For Autograph Hound Super-Sunday our new guy Jeff Mariotte decides to let it all — or a huge chunk of it — hang out. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t kidding when he said he had a large collection of post-1980 crime writer signatures, or, as he casually notes:
“Here’s an assortment of Ellroy autos. If the title isn’t visible on the page he signed, I scrawled it at the bottom of the picture. Same for the year it was signed.”
I think the additional scrawled info went onto some kind of photocopy, not on the original book, in case any of you purist book collectors begin to experience heart palpitations.
Looks like Autograph Hound Super-Sunday keeps the theme of Writers for the Pulp Adventure going.
I got in a note from frequent Hound Dog Kevin Cook, commenting on Brian Leno posts from a couple of weekends ago. “More great posts on the authors whom Robert E. Howard admired from reading Adventure. Has Brian ever seen an Arthur O. Friel autograph? He would be the third Adventure favorite of Howard’s along with Harold Lamb and Talbot Mundy.
“I have Friel’s Adventure novels in hardcover first editions with dust jackets,” Kevin notes, “but I have never seen a signed copy of any of them offered for sale; must be a tough autograph to obtain.”
So, what do you think? Would the Uber Autograph Hound Brian Leno have a John Hancock from Friel to round out his Two-Gun Bob Adventure Trilogy, or not?
The unsealed evidence is above.
“Arthur O. Friel is one writer I remember very fondly. I had been reading Robert E. Howard, through the Lancer editions, for a few years. At the end of one of his introductions, if I remember correctly, L. Sprague de Camp had placed Donald M. Grant’s mailing address for those interested in more Howard.
“I immediately wrote and started ordering everything I could. One of those books was the Centaur Press ‘Time-Lost’ edition of Friel’s The Pathless Trail.
“I was hooked and had trouble waiting until the next promised title, Tiger River, appeared.
“But the back of the ‘Time-Lost’ books swore we’d get a third Friel book, The King of No Man’s Land. Alas, the Centaur edition never appeared.
“Many years later I picked up a hardcover copy, along with a few others by Arthur O. Friel, through eBay — which is a blessing and an addiction.
“Friel is one of those writers who steer the reader into a new direction, and I soon found myself pouring over Colonel Percy Fawcett and his true-life Amazon adventures. Howard took me to Friel and Friel to Fawcett and that opened up completely new avenues for reading and learning.
“Good writers like that are rare.
“And rare is what this signature of Friel is.
“I’ve only seen one other example, although I’ve heard of the fan lucky enough to spear a copy of Friel’s own true-life Amazon adventure, The River of Seven Stars, that is signed and inscribed.
“It doesn’t seem that Friel would be that rare. He lived a long life, had many books published in hardcover. A popular writer.
“Someone, somewhere, has to have signed copies of Friel’s books stored away, just waiting to see the light.
“But the pulp collectors are all getting older and, it’s a sad thing, sooner or later death comes even for bookmen.
“When death does come calling we’re all going to have to board the raft that’ll take us down our own river to the next life, if there is any after this.
“Hopefully I’ll still be around to put in a bid on any signed Friels before my own toes are sticking straight up.
How about allowing an Apprentice Autograph Hound loose on the Mean Streets to run with those battle-scarred gray wolves Brian Leno and Kevin Cook?
Got a note in from Jeff Mariotte — obviously a lifelong book collector, like most people I know, but also a fairly prolific fictioneer (not as prolific as a James Reasoner, but other than a Bob Randisi or a Bob Silverberg, who is?). Jeff said:
“FYI, I took your Hammett tour decades ago, when I was a kid bookseller at Books Inc. in San Jose, and loved it. Since then, I ran the chain’s Hunter’s Books in La Jolla — Chandler country — then opened Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, before going to work in comics publishing. I’m now the author of more than 70 books, including a few mysteries (one of which was blurbed by Connelly), among other things. I also got to write three Age of Conan novels, another shared interest.
“Glad to see you’re still going strong!”
We got to talking, mostly about how Connelly’s squiggly “MC” autograph has scarred me for life — but then I remembered an even more degraded “initial signature” I saw years ago in The Mysterious Bookshop West, when Shelly was running it. I was looking through some of the stacks of books on the front tables, and asked, “Who wrote the 22 in Ellroy’s book?”
Honest, I was curious. The number twenty-two. Seemed kind of odd.
“Oh,” said someone in the know. “That’s Ellroy’s signature.”
I mean, come on. Jesus Christ. You might as well just grab the end of your tongue between your teeth and mark your “X” like some illiterate prospector in an old Western movie.
Jeff knew all about that John Hancock, though. “Ellroy’s signature has always been minimalist, but (like his prose) has become more so with time. He used to put a little effort into making it look like words.”
Jeff sent me a sample with the note, “This is my earliest of his.
“If you’re looking for anyone else in the field, I have a pretty comprehensive signed collection of the major players beginning in the early 80s.”
Autograph Hound Saturday once more, and we’ll allow Brian Leno to wax nostalgic (Ubi Sunt! Ubi Sunt!) for a moment. Here’s Brian on the thrilling days of yesteryear, or childhood — that sort of thing:
“I believe I’ve told you a couple of times that when I was young and first starting to collect books I remember sitting on the floor and looking at my bookcase which contained probably 150 or so paperbacks with a couple of hardcovers.
“I was about 12 and I wondered if anybody in the world had as big a collection of books as I did.
“My father would give me 5 bucks every couple of weeks, if he had it, and I would walk a couple of miles to the local bookstore and pick out 6 or 7 books and then trudge home again, excited to start reading the new arrivals.
