Rediscovered: More on Derleth and the Little Review Phenom

A couple of weeks back John D. Haefele began a series of posts on August Derleth and the Little Review and part two just went live over on the Allied Authors of Wisconsin site, if you want to check it out.

There’s at least one more section to come — I think that’s where Haefele will need to wrestle with the shadow of my late pal Stanley McNail and his long-running little review of poetry titled Galley Sail Review. I’ll probably have to dig out my Stan Files to fact check this or that, see if GSR could have been an influence on Derleth’s similar publication.

GSR ran out of San Francisco for a long time, and ultimately from Stan’s final hideout in Berkeley.

And Stan’s collection of horror poetry, Something Breathing, which Derleth released under the Arkham House imprint in 1965, will be another ball tossed into the equation and juggled around. Yeah, I’m looking forward to that post.

Otherwise, the other day Haefele popped me a rough text for his Clark Ashton Smith chapter in Lovecraft: The Great Tales, while his previous book A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos stirred to life on the Amazon Bestseller List for Horror LitCrit — yesterday the eBook version hit no.3 on the list and when I finally got moving today I noticed that the print version in trade paperback was at no.9, with the eBook still holding in the Top Twenty at no.17.

I expect Great Tales to excite so much interest that anyone who has not read Derleth Mythos by then will line up for copies.

Posted in Frisco, Lit | Tagged , , , , |

Noir: Another Murderous Monday with Nathan Ward. . .

Our Hammett biographer pal Nathan Ward returns to the mean streets of the Akashic Press website with another Mondays Are Murder noir short-short — 750 words, tops, and in line with the Akashic “City” Series the streets have to be real, or at least sound like they’re the real thing.

Nathan assures me that “this small piece of scruffy 70s New York” is pretty authentic: “All true except for the made up part.”

If you’re doing Bouchercon in New Orleans in a few days, you might spot Nathan among the mysterious hordes wandering the high ground between the bayous. For a day or two I thought about going myself, then nixed it.

At least I put Nathan in touch with Tenderloin Terry Zobeck so they can tie in and talk Hammett and all things hard-boiled. Gee, if I’d known Terry was going when I was thinking about it, that would have been another thing for that side of the scale. . . .

Posted in Lit, News | Tagged , , , , |

Rediscovered: High Stakes Burroughs Bibliophilia

Krenkel cave girl

From the far reaches of Bismarck, North Dakota, our good buddy and occasional Guest Blogger Brian Leno got a sudden urge to ERB a bit for the Mean Streets. Why not?

And you know Brian and his collections — he sent along the original sketch above by Roy Krenkel, inspired by Burroughs’ Cave Girl. I imagine Brian like an Ali Baba, sitting in his lair amongst the spoils. . . .

Take it, Brian:


Some of my earliest memories of Edgar Rice Burroughs revolve around the thrill of gambling.

When the Burroughs Ace paperbacks started being released back around 1962-63 I was about six, so I wasn’t much of a book buyer, but my oldest brother was. He’d come home from the bookstore and show me the new Tarzan or John Carter volume he’d bought. Instantly I fell in love with the covers.

To my eyes it was like seeing bright, beautiful baubles, and the covers by Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta were without equal. More than fifty years later, they still ignite the memory of any ERB enthusiast. But, back then, these pearls of great book illustration and fine story telling were beyond my reach.

My brother, a person of wisdom, would let me look but not touch.

So, not to be denied, when the chance arose, I would sneak into his bedroom and pull one or two of these forbidden tomes off the shelves, always making sure to put them back in the exact spot from where I got them. But sometimes I could tell one or two were missing, or I’d find one I hadn’t seen before.

That’s when I found out about the gambling.

In our neighborhood lived another Burroughs fan, and I discovered that during those lazy summer afternoons my brother and his friend would walk across the street to the city park and play tennis, and it wasn’t just for exercise or fun. There would be a couple of Burroughs books at stake.

Winner take all.

When it was too hot to be outside they would be in the cool of the neighbor’s kitchen, playing chess, with the ownership of two more books hanging in the balance. Somewhere around here I have a photo of them sitting at the table, engaged in their game of chess, and I can see a copy of Tarzan the Invincible lying next to the captured pawns and knights, the prize booty for the best player that day.

