video]
        The Robert E. Howard Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1998
        The "New" Howard Reader #1, June 1998
        The "New" Howard Reader #2, August 1998
        Kull the Conqueror [released to video]
        The "New" Howard Reader #3, November 1998
        The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, Wandering Star
        The "New" Howard Reader #4, January 1999
        The "New" Howard Reader #5, March 1999
        Myth Maker, Cross Plains Comics
        Wolfshead, Cross Plains Comics
        The "New" Howard Reader #6, Autumn 1999
        The Ultimate Triumph, Wandering Star
And projected into 2000, we have: Unspeakable Cults, The Scarlet Citadel and a hardcover Bran Mak Morn collection. And if we're really lucky we could see The Dark Man nos. 5 & 6, and Robert E. Howard's Fight Magazine nos. 5 & 6 sometime soon. Hmm, sounds like a Howard boom to me.

Did publishing REH's humor in paperback hurt his reputation?

Howard is primarily known for Conan, after that he is known for his other sword & sorcery, and after that for his horror (or weird) writing. Notice that this is all that Baen was willing to reprint in the last few years. This is the limit as to what most fantasy fans will buy. If there were another Howard boom, and I'm optimistic enough to hope that another one may be starting, the best we should hope for is to also see his adventure writing in print. Zebra, justifiably (but dishonestly) packaged Howard's humor as fantasy because they didn't think there was any other way they could sell it. Ace sought to cut their loses by slamming all the Bear Creek books into one volume and hiding The Incredible Adventures of Dennis Dorgan behind The Iron Man. People who bought A Gent from Bear Creek thinking they were getting another Conan were probably put off of Howard's material forever.

The Robert E. Howard Trivia Quiz

Solomon Kane
  1. What does the E stand for in Robert E. Howard's name?

  2. What was Robert Enders Allen's real name? (Howard rewrote Allen's story, "The Last Ride.")

  3. Who published volume one of Amra?

  4. Howard was born in (a) Cross Plains, (b) Peaster, (c) New Orleans, or (d) Brownsville

  5. Which of the following did not like the Conan stories? H.P. Lovecraft, L. Sprague de Camp, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, J.R.R. Tolkien

  6. According to Howard, not Marvel Comics, who was Zukala?

  7. Did Howard ever attempt to write a play?

  8. What city does "The Shadow of Doom" take place in?

  9. What were the original titles of the stories de Camp rewote for Tales of Conan? Hint: de Camp's titles are "The Blood-Stained God" - "Hawks Over Shem" - "The Road of Eagles" - "The Flame Knife"

  10. Who did Delcardes want to marry in the Kull story, "The Cat and the Skull" (a.k.a. "Delcardes' Cat")?

  11. According to Howard's letters, at least one Cimmerian roamed the Hyborian world before Conan. Who?

  12. Name an Earthman who goes to Almuric.

  13. Who are the antagonists in the story, "The Little People"?

  14. In what century does "The People of the Black Coast" take place?

  15. Can the Kull and Conan stories be considered part of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos?

  16. Where and when did the Conan vignette that begins "Know O prince..." first appear?

  17. Who or what saves the protagonist in "Dermod's Bane"?

  18. In Howard's unedited draft of "The Tower of the Elephant" does he say in what city the story takes plave?

  19. What was the name of Howard's high school newspaper?

  20. What were the orginal titles of the stories Farnsworth Wright retitled prior to their publication in Weird Tales? Hint: here are Wright's titles: "Shadows in the Moonlight" - "Shadows in Zamboula" - "The Slithering Shadow" - "Red Shadows" - "Jewels of Gwahlur" - "The Grisley Horror"

  21. Are there any major differences in the published versions of the poem, "Cimmeria"?

  22. Lin Carter has completed stories in how many Howard series?

  23. What was Tevis Clyde Smith's part in the collaborative effort "Red Blades of Black Cathay"?

  24. Did Robert E. Howard ever ride in a boat?

  25. In "The Haunter of the Ring" whose ring was it originally?

  26. What does Conan do to the Frost-Giant's sons?

  27. According to Howard, where does "The Hall of the Dead" occur?

  28. Two Conan stories have action taking place in Nemedia. What are they?


Jonathan Bacon Tribute

The first fanzine I ever bought was Fantasy Crossroads #10/11. (This was before I was aware of the difference between fan- and semi-professional 'zines.)

The first fan publication I ever bought was The Miscast Barbarian from Gerry de la Ree. Through him and other dealers I became aware of fan publishing.

