Two-Gun Bob: Portable Storage Four

But for being buried under the sprint to the finish on Haefele’s Lovecraft: The Great Tales the last few weeks or months, I would have mentioned the fact that Bill Breiding pubbed another ish of his new zine on August 17 — Portable Storage 4. The immediate highlight is the bright colorful robot cover by Brad Foster.

Mean Streets regulars may be interested to know that the arch book and pulp collector Kevin Cook appears with a letter. Kevin used to be a letterhack in Bill Bowers’ legendary — if you’ve heard of it — zine Outworlds. He’s giving it another run, as long as Bill can crank the old mimeograph aka POD format on Amazon. For this number I am featured with four small spot illos, not as interesting as the bit I did on David Mason in PS 2 or the start of my review of Donald Sidney-Fryer’s autobio in PS 3.

Bill asked if he could pick up some images from back in the day, the era circa 1974 into some point in the 80s when I was perhaps better known as a fan artist than as a purveyor of litcrit. He needed some pics to illustrate an article on Sword-and-Sorcery Cheryl Cline had sent in. He knew he could find something in old zines.

I said, sure, go ahead. Doing S&S-esque illos was one of my mainstays, that and Lovecraft-based sketches. I can’t recall the exact number offhand, but I did either the front covers or the back covers for something like five or six (or seven or eight) zines for the monumental thirteenth mailing of the Esoteric Order of Dagon amateur press association — by far the largest mailing that Lovecraftian apa had done, and for all I know still the largest. Did the cover for Dirk Mosig’s The Miskatonic. Number 13? A cover for Chris Sherman’s St. Toad’s Mutterings (no 4?) — and others. At that milestone in its early history, I was all over the EOD.

And what does Bill do except pull four random and not especially good illos to reprint!

I honestly thought he’d do better — after all, I did the quite good mock Frazetta cover for his brother Sutton Breiding’s zine Black Wolf (no. 10?). Lots of others. But since I didn’t have a moment to spare to dig in archives, I guess I can’t kick too hard.

However, I will pointedly gripe for a moment about the two illos on pages 90 and 91. Think they appeared in some long-ago Bill zine, where he got some fan artist pal of his (Vic Kostrikin?) to ink over my pencils. VK had that feathery touch which does nothing for me — looking at them again, it’s like unto seeing Vince Colletta inking Jack Kirby’s panels for Thor (but on a less cosmic scale). Jeez.

The Cheryl Cline article “The Road to Cimmeria” I found the most interesting piece in the ish. Most of the contents are about this or that, like picking up an issue of The Atlantic. Yeah, it might have something you’ll enjoy, but it’s a crap shoot. If you don’t have anything else to do, hey, read away. . . .

The Cline, though, is on a topic of interest to me. Enjoyable to read — if only current Robert E. Howard zines used material like this instead of the boring academic tripe they demand. Starts with how Cline in her 50s finally got around to reading the Conan stories, liked them, still kind of likes them (however politically incorrect it must be to like them). She mostly goes off into writers following REH, first Fritz Leiber with his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser saga, and from Fritz into Joanna Russ. Samuel Delaney (although her blurbage doesn’t make it sound as if Delaney is in any way actual S&S writing).

The section most S&S fans would like best is on Charles Saunders and his Imaro series. If you write pieces on S&S you need it to quote from. My favorite line: “The landscape of Imaro shimmers with weirdness like a heat-mirage.”

Since it carries a current PC orientation (thank god Saunders was black, so he made the cut), a couple of weak moments come up. She decides that Fritz hews “a bit too close to ethnic stereotypes (Mingols? Seriously?).” While the PC crowd should NOT be reading any of this material — they WILL find offense — I think that coinage is pretty cool myself, a mashup of Ming the Merciless with the Mongol Horde.

(I wonder what Attila the Hun would think about the term Mongol Horde? I saw the great exhibit on the Huns that came through a few years ago, and my distinct impression is that Attila wouldn’t have gasped and clutched his pearls.)

Also, Cline is way behind the times on understanding REH as a person, thinking reading the successors she mentions would have given him the “fantods.” Check out his two volume correspondence with Lovecraft to get deeper insight. One of the tragedies of this literature is that REH killed himself in 1936, just as Fritz Leiber was beginning to write — and that Lovecraft died early in 1937 after the briefest exchange of letters with Fritz. Just think of what they all might have done, bouncing off each others stories.

But she’s just getting in on the action, so she’s got time. This piece could even nab a reprint in some current REH zine, especially since (in longstanding zine fashion) the last few lines or paragraphs of Cline’s essay are dropped in layout.

And as for that whole using my old art thing — seen at the top is one of my illos of Fafhrd and the Mouser, a smaller re-do of a poster-sized image I gave to Fritz in the 70s, which was pinned to his wall for several years.

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