Courtesy Leo Grin, the shot above first appeared (in b&w) in The Cimmerian V1n3 for August 2004 — showing Bob Weinberg gleefully enacting the abduction of the 1937 edition of A Gent from Bear Creek from the Robert E. Howard House in Cross Plains, Texas. Bob was the Guest of Honor for Howard Days that year.
The shot at the bottom also appeared in that issue (in b&w), picturing left to right Leo, Bob Baker (who as a kid knew Robert E. Howard), Don Herron (a.k.a. me), and Bob.
I got the news after the tour this past Sunday that Bob had passed away that afternoon, aged 70. He’d been in declining health the last few years.
If you dive into the MegaPack The Dark Barbarian That Towers Over All you’ll find chronicled a little feud of sorts that I had going with Bob. Strictly litcrit stuff — Bob, an uber REH fan, is famous for saying in a fanzine in the early 1970s that everything that could be said about REH had been said. Needless to say, I disagreed.
But if Bob wasn’t the best critic ever to hit the field, he was a workhorse in a pivotal era for fantasy and pulp fiction, producing all kinds of zines and collections and reprints. In particular, I appreciate his efforts on behalf of the magazine Weird Tales, gathering fresh memoirs from the surviving writers while they were still around to gather.
I actually saw red for a moment when I read a line in the Acknowledgments page for the recent academic litcrit collection The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales which stated the contributors’ “excellent work has made this the most important volume of scholarship on Weird Tales to date.”
Utter bullshit. If they’d said it was the most important (and only) volume of “academic criticism,” hey, I’d let it go. But what a joke — you can read Unique and learn barely anything about the magazine.
The best book on the subject to date — and I expect, forever — is without any question Weinberg’s The Weird Tales Story from 1977. You can dive into that book knowing almost nothing about WT, and come out with some expertise. I got Bob to inscribe my copy in 1988 when we were both Guests of Honor at a little convention in the Twin Cities.
Bob’s Wikipedia page touches on some of his credits — though I noticed at this moment it does not have the huge collection Horrors! 365 Scary Stories that he co-edited. I had a tidbit featuring ghouls in that one (but I much prefer the yarn I contributed to his 100 Vicious Little Vampire Stories). Anyway, look it over and know it leaves out tons of material, from the fanzine The Weird Tales Collector to writing for the X-Men comics.
As a presence in the field, I suspect Bob might have had the most influence c/o his mail order book business — for many years (and long before the net and Amazon) that was the one-stop shop to buy the zines that were coming out, so you could keep track of the scholarship and the previously “lost” stories suddenly showing up in print from favorite pulp writers.
As Brian Leno, a child of the same generation of Howard and fantasy fans, puts it, “Too bad about Weinberg. Bought a lot of books from him during the heydays of the 70s. That’s when the world of fantastic literature was roaring, not the pop gun it is now. In fact I bought my first Weird Tales from him, had the first part of Howard’s ‘Beyond the Black River’ for 25 big ones. Talked to him over the phone back then and once in person at one of the Pulp Cons and he seemed like a good guy.”
Yep, a good guy. I’m glad I got to hang out with him some, especially on the home turf of Robert E. Howard, one of our favorite authors.