I had previously read the January or February 193 WT with a Rimel story in it, and had been utterly unimpressed.— F. T. Laney, Ah, Sweet Idiocy! 2
|Weird Tales, Jan. 1937|
F. T. Laney occupies an odd place in Howard scholarship. He missed the period when Howard was actively writing and didn’t come to pulp and fantasy fandom until about 1939. He rose to prominence in the early-to-mid 1940s as a member of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA), and as editor and publisher of The Acolyte fanzine (1942-1946), which was devoted primarily to H. P. Lovecraft. Yet being where he was when he was, and a vocal part of fandom, Laney ended up being at the confluence of a good deal of Howardian interest and ended up playing a silent but important role in Robert E. Howard’s legacy.
In the course of being an editor of a Lovecraft-oriented fanzine and searching out material, Laney came into contact with a number of Lovecraft’s correspondents, including Clark Ashton Smith, Duane W. Rimel, F. Lee Baldwin, Emil Petaja, Fritz Leiber, H. C. Koenig, Nils H. Frome, R. H. Barlow, August Derleth, Donald and Howard Wandrei, F. J. Ackerman, E. Hoffmann Price, and Stuart M. Boland; many of whom were also correspondents with Robert E. Howard, and it was largely through these contacts that Laney became in contact with things Howardian.
Laney got in touch with F. Lee Baldwin through their mutual friend Duane W. Rimel, and beginning in December 1942 Baldwin began working on material for The Acolyte, both in terms of a regular column (“Within the Circle,” a continuation of Baldwin’s column from The Fantasy Fan in the ‘30s), and writing to former pulpsters and their correspondents for material. (Laney 13) As part of this mailing campaign, in early 1943 Baldwin contacted Robert E. Howard’s friend F. Thurston Torbett, looking for information on Howard for a potential article, which can be read in F. Thurston Torbett and F. Lee Baldwin on Robert E. Howard. The correspondence stretched into 1944, and Baldwin’s article on Howard never appeared, nor did he mention the Texan in any of his other articles in The Acolyte.
|CAS, Laney, & Bob Hoffman, circa 1940s|
E. Hoffmann Price had returned to his native California in 1934, stopping along the way to visit Robert E. Howard in Cross Plains, Texas, and settling near San Francisco. He became a friend and correspondent with Barlow; who even visited Price accompanied by an aged James F. Morton in 1939. (BOD 53, 355-357) It is not clear when exactly Laney got in touch with the native Californian but a letter from Price to Laney, dated 22 July 1944, on the subject of Robert E. Howard, was published in The Acolyte #9 (Winter 1945). This may have been inspired by Price’s essay “Robert E. Howard” in the fanzine Diablerie #4 (May 1944), as Laney was a friend of the publisher Bill Watson (Laney 31), or maybe it came from the same place as F. Lee Baldwin’s questions to F. Thurston Torbett.
Whatever the case, Price began contributing letters to The Acolyte, beginning with The Acolyte #7, then the letter concerning Howard in #9, and letter in #10 (Spring 1945) announcing the death of Dr. Isaac M. Howard: