Rediscovered: REH and HPL Dip Tentative Toes into Newsprint

“I’ve been aware of your blog for years,” Bill Mullins told me in a recent note, “but have recently started reading it more closely via being acquainted with Terry Zobeck.”

Bill’s one of those guys jumping into the quest for material lost in the rotting newspapers of yesteryear, and already he’s unearthed a previously unknown Hammett article.

And Bill’s even called me out for a technical error!

“You recently said — in your Rediscovered: ERB in the Papers, Too post on December 20 — ‘Too bad figures such as H. P. Lovecraft or Robert E. Howard never got in on the newsprint.'”

Now, in my defense, in context I thought it was clear enough that I was talking about writers such as Hammett who had tons of his Op yarns reprinted in paper after paper all over the world — or authors such as Edgar Rice Burroughs or Louis Tracy who got entire novels recycled for the entertainment of the newspaper reading public.

But a quibble is a quibble, and technical accuracy isn’t something to be ignored casually.

“This isn’t quite true,” Bill reports. “Robert E. Howard’s story ‘The Ghost of Camp Colorado’ appears in the Coleman TX Democrat-Voice​ of 9/27/1934.

“And comparing the newspaper version to the online version shows some minor textual differences. The newspaper version makes reference in the first line and elsewhere to Jim Ned creek, while the online version says Jim Ned River. And while the newspaper version reads ‘From Camp Colorado went Major Van Dorn,’ the online version reads ‘And from Camp Colorado went General James P. Major with the force under Van Dorn.’ Further differences can be found, and I am not enough of a scholar of Howard material to guess which version should be considered canonical.”

Bill also cites the fact that REH’s high school essay  “What the Nation Owes the South” made The Brownwood Bulletin, 5/26/1923 — and that several pieces appeared in his college paper, the Howard Payne Yellow Jacket.

My reply was that the Yellow Jacket wasn’t exactly the Detroit Free Press. If you know what I mean.

The Howard Studies guys have had this material under the microscope for a long while, but it never hurts to have fresh eyes on something.

I found Bill’s delving into Lovecraft more on point — poignantly so. Bill reports, “I’ve also found numerous articles on astronomy, poetry, and a letter to the editor by him in newspapers” — much of the poetry being part of the Fungi from Yuggoth sequence that he sold to the Providence paper. One of the many (many) excellent moments in John D. Haefele’s Lovecraft: The Great Tales as he follows the Fungi.

The only HPL story in newsprint Bill has found (so far): “The Music of Erich Zann” (1922) which shows up in the London Evening Standard, 10/24/1932.  “The story is behind a paywall,” Bill tells me, but other than looking at it, who hasn’t read this standard?

But that’s what I’m talking about — part of HPL’s early recognition in England, much faster than in the States. If only he had gotten a reprint roll going in the UK papers even vaguely similar to Hammett’s run with the Ops, how different might Lovecraft’s life story have turned out to be.

Still, it’s hard to imagine some guy opening his paper over the morning spotted dick and encountering “The Call of Cthulhu”. . . .

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