“Of course we all know Coburn was a favorite at Adventure and many other magazines. One of the great western writers for the pulps, his output was prodigious and his fans were many. Quite a few movies were made out of his stories and it’s estimated, according to a Wikipedia article, that Coburn had about 600,000 words published each year during his heyday.
“A canny combination of other Springsteen obsessions, the film (also known as Born to Kill) is yet another Monte Hellman picture starring Warren Oates that chronicles American anti-heroes. As the titular fighter, Oates is joined by Harry Dean Stanton in a loose adaptation of Charles Willeford’s novel of the same name (the author also wrote the script, and made a number of changes on his own accord), and follows Oates’ mute Frank Mansfield as he endeavors to become Cockfighter of the Year. The film was a box office bust, and even when producer Roger Corman had it recut (and re-titled), it failed to generate much money. Springsteen, however, still loves it. It’s easy to see why: The grizzled anti-heroes of mid-’70s cinema seem pulled from Springsteen’s own songs, lovable losers with nothing left to lose.”
Just got a note in from Keith Young, yet another student in the classes once taught by William Worley, author of the classic San Francisco mystery My Dead Wife.
Here’s Keith, verbatim:
“A recollection from his class at Lowell. One day he told us, that, whatever happens to us, in our lives, when we had highs, and lows, and everything in between, to remember: Ubi Sunt. I believe that was Latin for ‘this too shall pass’. For probably the reasons that you have noted on your site, that Mr. Worley was a true original, I have seared into my memory, Him. I distinctly remember his, standing in front of the class, wrinkled face, and clothes, but with a beautiful energy that he was Sharing with the class. I am now 73 yet have never forgotten the man. May he rest in Peace, and be one with the Universe that he described.”
Not trying to get into a dustup over Latin (not my battlefield), I was curious enough to hit the net and found this definition: “Ubi sunt is a phrase taken from the Latin Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt?, meaning ‘Where are those who were before us?’. . . Sometimes interpreted to indicate nostalgia, the ubi sunt motif is actually a meditation on mortality and life’s transience.”
I think we now have for our contemplation a Worleyism.
For yesterday’s Autograph Hound Saturday, Kevin Cook unleashed a colorful cluster of Munsey cheques all endorsed by George Allan England. I thought they might completely cover England’s most famous work, but he tells me, “I actually do not have all the checks for the Darkness and Dawn trilogy, just the first two parts, ‘Darkness and Dawn’ and ‘Beyond the Great Oblivion.’ I never had an opportunity to buy checks for the third part, ‘The Afterglow.’ Of course, if offered, I would pursue it immediately.”
But if that was an ordinary Autograph Hound Saturday, what could he top it with for Autograph Hound Super-Sunday?
In my opinion, it’s a bold choice — from full color to a stark b&w image shot from a photocopy that passed through his hands. Still, you get the Super-Sunday oomph from catching a gander at what may well have been the last autograph inscription by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
“Edgar Rice Burroughs literally signed hundreds of books during his lifetime, but apparently only signed three pulp magazines that are known. For Forrest Ackerman he signed a copy of the October 1912 issue of All-Story with ‘Tarzan of the Apes.’ That magazine was auctioned off for something in the 40-50K range. For Vernell Coriell he also signed another October 1912 issue of All-Story — but also signed the February 1916 issue of All Around Magazine which contained his ‘Beyond Thirty.’ That All Around issue is easily the rarest pulp to ever include a Burroughs story.
“In the collected edition of the first twelve issues of The Burroughs Bulletin — in an article titled ‘A Visit to Tarzana’ — Vern Coriell writes: ‘. . . I had brought along some choice items from my collection which included the Oct. 1912 All Story magazine and Feb. 1916 All Around magazine. . . . I asked him if he would mind signing my copies of All-Story and All Around. . . . he said “Mr. Coriell, these are my last signatures, I shall never sign another.”
“First of course, we only have Vern Coriell’s statement that ERB said it would be his last autograph, but ERB’s family — including his two sons — were present at the signing, and no one challenged Coriell’s statement which first saw print in 1956.
“The only way to date the autograph is by the fact that Coriell accompanied ERB to the movie studio where Tarzan and the Slave Girl was being shot. I would guess late summer 1949.
“The movie itself was released on March 15, 1950, just four days prior to Burroughs’ death.
“This 1949 visit was also the scene of the last known photo of ERB, made at the movie studio. The photograph was printed as the inside back cover of Larry Ivie’s Monsters and Heroes #4, March 1969. Burroughs is seated in a wheelchair. Behind him l. to r. are Coriell, founder of the official ERB fan club, ERB’s grandson Mike Pierce, and Lex Barker, wearing the loincloth as the current cinematic Tarzan.
“You can see how frail ERB looks. He complains to Coriell about his poor health.
“If you read the last chapter of the Porges biography ERB had paralysis in his legs which required him to be pushed around in the wheelchair and he was generally in declining health from 1949 onward. It is also stated that normally ERB was too ill to be able to receive visitors.
“The signature is also not the firm Edgar Rice Burroughs you see on so many books from the preceding decades.
“The only other lines that I can add from the account is Coriell again quoting ERB, ‘I hope you will be able to read this. I am so ashamed of my writing since I have been ill. I used to have a hand I was proud of.’
“And Burroughs to Lex Barker at the movie studio the next day, ‘No autographs. I signed my last one yesterday.'”
In 1977 Don Herron began leading The Dashiell Hammett Tour, now the longest-running literary tour in the nation. On this site you’ll find information on current walks — dates, where to meet, arranging tours by appointment — plus a hard-boiled blog with news, reviews of books and film, and a dash of noir.