Friday, May 29, 2015

Coming Soon . . .

Pre-orders are now being accepted for issue number 18 of The Definitive Robert E. Howard Journal.
This is an extremely limited edition of 150 copies, so don’t procrastinate if you want a copy.

The new issue will make its debut at Howard Days on June 12th. If you can’t make it to Cross Plains, you can pre-order it beginning today. Orders will ship in late June. Price per copy is $21.00, plus $4.00 for U.S. shipping and handling.

Click the title link to take you to TGR and order your copy!

Also . . .

Speaking of REH Days, as of this post it is exactly 14 days until fans and scholars gather in Cross Plain, TX, the home of Robert E. Howard, to discuss his work, carry on, have fun, read some poetry, drink a few beers, and just hang out. If you have never attended a Howard Days then by all means make every attempt to attend. I promise you, it will be well worth your time.

I hope to see all of you there this year!

This was recently Announced at the REH Days Website & Facebook Page . . .


While the two-day schedule has remained pretty much the same, we do have one exciting change to mention. On Saturday afternoon the 2:30 "What's Up with REH?" panel has been scratched so that we may bring you an Interview with Brad and Jeff Howard, great grandsons of Dr. Howard's brother, David Terrell Howard! Well known Howard scholar and detective Patrice Louinet will be talking with Jeff and Brad about their fascinating family history. More surprises will ensue from this panel, so be sure to be there.

Of course, there will be other special neat things happening this year at Howard Days - someone unexpected always shows up! For so many of us, Howard Days is a great place to re-establish old friendships and make many new ones. There's plenty of room in Texas, so if you're still on the fence, come to Cross Plains and see why Howard Days is The Best Two Days in Howard Fandom!

Also, the guests for this year have already been announced on the various Facebook pages and at the Robert E. Howard Days website:

Mark Schultz
MARK SCHULTZ is well-known as the illustrator for the first Wandering Star pure REH text Conan edition, The Coming of Conan. His paintings, full-page drawings, chapter headings and spot illustrations fill this volume with a clean, energetic and stylistic imagery. Other Howard work that Mark has done includes the covers to Worms of the Earth (Cross Plains Comics), The Colossal Conan (Dark Horse Comics) and the Adventures in Science Fantasy volume for the REHF Press. HE will also be painting a cover for the upcoming Conan role-playing game from Modiphius. One of Mark’s designs is used on the REH Museum t-shirt. And, as it turns out, his very first professional comics work was inking the pencils of Val Semeik’s Kull story in the Savage Sword of Conan #132. Mark will also be doing the artwork for the special souvenir postal cancellation stamp for Howard Days this year.

If you intend to go this year, be sure and book your hotel asap, there are not that many hotel rooms left in the area. I hope to see you all there. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Con, A Panel, H.P. Lovecraft, & Robert E. Howard

This past Memorial Weekend I spent two nights and three days at Comicpalooza in Houston, TX. I did manage to travel home just before that massive rain storm hit. I feel for that city and the people there.

There's two reasons why I've enjoyed attending Comicpalooza for the past three years.

First, they usually book some very good comic book artists/writers: Mike Mignola, Kevin Eastman, David Mack, George Perez, Stan Lee, Basil Gogos, Walt Simonson, Gail Simonson, etc.

Second, in the past they have usually had some very good panels to attend. This was not so much the case this year. Although, there were two panels this year I did attend. Both were very enjoyable. The first was called Essential Horror: The Books You Should be Reading and Essential SF: The Sci-Fi You Must Read. The first panel is the topic of this post.

To be honest, I do not remember all the panelists on the Essential Horror panel, except one: Richard Klaw. He was in the middle of the table wearing an ape T-shirt that I recognized right when I walked into the room. The T-shirt was the cover of the book he edited titled The Apes of Wrath. The reason I recognized the shirt/book cover was because I own a copy and Mark Finn contributed to the volume.

In a quite interesting way the panelists discussed their favorite horror novels, as well as those they claim were horror novels (or at least had horror elements in them) but were not technically classified as horror per se. Some authors mentioned I had never heard of (no surprise there since horror is not my favorite genre, even though I really enjoy reading various authors in that genre), and some I had already read. As time passed, I realized that the one author who should have at least been mentioned in this panel was not mentioned . . . yet. The elephant in the room.

Back & Front covers of The Apes of Wrath
Then, one of the final questions asked by an attendee was, "Can you all list off some of your favorite horror writers." Several names were thrown out there until one attendee piped up and named the elephant. "What about H.P. Lovecraft?"

The room fell silent, the panelists looked around at each other, and then Richard Klaw spoke up. "If you all don't mind, I'll address this first," he said. "Frankly, I don't care for H.P. Lovecraft."

"Why?" the same attendee piped up and asked. "Well, because I think Lovecraft's writing does not get to the point in horror. He's all over the map. You get characters, you get a little bit of story, but you really don't get much that grabs you. There's not a whole lot underneath it all, and he doesn't go anywhere with his creatures."

