Monthly Archives: February 2010

Another Vincent Starrett Signature

When I met with Bob Weinberg last week in Chicago prior to my visit to Arkham House in Sauk City Wisconsin we talked of many things; 1) the list of future publications 2) the The Arkham House Mission Statement 3) the Arkham Brotherhood and Sisterhood — past and future authors who have published with Arkhma House 4) The Arkham House contract which August Derleth designed and used consistly right from the foundation of the firm.

When I arrived at “The Place of Hawks” April showed me the relevant contract filing cabinet drawers in the bookhouse and invited me to have a look. He had to carefully move a stack of vintage unfolded vintage Dustjackets to have a look. The contract that Vincent Starrett signed for his collection of The Quick and the Dead back in 1964 was neatly filed under V and I perused it carefully. It was printed  on two double sided No. 14 inches pages, and I reproduce Clause I of XVI clauses belowm, along with the signature block and the face. The title story for the collection first appeared in Weird Tales, and I also append the illustration header for the first appearance.

Both AWD’s and VS’s signatures are witnessed by Roberic Meng who worked at Arkham House, fulfilling orders and serving as Augie’s chauffeur, because Derleth didn’t drive a car. Because of the same witness for both signatures, Starrett undoubtedly travelled from Chicago to visit August for the signing, and the signature is therefore undoubtedly genuine. I would speculate that Starrett came bearing gifts, perhaps his inscrobed copy of The Private Life? which he presented to Augie; unfortunately no DJ, but great inscription!

Clause I. RIGHTS GRANTED TO PUBLISHER : The Author hereby grants to the Publisher the following exclusive rights and privileges in, to, and in connection with the work now entitled THE QUICK AND THE DEAD (hereinafter sometimes referred to as “the Work”, the title to which may be changed only by mutual consent of the parties

1. The sole and exclusive book publication rights in the United States, its territories and dependencies, the Philippine Islands, and the Dominion of Canada; and the right to sell copies of the Work in the open market throughout the world.

2. Second and third serial rights, abridgment, condensation, selection, and other serial and publication rights following book publication, in the United States, its territories and dependencies and in the Dominion of Canada.

3. The right to lease or to sell plates of the Work to others for reprint publication or otherwise to license reprint publication.

4. The right to license others to publish the Work or any portions thereof in the English language outside of the United States and Canada or to translate into and/or publish the work in foreign languages, and the right to license others to exercise in any foreign country any of the rights granted to the Publisher under this Article I.

5. All rights relating to the work of dramatization, motion picture rights, rights of mechanical recording, transmission or reproduction by radio, telephone, television or other means of recording, transmission or projection, or other medium now existing or which hereafter may be developed, in the United States, its territories and dependencies and in all foreign countries.

The remaining fifteen clauses are also interesting to read, but I don’t want to bore the reader with technicalities, nor do I want to provide the read with a model template for a contract that favo(u)rs the publisher and not the author.

It is also interesting to note that Frank Utpatel designed the cover for “The Quick and the Dead.” I purchased this original art in 2001 from Bob Weinberg acting as April Derleth’s agent. I introduced the two of them in 2000. I plan to reccyle this Utpatel art as the cover for Volume XIV of the Vincent Starrett Memorial Library entitled “The Fugitive, Other Stories and The Caboose.” This title was changed because I wanted to include additional Starrett writings which would better have been included in previously published volumes, namely “Gallant Meals” which was first published in Gourmet Magazine and uncovered by Karen Murdock, some additional Memoriable Morsels, also uncovered by Karen and a number of quotes which would have ideally been included in “A Little Anthology” — Volume IX and “Memorable Meals” — Volume II in the series.


Baking Bill’s Cherry Pie

Last Friday I travelled to Toronto with a moving fan and my Cleaning lady, Irene and her husband Kelly who also serves as my landscaper and all around handyman. Kelly also drove the truck, and all three of us agreed that it was going to be a long day, but an adventure nevertheless. We arrived a little after noon to empty my friend Bill’s apartment on Broadview, just south of the Danforth.

We had to take the truck around to the back entrance, as the front entrance was a Fire Exit, and the snowy weather left the road up to read parking lot was slippery. After a dozen tries Kelly was successfula nd he backed in and lowered the ramp. Kevin Porter had worked that morning to complete the boxing up of Bill’s library, and had moved the boxes down to the read lobby. It was a long afternoon with a bare minimum of breakage.

Irene cleaned up the apartment as it emptied. She cleaned out the refrigerator. There were three pies left in the freezer — a pecan, a blueberry and a cherry.

The heavy large items exited last, and this process was expedited by Kelly’s experience in the moving industry in his youth. The pull out couch was doable after the cushions and mattress were removed. Finally the fireproof three draw safe filing cabinet initially proved obstinant. However the Superintendant Eric came to the rescue with a dolly, and I became supernumery, I was almost too pooped to participate anyway.

Another tank of gas and supersizxed meal at Wendy’s along the way fortified all three of us for the unloading into a 1o’x25′ locker in Shelburne. Then home before midnight. The next day I unloaded a couple of boxes from the car, one containing those three pies, and a fancy well-used tea-pot which I have now adopted, and which will remind of all those pots of Chinese Green teas that Bill and I enjoyed in various Chinese and Vietnames food emporiums in Toronto. Another box contained the two tape-guns, additional tape and green garbage bags surplus to the move. Better too many boxes, tapes and green garbage bags than not enough!

Over the past three years, after Bill moved back into his apartment from the nursing home where he lived on the Alzheimer’s ward with his wife Anna, we developed our Saturday routine. I would meet him at circa 0900 and we would adjourn for a leisure DimSum breakfast variously including Hargow(Shrimp dumplings), Sumai (smal pork patties), Chicken feet, Congee (thick rice porridge with chicken or fish or seafood) and deep fried octopus. Next we visited the factory outlet for the Weston Bakery. I well remember Bill purchasing those three pies late in the summer prior to his death.

I set out the Cherry pie, and read the instructions to bake it the next night. While I ate a large wedge for dinner desert, I reflected on my friend Bill, our times together, the adventure of closing down his apartment, the Memorial Service for both him and his wife Anna next week at the Manulife, and his book launch which we plotted over Dim Sum those many Saturday mornings.


Give the dog a bone

I travelled to Sauk City Wisconsin to visit April Derleth at Arkham House Publishers this week. I met with Bob Weinberg in Chicago going and coming back as well. At “Place of Hawks” April had her two dogs with her, and our conversation was difficult because both dogs, named Reggie and Queenie were constantly barking. Reggie is elderly and arthritic, and he grew tired and laid down in the corner.  Now Queenie was a young, lean, large Dobermann Pinscher with significant mouth full of teeth. The more I tried to talk with April about editorial duties and responsibilities with Arkham House, the more Queenie barked and howled at me. She bared her teeth in her barking and actually bit me, but did not break the skin of my hand. April noted that her dog would do better with a couple of milkbones but there were none in the house. I offered to bring some the next day, and I did. However April’s friend Jesse had already purchased a box of flavored large sized milkbones the evening before. April and I shared a couple of cans of “SunDrop” which is a local favorite — more later. At one point when we were travelling from the home to the bookhouse, I put the can of pop in my pocket, and it unfortunately it spilled in there. Both dogs were happy to be outside in the snowy cold, and Queenie decided to start barking once again with a vengeance. Suddenly I was struck with an idea, and I went back into the house and filled both my coat pockets with large and medium seized milkbones. Queenie continued to bark viciously between milkbones, but she much preferred the milkbones from the pocket containing the spilled Sundrop. It must have been the high sugar content in the soda pop, that swayed her preference. We took the Arkham SUV to go shopping, and I was doing the driving; the dogs were eager and came along for the ride, and April helped Reggie into the back seat. Queenie was excited about the trip and in a moment of weakness licked my right cheek in the driver’s seat. I was somewhat surprised and April chuckled. When the four of us returned from shopping, Queenie started to bark again in the front yard but was much subsued with a dozen or so more Sundrop coated milkbones.

And now “Sundrop” — Originally Sundrop was produced by the Celo Bottling Company with its headquarters at 708 Water Street, Sauk City. It closed down in December 2006, when its founder George Koehler passed away. George referred to himself as “King George” and to his wife as “Queen Thelma.” They were both keen fans of “The Rambler” and I met King George one day at Hugo’s Harness Shop, and he gave me a calender and a digital clock to display in the Shop. We sat and talked for well over an hour about everything under the sun. King George sat in Hugo’s chair, and I sat in Augie’s chair. George told me of his cars, and of his bottles — I actually said very few words that day. We discussed Hugo’s bamboo fishing rods, and King George’s memories of Auggie — going morelle hunting and walking uptown every day in his sandles and carrying his wicker basket for the mail. King George wanted to arrange to have a couple of cases of Sundrop at the Walden West Festival that year, and we talked turkey and it happened. He got all of his empties back, except a couple of the visitors who kept them as souvenirs — they are now collectibles. There are only a handful of rebottlers of glass return bottles left in The U.S.A. George told me that his Celo Bottling Company had its roots in the Second World War when it processed and bottled celery into a carbonated beverage for local consumption. For more information google Celo Bottling Company.

The Celo Bottling headquarters is located just down the street from the Old Hahn House where the old shack was located where August Derleth and Mark Shorer first composed those early collaborations for Weird Tales, and they both front on The Wisconsin River. I photographed this property in the fall of 2009 and I append it here.

And so the editorial responsibilities were fulfilled with the four participatants imbibing Sundrop, Queenie vicariously. On my next visit, I will go prepared with my pockets full of milkbones!


High Water Marks in Canonical Illustrations

If you are not an afficiando of Sherlock Holmes stop reading this blog entry right now! If you are and you have a shelf of books allegedly penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle you will already know of Sidney Paget. But did you know that his brother Walter illustrated one of the stories. You will know of the work of Frederic Dorr Steele who created his Sherlock as a William Gillette look-alive and all these originals — if they survived the sands of time — are highly prized by their owners, and sell for very high prices at auction. There is no point in illustrating them again here, the majority are well known to us all. A definitive study of the engraver’s signatures is yet to be done, and this is a project that Richard Lancelyn Green and I discussed back in 2001; perhaps his notes still reside in a file in the Portsmouth Library archives?

Another complete set of 64  illustrations (2 for each of the 4 novels) was created by George and Betty Wells. The originals were numbered and given out as quiz prizes at meetings. I used the set to illustrate the pages of The Universal Sherlock Holmes back in 1994, and have seen a couple, not many in collections in the interim. I have seen a couple of sale by dealers, and the originals are very collectiable as well. In fact, if the truth be told, Sherlockians collect everything as the 24, 807 entries in USH will tell you. ZHere’s a couple to wet your appetite.


Escaping the black dog of February

This week has been hectic for me — a trip to the printer to pick up books for a book launch next month and delivering them to Toronto safely. I also visited John Robert Colombo to show him a new cover featuring an ourburos (linked serpent) for a volume Tearsof Our Lady and this serpent will be delicately tattooed on the left ankle of a certain International Woman of Mystery, a character created by Sax Rohmer 60 years ago named Sumuru. Now the first volume in the series used macrons over the first and third U in her name thus — Sūmurū. Now I can find this character in my wordprocessor, but I can’t find this special character here in this blog. I suspect I can find it in HTML code, and I will look before publishing this, but TMI (too much information, but I found it!). But in any case an editorial decision was made to remove the macrons altogether throughout. The next task was to discuss the proposed Dustjacket for The Sumuru Omnibus with the artist Laurie Fraser Manifold and  I did that earlier today. Will share the result when it is in hand.

I am also spending too much time at the keyboard — I suspect this is a common affliction of bloggers, and I then remembered that this was February — a month of melancholy for a number of people who live in the snowbelt, a month of cabin fever if there is too much inclement weather, and a month to contemplate driving south in March to Florida.