These are good memories for me, but as with all recollections they can get pushed back, and become semi-forgotten, until something triggers them back into focus.

This memory re-awakening occurred for me a couple of days ago when I picked up a copy of Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Bibliography by Robert B. Zeuschner, released by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.


It would be difficult to praise this 700+ page tome too highly. It’s that good.

If you’re a Burroughs collector it’s indispensable, and if you’re just starting to collect one of the greatest action writers of the 20th century, it is, again, indispensable.

Jim Sullos, president of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., tells us in the foreword that Mr. Zeuschner put in over two decades of research on this hefty volume and it shows in every page. The amount of bibliographic material is vast, put together as only a lover, and collector, of all things Burroughs could do. The main focus of Zeuschner’s massive, encyclopedic-like volume is to furnish the reader with the multitude of listings of ERB’s appearances in the USA and he does this in a grand style, with the information easy to find, and to understand.

Included with the array of publication histories are some interior black and white illustrations, many of which I had never seen before. Some of these deal with Burroughs signed book inscriptions to family members and are a delight to read. Quite a few, however, showcase the artwork of John Coleman Burroughs, Frazetta and J. Allen St. John. One of these treasures is the never to be forgotten frontispiece by St. John for The Chessmen of Mars.

But it’s the blast of photographic plates that made this book a must-have for me. Illustration editor Jim Gerlach announces that of the six hundred plus pictures included in the book five hundred are in color — and they are simply stunning.

The pulp covers, the hardbacks, and the paperbacks all get this star treatment, with even a foldout detailing the history of Grosset & Dunlap dust jackets in all their beauty. The pulp section selection is giving me an itchy eBay trigger finger, and I don’t think it’ll be too long before I’m bidding on the ERB issues of Blue Book Magazine.

So buy this valuable book at your own risk — your library will grow, take my word for it.

With perhaps only a couple hundred Burroughs related items in my library I’m probably not what would be considered a hard-core collector of this American author. I veered off course when the Lancer editions of Robert E. Howard’s Conan started to hit the stands.

My collection now consists mainly of Howard, H. P. Lovecraft and other writers of the Weird Tales ilk. But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about ERB. Every year sees new additions added.

Always room for more.

But the Ace paperbacks originally owned by my brother are unique to my collection and came to me in a special way. It was the sixties, as I’ve said, the time of Vietnam, and when my brother entered the Service he gave them to me, and when he came home he never asked for them back.

He knows better.

So now, when the red glow of Barsoom beckons in the night sky I musingly pull a couple of those old 40-cent paperbacks off the shelf and gently open up my copy of Jungle Tales of Tarzan. I smile when I see the signature of my Burroughs collecting neighbor, who had the unfortunate habit of writing his name in his books.

This can only mean it was lost long ago when, engaging in their friendly gambling escapade, my brother happened to come out on top that day, perhaps while playing a fast and competitive match of tennis, or a slow, mentally taxing game of chess.

A trophy, if you will, of a bygone age.

Posted in Lit, REH | Tagged , , , , , , , , |


Frazetta Horse

Man, no one could translate the fiction of Robert E. Howard into an image like Frank Frazetta! — as above, in his painting for the Lancer paperback of the novel Conan the Conqueror, and in pretty much every other Howardian image he ever tossed out.

The guy was kind of definitive on showing off a horse to best advantage, too.

The Howardian mode of transport this week is The Horse, which perhaps appears more times in his writing than even The Viking Ship. As above, ridden by Conan — and in other Conan exploits. In “Worms of the Earth” and others featuring the last Pictish King, Bran Mak Morn. In the saga of the Puritan adventurer Solomon Kane. In the form of Cap’n Kidd, the wild steed straddled by old Breck Elkins. In the many other Western tales, and the ripping yarns of El Borak.

And more.

Howard got a lot of mileage out of horses.

I guess I could do like some other REH websites and ripoff some technical mumbo jumbo from the web — such as this opening off Wikipedia: “The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, Eohippus, into the large, single-toed animal of today. . . .”

Yeah, yeah — if you want to know more about the horse, just punch it up. Some of the REH sites seem to think their audience is too dumb to use Google. Hey. . . .

Today, celebrate the Howardian horse from the pastern (Iä! Dr. Sam: Johnson!) to the mane. 

