Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Howard Days 2014 was Howard-tastic!

Robert E. Howard Days 2014 was so great I barely know where to begin in telling you about it! As I've finally recovered from two days driving home and another of unpacking loot, let's give it a try. More than one post will be needed, especially going through hundreds of photos!

Both Friday and Saturday featured some of the best weather ever seen for Howard Days. The upper 80's in mid-June in west Texas is about as good as it gets. Blue skies and lots of wind really kept us comfortable.

Project Pride, Cross Plains' wonderful civic organization, had everything ready for Howard fans. Fine hospitality is a watchword from these great folks and they welcomed Howard Fans from all over the world with open arms. This year featured guests from all over the U.S. plus fans from France, Germany, Scotland and Japan. REH is truly world-wide! Attendance seemed to be up a little from previous years. (I'll let you know some figures when I get them.)

The Robert E. Howard Museum was certainly all slicked up to receive guests! Thanks to the generosity of Howard fans earlier this year, some window and plumbing issues were repaired and a coat of gleaming white paint had been applied. The Museum looked fantastic!

House tours were conducted, the Gift Shop was soon depleted (almost), the Bus was filled and the Postal Cancellation was as popular as ever! The panels went off without a hitch and were extremely well attended (my un-official average was 45 per!) Plus, the panelists were all top-notch and their presentations were wonderfully interesting. The Friday night Banquet was again filled to capacity and the Silent Auction raised over $1,500 for Project Pride's maintenance of the REH Museum!

Patrice Louinet was a wonderful and witty Guest of Honor and amused the Banquet crowd with anecdotes of his Howard career and stories of a Frenchman in America. Tom Gianni as our Special Guest was honored to receive the Rankin Award for artistic achievement and gave a nice presentation of his working methods. The rest of the Featured Attendees were on their best behavior and hardly any gun or knife fights broke out at this Howard Days! (Y'all know I'm joking about that, right?)

The Saturday night Barbeque out the Caddo Peak Ranch was as delicious as ever, but also bittersweet, seeing as how it signals the end to Howard Days.

But the fellowship and friendship of the entire weekend was what shone like the sun in the Texas sky. New friends were made, old friendships continued and everyone came away with that warm feeling you get from seeing everyone at a family reunion. A year will go by quickly and we'll be in Cross Plains again. For now however, the glowing memories of Howard Days 2014 will carry us through. Happy trails, y'all!

Monday, June 9, 2014

REH Days Overview Part 10 - Checklist

We're saddling up and getting the wagons ready for the trek to Cross Plains, so here's a checklist for us to go over once we get to Howard Days. Everything on here is easy enough to do...well, with the exception of that last one.

Hope y'all have safe travels! We might be off the grid for a day or two but we'll try to get back on the air soon. Hopefully we can do some updates from Howard Days, but we are going to be a little busy!

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

REH Days Overview Part 9 - Guests Galore!

One of the metaphorical phrases I like to use when celebrating something connected with Robert E. Howard is "Blaze your pistolas and brandish your Bowies!" It would serve very well if you would all do so (metaphorically speaking, of course) regarding the Featured Guests and Attendees that you see here!

Patrice Louinet is our 2014 Guest of Honor and we are honored that he could come in from France this year. (We've been trying to get him for awhile now). In addition to being one of the biggest Robert E. Howard scholars in the world, he is one of the nicest guys you'll want to meet - we're glad that you'll be able to do so this year! I just have to figure out a way to get some Chicago-style pizza to him in Cross Plains!

Tom Gianni is our Special Guest - his cover paintings for Western Tales. Pirate Adventures and the four volume Fists of Iron Boxing stories (all from the REHF Press) capture the spirit of Howard's words so perfectly! Tom has been nominated for the REHF Rankin Award for Artistic Achievement, so fingers crossed for him! (Hmmm...Tom is from Chicago, so maybe he can bring that pizza...)

The 16 other folks shown on this poster (thanks, Jeff Shanks!) add up to several hundred years worth of involvement with Howard Fandom, but the older I get the less I feel like adding that up! Suffice to say this is one of the most erudite, eclectic groups that you'll ever meet in any walk of life. I'm proud to call them all my friends and it just goes to show you the far-reaching impact that Robert E. Howard has had on all of us here!

They'll each be wearing a special name badge at Howard Days and are ready, willing and able to engage in the wonderful Howard Fellowship we all will embrace in Cross Plains this week on June 13th & 14th.

Hope to see you there! In the words of the late Billie Ruth Loving, one of the founders of Howard Days,"Y'all come!"

Featured Attendee - BEN FRIBERG

Videographer Ben Friberg first discovered Howard's amazing work not long after college when he found the Baen edition of Solomon Kane at an Abilene bookstore and the rest was downhill from there. He attended his first Howard Days in 2005 and has been an attendee at every Howard Days since. After trying his hand at gathering material for a Howard Days documentary, he decided he could best serve Howard Fandom by recording all the panels presented over the two day event and posting them for free on Youtube. For the past few years he's been honored to be the unofficial Howard Days videographer, doing his best to make sure that each Howard Days is saved for future generations of Howard Fandom. In recognition of this work he has been nominated for the 2014 Black River award for outstanding achievement by the Robert E. howard Foundation

Just this year he also became a member of REHupa and is looking forward to exploring the brave new world of fanzines. If you see him at Howard days, you will probably have to say hello to him first, as he's kinda shy -- he's the big guy with the huge sombrero he wears to keep off the brutal Texas summer sun.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

REH Days Overview Part 8 - The Pavilion

In 1994 a small tornado hit the town of Cross Plains. Because of the damage it caused to the roof of the Howard House, Howard Days was cancelled for that year. The storm also destroyed the Butler house located next door to the Howard place and because of that, Project Pride wisely decided to erect an outdoor pavilion in its place.

