Yesterday, when I mentioned the death of Stan Sargent on March 6, I definitely was thinking what a fatal month March often is — so much so I plan on keeping my head down in an attempt to squeak through until April.
I even did a Memorial March bit back in 2012, citing deaths such as Lovecraft, Willeford, Edgar Rice Burroughs, plus noting the three-year anniversary of the passing of Steve Tompkins on March 23. Just noticed that Jim Cornelius jumped in this cycle to commemorate the nine-year anniversary — he encountered Tompk via some of his online scribblings and involvement in the once active blog for The Cimmerian magazine.
Anytime Tompk’s name pops up I usually think thoughts of mortality, because it was Tompkins who voiced the idea that Robert E. Howard fan and critical circles were bound to see a Great Extinction Event, where the huge numbers of people who came into play in the 1960s inevitably age out and fall by the wayside.
Not one or two every few years, but a sweeping of the windrows, a dozen, two or three dozen and more, within a few months!
And statistically I’m standing in that group, waiting to see How Many Go Before Me.
Tompk himself came in later than the herd we’re contemplating, and I’m not sure his early death could be considered as any kind of outlier. But the foretold Extinction Event has got to happen — there are a few specific fat guys in REH circles who have enormous rolls of lard on the backs of their necks, and no one’s betting on them beating the odds.
And by the way, The Cimmerian editor Leo Grin popped in a note that Stan Sargent sent him (Stan cracked the pages of TC with a poem back in the day) that has some interesting details about his 1979 sojourn in Iran:
When I was in Iran (3 months or so before the hostages were taken and the incident the film “Argo” is based on happened), most of the people didn’t care that I was American or [they] wanted to know if I had any disco records they could buy in secret. Heck, my friend and I even met Ayatollah Khomeini at his compound, and they all knew I was an American. But there were a few cities in which people would look at blue-eyed me too closely or ask if I was an American. At that point, I jabbered all the German I could remember from high school.