I’m going to be leaving on a jet plane very early Thursday and will be getting home late Sunday. I probably won’t get to post again or check other folks’ posts until the following Monday. I’ll be in Cross Plains, Texas for the annual Robert E. Howard Days celebration and a meeting with some of my friends from REHupa, the Robert E. Howard United Press Association. That’s a fancy name for a group of amateur ziners who put together a private publication on Howard every two months.
Cross Plains is very small and I’ll be very busy so I doubt I’ll even have a moment to check email. That is assuming I could find a computer available there that was running internet. But I wish everyone in the blogosphere well while I’m absent. I’m sure the internet won’t come to a standstill, and I promise to catch up on everyone’s blogs when I return.
Today is a rather special day for those who remember Robert E. Howard. June 11 is the day that he killed himself. It was back in 1936, a Thursday morning in that year, and he’d just been told that his mother, who was in a coma and dying, was not likely to regain consciousness. Robert went out to his car, in the driveway of the small house in Cross Plains where I’ll be standing in about a day, and shot himself once in the head. He actually didn’t die until hours later, but he never regained consciousness either. His mother, Hester, died the next day and the two were buried at the same time on June 14. His father lived on for quite a few more years, and I always think of him around this time of year as well. Imagine losing your wife to illness and your son to suicide at virtually the same moment.
Robert E. Howard was gifted with a tremendous imagination, but it was hard work that made him a successful author. Not many of the pulp writers of the 1920s and 30s are remembered today. But Howard is far more famous and well known now than he was then. He, along with J.R.R. Tolkien and Edgar Rice Burroughs, transformed the landscape of fantasy. They built what is today my favorite genre.
I mentioned the other day that there are differences between storytellers and writers but that some people combine the two abilities. Of the three, REH, ERB, Tolkien, I believe that Howard combined the two skills the best. Here’s to him.