Thursday, April 7, 2016

Robert E. Howard and the Amateur Press (Part 2) by Bobby Derie

2: Amateur Journalism: The All-Around Magazine, The Toreador, The Bard, The Golden Caliph, and The Right-Hook

Bob Howard’s Right Hook is interesting. I wonder whether he will continue to put it out. Snappy material. (LSL 31)

All Around Magazine circa 1916
Amateur journalism during the period of Robert E. Howard’s life was a highly organized affair, with national-level organizations in the form of the National Amateur Press Association and the United Amateur Press Association (which, ironically, had undergone a split), both of which had their official organs, conventions, dedicated departments, elected officials, and annual dues. H. P. Lovecraft had been deeply involved in these amateur journalism organizations since 1914, but there are few references to these affairs in their surviving letters, nor any apparent attempt by Lovecraft to recruit Howard. (cf. AMTF 1.463)

However, in 1935 Lovecraft’s correspondent Natalie H. Wooley quoted from Howard’s serial “Beyond the Black River” in her essay “The Adventure Story,” which ran in the amateur magazine The Californian (Fall 1935) run by another of Lovecraft’s amateur friends, Hyman Bradofsky of the NAPA, who sent Howard a copy of the issue. Howard replied with a courteous letter of thanks, which was published by Bradofsky in the Summer 1936 issue of The Californian—which was the beginning and end of Howard’s association with organized amateur journalism at the national level. (CL3.463)

Organized amateur press organizations in Texas at the state or regional level seemed to be somewhat lacking during Howard’s lifetime; the Southern Amateur Press Organization and its descendants had been defunct since 1912, and there is little record of the Texas Amateur Press Association, though it was noted that several amateur publications were being produced in the Lone Star state. (HAJ 86, 200-201) It was in such smaller, disorganized, local publications produced by a teen aged Robert E. Howard and his friends where he found expression for more of his work beyond the school papers in Brownwood and Cross Plains.

Clyde Smith owned a small Kelsey Printing Press (SFTP 3, 217), and produced an amateur newspaper based on the “tribe paper” of the Lone Scouts, a scouting organization for those unable to attend regular group scouting activities; many of Howard’s friends were Lone Scouts. The All-Around Magazine. (BT 90) In 1923, the highschoolers Smith and Howard collaborated on the beginning of a serial titled “Under the Great Tiger,” which caused Howard to comment: “I got your paper and it’s really good. Hurray for the ‘Great Tiger’!” (CL1.6) However, Smith soon ceased publication, and the serial went unfinished. Howard submitted a poem to another “tribe paper”, Christopher O. “Ottie” Gill’s The Bard, but Gill ceased publication before anything came of it. (CL1.80, cf. LS 50)

Lone Scout, Herbert Klatt
Robert E. Howard then tried his own hand at an amateur journal, producing the sole issue of The Golden Caliph in 1923, a 4-page effort typed by hand and unbound, containing poetry, smatterings of fiction, and an essay on the sword reminiscent of Howard’s letters to Smith. (LC 376-380). A substantially similar effort were the three issues of The Right Hook, typed by Howard in 1925 and probably distributed to his friends (and, after the first issue, contributors) Herbert Klatt, Truett Vinson, and Clyde Smith, though eight pages in length, and devoted mostly to boxing lore or discussion, poetry, women, and sundry matters. (PWM 59) These publications are both notable primarily for how relaxed they are, being essentially private letters to a handful of like-minded friends, and aside from fiction and poetry contain some of a young Robert E. Howard’s most unguarded thoughts on race ever put to paper.

Also in 1925, Robert E. Howard contributed to an amateur periodical published by his friend Truett Vinson, The Toreador. Only two of these numbers are known to exist, though they were first published around 1923, when Howard subscribed to the paper, and later restarted in 1925. (CL1.23, LS 56) The impetus for its revival might have come from Herbert Klatt, who wrote to Clyde Smith in 1925:

And then what about jointly publishing an official organ? By each contributing $2.00 per month we could make The Toreador an interesting little six or eight page paper. Truett could manage it, mail the subscription copies and divide the rest among us to keep or mail as samples. We could make it our very own channel of expression. (LSL 26)

First Lone Scout booklet
Circa Oct. 30, 1915
The general outline of The Toreador seems very similar to The Right Hook, and it seems likely that Howard took his cues from Vinson in laying out his own amateur paper; Rob Roehm suggests all of these amateur publications took their cues from the “tribe papers” of the Lone Scouts. (LS 48-50) For Howard, at least, the amateur works were a part of his amateur writings alongside the school papers, only free of any concern for censorship or editorializing. Of the whole affair of little amateur papers, Howard would later write:

Damned childish, I think. Reminds me of the days of yore when we used to put out amateur papers — The Toreador and such like. Truett put out that and it was the only decent one of the gang. (CL1.229)

Tevis Clyde Smith:
 The All-Around Magazine (vol. 1, no. 3-4) - May 1923 - “Under the Great Tiger” (part 1, with Tevis Clyde Smith)
 The All-Around Magazine (vol. 1, no. 5) - July 1923 - “Under the Great Tiger” (part 1, with Tevis Clyde Smith)

Robert E. Howard:
 The Golden Caliph (vol. 1, no. 1) - Aug 1923
 The Right Hook (vol. 1, no. 1) - Mar 1925
 The Right Hook (vol. 1, no. 2) - Apr 1925
 The Right Hook (vol. 1, no. 3) - Jun 1925

Truett Vinson:
  The Toreador - Jun 1925 - “Le Gentil Homme le Diable”

  The Toreador - Jul 1925 - “The Sword of Mahommed”, “Girls”

Works Cited

AMTF  A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard (2 vols., Hippocampus Press, 2009)
BT       Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard (REH Foundation, 2013)
CL       Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard (3 vols. + Index & Addenda, REH Foundation, 2007 – 2015)
CLIH    Collected Letters of Dr. Isaac M. Howard (REH Foundation, 2011)
HAJ     The History of Amateur Journalism (The Fossils, 1957)
LC       The Last Celt: A Bio-Bibliography of Robert E. Howard (Berkley Windhover, 1976)
LRBO  Letters to Robert Bloch and Others (Hippocampus Press, 2015)
LRS     Letters to Richard F. Searight (Necronomicon Press, 1992)
LS        “Robert E. Howard and the Lone Scouts” by Rob Roehm, in The Dark Man (vol. 7, no. 1; 2012)
LSL      Lone Scout of Letters (Roehm’s Room Press, 2011)
PWM   Robert E. Howard: The Power of the Writing Mind (Mythos Books, 2003)
SFTP   So Far the Poet & Other Writings (REH Foundation, 2010)
THA     The Hyborian Age Facsimile Editions (Skelos Press, 2015)
TJ        The Junto: Being a Brief Look at the Amateur Press Association Robert E. Howard Partook In as a Youth” by Glenn Lord, in Two-Gun Bob: A Centennial Study of Robert E. Howard (Hippocampus Press, 2006)
UL       Uncollected Letters (Necronomicon Press, 1986)

WGP   Robert E. Howard: World’s Greatest Pulpster (Dennis McHaney, 2005)

Part 1

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