Rediscovered: Kent Harrington, Have Squiggle — Will Inscribe

Strap in!

Autograph Hound Saturday kicks off a weekend long rumination on the topic of nigh indecipherable signatures, by no less a collector than Kevin Cook. Now, don’t take the first thoughts on the subject as the Be All End All.

No, sir or madam. Kevin gnaws on this bone like the autograph hound he is, digging for the marrow.

As he’ll tell you, Kevin has selected a Kent Harrington inscription done at NoirCon in 2008 to kick it off. I actually met Kevin for the first time at that convention in Philly.

And I’ve known Kent for years, too. I told him that his holograph was going to be put under the microscope, as some of the worst handwriting around.

Kent said, “I’ll try to do better in the future.”

And here’s Kevin Cook:

The awkward James Ellroy signatures remind me of the sloppiest autographed book that I own: The Good Physician by Kent Harrington, signed at the Noircon in Philadelphia.

I do not know how Dennis McMillan set up his signing procedure in normal circumstances, but that time you plunked down your $35.00 and stood in line for Kent to sign the book. Looking at it now I am not even sure what he wrote!

Kent never had the neatest handwriting anyway, but the ones on the other Dennis McMillan editions are much neater than the one I got in person. I don’t mind really, as it was nice to have that one opportunity to talk with Kent.

But now that I inspect the book more closely I think that I understand why he signed twice. All the copies were probably already signed as Kent Harrington and then he added the “For Kevin Best Kent” to the book when I was speaking with him.

That makes more sense than him signing it twice while I was right in front of him.

Kent probably had not signed for a line of people with his other books from Dennis, so the different circumstances could explain the “sloppier” than usual signatures.

For comparison, I am also sending two other Kent Harrington signatures, one from Dark Ride, his first novel from 1996, and one from another McMillan release, The Tattooed Muse; none are actually that clear.

If he had just signed a piece of paper like Arthur O. Friel you would have a tough time trying to figure out whose signature it was.

I really like Kent Harrington’s books, especially The American Boys and Red Jungle. I have read them all (or at least those available in the English language!) from Dark Ride up through last year’s Last Ferry Home —  Ferry is my only unsigned Harrington book. 

If I ever run into Kent again I will have to get it signed.

That was one of the great things about the Dennis McMillan publications: almost every book is signed, and in the case of a deceased author the person who wrote the Introduction signed. (The cool one there is the Leigh Brackett book signed by Michael Connolly and Ray Bradbury, who wrote the Intro and Afterword.)

Unlike my McMillan editions the new books I have bought by that crew of writers — Kent, Bob Truluck, Lono Waiwaiole and Kent Anderson — are all still unsigned.

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