The Alla Ray Morris Pavilion, named for the one-time owners of the REH literary estate, is an open-air, roof-covered concrete slab adjacent to the Robert E. Howard Museum. During the second weekend in June, it is Howard Days Central.

The Pavilion is the gathering place for all who come to Robert E. Howard Days. It will be open and available most of the day on Thursday and 24 hours Friday and Saturday. As you can see, tables and chairs are set up for all visitors to relax, converse with old and new friends and simply share in the fellowship of the like-minded souls who come to Howard Days to honor the Legacy of Bob Howard. There are restrooms too, along with a small kitchen and the grounds surrounding the Pavilion are nicely shaded for relaxing or a picnic lunch.

Project Pride also sets up a large cooler here, from which you may enjoy a cold bottle of water or can of pop. This is provided for any and all comers at no cost (but the Donation Jar is available - how's that for a not-so-subtle hint?) The Friday Luncheon also takes place here and again, cook-out hot dogs & hamburgers, chips & cookies are provided at no cost. (Another parentheses caveat: if you have paid the pre-registration fee, please enjoy a free lunch - who said "there ain't no such thing?" But, if you haven't done the pre-reg, a donation would be most appreciated!)

The Friday morning Bus Tour begins here - it starts at 9 am sharp, so plan on being at the Pavilion a little early. The final panel on Saturday is also held here. The Swap Meet takes place here also - you are invited to please take a little bit of space and display any Robert E. Howard type items. The only payment we ask for the space is a 10% of what you sell donation to Project Pride. The Robert E. Howard Foundation Press will also have their REH books for sale here in the Pavilion and I'm sure Featured Guest Tom Gianni will be happy to sign the books he's done cover paintings for!

So, if you have any questions during your visit to Howard Days, most certainly there will be someone in the Pavilion to help answer them. Without a doubt it is the friendliest spot at Howard Days. Hope to see you at the Pavilion!

The photo above shows the ample parking on the west side of the lot and there is also parking on the east side street.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Full Moon and Porch Light Poetry

On June 13th, the first day of REH Days, Mother Nature has seen fit to grace us with a full moon. Now, if we follow along that this is FRIDAY the 13th, the moon is FULL and that Bob Howard wrote for a magazine with WEIRD in its title - well, this may be an evening of cosmic proportions!

What better way to celebrate it than to read aloud some of Howard's fabulous poetry? While reading it by the light of a full moon hasn't really been tried (although this may be the year!) we do like to honor the magical words of REH by reading his poetry from the same place where it was written. We know that Bob liked to speak his stories aloud as he wrote them - he most certainly did the same with his poetry. If you've ever read any of his poetry, you know that it just screams to be read aloud. So, we do. And with the exception of Tim Arney here, we don't do any screaming.

Porch Light Poetry takes place after the Banquet is over and folks have come back to the Pavilion to relax and converse among new and old friends. It's a very extemporaneous event and if you feel like reading Howard Poetry aloud from the front porch of the house where it was written, please do so! It's a nice enhancement for the Howard Days Experience, even if you just sit and listen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

REH Days Overview Part 7 - Saturday Afternoon & Evening

Only one week to go until Howard Days! Here's a look at the Saturday afternoon & evening activities in some detail.

Like we were saying, you'll be on your own for lunch on Saturday. With the great restaurants in Cross Plains and the Barbarian Festival serving up some good ol' Fair Grub, you won't go hungry!

2 pm Panel - Fists of Iron. Mark Finn, Chris Gruber and GOH Patrice Louinet, the Editors of FISTS OF IRON, the four volume boxing set from the REHF Press, are together for this one time only panel to discuss Howard's History with boxing and the stories he wrote. (Did you know REH wrote more boxing stories than any other genre?) Come hear the experts tell you all about it. Featured Guest artist Tom Gianni will also be present to talk about illustrating these stories. At the Library.

3:30 Panel - The World Building of REH. Follow Patrice back to the Pavilion where he'll join Rusty Burke and Jeff Shanks for a discussion of Howard's history and penchant for creating fantastic worlds. NOTE: THIS PANEL IS AT THE PAVILION.

After this last panel, folks hang out at the Pavilion and browse the Swap Meet for just a short while, anticipating the short drive to the final scheduled event for Howard Days. If you are heading to the BBQ, this is the time you will need to sign a release form to visit the Ranch. Details will be available.

5 pm to Sunset: The Caddo Peak Ranch BBQ. At 5 pm we caravan 5 miles west on Highway 36 to the Caddo Peak Ranch, where owners Marsha Murray and Janet Swanson are our gracious hosts for a genuine outdoor Texas chuck wagon BBQ dinner. It is another highlight of Howard Days and all are welcome! You'll feast on delicious brisket, sausage, potato salad, dessert and all the fixin's while enjoying the fellowship of your friends old and new. Before dinner, you may decide to ride up to the base of West Caddo Peak (pictured above) and trek to the top for a view of Callahan County like no other. This is fairly rugged climb and it is advisable to take a bottle of water with you. After dinner we gather on the rise and watch a gorgeous Texas sunset and say our goodbyes to a wonderful weekend.

PLEASE NOTE: THE OWNERS OF CADDO PEAK RANCH HAVE REQUESTED THERE BE ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING AT THE RANCH. Please respect their wishes - it will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

The final REH Days activity is a gathering of folks back at Pavilion for a final evening of conversation, fellowship and poetry reading as we celebrate the Legacy of Robert E. Howard one final time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

REH Days Overview Part 6 - Saturday Morning

Saturday June 14th at Howard Days is a time for more of the same goodness that happens on Friday, without the Postal Cancellation and Bus Tour. But there IS a big banquet at day's end.

The Howard House is open from 9 to 4 and the Pavilion is available for the Swap Meet as well as the "relaxing place". The tables & chairs are there for all to sit, visit and enjoy a free cold beverage from the nearby giant cooler. The Cross Plains Library is open 10 to 3 and will host two of the three panels of the day.

