DEUCE RICHARDSON (pictured here at KU’s legendary “Day on the Hill” festival) read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar at the age of eight. A Fighting Man of Mars followed soon after. Primed by the feral savagery of Lord Greystoke and the bloody swordplay of Barsoom, having his sainted grandmother buy him Conan the Barbarian #38 was the logical next step. From there, it was on to the Glenn Lord-edited The Book of Robert E. Howard — Howard’s historical/boxing/fantasy/western/weird menace fiction contained therein (along with REH’s immortal poetry) permanently warped young Deuce’s mind. A Gnome Press edition of Conan the Conqueror (from the Parsons Public Library) came next, along with the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien as well as anything else worth reading. Football, streetfights, rock ‘n’ roll guitar, college and a trip to the British Isles were subsequent.
In May of 2007, Deuce became a moderator on the Official Robert E. Howard Forum, and in June gave a presentation delving into Robert E. Howard’s Thurian Age at Howard Days in Cross Plains. He also contributed to 2008′s Les nombreuses vies de Conan, a book edited by Simon Sanahujas which examined the pop cultural impact of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian. Deuce Richardson resides in Pittsburg, Kansas.
Massachusetts resident BRIAN MURPHY discovered Robert E. Howard as a youth via a treasure trove of Savage Sword of Conans found in a used bookstore. Since then, he’s become a keen fan of the Texan’s writings, and his essay “The Unnatural City” was published in TC V5n2 (April 2008). He also counts J.R.R. Tolkien, Poul Anderson, and Bernard Cornwell among his favorite authors. Married with two young daughters, his hobbies include Heavy Metal, Dungeons & Dragons, and horror films, and he blogs regularly about these and many other subjects at The Silver Key.
Posing above at the historical Tower Hill overlooking the River Clyde, AL HARRON was born in Greenock, Scotland in 1984, and currently resides in Gourock. Since reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as a boy, he has been fascinated by all varieties of adventure fiction: Dumas, Stevenson, Burroughs, Haggard, Conan Doyle, Merritt and others. Although he’s read the giants of fantasy fiction, he was not impressed by the glut of post-Tolkien fantasy door stoppers, and did not seek to more fully explore the genre — until he rediscovered Robert E. Howard.
His first REH experience was the novel Almuric, read as a boy, but it was not until Gollancz’s Conan Chronicles were released at the turn of the century that he began seeking out as much of the Texan bard’s writings as he could. In addition to learning more about his fiction and life, he hopes to use his Higher National Diploma in Illustration and his Honours Degree in Computer Animation to increase Howard’s presence in those realms. Al’s art and writing (under the screen name “Taranaich”) can be found both at the forum for Conan: Total War (a modification for Medieval 2: Total War), and at the Conan.com forums.
BARBARA BARRETT has been an enthusiastic Robert E. Howard fan since 2006 when she saw The Whole Wide World. Starting with Solomon Kane, King Kull and the Conan books, and then reading everything by REH she could buy, she discovered REH’s extraordinary ability with words, images and strongly written characters.Eventually Barbara found her way from Howard’s poetic prose to his poetry, and subsequently compiled and edited The Wordbook: An Index Guide to the Poetry of Robert E. Howard. At Howard Days 2009 she served on two of the REH poetry themed panels. In addition she authored “Six Degrees to Cross Plains,” an article which appeared in the June 2008 issue of The Cimmerian. Barbara is a member of The Robert E. Howard United Press Association and also posts the “Word of the Week” blog here on The Cimmerian website.
Now retired, Barbara lives in Northern California. She enjoys writing and spends her spare time working on various poetry, fiction and nonfiction projects. Her hobbies are learning to play the piano, listening to classic rock music, dancing and fun philosophical discussions. She loves to read and is intrigued by any book with a “what if” theme.
JEFFREY SHANKS was first exposed to REH at the tender age of six with the Crawler in the Mists Conan comic and record. That soon led to the regular comic books, the Savage Sword of Conan magazine and ultimately the Ace paperbacks. As a freshman in college he discovered Howard’s non-Conan works through the Donald Grant editions, all of which were available in the university library. His interest in Howard was rekindled a few years back, with the publishing of the Wandering Star/Del Rey editions and the Dark Horse comic series. An avid collector of golden age comic books, pulps, and first editions, he maintains a primary focus on material by Howard, Burroughs, Lovecraft and other pulp writers. He is currently the Vice President of the Comic Book Collecting Association (CBCA).