And so how to break the tedium of typing, the mind numbing scanning if you don’t have an automatic feeder and  the proof reading to expunge those “m” for “in” errors that always tend to creep into the finished document? Well I decided to design a bookplate for myself. I selected a photo of Eugenia Falls in winter. This is a landmark very close to my home, and also the site of a false Gold-Rush over 150 years ago. and I post the result here as well.

The two images send my black dog of winter running away across the snowswept, frozen lake, and the candles flicker in the hearth.


A Partridge in a “Punch”

… not in a pear tree … and not in December but rather on May 12, 1926 in Punch Magazine.

In an earlier  blog I referred to “Patrick” not Partridge, so I must find that and emend the entry according! I well remember the first time I saw this caricature of “Punch Personalities” — Cameron Hollyer showed it to me on the 5th floor of the Toronto Refernce Library in the Conan Doyle room in 1991. The caricature nicely captured what we had been discussing at the time — the character outgrowing the creator. I thought of it once again leaving the theatre after “Sherlock Holmes” on January1st, 2010.

Back in 2005, I was invited to attend a book club meeting of the Quadrangle Society at Massey College. It was held in the library lined on three walls with bookshelves, and windows on the fourth. The shelves were repleat with books by Canadian authors and other Canadiana volumes. Not a single Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle title in the lot. Of course I might have missed one or two, but I don’t think so. On one wall was a bound run of Punch magazine from the late 1800’s through the 1930’s. I had fun finding this caricature because I did not remember the exact date of publication, but had confidence it was there. Even with the index the caricature eluded me for a while!

The though has now crossed my mind how many other Sherlock Holmes related items can be found between the covers of that bound run of Punch? Well a quick electronic search of the e-USH (Universal Sherlock Holmes by Ronald Burt DeWaal) just might cast some light on that question, and that’s the subject of a future blog.


Mr. Chang and Mr. Rafferty

E.A. Apple created these two characters to run in the pages of Detective Story Magazine (1919-1931) and reprinted in Best Detective Magazine (1933-1936). Mr. Chang is a Fu Man Chu equivalent; Mr. Rafferty is a Raffles equivalent. Mr. Chang has his headquarters in Montreal with a secret entrance, and travels in Eastern Canada to find his victims and accumulate his stolen fortunes in Quebec. Mr. Rafferty has his submarine-only accessible headquarters on an island off the east coast of America. His headquarters is a repository of vast amount of stolen wealth — cash, gold, precious gems and art. I have been gathering these stories together for the past 4 years with the able assistance of the members of the Sacred Six. I even received 3 stories and covers from Norway late last year; these had previously eluded me. Chang and Rafferty clash with lethal methods and wits in a couple of the stories with no definitive outcome, and certainly no Reichenbach Falls. The entire batch is now off to the proof reader, and the series of covers, including the reprints is off to Pat who will design the Dustjackets for the four folio sized volumes each with >400 pages double column format. After all there is 1.3 million words to deal with. You can find a complete bibliography at my web site, and the proposed covers to be retouched on the DJs. I will not supply the link, othereise WordPress will capture the entire series of covers listed there, and that’s alot of Megs to duplicate.

The son (Barny), the granddaughter (Heather) and grandson (Derek) of the author will contribute an introduction based on their memoris of the author, and the entire collection should add a significant brick in the Canadian Pulps Fiction story, since Elmer Albert Apple (not A. E. Apple, that was his pen name, and he also had others) was a Canadian who lived in Toronto.

And so the beat goes on! A dinner tonight with a special Coeliac Disease compatible cake to consume. Dim-Sum in the morning with a poet who spells his words the way they sound without capital letters. Dinner tomorrow night with an author celebrating his 88th birthday with friends, and he will have a new book to contemplate, and all his friends there to ask him to inscribe their copy, and finally a return Monday to the view of the windswept frozen lake, and the fireplace where I am methodically sorting and burning my friend Bill’s papers.