The Cross Plains Barbarian Festival also takes place from 9 to 4, located in Treadway Park, three blocks west of the Howard House on Highway 36. This is a good ol' country fair, with vendors of all sorts, rides and games for the kids, live music & special presentations, an antique car and tractor show, all kinds of great food plus more - a nice little getaway for the non-REH family members. New this year is the Barbarian Blast, a 5K run held at at time to be determined. Check it out at

10:30 am - Panel: The Legend Continues. And so does our discussion of Bob Howard re-writing history. James Reasoner and David Hardy will talk about REH's more "contemporary" history, especially his western and El Borak stories. At the Library.

Lunch time will wrap up the morning's activities. Please leave some of your dough with the variety of great restaurants in Cross Plains or enjoy the wide array of food offerings at the Barbarian Festival. Or, pack a picnic lunch and eat under the shade trees at the Howard House!

Coming tomorrow: we'll wrap up the programming but not the information!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

REH Days Overview Part 5 - Friday Afternoon & Evening

The Howard Days festivities continue Friday afternoon & evening. Of the ongoing events: the Museum stays open until 4 with the Swap Meet outside, the Postal Cancellation is available until 4 as well and the Library will stay open until 5.

1:30 - Panel: Guest of Honor Patrice Louinet. Come sit in as Rusty Burke does an interview style panel with Patrice. They'll talk about Patrice's long and storied career as one of the most important Howard scholars in the world. At the Library.

2:30 - The Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards. We decided to give this presentation its just due with its own panel slot. The Awards for 2013 will be presented in nine different categories of Howard scholarship and fandom. Plus we'll take a little time to let the winners speak! Hosted by Bill Cavalier, with awards being presented by as many of last year's winners as we can round up.

But don't go away! As this won't take the whole hour (unless someone gets really long-winded), our Featured Guest, artist Tom Gianni, will then give a special digital presentation of how he works and what it took for him to paint all four covers for the REHF Press' FISTS OF IRON four volume boxing set.

5:30 - 6:30 pm: Before the Celebration Banquet starts up, take an hour to view and bid on the large assortment of REH items on display for the Silent Auction. You've already seen one item up for auction - there are always a large number of great Howard items waiting for your bids. After dinner there is a short period to increase those bids.

6:30 - The Robert E. Howard Celebration Banquet. One of the highlights of Howard Days, the Banquet features great Texas grub (dang, I've got to find find out what it is...usually chicken fried steak...check back soon). Anyway, your pre-registration entitles you to this fine feast, a keynote speech by Patrice Louinet and the warm friendship of the folks of Cross Plains and the fellowship of Howard fans!

When dinner and speechifying are finished, there's a five minute period to increase the Silent Auction bids! When the guns sounds (not really, but you know what I mean) and your name is high bid, you win the item! Please remember that you need to pay with cash or check - and that 100% of the proceeds go to Project Pride's continuing maintenance of the REH Museum!

9:00 Panel: Fists at the Ice House. Everyone gather at the concrete slab behind the Texas Taxidermy building on Main Street (where Howard really did box!) You'll get to hear the series editors for the REHF Press Fist of Iron 4 volume set: Mark Finn, Chris Gruber, Jeff Shanks and Patrice Louinet square off about Howard's boxing yarns by the light of Coleman lanterns! This panel is so good we do it every year.

After Hours at the Pavilion: from 9 o'clock on everyone gathers for an evening of Howardian fellowship where we swap stories and lies and enjoy a favorite beverage. Another highlight happens then: Porch Light Poetry, an extemporaneous gathering where we read the Poetry of Robert E. Howard right from the front porch of his home! REH's poetry just cries out to be read aloud and you can do it about 12 feet away from where it was written. This is one of those magical moments at Howard Days.

Up next: Saturday Morning at Robert E. Howard Days.

The three handsome gents pictured above are L-R: Jeff Shanks, Mark Finn and Chris Gruber, doing their thing at Fists at the Ice House.

Monday, June 2, 2014

REH Days Overview Part 4 - Friday Morning

The first "official" day of Robert E. Howard Days is Friday June 13th. You won't find a luckier day, especially for Howard Fans! Here's the morning line-up, with some commentary:

8:30 am (until gone) - Donuts and coffee will be served in the Pavilion, compliments of Project Pride.

9 am to 4 pm - the Robert E. Howard Museum is open to the public. Please stop by the registration canopy out front and sign in, and get a name badge so everybody knows your name. Then enter the House and either take a tour guided by docents in every room, or be free to wander the rooms on your own. The highlight of the tour is Robert's room, a space smaller than most of today's office cubicles but where entire worlds were created. There's a pretty nice Gift Shop in the rear of the house too!

9 am to 11 am - Bus Tour. This Friday only activity starts in the Pavilion where we'll congregate and then board an air-conditioned school bus. Local Cross Plains historians and Howard scholars will then take you on a narrated tour of surrounding environs and the town of Cross Plains, shadowing the footsteps of Bob Howard.

9 am to 4 pm - Postal Cancellation. The Cross Plains Post Office sponsors an annual REH souvenir postal cancellation, where you may get your envelopes and postcards postmarked with this special stamp.

10 am to 4 pm - REH Swap Meet. The Pavilion is available for you to set up and view small displays of your REH items for sale. As this is a free service, we ask that you donate 10% of your sales to Project Pride.

10 am to 5 pm - The Cross Plains Public Library is open. We have most of the panels here. The Library also has the world's largest collection of Robert E. Howard original typewritten manuscripts on public display for viewing and examination.

11 am - PANEL: "In the Guise of Fiction". Howard scholars Jeffrey Shanks and Al Harron will discuss Robert E. Howard's love of writing about real history disguised as a fictional story. Jeff and Al will talk about REH's "early" history writings.

Noon - Project Pride will host a genuine Texas cookout lunch (hot dogs, burgers, chips) for all attendees. Don't forget to help them out with a couple of bucks in the Donation Jar! Thanks.

