Robert E. Howard, from Wikipedia

Robert E. Howard, from Wikipedia

Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

This photo of pulp writer Robert E. Howard on Wikipedia has the following amusing note:

“This is a very well-known photograph of Robert E. Howard taken in 1934. According to his then-girlfriend Novalyne Price, he hated wearing a suit, tie, and hat, yet he went to a studio and had several photographs taken because she liked it when he dressed.”

I have been reading Howard’s Steve Costigan stories. Costigan is a sailor and champion boxer who travels all of the world with his bulldog Mike (or Bill in some stories). He gets into fights a lot and gets chased by evil conspirators. The racial politics are of the times; one of the stories, for instance, is called “Blow the Chinks Down.”

That aside, the stories are remarkably funny and the fight scenes are top notch. Costigan himself is a character not unlike Ring Lardner‘s Jack the Kaiser Killer. Oftentimes misspelling or misusage is used for comic effect, giving these ultra-pulpy stories some of the same charm seen in The Catcher in the Rye. It’s a charm that is utterly absent from the overheated, dead-serious melodramas of Conan.

With the imminent Indiana Jones disappointment about to trainwreck its way through the summer, I figured I oughta revisit the writers Lucas was cribbing from in Raiders, which I loved so much as a kid.

One Response to “Robert E. Howard, from Wikipedia”

  1. budhouston Says:

    Thanks for the write-up. I’ll look for the Steve Costigan stories. I’m a huge fan of Robert E. Howard. I always tell this story… the pulp mags paid pennies “per word” for the stories they published. So writers like Howard adopted a florid multi-adjective kind of description. So rather than saying “well muscled” he’s write something like “quivering masses of steely hewn chords rippling about the man’s massive tremulous shoulders”. lol

    Bud Houston

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