Two-Gun Bob: And Race

“Mr. Howard usually approaches his stories from the racial standpoint, if you may call it that. That is, human races, and especially those of long ago.”

Yeah, the great tribal drifts, the sort of thing I got into in my essay “The Dark Barbarian” back in 1984 — but the quote is attributed to the column Under the Reading Lamp from The Republican of Palouse, Washington for April 8, 1935. Which I know about this morning because Brian Leno found it all quoted in The Democrat-Voice of Coleman, Texas for April 25, 1935.

Really sharp spot appraisal of Robert E. Howard — only too bad the Lamp writer wasn’t around to contribute to my Howard anthologies.

And as you may surmise, Brian Leno continues to dig around in newsprint archives as he researches his book on the boxing world of REH. He’s keeping most of the cool boxing info reserved for his own pages, but other tidbits he’s tossing toward the Mean Streets, making it the most happening Robert E. Howard site of the moment.

I’m sure Brian’s revelations won’t get any mention in next year’s REH Foundation Awards (a jealous, petty lot), but once his boxing book appears I don’t see how they can possibly manage to ignore it.

Plus Brian popped in a link to The Democrat-Voice for Thursday June  18, 1936 — a week after REH’s suicide — which is worth looking over. Nuggets of info such as that news of the former Burkett resident’s final act spread, relayed by telephone message. I guess if it wasn’t news, no one would have been on the horn, and the newspapers wouldn’t have picked it up across the state.

Another line reports the info that REH “lingered eight hours” — the commonly understood time frame — and that “a British publisher recently sought to purchase his entire output.”

Who knows if the British reportage may have been as strong as hinted, or if it was just based on REH’s appearances in British anthologies and the fact that he wrote his only Conan novel, The Hour of the Dragon, for an English publisher (who went bankrupt) — or that Herbert Jenkins of London had what would be Howard’s first book, A Gent from Bear Creek, in their sites.

Someone could have made too much of too little, but you have to think, if one publisher had gone for the whole enchilada, how that might have blown REH up — and all things being equal, what the publisher might have raked in.

One might even think that such a deal could have derailed Howard from putting the gun to his head — but as I’ve said elsewhere, when he killed himself he had a sympathetic publisher at Action Stories who would have taken most of what he could write, plus three comedy-western series going simultaneously, and more, and all that didn’t stop him.

Some commentators suggest that my critical stance of seeing “the dark barbarian” in Howard’s writings is somehow wrong, that “dark” is just, well, too dark, when you can find glimmers of the happy and bright. (Gee, guys, Conan wore a bright neckerchief in that pirate story! — man, Pollyanna-ish inbreeding run amuck.)

To which I say, sure, ignore the bulk of his writings and the fact that he killed himself at age 30.

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