Posted in REH | Tagged , |

Rediscovered: Classic Crime Quips

Occasional Guest Blogger Michael S. Chong popped in news that Death is a Lovely Dame by Jeff Vorzimmer has hit the mean streets — classic lines from crime novels, classic covers.

Michael notes that it contains some excerpts from Hammett and Willeford (I would hope so!) and includes a couple of quotes he suggested. The array of covers on the cover includes Whip Hand, the Gold Medal crime novel it seems Willeford never knew was published.

A tantalizing sampler yanked straight from the steamy heart of the paperback jungle.

Sample: “She looked hot enough to catch fire, but too lazy to do anything but just lie there and smoke.” — Gil Brewer, The Vengeful Virgin, 1958

Posted in Dash, Lit, News, Willeford | Tagged , , |

Rediscovered: Derleth and Little Reviews

If you know much about August Derleth, you know he made his rep equally between writing for pulps such as Weird Tales and doing the more artsy wordplay for Little Reviews — eventually he even combined the two fields of endeavor and did weird fiction little reviews, plus poetry little reviews. A go-getter like Derleth pretty much did it all, and then more stuff in his spare time.

Suddenly, I’m tired, just from thinking about it.

John D. Haefele, the reigning and never-to-be-dethroned Derleth expert,  just began a little series of posts on the Derleth/Little Review topic if you want to surf in — worth it just to see the images of a 1934 sub to The Frontier out of Missoula.

When you think about it, Missoula has been a literary hotbed forever. I just did a tour by appointment this past weekend with a guy who last took the walk circa 1985 or 86 (he couldn’t believe I was still gumshoeing the mean streets), and he mentioned that he lived in Missoula for around eleven years and got to know James Crumley. I asked if he ever met Dennis McMillan, but my wild and accurate description of Dennis didn’t ring any bells for him. I suppose his stint in Missoula might not have crossed Dennis’ — if he was hanging around The Crumdog he’d have met Dennis, for sure.

And for those waiting patiently, don’t think that Haefele has been distracted and derailed from the main current project on the Great Tales of Lovecraft. He is plugging away, and is currently sending in chapters on Frank Belknap Long and Donald Wandrei — halfway through the manuscript or a bit more. Tens of thousands of words already done.

Tens of thousands left to go.

Posted in DMac, Lit, News, Tour | Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Smackdown: The Morgman Beats Noah Ward

— but loses Best Fan Writer Hugo to Mike Glyer, the guy who does the newszine File 770.

Maybe next year.

But Morgan knocked the hell out of Noah Ward.

At least I think that’s what happened. If you want to look at detailed Hugo voting stats, it doesn’t look like Morgan did very well — some kind of convoluted ranked vote counting going on.

But if you glance at the major stats toward the end, you’ll see that 1568 ballots were cast for Fan Writer — Morgan took 21.81% while Glyer took only 15.50% — and only Morgan’s fellow Castalia House blogger Jeffro raked in more, with 27.23%. Which to me sounds like Morgan came in second. An impressive showing.

Weird how votes can be juggled, but I will say that nonetheless the Hugos seem more straightforward than, say, The Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards, where they allow only certain names to even be considered — and consistently give the honors to the guys counting the votes.

When the guy running the awards wins Best Essay four years in a row, I sense a hint of impropriety, but maybe that’s just me.

For most awards I wouldn’t be in the running, or wouldn’t bother, but it did seem odd that the REH Foundation didn’t even mention The Dark Barbarian That Towers Over All — the largest collection of litcrit on REH ever released — the year it appeared. Maybe they’re just too old-fashioned and out-of-touch with the current scene, and don’t even think an eBook amounts to anything.

Guess the Foundation could get more on point and have Morgan’s eBook listed as a contender next time. Or stay stuck in the past, not even aware that a Hugo Nominee trods their turf.

Posted in News, REH | Tagged , , , , , |



If I don’t have the dates all messed up, I think tonight we learn whether or not Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes goes from Hugo Nominee to Hugo WINNER!

And good luck, Morgan.

As a scholar of decades standing in the arena of Robert E. Howard and Sword-and-Sorcery studies, Morgan was as amused and appalled as I was by the recent wholesale, uncredited lifting of material on the Todd Vick fan site. What can you do except shake your head in wonder and complete disbelief?

