Two-Gun Bob: Once Again, Lovecraftians Beat Us to the Punch!

Might as well keep the cover images for recent magazine appearances for John D. Haefele rolling along.

Just put up the cover for the new issue of Firsts with his history and checklist of Arkham Ephemera: The Modern Years. And somewhat recently presented two of the three covers of recent Crypt of Cthulhu in which he dips his eldritch pen.

Here’s the other Crypt not yet spotlighted. Killing two birds with one stone with this one. Now the curious can gander the Haefele “trilogy” covers at their leisure, with a few moves of the mouse. But also check out the Grandma Moses-style artwork (it wraps around onto the rear cover, too) provided by Sam Gafford.

I don’t know, for some reason, I kind of like this cover. A primitive charm about it, harkening back to fanzine artwork I seem to recall from the mid-1970s, when I got into this scene. 

About the time Crypt 112 was released, Sam Gafford died. He was around in Lovecraft fandom for quite awhile, but for whatever reasons, I never had contact with him.

I was chatting with Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes about this and that, and Gafford’s death came up. Almost by osmosis we realized that the Lovecraftians were experiencing the Great Extinction Event that we’ve been watching and waiting for in Robert E. Howard fandom.

The Great Extinction Event in Howard Fandom has come up on the blog from time to time. The idea is simple enough: given that most of the famous scholars and critics and fanzine publishers who made their mark came on the scene from roughly the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies (and not much later), then there must come a year when they begin dropping like flies.

Just from the normal perils of aging, not counting by design or accident (although anyone who drops for any reason will be counted).

That calculation is the current version, but the idea really took off in more Apocalyptic fashion at the Howard Days in Cross Plains, Texas in the early 2000s when I went in as a Guest Speaker, and lots of the people we’re talking about showed up — and someone said, Man, what if a tornado rips through here and kills all of us?

A tornado had destroyed the house that once sat on the site where most Howard Days activities take place, so it’s not as preposterous a concept as you might think.

But to be a genuine Extinction Event, you need a lot of folk toppling by the wayside in short order, not just one guy here and another guy three or four years later. Kind of like the dinosaurs popped off. Here today, then BOOM.

And, yes, at least one guy I know has questioned the entire interest in tracking the Extinction Event, watching hawklike for the first to fall, as being more than a shade morbid.

Well, yeah. . . .

The entire genre Lovecraft wrote in crystallized when Edgar Allan Poe arrived on the scene, and Poe also influenced REH, and mystery fiction — the literature of homicide — kicked off with Poe.

If you want to track down one morbid dude, then I suggest starting with Poe. Burials and torture. Premature burials and torture!

If we’re being a trifle morbid, it’s only because we’re true fans of the genre. We know our roots, and dig them — out of the moldering corpse, entwined, they caress. 

With the death of Sam Gafford, we did a quick tally of croaking Lovecraftians. An outlier a couple years back would have been the death of John J. Koblas, a.k.a. Count Koblas — big pal of mine when I lived in St. Paul, Minnesota and the de facto leader of the local Lovecraft fans, which included Dave Schultz and Eric Carlson (Eric, alas, died much too soon, around forty years ago).

And Stan Sargent, author of The Taint of Lovecraft.

And Wilum Pugmire.

And I heard that Edward P. Berglund also died recently — compiler of A Reader’s Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos. I met Berglund back circa 1974 and 75, nice guy — thing I recall most vividly is that he did not pronounce Mythos as Myth-THOS. He spoke about it, enthusiastically, as the MY-thos.

Maybe others have bowed before the Red Death, as well. But I think the Lovecraftians have racked up enough mortalities to say they are well into their own Great Extinction Event, while the Robert E. Howard fans, well, we hover on the inevitable brink.

As for them beating us to the punch on Extinction being the second thing they’ve been ahead on, in The Dark Barbarian That Towers Over All I sketch in how they were the first group to dispute L. Sprague de Camp, when he was laying down a heavy hand telling everyone how HPL and REH were just sort of minor writers, having fun. In 1975 and 1976.

Without looking it up, I believe my wording ran: led by Dirk Mosig, a pack of savage Lovecraftians attacked de Camp. . . .

Something like that. Mosig was the major figure in the emerging group of modern HPL scholars. They got their claws on de Camp just ahead of me.

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