The room was silent, for a few seconds. In my mind, I was really hoping Robert E. Howard was going to be brought up. And just as I thought that, Klaw stated, "From that era of writing, Robert E. Howard's stories are far better, I think."

I wondered what Klaw was going to say, if anything about Howard; especially since Red Shadows is included in his edited collection. Although, I did not fully agree with Klaw's assessment of Lovecraft, I did agree with what he had to say about Howard. Not that I think Howard is a better writer than Lovecraft (I'm not going to play the better/worse game here because they are quite different writers), even though some of Howard's work is, in my opinion, far better.

One of the other panelists did not feel quite as negative about Lovecraft and spent a little time defending the importance of his work. Personally, I think this made the panel that much better. It at least helped balance out opinions/views.

If you have not already picked up a copy of Richard Klaw's edited volume, The Apes of Wrath, then I highly recommend it. One of the works that Klaw mentioned as a work way ahead of its time is in the volume: Quidquid Volueris by Gustav Flaubert. There's also stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Clark Ashton Smith, Joe R. Lansdale, Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, Mark Finn, Philip Jose Farmer, and others.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Hat Tip to Ken Kelly

Trumpets of War by
Robert Adams
Sword Woman
 Today is artist Ken Kelly's birthday. If you've ever read a Conan book, a Conan Pastiche, bought a Kiss album, a fantasy novel, fantasy magazines, or even browse the internet looking at artists renditions of Conan the Cimmerian, then I promise you have run into Ken Kelly's artwork.

Ken Kelly has some of the most recognized fantasy artwork in the industry. His artwork is on the cover of some of the most widely recognized Conan pastiches and original Robert E. Howard Conan stories/books published.

Ken Kelly was born in New London, Connecticut on this day in 1946. According to the bio on Kelly's website . . .

Quest for the
White Witch
Kelly  "started drawing at the fragile age of two and has not stopped since.   It is said that children learn to express themselves through art.   Well then, Ken must have been quite a revealing youngster, for nothing in the house was safe from his artistic expressions, from the smallest piece of paper that he would squeeze a tiny doodle on, to the very large drawing board known as the living room wall! In the fourth grade, at the age of nine, Ken was introduced to art teacher Mrs. Valerious (hmm… that name is strangely close to Valeria – Conan’s pirate companion in Red Nails).  This was the beginning of a relationship that would last for the next nine years. Mrs. Valerious gave Ken the direction he needed.   She showed Ken how to develop and put to use his natural talent.   She taught him the principles of art. Unlike most art teachers that would push their students to go on to art school, Mrs. Valerious had quite the opposite approach. She convinced Ken’s parents not to put him through art school after high school. She claimed that it would ruin his natural and unique style. . . .

. . . In 1968, he decided to go to the studio of Frank Frazetta and show him some of his own drawings.   Frazetta liked what he saw and encouraged Ken to pursue a career in commercial art. At the same time, he also invited Ken to study under him. Ken eagerly accepted Frank’s offer. Under the guidance of Frazetta, Ken was able to fine-tune his skill even further. Frazetta stressed how important it was to put feeling into creating a painting and to let the action on the canvas come from the imagination. Ken took those words to heart and has lived by them ever since. Later that same year, Ken received his first professional assignment. Before he turned the painting in, he took it to Frazetta to get his approval.

Well, Frazetta did not think that the woman in the painting had a terrified enough expression on her face, so he painted over her old face, with a new one of his own, which he felt worked better. Now it was ready to be turned in. That painting was done for Warren’s Vampirella Magazine and is titled, “The Lurking Terror”. "

Robert E. Howard's Hour of the Dragon wrap around cover
Kelly's work has also appeared on the cover of various fantasy novels (e.g. Robert Adam's, John Norman's, Tanith Lee's work, etc.), and most recently he did the artwork for one of Ace Frehley's last album releases. Over the past 40 years, Kelly's work has appeared on several rock albums (e.g. Kiss' Destroyer & Love Gun albums, Manowar's The Lord of Steel album, etc.). Today marks Kelly's 69th birthday. Happy birthday, Ken Kelly.

Ken Kelly's wrap around book art for
Robert E. Howard's Sword of Shahrazar

The LP Cover of Kiss' Love Gun

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Hyborian Gazette

New REH Fanzine
There is a new REH related Fanzine for Robert E. Howard fans. Carnelain Press's Facebook page recently made this announcement:
All profits from the upcoming fanzine,THE HYBORIAN GAZETTE,will go directly to Project Pride in Cross Plains, Texas, for the upkeep of the Robert E. Howard house and museum.
Carnelian Press is a small printing house specializing in the publication of fantasy and scientifiction chapbooks. This time around they intend to put together a fanzine called The Hyborian Gazette. The zine is edited by Steve Dilks and will feature art, stories and articles from the likes of Adrian Cole (the Voidal), Jeffrey Shanks (REHUPA academic), Steve Lines (Rainfall Books), Glen Usher (Boscastle) and many more. Featuring great cover art by legendary British illustrator, Jim Pitts, an exclusive article by REHUPA founder, Tim Marion and a rarely seen story from Lin Carter.