OK, that's a pretty awesome morning schedule for y'all. Tomorrow we'll tell you about the afternoon and evening schedule, so y'all come back. Or, you can click on the REH DAYS 2014 tab over at and get the full story.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Featured Attendee - GARY ROMEO

Gary Romeo has been a Robert E. Howard fan for over 40 years! His first exposure to REH was Marvel Comics's Conan the Barbarian #4 featuring the adaptation of "The Tower of the Elephant," which remains his favorite REH story to this day.

A longtime member of REHupa, Gary has written articles for The Dark Man, The Cimmerian, and The Chronicler of Cross Plains and he also contributed a chapter to The Robert E. Howard Reader. In addition to REH, he is an enthusiast of movies and comic books.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

I've Made It to Cross Plains - Now What?

This REH Days Overview Part 3 is brought to you by It's Thursday - What the Heck Do I Do Now?!

With all the magical electronic gadgets available today, getting to Cross Plains, Texas is a lot easier than it used to be! So, you've driven in to this small town for Howard Days and you have found the House located on the western edge of town on the south side of Highway 36. You made it! But it's Thursday...

This year the Howard Museum will be open on Thursday June 12 from 2-4 pm. If you come in then (and a lot of folks do) you will find there are no docents on duty at the House, but you can enter and look around to your heart's content; the Gift Shop is open as well. You can also hang out at the adjacent Alla Ray Morris Pavilion, where tables and chairs are set up for the weekend's activities. You will most likely find a number of people already there swapping lies and telling stories. The Pavilion is the congregation point for Howard Days, the place where we meet up for the entire weekend. All are welcome to come and sit and make up your own lies; some of the Featured Attendees will be there as well. It is all very informal and we are all happy to help with any questions you have or information you need. We are friends first, anal-retentive Robert E. Howard fans second! Step right up, don't be shy! We're all here because of Bob Howard!

There is usually an informal dinner gathering on Thursday; we drive to Brownwood, eat at Humphrey Pete's and then make a sundown sojourn to REH's grave site in the Green Leaf Cemetery. This is not a scheduled activity and most folks do this on their own. Later, after dark we congregate again at the Pavilion for the first of three nights of such an activity. More lies and stories (you're probably seeing a theme...)

Friday is Day 1 of Howard Days, starting at 8:30 am and going long into the night. Donuts to Dinner and Beyond, you might say. Saturday is Day 2 and very similar to Friday: Nine AM to Sunset BBQ. I've published the summary schedule in an earlier blog post, so please refer to that. I'll be adding details to all the scheduled events in future posts over the next week, so please check back. No lies, I promise.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Now THIS is a Silent Auction Item!

Well, all right! The Silent Auction items are starting to roll in for Howard Days on June 13-14! Pictured above is a truly unique piece created by Larry Pointer. Here's what he has to say about it:

"While doing some repairs to the REH Museum, we saved some of the original siding, and a glass pane from Robert's bedroom. Shirley Petty Clark used her remarkable talent to do the etching of Robert on the glass pane, and I made the frame from the siding. This will be one of the items for the auction during the banquet on June 13th, 2014. A must have item for a Robert E. Howard fan."

Thanks go out to Larry and Shirley! The bidding is sure to be fast and furious for this wonderful piece. Remember: 100% of the proceeds from the Silent Auction go to the upkeep of the REH Museum! But - you can only bid if you are in attendance at the Celebration Banquet. One of the perks for showing up in Cross Plains for The Best Two Days in Howard Fandom!

Y'all come!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Robert E. Howard Days Overview Part 2

Why the heck I haven't uploaded this before is beyond me! Project Pride produced this handy dandy promotional brochure a few years ago. While there have been some minor updates and additions to the house since then, this flyer holds true to give you an incredible amount of information within the space of two pages. Overview Part 3 coming tomorrow!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Featured Attendees - FULBRIGHT & HAWKES

Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes have been inspired by Robert E. Howard since childhood. Professional Horror and Fantasy writers, Fulbright & Hawkes are former members of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association. Their annual pilgrimage to Cross Plains for REH Days usually results in a new Howard-inspired work of fiction or at the very least a long list of awesome ideas.

Christopher Fulbright is a journalist turned technical writer whose fiction has received honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and Best Horror of the Year. Angeline Hawkes is a former high school teacher turned Bram Stoker Award nominated writer who writes primarily historical horror and heroic fantasy. Her heroic fantasy series Tales of the Barbarian Kabar of El Hazzar, is very much inspired by Howard's works.

When not writing individually or collaboratively, the Texas Twosome are busy parenting four children and an insane cat who fancies himself "the fifth child." Check out their website, Fulbright & Hawkes.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Robert E. Howard Days Overview Part 1

As there are less than three weeks to go until Howard Days begins, we're beginning a series of posts to give you as much information as possible to enhance your attendance or even to entice you into coming! There is a total information package over at (click the REH DAYS 2014 tab) that gives you pretty much everything you'll need to know in one shot. We'll be doing a more condensed version of that here but still give you the facts about The Best Two Days in Howard Fandom.

A brief history will tell you that the first Howard Days was actually a day: June 13, 1986 found ten intrepid visitors converging on Cross Plains for an event organized by Rusty Burke and some of the fine folks of the town. The wise people of Cross Plains then realized that they "had" something here - their town was home to a man who created a literary sub-genre and a world-known fictional character - and people wanted to come see where he lived and worked. When the house in which Bob Howard lived became available, the civic organization Project Pride of Cross Plains was formed to buy the house. Without making it sound overly easy, Project Pride not only fixed up the ramshackle structure but then turned it into the Robert E. Howard Museum. Their foresight has insured that the Legacy of Robert E. Howard will continue on.

