In recent months I’ve been having a fast and furious round of email discussions with Kevin Cook, and I managed to turn him into another huge fan of the excellent San Francisco mystery The Man With My Face by Samuel W. Taylor. After I blurbed it, all he had to do was read it, and pow!
Then we got onto the subject of Karl Edward Wagner and his one paperback novel using the Robert E. Howard character Bran Mak Morn. You’ll find an article from 1980 I wrote on the subject collected in the eBook MegaPack The Dark Barbarian That Towers Over All — in the section “Conan vs. Conantics,” about the so-called “posthumous collaborations” various writers did “with” Howard — or at least under license to utilize his characters.
I don’t think Kevin has the MegaPack, but on the other hand he owns almost all the original books and fanzines the contents appeared in. He read my Mak Morn article when it appeared, but after decades had forgotten that I was the writer. Who else?
To further explain the background of the article I made a copy for Kevin of an all-new afterword I did just for the MegaPack, which mentions the next (and last) paperback novel using a Howard character that Wagner turned out:
I did my best to wade through Wagner’s “Conan” novel The Road of Kings in 1979, but when I got to page 100 and nothing was happening, I gave it up and never went back.
Talk about serendipity. I guess Kevin has been living in or around New York all this time, and that line reminded him of something Lin Carter once said to a group of fans. Carter — in collaboration with L. Sprague de Camp — of course is one of the main subjects of attack in my 1976 essay “Conan vs. Conantics”.
If you don’t know the essay, check it out — if you do, you’ll be interested in this first-hand anecdote from Kevin:
I remember hearing Lin Carter mock his collaboration with de Camp on the novel where Conan becomes King, stating something like, “Army marches here. Army marches there. Nothing happens” — while making stomping noises with his feet.
Wow. I’m pleased to learn after all this time that Carter wasn’t quite the blithering idiot he always impressed me as being.