Someone has gone in and tried to patch it up to make it look scholarly, but they still haven’t gotten all the outright quotes done right — and obviously they aren’t very savvy on how to do block quotes. Morgan decided to dig out his copy of the Chicago Manual of Style to cite to give those poor guys a guide to proper scholarly technique.

And here, stepping in for a quick Guest Post, is Morgan Holmes:


One of my favorite Robert E. Howard stories is “Two Against Tyre,” with the set-up of a wandering Gaul finding adventure in the Levant. He probably got to Phoenicia in a bireme.

One of the entries in the Todd Vick “The Ships of Hy-Brasil Part 3” has an entry on the bireme:

The Bireme is a galley type ship with two bank of oars that was especially used by the Greeks and Phoenicians. The ship had a hull of wood and was used for both shipping and naval warfare possibly as early as 350 BC. The two banks of oars provided man-powered propulsion in case of calm waters or for better control in battles. The bronze armored ram on the bow of the ship was designed to be driven deep into an enemy ship. In addition to the small number of crew required, they could hold as many as 45 sailors during combat as well as additional fighting men on the main deck who were ready to board enemy vessels that had been rammed. Top speed was approximately seven knots.

The text is taken from — with some minimal rewording here and there. Since the original post with no attribution, a sourcing “footnote” has been inserted. Here’s some source text:

The Bireme was a wooden hulled vessel used by the Greeks for use in both commercial shipping and in naval warfare, from as early as approximately 350 BC… Although a very small number of men were required to crew the ship when relying on the sail, the ship could be equipped with as many as 45 sailors during times of combat, as well as additional archers or soldiers on the main deck for boarding enemy vessels once they have been rammed. The top speed of this type of ship was around 7 knots.


I became curious to see what the rules were for citation. I pulled out my trusty Chicago Manual of Style (15th Edition). There is an interesting paragraph in Chapter 11, section 2 (page 444):

“Quoting other writers and citing the places where their words are to be found are by now such common practices that it is pardonable to look upon the habit as natural, not to say instinctive. It is of course nothing of the kind, but a very sophisticated act, peculiar to a civilization that uses printed books, believes in evidence, and makes a point of assigning credit or blame in a detailed, verifiable way.” — Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff.

4:83 has this: “With all reuse of others’ materials, it is important to identify the original as the source. This not only bolsters the claim of fair use, it also helps avoid any accusation of plagiarism.”

11:12: “Block quotations, a hundred words or at least eight lines — are set off as a block quotation… A quotation of two or more paragraphs is best set off (see 11.23-25).”

In regards to sourcing a block quotation, 11.81 states, “The source of a block quotation is given in parentheses as the end of the quotation and in the same type size. The opening parenthesis appears after the final punctuation mark of the quoted material.”

And so writes Morgan, being helpful. . . .

What most of the would-be scholars of the Vick ilk don’t seem to realize is that a solid essay is akin to a legal argument, where everything is pinned down precisely, the sources are not hidden but honored — and of course in the best essays you have a level of dazzling polemic, where you as the writer attempt to convince your readers — the jury — of your thesis.

Good essays aren’t just a tedious roster of uncredited quotes, blah-blah this then blah-blah that.

Posted in REH | Tagged , , , , |

Rediscovered: The Influence of Race

dalythemthatlivesbytheirgunsRace Williams, that is. . . .

I got Them That Lives by Their Guns around Thanksgiving last year, and promised I was going to give it a fair shake. Read each and every story.

And read them all I did — didn’t take long to get into the rhythm.

Lots of pleasant surprises. I never expected that Daly would haul out a Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother bit, but it turns out in “Under Cover” old Race has a brother named Balcone — I wonder if this guy will show up on occasion in the stories collected in later volumes, like Mycroft Holmes?

Or was it a one-time nod to the lore and legend of crime fiction? “I got thinking of Balcone and wondering if his Sherlock Holmes brain could dope a way out of this mess.”

Come on, you weren’t expecting that, either.

I’m hoping this series will pop Daly’s rep back up a few notches with the general reading public. As a mystery writer, his place is secure — side-by-side in the wood pulp pages of Black Mask with Hammett, both coming out of the gate with hard-boiled detective stories the same month. With Erle Stanley Gardner, Nebel, Whitfield, and crew right on their heels. If you know The Mask and the genre, you know Daly.

