Remember a while back I talked about how great Don Herron was, how I felt his work was fantastic, and that it was a major influence on my paddling into the deeper waters of Howardom? And I even made a little Where on Earth is Don Herron cartoon, to complement Damon Sasser's Where in the World is Don Herron?* Well, I don't know how I didn't notice this the first time around, but the man himself formed a response. I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it.
“Where on Earth is Don Herron?” asked Al Harron (no relation, or none that I know of — I have been remiss in my geneaological studies the last few years) on his blog just last month.
I don't think so sir, we pronounce and spell our names differently. Sorry, tangent. Anyway...
Damon dealt with my physical whereabouts and activities, but Al was more concerned with seeing — or not seeing —my name specifically in connection with Robert E. Howard Studies. Yeah, What Have You Done for Me Lately? I get it.
The way I look at it, if I never do another word about the creator of Conan, my rep in that arena is secure. The Dark Barbarian. The Barbaric Triumph. “Conan vs. Conantics.” To name only a few. Maybe Al is experiencing withdrawal symptoms after the excellent REH magazine The Cimmerian closed up shop — I appeared in those pages almost every issue.
"I get it?" Well that makes one of us... If I gave any impression that I was resentful or even vaguely irritated by the lack of new Don Herron material, then I apologise, because it was surely not my intent. I just think it would be, you know, cool to see him back, like how I think it would be cool to see Leo and others back. They don't have to come back, and I don't feel they have some sort of obligation to Howardom. It would just be cool.
At the moment, you don’t see any activity in Howard studies equal to the run of The Cimmerian, but for what action there is I think I’m keeping my gunhand in. Last summer I did a review (a pretty funny review) for Damon’s annual issue of Two-Gun Raconteur, and have another long review (also funny) coming up this summer. I’ve got two pieces being prepped for a couple of other Howard-related projects. And if I am not recognised enough for all the work I do on the side with advice and so on, let me at least inform Al that last year I made no less than two excursions up to Sacramento to drink Jack Daniels with J. Dan Price, the only begotten son of pulp great E. Hoffmann Price, because Rob Roehm wanted to get permission to use some of Ed Price’s letters in a volume he is working on about Doc Howard.
Cool. I'm really glad to know that. Even though I'm only discovering it 10 months later due to me being, shall we say, extremely inconsistent in my thoroughness.
And I don’t know how a Robert E. Howard fan could miss them, but I also stepped in to introduce the two volumes of Two-Gun’s pulp detective and weird menace tales just published by The Robert E. Howard Foundation. My copies rolled in a couple of days ago. 150 copy print runs for each, sold out by publication, but second printings are in the pipeline. I toss in some nice remarks about Hammett, track down an influence that got me on the road to writing books-about-books — my usual. And the intros are in hardcover editions of Robert E. Howard.Hey, I never claimed to be a gumshoe, mack! I have a hard enough time with Cluedo and choose-your-own-adventure books!
Honest, I don’t think my presence is that hard to detect in Howard studies, if you’ve got any detective skills at all.
Don has a point, though: how did I miss his presence in Steve Harrison's Casebook and Weird Menace? Mostly because I don't have them. I'd like to think I'm a Robert E. Howard fan, certainly, but there are various factors that are too preposterous and silly to recount in detail, mostly financial and quite a few technological, which mean that I haven't bought an awful lot from the Foundation. Most of my purchases have been in person, where I physically handed over currency and bundled the books into my suitcase. Combined with not exactly having a disposable budget, I simply don't have enough money to splash out on even fairly affordable hardbacks like those, especially when shipping costs come into play.
For this reason, I actively shied away from reading much about those two volumes after the initial announcement specifically because I didn't want to torment myself more. I'd already torn my heart out on missing Collected Poetry due to my monetary and mechanical gremlins, and I really didn't want to torture myself over being unable to read the restored(ish) version of "Black John's Vengeance." All I knew at the time, and for quite a long time after that, was the story contents, and that's all I was willing to know at that point.
However, I did learn later, probably in the lead up to Howard Days, about Don's introductions - and at Howard Days, I found his contribution to Dreams in the Fire. I was pleasantly surprised to see his name, and frankly, it was as if he never left. Mostly because, as he stated above, he never really did. But even with my absent-mindedness, it was nice to see his name in print hot off the press, however late I was in recognizing it. Again, better late than never.
And do you know what? It was cool.
*If you don't get it, I equated Damon's original post Where in the World is Don Herron with Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego: naturally, I felt compelled to make my own version, by utilizing the Saturday morning cartoon spinoff Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego as inspiration for my own spinoff. Not to mention the logo. So any connection to Damon's post is completely intentional.