Gunthar, another publication from
Carnelian Press
If you are a Robert E. Howard fan then by all means support this fanzine and by doing so you will also support Project Pride and the Robert E. Howard House and Museum. If you'd like more information about Carnelian Press or The Hyborian Gazette then visit their Facebook Page. In this age of digital/online material, it's nice to see a new printed fanzine. The only way something like this can continue to thrive is through grassroots supports from fans.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Frank Frazetta: In Memoriam to an Artistic Giant

Frank Frazetta
On this day five years ago the world lost a great artist. Robert E. Howard fans lost the single most influential artist to elevate Howard's character Conan the Cimmerian into a rejuvenated and unprecedented limelight. On May 10th 2010, Frank Frazetta died. Frazetta left an enduring legacy of amazing art that has only gained momentum and popularity since his death.

 I have told this story a gazillion times, but it was Frank Frazetta's artwork on a 1981 Ace mass market paperback book that I discovered Conan, and thus Robert E. Howard. The artwork is one of his most famous Conan pieces. It illustrated Howard's story Rogues in the House. And to this day I can still remember, quite vividly, my reaction to that cover on that small paperback book. I've been a Robert E. Howard and Frank Frazetta fan ever since.

Frank Frazetta's "Manape" illustration used for
Robert E. Howard's Rogues in the House
To say that Frazetta's artwork is great is actually doing it an injustice. Frazetta's artwork is not merely great. It is beyond great. It is magnificent. The detail he provided captured millions of people's imaginations. It also captured thousands of other artists imagination, influencing them in immeasurable ways. Over his lifetime, Frazetta's artwork has appeared on/in countless book covers, magazines, sculptures, fanzines, comic books, in films (e.g. Fire and Ice), in art galleries, posters, LP record covers, t-shirts, and so many other places. Hundreds of books collecting his works have been published. Most recently film writer and director Robert Rodriguez has traveled around the U.S. displaying and promoting Frazetta's work. Rodriguez has the single largest collection of Frazetta's original artwork, which was recently on display at SXSW in Austin, TX. Another staple in promoting Frazetta's artwork in printed collective form is J. David Spurlock. Spurlock has helped edit several high quality Frazetta book collections. At various comic cons, and other sci-fi/fantasy shows, Spurlock sets up booths to promote and sell not only Weird Tales collections, but Frazetta collections as well. I have bought several collections from Spurlock at several different comic cons over the last 8 years.

More importantly, Frazetta's family continues to honor the memory of Frank Frazetta by promoting his work and legacy. The Frazetta girls have their own website, a very nice Facebook page, and if you are a fan you can meet them at the major comic cons and Sci-fi/Fantasy shows around the U.S.. So as you can see, Frazetta and his work are still as alive and thriving today as ever. In fact, I think it's safe to say that the man and his work will still be thriving a hundreds from now.

Here are some excellent examples of his artwork from over the past decades (since the 1950s). Many of these pieces have had a phenomenal cultural impact. If you've lived in any decade over the past 50 years you will probably recognize a few of these pieces . . .

Molly Hatchet's self titled album
with Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer on the cover

The book cover for Burroughs'
A Princess of Mars

Wolfmother's self-titled album cover
with Frazetta's Mammoth illustration

The Fire and Ice DVD cover from the film's movie poster

Oct. issue number 11 magazine

Famous Funnies Buck Rogers comic book cover
from the 1950s 

And here are some books, prints, book covers, etc. from my own collection from over the many years I have been collecting Frank Frazetta's work . . .

Rough Work: Concept Art, Doodles, and
Sketchbook Drawings by Frank Frazetta

Frazetta: The Definitive Reference

Testament: The Life and Art of Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta Book One

Frank Frazetta: The Living Legend

Frank Frazetta has been sorely missed but his life and work have endured. 

In Memoriam to an Artistic Giant
Feb. 9th 1928—May 10th 2010

Frank Frazetta in 1984

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Guest Posting at TGR . . .

REH: Two-Gun Raconteur was kind enough to let me guest post on their site. 

The article is titled The Kid, Two-Gun, and History. It's about the influence of Billy the Kid, more specifically Walter Noble Burns' book The Saga of Billy the Kid, on Robert E. Howard, his writing, and the the direction he took toward western lore and stories the last few years of his life.  When you get a moment go check out the article. 

Also, this site is one of the best Robert E. Howard sites on the internet, so if you have several hours to spend, the site is well worth the time invested. I've spent many hours reading the site's archives. And I can assure you that was time well spent. Cheers!