With degrees in classics and archaeology, Jeff has a keen interest in history and ancient cultures. He has taught college courses on mythology, Greek and Latin, and archaeology, and has worked in Italy, Greece and Ukraine, excavating a Roman villa, an Etruscan shrine, and even a Hyrkan… er… Scythian tomb mound. Currently Jeff is an archaeologist for the National Park Service based out of Tallahassee, Florida, and works on sites around the southeastern United States and Caribbean.
At the age of thirteen, MIGUEL MARTINS had already read the entire Foundation series from Asimov, as well as books from Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson. His interest in fantasy and Sword-and-Sorcery fiction dates from 1986 when, shortly after seeing Milius’ Conan the Barbarian, he stumbled upon the tome Conan le Conquérant at the public library of Dugny. The tasteful municipal book lover who took care of the place had put a dozen Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith NéO books — the greatest REH publisher the world has ever known — on the shelves. Miguel eagerly read them in a short span of time.
J.R.R. Tolkien was next, including The Silmarillion at the age of fourteen. After that, he discovered Fritz Leiber, Moorcock and the (decidedly less literary) Ian Livingstone/Steve Jackson Fighting Fantasy gamebook series. Besides fantasy, he kept reading SF giants like Bradbury and H. G. Wells. Books, role-playing games, Heavy Metal, the cinema and (most of all) an undying curiosity for history are his great passions.
Born in the City of Light in 1973, Martins was raised in its northeastern suburbs, where he stills resides. After university studies at Villetaneuse and La Sorbonne funded by a variety of odd and sometimes perilous jobs, he worked as a proofreader for a print journal and later taught History and French. He is now an employee of the Paris Municipality.
A frequent contributor to the French-speaking fan site Les Chroniques Némédiennes, Miguel was also one of the authors who contributed to Simon Sanahujas’ book, Les Nombreuses Vies de Conan In October 2009, he was appointed as a moderator on the Official REH Forum. Miguel would like to beg the gentle Cimmerian readers to forgive him for his (hopefully charming, albeit imperfect) English.
WILLIAM PATRICK MAYNARD was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. His passion for writing began in childhood and was fueled by an early love of thriller and fantasy fiction, from Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. This longtime hobby finally paid off when The Literary Estate of Sax Rohmer selected him as the second writer in fifty years to pen an authorized Fu Manchu thriller. Pulp-specialty publisher Black Coat Press published Maynard’s first book, The Terror of Fu Manchu in April 2009 to widespread praise.
He is currently at work on his first collection of short fiction, The Occult Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, in addition to an original detective novel. Seti Says, Maynard’s blog dedicated to pulp fiction, film, television, and radio, premiered in January 2010.
Born not on a battlefield but in the suburbs of Los Angeles, JIM CORNELIUS grew up dreaming of distant frontiers from old Kentucky to the forests of the Pictish Wilderness and the borders of Gondor. His older brother left his Conan books lying around where an impressionable youth could find them, and Howard’s tales went to his head like strong wine.
Graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Jim received honors in History even though he primarily focused on a self-directed course in woods running. He now resides in Sisters, Oregon, where he makes his living with his pen, a career sparked by admiration for the searing, slashing prose of Robert E. Howard. A musician and a songwriter, he also remains a woods runner dreaming of distant frontiers.
Tasmanian KEITH TAYLOR entered the world the day after Christmas, 1946, and as a kid was addicted to Uncle Scrooge, Classics Illustrated (anybody remember those in the modern world?) Kid Colt, Outlaw (the original, tougher, grimmer, stories, which REH might well have approved) and various other comics, as well as science fiction, historical novels, and action adventure in general so long as it was fast moving and well written.
Growing up close to the bush at the base of Mount Wellington was fine with Keith. He experienced both floods and fire, on occasion, which Taylor and his sisters thought was terrific fun, and got them off school for a day or so, too. The uptight grown-ups weren’t so amused.
Taylor discovered REH and Leigh Brackett at the same time, when he was fourteen, in the old Ace Double that had Conan the Conqueror and The Sword of Rhiannon back-to-back. After that there was no possible escape. Interest in the early Dark Ages was fired by the superb Prince Valiant comic strip and Edison Marshall’s The Pagan King, along with non-fiction like the Penguin Atlas of Medieval History.