Ok, down to brass tacks: ROBERT E. HOWARD DAYS is a two-day festival honoring the memory and legacy of Ol' Two-Gun Bob Howard, a true Texan and American original. It takes place every second weekend in June in at the Robert E. Howard Museum on Highway 36 in Cross Plains, Texas; this year it will happen Friday and Saturday, June 13th & 14th.

Howard Days includes these (and more) events: the Howard House & Museum is open both days from 9 to 4; you may tour the house and the surrounding grounds and enjoy a cool drink in the Pavilion next to the house, view a large selection of Howard items in both the Gift Shop and at the REH Swap Meet, attend panels at the Cross Plains Library where you can view original REH manuscripts, get a special postal cancellation souvenir, take a bus tour around town, have a cook-out lunch, enjoy a celebration Banquet and Silent Auction, have some genuine Texas BBQ at a genuine Texas ranch - and best of all, enjoy the fellowship and friendliness of Robert E. Howard fans and the people of Cross Plains.

There is a small fee ONLY for your dinner at the Friday night Banquet. Every other event and activity is FREE of charge. There's not a better deal around for your vacation dollar!

If you are still on the fence about coming down, please know that you don't need to officially register - but if you do decide, the registration fee applies only to your dinner at the Banquet. The folks of Project Pride like to also use this registration as a measuring stick, but you do not have to register to attend any of the activities.

If you would like to register, send $15.00 per person to Project Pride REH Registration, POB 534, Cross Plains, TX 76443 or via Pay Pal: Seating is limited at the Banquet so please register as early as you can (by June 6th).

Like I was saying, this is the first in a series of more specific posts about Howard Days. We'll be continuing with our Featured Attendees posts as well.

We certainly hope to see you at Howard Days this year. It really IS the Best Two Days in Howard Fandom!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Featured Attendee - LEE BREAKIRON

A fan of Robert E. Howard since the 1960s and a collector for nearly as long, Lee Breakiron has been a regular attendee of Howard Days since 2002 and a member of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association since 2009. He has contributed articles to various publications including The CimmerianREH: Two Gun Raconteur, and The Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies, as well as the essay collection Two-Gun Bob: A Centennial Celebration.

Considered the leading authority on Howard fanzines, Lee posts his work at the REHEAPA web site and is currently compiling the first comprehensive Bibliography of Secondary Sources on REH. A retired scientist, he resides in New Jersey with his wife Teiko.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Featured Attendee - BARBARA BARRETT

Barbara Barrett has been an enthusiastic and dedicated Robert E. Howard fan since 2006. Shortly after watching The Whole Wide World, she began reading REH and through his stories she discovered his 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, which won the the 2009 REH Foundation Atlantean Award.

She has won three other REH awards for her work on Howard and has she has contributed to the The Cimmerian, REH: Two Gun Raconteur, Black Gate, and others. She has been a member of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association since 2008 and her ongoing REH column "Word of the Week" has appeared weekly in various venues since 2010.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Featured Attendee -- FRANK COFFMAN

Frank Coffman is a professor of English and Journalism at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois. His special interest is in the rise and relevance of popular imaginative literature across the genres of Adventure, Detection and Mystery, Fantasy, Horror and the Supernatural, and Science Fiction.

He came to Howard as part of following the Tolkien and general Fantasy boom of the 1960s and 70s. He has published a number of articles in anthologies such as Two-Gun Bob: A Centennial Celebration and Conan Meets the Academy and journals such as REH: Two Gun Raconteur and The Howard Review. From 2001 to 2003 he served as editor of the The Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies and he is currently the editor of the REH Electronic Amateur Press Association. He is widely regarded as the foremost expert on Howard's verse and he is the editor of Robert E. Howard: Selected Poems.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Calling All REH Fans!

Less than a month to go and Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains will be upon us!

One of the highlights of the entire affair is the REH Silent Auction at the Celebration Banquet on Friday Night. Project Pride of Cross Plains, Texas the main sponsor of Howard Days is a total volunteer organization and they are dependent upon donations from all over the world to ensure the preservation not only of the REH Museum but of Ol' Two-Gun Bob Howard's Legacy.

This is where you can help by donating Howard items to the Silent Auction. We all have items in our Howard collections that we could donate towards this most worthy of causes (100% of these proceeds goes towards the Museum's upkeep!) so why not take a little time, gather up some items and send them to:

Project Pride/REH Silent Auction
POB 534
Cross Plains, TX 76443

There might even be a nice hand-drawn map like the one pictured above, a rare book or fanzine, books, magazines, posters, artwork - all kinds of cool stuff. This year, Featured Attendee Tom Gianni is donating at least one original sketch to the Auction.

Hope you can make it to Howard Days, but if you can't, you can have the satisfaction of knowing you helped out the Robert E. Howard Museum by donating to the Silent Auction. Much appreciated!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Featured Attendee - DAVE HARDY

Dave Hardy is an author, critic, and mead-maker. He started reading Conan comics in the fifth grade and Roy Thomas's adaptation of "Worms of the Earth" in Savage Sword is one of his fondest memories.

Dave has written articles for REH: Two-Gun Raconteur and The Cimmerian, and penned the introduction to The Early Adventures of El Borak as well as the critical essay in El Borak and Other Desert Adventures. He is a regular attendee at Howard Days since 1999, and is a former member of REHupa.

