An Earl Addendum Essay
So, I’m going through Post Oaks and Sand Roughs for about the hundredth time and I run across this: “About this time there was printed in the Eagle Nest of Bizarre Stories a letter boosting Steve’s ‘Talon and Bow.’ This letter had been written by a cousin in California, at Steve’s special request.” As we all know, in Post Oaks Howard thinly disguised the names of actual people, places, and things from his real life by slightly altering their names: Weird Tales became Bizarre Stories; its letters column, The Eyrie, became The Eagle’s Nest; “Spear and Fang,” Howard’s first published story, became “Talon and Bow,” and so on.
The “cousin in California” reminded me of my recent post regarding Earl Lee Comer, but had Howard neglected to change his location?
As reported in that post, Comer had traveled from Los Angeles, California to Dallas, Texas in September 1926. Might he be the cousin in California writing letters for Howard in 1925, when “Spear and Fang” was published? I don’t have the issues of Weird Tales that might provide an answer, so I shot off a couple of emails.
Thanks to Patrice Louinet and Morgan Holmes, I found my answer.
The Eyrie for September 1925, pages 416-17, contains the following:
“The vigorous stories found in Weird Tales” writes Earl C.* Comer, of Los Angeles, “are certainly of tonic value, and especially is this fact realized more when one tries to wade through the sea of flaccid and utterly inane ‘literature’ of the present day. The stories in the July issue run the whole gamut of weirdness and of unusual situations in far corners of the earth, from the werewolf tale to the utter depravity of dope-users and back again. A good plot in psychic phenomena is Farthingale’s Poppy by Eli Colter. Such stories have a peculiar appeal to me. A gripping story of the horrible sufferings of dope-users is found in The Death Cure by Paul S. Powers. That one almost causes a nausea of the mind in places, but I would not have missed it because of its graphic description of the two poor devils. In casting about for a kind of mild sedative I ran across Spear and Fang by Robert E. Howard—a good story of our remote ancestors before the dawn of civilization and intelligence, when man’s reasoning powers were in the formative state. Your July issue affords thrilling entertainment for those who enjoy the unusual. And if you continue to publish such appealing stories, then the well-deserved popularity of Weird Tales is certain to grow.”
*This is no doubt a transcription error and should be an L; handwritten capital Ls can easily be confused for capital Cs.
If there was a doubt about whether or not Howard and Comer corresponded, I’d say there isn’t now. I’d also say that this helps clear up how Howard felt about this particular cousin; you don’t ask people you don’t like to do you favors. At least, I don’t.
And here’s Another Earl Addendum.