And then you have the fact that Daly has some fame as Mickey Spillane’s favorite writer — Spillane, the bestselling American writer of the 1950s, I believe, and book-per-book the bestselling crime writer of the 1950s, 60s and well into the 70s. Erle Stanley Gardner, with many dozen more novels than Spillane, probably has more total units sold overall, but you wouldn’t want to put most novels up against I, the Jury.

Mick even sent Daly a note once, saying, “Yours was the first and only style of writing that ever influenced me in any way.”

And most mystery fans know that Daly thought about suing Spillane for plagiarism. . . .

I’m not any kind of fan of Spillane’s writing — I read The Delta Factor in the late 60s, then I, the Jury more recently. Man, was Jury a turkey. I may find an odd moment someday to poke through other classic Mike Hammer texts, but I’m not blocking out dates for it. If anything, I figure going back to Daly is more instructive.

But even if I didn’t like Mick’s fiction, I always liked Mick. He’d show up on Johnny Carson or Tom Snyder, late night, and I remember Johnny Carson asking him, “So, Mick, the critics don’t seem to like your books. What do you think about that?”

Mickey: “I don’t care what they think about my books as long as they don’t take away my money.”

If only half the bestselling blowhards pretending to be “great writers” were half as honest!

But for Daly to actually think about suing — I had the sense that it would have to be more than just the idea of a tough dick talking tough and shooting straight and slugging his hard way through a caper.

And reading along in Them That Lives by Their Guns I hit a moment where the lightbulb exploded. In “Devil Cat,” Black Mask, November 1924. Enough of a nudge, it occurred to me, to maybe get a guy to ring up his lawyer. . . .

On one of the talk shows I caught circa the late 60s Spillane was talking about the ending of one of his novels — a Mike Hammer, I’m pretty sure — and how the whole shebang was wrapped up tight in the last line. In only four words.

“She was a he.”

Whoa. That’s some deep Mike Hammer 50s/60s shock ending stuff, for sure.

But back in 1924, Daly wrote, “And you’ve guessed it. She was a he. Oh, I’m free to admit I didn’t tumble at first. She made a crack boy, and no mistake.”

No question Daly influenced Spillane, right?

Mick spun it his way and made more out of it, and raked in the big bucks.

After Carroll John Daly pioneered the trail through the pulp jungle.

Posted in Lit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Hammett: And Chandler, and Nigel, Bill and Don

Bill and Nigel and Don

Slightly over twenty people did the “just show up and walk the walk” routine for the tour yesterday. I always think of twenty as being the average number of tourists gumshoeing the mean streets on the walk over the years, though I have done groups in the thirties and forties and one time seventy-eight people were waiting for me. Of course, if only one or two people show up, the tour goes on.

One guy mentioned that he had taken the tour before — in 1992. Another mentioned that he’d been thinking about taking it for decades. This guy was a film buff, and the only one out of the crowd to know the name Dwight Frye (though, as I explain, pretty much everyone knows Dwight, they just don’t know they know Dwight). I gave the guy a little test to see how much he knew. He didn’t recognize the name Dominque Pinon off the cuff, but when I said “The clown in Delicatessen” naturally he knew Dominque. What film buff doesn’t?

And when I got back to my lair, I got another kickback to the days of yesteryear when Mark Murphy mentioned in an email that he’d just seen a BBC documentary on Raymond Chandler on YouTube — one that got more than willingly hijacked into also covering Hammett. You’ve got an interview with Hammett’s daughter. Bill Arney and I jump in on the action.

And if I remember right, there is a great sequence which shows Bill pulling out the Murphy bed in Sam Spade’s apartment which incorporates a clip of Fatty Arbuckle wrestling with a Murphy bed. In those days, Bill was holding down the shrine in 891 Post.

If you’ve got an hour or so, check it out — one of my all-time fave media appearances, out of many. Maybe because Bill and I spent a lot of time hanging out drinking with Nigel and the crew, and they knew how to drink.

Screen grab at top, left to right: Bill, Nigel, then me, at the parapet on top of the Stockton tunnel, where Spade stands looking down on the first murder scene in The Maltese Falcon.

Posted in Dash, Film, Lit, Tour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |