Revenant: “Fearful Sounds” special issue

A new 2018 issue of the open access journal Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural is a “Fearful Sounds” special issue on supernatural sonics.

Looking back over the contents of their two earlier issues, I see that the essay “‘Stop All The Clocks’: Elegy and Uncanny Technology” also fits with the same theme, albeit with reference to establishment authors rather than to weird writers.

They have a page offering Guest Editing Opportunities for complete themed issues.


The Art of Mike Ploog

The Art of Ploog (2015), a comprehensive 9″ x 12″ retrospective of the career of a very fine comics artist, who mostly did weird and horror work with an very polished and recognisable style. Still in print, for now. Many will remember Mike Ploog best for drawing The Planet of the Apes, Man-Thing, and his own Weirdworld in the 1970s for Marvel. Also for strips in Heavy Metal and Epic in the 1980s. He was also a storyboarder for the likes of Carpenter’s The Thing and The Dark Crystal.

Original art from Marvel’s Weirdworld.

A headstone for ‘Tryout’ Smith

In the Eagle Tribune, Mass., newspaper today. I won’t link to the full story, as they block all Web traffic from the UK and Europe.

‘Tryout’ Smith finally gets a headstone

22nd Sept 2018.

HAVERHILL — A Haverhill man who operated a small printing press in his shed on Groveland Street more than 100 years ago and helped launch the career of horror-fiction author H.P. Lovecraft and others now has his own headstone at the Hilldale Cemetery.

Charles W. “Tryout” Smith, who lived from 1852 to 1948, was an early pioneer of the amateur journalism movement. He will be honored on Saturday with a ceremony capped by the placement of a headstone at his gravesite, where previously only a stone for his father, a Civil War veteran, existed.

Tryout Smith was a very well known figure in a very specific market, the amateur journalism movement at the start of the 20th century,” said historian and author David Goudsward, a Haverhill native.

Securing a grant from The Aeroflex Foundation, Goudsward, 57, contracted with Atwood Memorial to craft a headstone at Hilldale. A dedication ceremony is Saturday [22nd] at 6:30 p.m. as part of Essex Heritage’s Trails & Sails.

Also on Saturday is a display of Smith’s work, the release of a commemorative booklet and self-guided tours with H.P Lovecraft significance taking place between 1 and 4 p.m., at the Buttonwoods Museum, 240 Water St.

Goudsward, who grew up in the Ayers Village section of Haverhill, lives in Palm Beach County, Florida with his wife, Heather Bernard, also a Haverhill native.

[… and then the article goes on to give a potted account of Smith’s biography and connections with Lovecraft, which readers of this blog will already know about or be able to find on their shelves.]

The local radio station also has a nice crisp crop of ‘Tryout‘ Smith at his compositing table, which I’ve colorised and added a late 1880s map to. He’s in the process of picking out the metal type (individual letters) which will enable him to set up a page of his little magazine for hand-printing.

The Fossil for July 2012 is a “Memories of ‘Tryout‘ Smith” special issue, with several contributions by Lovecraft.

Letters to Maurice W. Moe and Others

Newly listed on Amazon, Letters to Maurice W. Moe and Others. It weighs in at 630 pages, and is pre-ordering now for shipping “30th September 2018” in paperback. It’s rather costly on Amazon UK at £30 (nearly $40 + shipping). No price listed at Amazon USA, but it’s likely to be slightly cheaper for USA buyers direct from Hippocampus, which currently has the book at an introductory $25 plus shipping. It may even be cheaper for UK buyers to get it via Hippocampus, despite the shipping cost.

The book has the usual annotations from Joshi and Schultz, and in addition to the Moe letters…

“The volume also contains Lovecraft’s extensive correspondence with Bernard Austin Dwyer, a weird fiction fan who engaged in wide-ranging discussions with Lovecraft on such subjects as cosmicism, Lovecraft’s upbringing, and political developments in the 1920s and 1930s. [And includes] a rare weird tale by Dwyer.”

I have a biographical chapter on Dwyer in my latest Lovecraft in Historical Context (#5) book, “”A mighty woodcutter”: on the trail of Bernard Austin Dwyer”. It has lots of new discoveries. Lovecraft corresponded with Dwyer from early 1927, and had with him… “a long and interesting correspondence” that lasted constantly for years. Dwyer was about the only one of the Lovecraft circle whom he felt truly shared his own cosmic outlook…

“It is not every macabre writer who feels poignantly & almost intolerably the pressure of cryptic & unbounded outer space. […] Among the individuals of my acquaintance, it is rarer than hen’s teeth. You [C. A. Smith] have it yourself to a supreme degree, & so have Wandrei & Bernard Dwyer; but I’m hanged if I can carry the list any farther.” (Selected Letters III, page 196)

The eldritch peaks

Hathi has announced that bookworm and other free tools can now worm merrily across the full-text from all of Hathi’s 16.7-million items. Previously the tools were restricted only to the public domain holdings, but they now also include the locked-down texts.

One can now easily do cool searches, for instance, to discover that 1808 was the year of “peak eldritch” in literary books. And that the arrival of the mass-market browser-based Internet in late 1995 probably caused the “Lovecraft bounce” which began then.

Lovecraft’s Southern Vacation

I spotted a scholarly ebook that’s new to me, Brian Leno’s Lovecraft’s Southern Vacation (2015). The title essay originally appeared in The Cimmerian, noting some of the concepts and ideas that Robert E. Howard absorbed during his Lovecraft correspondence, and then deftly wove into his fiction. It goes on to suggest that Howard’s “Pigeons from Hell” (written late 1934) was a story intended as a semi-satire and one-upmanship of HPL’s themes…

“Pigeons From Hell” was surely meant to be Howard’s response to HPL’s claims that New England was the setting for horror. By recalling his earlier exchanges with Lovecraft, he set out to prove that an old southern house, peopled with his distinctly southern imagination, can become much more terrifying than Lovecraft’s New England home in “The Picture in the House,” with its not-so-scary occupant’s ramblings about cannibalism.”

I’m fairly sure I read this essay some years ago, when it was free on The Cimmerian. I thought it broadly plausible — but rather doubted the strong suggestions that Lovecraft would have been ‘offended’ by reading the story. Amused and itchily tickled to occasional laughter, more likely.

I’ll pass on the book’s middle essay, on Howard’s comedic westerns. But the third and last essay has some interest, examining the possible sources of Howard’s “The Frost Giant’s Daughter”. My forthcoming book on some of Tolkien’s earliest sources has led me deep into such northern materials.

According to the blurb for Lovecraft’s Southern Vacation there’s also discussion in the book on “Did he [R.E. Howard] or did he not see the 1933 film King Kong before his death in 1936?”, but I can’t see that on the contents page on Amazon ‘Look Inside’. Presumably it emerges as part of one of the essays?

Also of note, in recent Howard ebooks, is Don Herron’s 630-page The Dark Barbarian That Towers Over All. I see that was released on the cusp of 2014/15. This packages the former essay books The Dark Barbarian and The Barbaric Triumph — both on Robert E. Howard of course — as a new $5 ebook. For good measure there are also another half dozen or so new essays. It looks promising.