I shied away from actual numbered fanzines because I was worried that the quality wouldn't be very good. Finally I broke down and bought something that had a number associated with it. This was, as I said in the beginning of this essay, Fantasy Crossroads #10/11. To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. I thought, This is a beautiful publication.

One of the book dealers I was buying stuff from, Bill Fulwiller, suggested me for a spec copy of REHUPA. Of course, I joined immediately. Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only was the editor/publisher of Fantasy Crossroads a member of REHUPA, but that he was a former OE.

Rev. Jonathan Bacon, the editor/publisher of Fantasy Crossroads, had begun that humble little journal a few years earlier. In the beginning it was a hybrid comic book/fantasy journal. Jonathan had the consummate good sense to include a Robert E. Howard section in every issue.

Jonathan was the director of student activities at a small college in or near Lamoni, Iowa. He got the students to work on Fantasy Crossroads as part of their coarsework. Likewise, because these kids were learning about editing/publishing, he got the college print shop to print it for him for free, using scraps that they had laying around. This is why early issues look like each page was printed on a different color of construction paper. But you can't look a gift horse in the mouth, and there's a lot to be said about free printing.

The last three issues before Jonathan left Lamoni were quite nice visually. Though why a reverend would have a spicey-themed issue is beyond me. (Apparently Jonathan set a precedent, for Rev. Robert Price did the same thing ten years later with Lewd Tales and Risque Stories go figure!)

Then, as they say, disaster hit. Cutbacks at that little college cost Jonathan his job. He was forced to relocate to Johnson County Community College, which is near Kansas City; the pay was less, and Jonathan couldn't afford to continue FC.

Enter Clifford William Bird. Cliff was a former REHUPAn, an artist inspired by Steven Fabian, and a self-publisher. His two magazines, Balik and Simba included stories about two of his characters and were plastered with pictures of his wife. Later on, he was able to get Charles R. Saunders and Andrew J. Offutt to edit his stories into more suitable shape. I don't know whatever became of him.

He agreed to become Jonathan's publisher and he issued Fantasy Crossroads #12. I guess you could call Cliff the co-editor of that issue, as he arranged the contents himself and put in a lot of his own material. He also "edited" an installment of Paul Allen's wonderful series of articles, "Of Swords And Sorcery". That issue did include chapters four-through-six of the Robert E. Howard round-robin. No further issues of FC were forthcoming from Mr. Bird. The magazine appeared to have died.

Enter a certain humble Bohunk from the small city of Omaha, Nebraska. This individual was really enjoying the round-robin, and considered it and Fantasy Crossroads too important to let die. At first he asked Jonathan if it were possible to put out a second issue of Fantasy Crossroads Special Edition. One that would include the rest of the round-robin novel.

The end results of their negotiations were that three more issues of Fantasy Crossroads appeared, completely under Jonathan's editorial control. (This Bohunk knew a good thing when he saw it.) The only indication that this was not 100% a Jonathan Bacon publication is that in small print in the indicia this other person's name appears as co-publisher. This was one of the prouder moments of my life as a fan.

I had the great pleasure to meet Jonathan twice. ... He came up to Omaha for some kind of conference, and I was able to spend an hour or two with him. ... He also had a dealers table at BYOB-Con #9, so I was able to spend some time with him there. It was a great convention.

I don't know why Jonathan Bacon decided to discontinue Fantasy Crossroads at that point. I begged him to continue publishing, or at least to finish the round-robin; but he was adamant.

I had not pressured Jonathan in any way; either about the editorial content of FC, or in regards to the loan that keep the magazine afloat. The only criticism I ever gave him can be viewed in a LOC in the final issue.

Jon re-titled the round-robin part-way through as Ghor, Kin-Slayer, a name which I hated. He said the old title had little to do with the novel as it was progressing. I suggested that then he should wait until the novel was completed, to see what potential title would come to mind anything had to be better than Ghor, Kin-Slayer. Well, that didn't happen.

He had previously given up his discount book-dealer business, and now he got out of fan publishing. The world of Robert E. Howard fandom is poorer for Jonathan's absence.

I am proud of my association with Fantasy Crossroads. Those three issues were fine issues. They looked professional and slick, and the content was great too.

The recent publication of Ghor, Kin-Slayer has put me in a nostalgic mood; but, being as Jonathan has chosen not to have his address listed in the white pages, I presume that his privacy is especially important to him and that he wants to be left alone.

I want everyone to know what a gentleman Jonathan always was; he never went by 'Jon' and, yes!, he did always wear one of those ridiculous bow-ties.

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