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.

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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

    Regards,
    Bud Houston

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