He started writing his own stories at the age of nine and couldn’t stop. At eighteen he joined the Australian army and ended up in the Medical Corps in Vietnam. Quite undistinguished in any military sense. At twenty-four he was a civilian again and resumed writing. At last he was published with his early Felimid the Bard stories in Ted White’s Fantastic, got lucky with a couple of Cormac Mac Art collaborations with andrew j. offutt, and produced a few Felimid novels and the Danans series. Taylor’s “Where Silence Rules,” a fantasy set in the Hebrides, won the Ditmar (Best Short Australasian Science Fiction or Fantasy Award) for 1982. It was originally published in the anthology Distant Worlds (1981), edited by Paul Collins of Melbourne — publisher, promoter and all-round energetic bloke. His novel Bard was nominated for the best long fiction Ditmar in 1982, as was The Sorcerers’ Sacred Isle in 1990.
Throughout the 1990s and on into the 2000s, Keith kept his hand in the writing game, having several pieces of Arthurian fantasy published, as well as more than a few tales of Ancient Egypt featuring his “Kamose the Magician” protagonist. Starting in 2003, Taylor suffered a prolonged and serious illness. Feeling much better now, he’s eager to start writing fiction again. As a writer who was largely inspired and delighted by Robert E. Howard, he considers that The Cimmerian is the kind of website for which there’s a real need.
Requiescat in Pace
Our late, lamented friend STEVE TOMPKINS (1960–2009) — pictured here atop Switzerland’s Piz Gloria, Blofeld’s Alpine fortress from the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — was the heart and soul of The Cimmerian‘s blog from its inception to his untimely death on March 23, 2009. He was the editor of the Robert E. Howard anthology The Black Stranger and Other American Tales (University of Nebraska Press, 2005), and contributed the introduction to Kull: Exile of Atlantis (Del Rey, 2006), as well as the accompanying essay for the highly collectible The Black Stranger original manuscript facsimile (Wandering Star, 2002). A lengthy critical statement, “Barbarian at the Pantheon Gates,” appeared as an appendix to The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 2: Grim Lands (Del Rey, 2007).
A 1995-2007 member of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association, Tompkins had written about REH for The Cimmerian print journal, Don Herron’s The Barbaric Triumph, Jim Keegan’s The Illustrated World of Robert E. Howard, REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, and The Robert E. Howard Companion. Raised in Connecticut, Tompkins spent two semesters in the old university city of Freiburg-im-Breisgau. Since 1990 he had lived in Brooklyn.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Steve was likely the single most well-read individual in all of fantasy fandom. Over the last decade, and particularly since this blog’s inception, he had also grown into one of the field’s most perceptive, unique, and delightful critics. He used to joke that in his spare time he could be found brooding about things like the fact that Tolkien never wrote any more of “Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin” than the pages we have in Unfinished Tales. He also re-read the Iliad every couple of years, hoping against hope that this time Hector would succeed in burning all of the black ships and driving the Achaeans into the wine-dark sea so that Priam’s proud citadel could survive. Steve’s death at only 48 years of age forms the worst blow to Robert E. Howard scholarship in many a year, and he is sorely missed by his legions of friends and admirers throughout the fantasy arena.
All of Steve’s archived posts can be easily accessed here.
From 2004-2008, LEO GRIN was editor of The Cimmerian, a popular literary journal about Robert E. Howard that was twice nominated for a World Fantasy Award. In 2005 he created The Cimmerian Blog as an adjunct to the print journal, and upon completion of the journal’s run in December 2008 gathered together some new writers to keep the blog going in a post-TC world.
Grin’s centennial overview “The Everlasting Barbarian: Robert E. Howard at 100 Years” appeared in Weird Tales magazine in August of 2006. Another essay on REH titled “The Reign of Blood” can be found in The Barbaric Triumph (Wildside Press, 2004). A former member of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association, in 2006 Leo completed an ambitious digital archive of that organization’s thirty-four-year publishing history — all 30,000+ pages of it. In 2002 he had the good fortune to purchase one of the only surviving copies of Howard’s first book, the ultra-rare A Gent From Bear Creek (Herbert Jenkins, 1937). The tome was promptly donated to the Robert E. Howard Museum in Howard’s hometown of Cross Plains, Texas.
Born in Chicago and raised in Indiana, since 1996 Grin has called Los Angeles, California home.