Hunting Howard Essay
It would seem the never ending hunt is indeed never ending. Despite the recentflurry of Howard publishing, a number of Howard characters are either out-of-printor impossible to find in one or two books. Some of these include Francis X. Gordon, Kirby O’Donnell, Steve Harrison, Dark Agnes and Wild Bill Clanton.
For example, the Steve Harrison tales are all over the map, from easy to find trade paperbacks (Graveyard Rats and Others), an upcoming Del Rey book (The Best of Robert E. Howard, Volume I) to an Ace paperback (Skull-Face), an old Zebra paperback (The Second Book of Robert E. Howard), to pricey Cryptic chapbooks (Bran Mak Morn: A Play and Others and Two-Fisted Detective Stories).
Most of Francis X. Gordon (‘El Borak”) and Kirby O’ Donnell are fairly easy to find. Both Girasol’s Blood of the Gods and Wildside’s Treasures of Tartary are still in print and contain almost all the complete stories for these two adventurers. Onlythe O’Donnell tale “The Curse of the Crimson God” and the El Borak yarns “Three-Bladed Doom” (both long and short versions) and “The Lost Valley of Iskander” are not in print, but can be found in the Ace editions of The Swords of Shahrazar, Three-Bladed Doom (long version) and The Lost Valley of Iskander, respectively. A corrupted short version of “Three-Bladed Doom” appeared in REH: Lone Star Fictioneer #4 and The New Howard Reader #7. Of course, a number of El Borak fragments and juvenilia can be found in several Cryptic chapbooks (North of Khyber, The Coming of El Borak and Pulse Pounding Adventure Stories #1).
Luckily, the Dark Agnes (Sword Woman) and Wild Bill Clanton (The She Devil) yarns are in paperback form the 1980’s, and while prices have dropped some on both of these, you still might pay a pretty penny for The She Devil. The best tool around to aid you in your search for these hard-to-find gems is Howard Works. So until some enterprising publisher comes forth with a uniform set of all of Howard’s work, we will just have to continue the hunt.