Dave has written short fiction for many different markets including Frontier Tales, RAGEMachine, and Dark Worlds Magazine. His fantasy novel Crazy Greta was published in 2012 by Musa Publishing, and his frontier-adventure novel, Palmetto Empire is coming from Rough Edges Press in June 2014. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and daughter.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Featured Attendee: CHRIS GRUBER

Chris Gruber has been involved in Howard Studies for over a decade and has served on the review board for The Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies since 2008. He has authored award-winning essays and introductions that have appeared in publications such as Boxing Stories, The Cimmerian, REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, and Echos de Cimmerie. He was the editor of Boxing Stories by Robert E. Howard, published by the University of Nebraska Press, and is the co-editor of the four-volume collection Fists of Iron by the REH Foundation Press. Chris has also presented his original research for both academic and popular audiences and has been an instrumental force in revealing the impact that the “sweet science” has had upon Howard and his fiction.
During this year’s Howard Days celebration don’t forget to catch the main event, “Fists of the Icehouse,” where visitors can rub cuts and swap stories with the Three Amigos of Howard boxing fiction: Chris Gruber, Mark Finn, and Jeff Shanks—this year joined by stablemate and Guest of Honor Patrice Louinet.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Featured Attendee - JEFFREY SHANKS

Jeffrey Shanks is an archaeologist, historian, and scholar of the pulp magazines and early comic books and he currently serves as co-chair of the Pulp Studies area for the Popular Culture Association. Jeffrey has contributed articles on Howard to a number of periodicals including REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, The Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies, and Foreign Comic Collector Magazine.

He has also written or co-written chapters on Howard for several academic volumes including Critical Insights: Pulp Fiction of the 1920s and 30s and Undead in the West II (with Mark Finn). His chapter "Hyborian Age Archaeology" in Conan Meets the Academy won the 2013 Robert E. Howard Foundation Award for Best Article.

His most project was editing Zombies from the Pulps! -- an anthology of classic zombie stories including "Pigeons from Hell." He is currently co-editing a collection of academic essays entitled Weird Tales: The Unique Magazine and the Evolution of Modern Fantasy and Horror that will be published next year as a part of S. T. Joshi's Studies in Supernatural Literature series from Scarecrow Press. You can follow him at his blog, An Age Undreamed Of.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Featured Attendee - AL HARRON

Legendary Scotsman Al Harron will once again be crossing the Western Ocean to visit the Nameless Continent. Al is one of the premier champions of Robert E. Howard in the vast reaches of the blogoshpere. He was a major contributor to The Cimmerian blog in its final years and one of the main forces behind the massively popular Conan Movie Blog. On his personal site, The Blog that Time Forgot, Al writes, not only about Howard and his works, but also other fun themes in popular culture.

Al has been nominated for several REH Foundation Awards and was co-winner of the 2010 Stygian Award for his contributions to the The Cimmerian. He is also the administrator of the REH Readers Group on Facebook. In addition to his REH activities, Al is currently developing his own comic series which is a weird fiction version of the Battle of Bannockburn -- something Robert E. Howard would have loved.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Throwback Thursday - the First REH Days

The very first Robert E. Howard Days took place June 13-15, 1986. Ten intrepid Howard Fans gathered in Dallas at the behest of Rusty Burke and then transported themselves to the magical realm of Cross Plains, Texas, to celebrate the life and work of a true Texas and American original, Ol' Two-Gun Bob Howard.

"Indy" Bill Cavalier poses in front of the house as it looked then, a ramshackle mess of a structure. We were able to tour the outside grounds (the owner's wife was elderly and infirm so we didn't go inside), but just walking the same ground where Howard trod was an emotional experience for us all.

Fortunately for us all, the citizens of Cross Plains realized that they "had" something here. They wisely formed their civic organization Project Pride, bought the house and restored it to its current beautiful state - that of The Robert E. Howard Museum. With their foresight and continuing support from fans around the world, the Legacy of Robert E. Howard is ensured for many years to come!

Howard Days 2014 takes place on June 13 & 14. There's plenty of room for all to come & visit (it is Texas, after all!), enjoy the company of good friends, sit in the Pavilion with a cool drink and tell your story about REH and continue to further his Legacy. Hope to see you there! Y'all come!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

TOM GIANNI - Special Guest at Howard Days

We are happy to announce that Tom Gianni will be a Featured Attendee at Howard Days this year.
Tom is the cover artist for four REHF Press volumes of Howard's work: FISTS OF IRON (Boxing stories, Vols. 1 and 2 so far), PIRATE ADVENTURES and WESTERN TALES. He has been nominated for the REH Foundation Rankin Award, which honors the best in artwork in the Howard Community for 2013. (Winners will be announced on Friday June 13).

Tom will be in Cross Plains and will have original art and prints available that you may add to your collection. He will also appear on at least one panel and will be signing as many books as he can before his hand wears out! Tom is graciously donating an original sketch for the Silent Auction held at the Celebration Banquet on Friday evening.

Please visit his website: GIANNIART.COM to view many examples of his fine work.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Featured Attendee: JAMES REASONER

A lifelong Texan, James Reasoner lives about twenty miles as the crow flies from Robert E. Howard's birthplace of Peaster and has been a fan of Howard's work for almost fifty years. Drawing inspiration from Howard's career as an author from a small town in Texas, Reasoner has been a professional writer for more than thirty-five years.

In that time, he has authored several hundred novels and short stories in numerous genres. Writing under his own name and various pseudonyms, his novels have garnered praise from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as appearing on the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestseller lists. Most recently he wrote the introduction for Robert E. Howard's Western Tales. He lives in the small town in Texas where he grew up, with his wife, award-winning fellow author Livia J. Washburn. His blog can be found at

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Featured Attendee: ROB ROEHM

Rob Roehm is the director of publications for the Robert E. Howard Foundation and the editor of several volumes of Howard’s works, including the Collected Letters (3 volumes) and Collected Poetry, as well as the author of Howard’s Haunts and, with his father, The Brownwood Connection. The winner of multiple Cimmerian and REH Foundation awards, Rob has had articles published in all of the usual Howard venues.

For the past 10 years, Rob has been visiting the courthouses and libraries in the Texas counties where the Howards lived. His findings often appear on the Two-Gun Raconteur website where he is a regular contributor. Rob has attended Howard Days every year since 2006, with appearances on the yearly “What’s Happening with REH” panel and co-presenting with his dad the “Travels with REH” panel in 2013.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Featured Attendee: DAMON SASSER

Damon Sasser is a true legend in Robert E. Howard fandom. In 1976 he began publishing REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, which remains the premier fanzine in Howardom nearly four decades later. In 1978 he launched another fanzine, The Chronicler of Cross Plains. In 2007 Damon created the REH: Two-Gun Raconteur Blog, the top online destination for Howard scholarship. Damon has contributed numerous articles and essays over the years, not only to REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, but also to The Cimmerian, The Man from Cross Plains, and Anniversary: A Tribute to Glenn Lord and the Howard Collector.

