Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thoughts About Glenn Lord

Glenn Lord outside the REH House.
All of us in Howard fandom knew that this day was coming, of course. Glenn had just celebrated his 80th birthday. It was going to happen, but as usual, none of us were really prepared for it. The King of Howard fandom passed away yesterday, December 31st, 2011, and his death puts a sad period on the already bad year that was 2011.

I don't know that I'll be able to talk about Glenn more eloquently than my friends and colleagues Rusty Burke, or Dennis McHaney, or any of the other folks who worked with him over the years like Damon Sasser, or Paul Herman. Those guys knew him well. I never got that close to Glenn. When I first met him, it was in the 1980s, at a Dallas Fantasy Fair, and he was in attendance along with L. Sprague de Camp. No, they weren't together by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't know that.

I was young, and it was my first or second convention, ever, and I didn't know ANYTHING about Howard Studies, the long-standing feud between Lord and de Camp, or any of their history. I was just a wide-eyed fan. And I went up to him in a hallway while he was talking to another professional and, in my nervous, excited embarrassment, just started blurting out questions for him.  He stopped his conversation to answer me, but I could tell I had interrupted him, and put my foot in it. I hurriedly thanked him and went my way, a little wiser, but no less intimidated.

And that was my first meeting with the man who arguably changed my life.

See, if you've read any Robert E. Howard, and it wasn't Conan the Cimmerian, you have Glenn to thank for that. As the agent for the Howard estate, Glenn published and put publishing deals together from the late 1950s up to the 1990s. He tracked down Howard's poems and letters. He found the original typescripts and tear sheets for Howard's entire writing career. As a collector, he owns the vast majority of everything that REH wrote. But in his role as Howard's agent, he generously granted access to his collection in order to get Howard's work out there, into the world, for all of us to read and enjoy. Even when he was no longer the agent, he continued to help with the ongoing publishing efforts. That's the kind of guy Glenn was. He was the Source. He was the guy with the inside track, the little scrap of info, that one thing that you needed, and he gave without thinking.

Glenn and the REHupans in 2006. I'm easy to spot.

Years after that first meeting--decades, even--I got a do-over in Cross Plains. I have no doubt in my mind that Glenn did not remember the sixteen year old me, and I never took the pains to re-introduce myself to the man. We spoke often, whenever I had the chance to see him, really, and he was always gracious, kind, and after 2006, loved to tease me about the title of "Blood & Thunder," always calling it "Thud and Blunder" after the Poul Anderson article of the same name. I was flattered that Glenn knew who I was through my involvement with REHupa before I had the chance to work with him, however briefly, while writing Blood & Thunder. We spoke on the phone, and exchanged some emails, and sure enough, blammo, four days afterward, I got some xeroxes in the mail that were exactly what I was looking for. He is thanked in the acknowledgements of the book. Hell, he's thanked in pretty much all of them, really.

Glenn's passing leaves a chasm in Howard Studies that may not ever be filled. We may just have to find a new way forward, as our world has just been turned upside down. He has been a friend, a mentor, a father figure, and a project adviser for so long that I honestly expect everyone to take some time and try to re-think a Glenn-less world and our place in it.

This book was my game-changer.
There is one thing of which I am certain--in the last fifteen years or so, Howard fandom has gone to great lengths to show our appreciation and give our thanks to Glenn for being the first one, for getting it all together, and for showing us the way. His family, too, knew what he meant to all of us, and I think it's important that they all realized that this wasn't just some hobby for him, or an obsession. He touched and changed a lot of people through his publishing efforts. He published a lot of Howard's poetry at a time when it was scattered to the four winds. His first pubishing effort was a collection of some of Howard's poetry. He put forth a number of stories including the boxing tales of Sailor Steve Costigan, and later a collection of "Dennis Dorgan" stories that hooked me like no other REH writing did before or since.

What was your favorite? Solomon Kane? Kull? Breck Elkins? Dark Agnes? Cormac Fitzgeoffreies? Was it the Berkeley books with the Ken Kelly covers that first caught your eye? Or was it the Zebra paperbacks with the spiffy Jeff Jones covers? Hey, if you came to Howard from the Conan comics...that was Glenn. You see? He propped up the whole of Howard's catalog and made it available to us. He changed my life.

All of Howard fandom mourns today. We lost a mentor and a friend.

Rest in Peace, Glenn.
The Lamp Expires, but the Fire Remains

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