Glenn Lord: The Flame of Howard Fandom Essay
If someone had told me six weeks ago the first post of the New Year on this blog would be the announcement of the passing of Glenn Lord, I would have advised them have their head examined - Glenn Lord: The Flame of Howard Fandom Essay introduction. On November 19, 2011, a group of family and fans were with Glenn at the Monument Inn in La Porte to celebrate his 80th birthday. Glenn appeared fine to me as I greeted him — somewhat frail with age — but still with a firm handshake, a smile and a mischievous gleam in his eye — the flame still burned.
I first crossed paths with Glenn in 1972. I had just discovered the writings of Robert E. Howard in the form of a used copy of Lancer’s Conan the Conqueror and I was soon rounding up other Lancer volumes. Glenn’s name and post office box were listed in several of L. Sprague de Camp’s forewards to the books, along with some information on The Howard Collector. I wrote Glenn and bought copies of the few issues he still had in stock.
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I was lucky to find Howard when I did because around that time Glenn was doing what he did best – wheeling and dealing to get Howard into print. The result was the Howard Boom of the 1970’s – a flood of paperbacks and hardcovers containing Howard’s prose and poetry. From the Donald Grant, FAX and Fictioneer hardcover books to the Zebra, Berkley and Ace paperbacks, not to mention the various chapbooks, fanzines and one-shot publications. Indeed it seemed as if the postman was bringing something new every day. But all that Howard material did not just fall into his lap.
Glenn became a fan of Howard’s fiction and poetry after acquiring a copy of Arkham House’s Skull-Face and Others (1946) in 1951. He then began his lifelong search for more Howard material, lucking out when he discovered a bookseller that had a huge stockpile of pulp magazines from the 1920s and 1930s. He was able to purchase a large amount of them fairly cheap and found a treasure trove of Howard stories in them. Next, he intensified the hunt — the flame had been lit.
No one besides Glenn would have gone through the trouble to track down all the typescripts and letters – he logged thousands of miles and spent a small fortune getting all that stuff — including an entire trunk of manuscripts. He also tracked down and interviewed every living person he could find that met Howard or had any connection to him, including two of his fellow Weird Tales writers, Clark Ashton Smith and E. Hoffmann Price. On most of these trips he took along Lou Ann, his bride who had no interest in REH and never acquired one either.
One of the very few positive things de Camp did for Howardom was recommending that Glenn be the literary agent for the non-Conan material. The two ladies who wound up with the rights to Howard’s writings agreed and Glenn represented their interests from 1965 – 1993.
In 1975 I started giving thought to becoming more involved in Howard fandom and, encouraged after seeing a number of successful Howard fanzines in the marketplace, decided to start one of my own — despite a seemingly glut of them. I set about contacting other fanzine editors and I wrote to Glenn with hopes of obtaining permission to publish some Howard stories in my fanzine. He was very helpful, but hesitant at first – perhaps wanting to make sure I was on the level. The two of us started conversing regularly while he was at work at the paper mill in Pasadena. If all the equipment was running smoothly, he could go into his office and give me a call.
We met for the first time at Houstoncon in 1976 and discussed Howard and my wish to get some Howard fiction for TGR. He agreed and allowed me to license a small batch of Howard stories for a nominal fee. We also continued to talk regularly on the phone, with Glenn keeping me up to date on upcoming projects. I used this information in the news section of the fanzine. Needless to say, Glenn became one of the biggest supporters of my efforts, providing invaluable insight into the world of Howard publishing. I lost touch with Glenn around 1980 as I moved away from Howard publishing.
I started contemplating a return to Howard publishing in 2003 and decided to attend Howard Days. Luckily, Glenn was in attendance that year, so we were able to get reacquainted. I returned home inspired and motivated, and soon began publishing new issues of THR. Once again Glenn was a valuable resource for me, answering research related questions and even contributing several articles to the revived TGR. I know at some point down the road I am going to have a Howard question and think of getting in touch with Glenn and that is going to be one strange feeling realizing he’s not here anymore.
While Glenn’s flame on this earthly plane has been extinguished, it still burns brightly in each of us — a flame he lit with his life’s work — and it is our duty to carry it forward, bringing that light to others.
Somewhere out there in the great beyond, I can see Glenn sitting with Bob ’round a campfire beneath a purple sky filled with an expanse of neverending points of light. Warming his hands over the fire, Bob asks, “Wanna hear another yarn, Glenn?” And Glenn smiles and replies “I reckon so.”