Damon has won numerous REH Foundation awards, including two Aquilonian Awards for the print REH: Two-Gun Raconteur and three Stygian Awards for the blog.  In 2013, Damon was inducted into the Black Circle, for his lifelong contributions to Howard’s legacy. This year, Damon plans to have a new issue of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, debuting exclusively at Howard Days.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Featured Attendee: MARK FINN

Mark Finn is an author, actor, essayist, and playwright. His biography, Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, was nominated for a World Fantasy award in 2007. His articles, essays, and introductions about Robert E. Howard and his works have appeared in publications for the Robert E. Howard Foundation, Dark Horse Comics, Boom! Comics, The Cimmerian, REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, The Howard Review, Wildside Press, and he has presented papers about Howard to the PCA/ACA National conference, the Authors and Writers Conference, and lectures and performs readings regularly.

When he is not working in Howard Studies, he writes comics and fiction, dabbles in magic, acts as a creative consultant for media companies, and produces and performs community theater. He lives in North Texas with his long-suffering wife, too many books, and an affable pit bull named Sonya.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Featured Attendee: BILL "INDY" CAVALIER

Bill "Indy" Cavalier has long been a fixture in REH fandom and scholarship. He is the Official Editor for the Robert E. Howard United Press Association and serves on the Board of Directors of the Robert E. Howard Foundation. He is also one of the founders of Robert E. Howard Days, attending the first gathering in 1986.
Bill’s artwork and essays have been featured in numerous publications including Amra, The Dark Man, The Cimmerian, REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, and REHupa. His article “How Robert E. Howard Saved My Life” received the 2007 Hyrkanian Award. In 2011, Bill was inducted into the prestigious Black Circle for lifetime achievement in REH fandom and scholarship.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Attendee: RUSTY BURKE

In addition to our Guest of Honor, Patrice Louinet, Howard Days is always attended by a number of personalities from the world of REH scholarship, publishing, and fandom. Over the next few weeks will be announcing some of these featured attendees who will be on hand to participate in panels, sign books, and swap lies about our favorite author.

We are very pleased to announce that our first featured attendee is RUSTY BURKE.  For many years Rusty Burke has been considered the leading figure in Howard scholarship. A champion for Howard purists, Rusty successfully led the battle to publish the authoritative texts and served as the series editor for the Wandering Star/Del Rey editions of Howard's works.

In 1986, Rusty was one of the attendees of the first Robert E. Howard Days, helping to found this great tradition. In 1991 he established the The Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Studies, which remains today the leading academic journal in the field. He has authored numerous articles, essays, and book introductions for many publications and periodicals. He has been honored with several Cimmerian awards and REH Foundation awards and in 2006 he was inducted into the Black Circle, the highest honor in Howard fandom, given for lifetime achievement.
He is now editing a collection of Howard’s Celtic stories and continuing to work on his biography of Howard, which when complete will undoubtedly become the authoritative reference on Howard’s life.  At Howard Days he will appear on a panel and will be leading a tour of Cross Plains and will be sharing his knowledge and expertise with fans.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Donations Needed for REH Banquet Silent Auction

One of the highlights of Robert E. Howard Days every year is the wonderful Celebration Banquet that Project Pride throws for all the registered attendees. Along with the great Texas grub and fine dinner conversation, Guest of Honor Patrice Louinet will present a short talk about his involvement with REH.

But, if a highlight can have a highlight, the REH Silent Auction is it! Held in conjunction with the dinner at the Cross Plains Community Center, the Auction features scores of Robert E. Howard items for your silent bidding. There is always a wide selection of unique and eclectic Howard items: books, magazines, fanzines, chapbooks, statues, posters, original art, videos & cd's, comic books and so on - an amazing array of Robert E. Howard stuff! Shown above is a relief carving I did a few years ago that has been recycled twice! (I bought it back for myself last year!) One year there was an original, large hand-drawn map of the Hyborian World and you will always fine some rare REH collectible among all of the esoteric offerings. You never know what will be there, which is a HUGE part of the fun - especially when friendly bidding wars ensue!

But all this fun of a Silent Auction can't happen without your generous donation. Now's the time to go through your Howard collection and see if there's something you could donate to the Silent Auction. All of the money from the Silent Auction goes directly towards the upkeep of the Robert E. Howard Museum. It's a great way for you to not only share some of your extra Howard stuff with the world but you will continue to insure the Legacy of REH. Winner winner chicken-fried steak dinner!

So, with eight weeks to go until Howard Days, now's the time to gather up those Howard items and send them to: REH Silent Auction c/o Project Pride, POB 534, Cross Plains, TX 76443. You'll be glad you did (the donations are tax-deductible), just not as glad as the folks doing the bidding!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Howard Days Pre-registration

Project Pride has been busy this last week sending out the annual Howard Days flyers. They do this to jump start the Pre-registration process, to get a handle on how many folks they might expect this year.

But, the primary reason Project Pride asks for a pre-registration is to get a count of how many people they expect for the Friday night Celebration Banquet, held at the Cross Plains Community Center. Seating is limited there to about 125 (although they always manage to squeeze in a dozen or so more) so it's important to register early!

Besides the great Texas grub, the Silent Auction takes place during and after dinner. There are always great and unique Robert E. Howard items available at the Auction; you write your name and bid on the bid sheet and if your name has the high dollar you win the item. There are always some good-natured bidding wars going on and the best part is that all the proceeds benefit the Robert E. Howard Museum.

Now, the best part of all this is while yes, there is a pre-registration cost for Howard Days, it is ONLY for the Celebration Banquet food - a plate at the banquet. ALL the activities at Howard Days are presented free of charge: the Museum is open all day Friday and Saturday, the Pavilion is available for all (donations for the Friday lunch and soft drinks are appreciated), the panels at the Library and other places are at no cost.

Actually, the $15.00 per person charge includes donuts & coffee plus the cook-out lunch at the Pavilion and then the Celebration Banquet, all on Friday. The Saturday night Sunset BBQ at the Caddo Peak Ranch is compliments of the owners of the ranch, Janet Swanson & Marsha Murray.

So, time's a-wastin'! You can send your pre-reg money ($15.00 per person) to Project Pride, POB 534, Cross Plains, TX 76443 or make a Pay Pal payment to

One more thing: if you have Robert E. Howard items that you would like to donate for the Silent Auction, please do so by sending them to the above address. We all have extra items in our REH collections - donating them to the Silent Auction will make you feel good (and it's tax-deductible!)

Looking forward to seeing a passle of y'uns at Howard Days - The Best Two Days in Howard Fandom!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Howard History at Howard Days

The theme of Howard Days this year is Howard History, which relates to how much REH enjoyed re-writing history in the "guise of fiction". The panels at HD this year will reflect that, and shown above is a new publication from the REH Foundation Press that could almost act as a primer for those attending Howard Days this year.

The SPEARS OF CLONTARF Typescript: Early Draft is now available through the REH Foundation's website and will show you the way Bob Howard did indeed re-write historical events. For a fascinating facsimile look at an original REH typescript plus other goodies in a spiffy package, here's the info:

To help celebrate the 1,000-year anniversary of the historic Battle of Clontarf—and Robert E. Howard’s interest in it—the REH Foundation is offering a facsimile version of an early draft of “Spears of Clontarf.” Also included is Howard’s letter to publisher Harry Bates and an introduction by Rusty Burke. Printed and shipped from Lulu printing, the paperback book is 8.5 X 11, perfect bound, with 36 pages. Cover art by John Watkiss.

Ordering information:

U.S. and Canadian residents pay $20 (REHF members $18), which includes postage.
Non-US residents pay $27 (REHF members $24), which includes postage.
Lulu shipping does not offer insurance, but if you would like tracking information on your order, U.S. and Canadian orders add $5; all others add $10.
To order, pay directly via PayPal at their website, Send the appropriate amount to Be sure to include a note explaining your order. To order via check (personal or cashier’s) or money order send to: The REH Foundation Press, PO Box 251242, Plano, TX 75025. ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE IN US DOLLARS. Be sure that all the necessary shipping information is included and accurate. NO FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS. Books will not be shipped prior to checks clearing the bank. If you have any questions or comments regarding pricing or shipping, please contact us at

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Howard Days Schedule - Short Version

Howdy! Here we have the summary version of this year's Howard Days schedule. As you can see, it's a fun-packed weekend and you will experience REH overload on June 13th and 14th!

We'll do some continuous posting here with the more detailed information as we get closer to June. You can always check out the complete info page at by clicking on the REH DAYS 2014 tab at the top of the page. Also, you can check the Howard Days Facebook page and several of the other REH Facebook sites for info & photos.

It's time to make plans to be in Cross Plains for The Best Two Days in Howard Fandom!

8:30 – 9 am: Coffee and donuts at the Pavilion, compliments of Project Pride
9 am – 4 pm: Robert E. Howard House Museum open to the public.
9 am – 4 pm: REH Postal Cancellation at Cross Plains Post Office
9 am – 11 am: Bus Tour of Cross Plains & Surrounding Areas
10 am – 5 pm: Cross Plains Public Library open
11:00: PANEL: In the Guise of Fiction
Noon: Lunch hosted by Project Pride. Donations welcome.
10:00 am to 4 pm: Pavilion available for REH items Swap Meet
1:30 pm: PANEL: Patrice Louinet, Guest of Honor
2:30 pm: PANEL: Presentation of the REH Foundation 2013 Awards
5:30 – 6:30: Silent Auction items available for viewing & bidding at Banquet site
6:30: Robert E. Howard Celebration Banquet & Silent Auction at the Cross Plains Community Center.
9:00 pm PANEL: Fists at the Ice House (behind the Texas Taxidermy building on Main St.)
Afterward there will be some extemporaneous REH Porchlight Poetry reading directly from Bob's front porch!
9 am – 4 pm: Robert E. Howard House Museum open to the public.
9 am – 4 pm: BARBARIAN FESTIVAL at Treadway Park, 3 blocks west of REH House
10 am – 3 pm: Cross Plains Public Library open
10:30 am PANEL: The Legend Continues
10:00 a.m. to 4 pm: Pavilion available for REH items Swap Meet
Lunch & Festival Activities at your leisure during the day
2:00 pm PANEL: Fists of Iron
3:30 pm PANEL: What’s Up with REH? (at the Pavilion)
5 pm: Sunset BBQ at the Caddo Peak Ranch
PLEASE NOTE: The Robert E. Howard House Museum will be open again this year on Thursday June 12th from 2-4 pm. No docents on duty but the Gift Shop is open.
PLEASE NOTE: All panels at REH Days last about one hour and are held at the Library unless noted.
PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to pre-register to partake of the weekend’s festivities. All are welcome to attend, visit the House and enjoy all of the activities free of charge. Project Pride likes to pre-register folks primarily to get a head count of how many will be attending the Banquet on Friday night and the BBQ on Saturday night. All the panels, tours, Swap Meet, Pavilion activities etc. are presented at no cost. Your registration fee covers coffee & donuts Friday morning, lunch at the Pavilion Friday noon, the Friday Banquet and the Saturday BBQ.

The cost for pre-registration this year is only $15 per person. Please send your name(s) & address with a check or money order to Project Pride, POB 534, Cross Plains, TX 76443 or register via PayPal: