Category Archives: Colombo, John Robert

Bookmarks for 2011

I borrowed a couple of books from Robert Weinberg of Virgil Findlay’s illustations. I thought there would be something there to create new bookmarks — perhaps 4 per year? — and I was not disappointed. I plan to use them as premiums for book purchases from The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, and they will have a limited run changing every year.

In the process, I had the idea to share the two volumes with my friend John Robert Colombo, because he was in the process of republishing a volume of Supernatural Stories by Canadian authors titled “Not to be Taken at Night.” which will appear later this year. JRC found a number of suitable illustrations for the cover, and the one we decided on “The NIght Road.” Now this story was originally drawn to illustrate the story by August Derleth which appeared in the Weird Tales, May 1952. The story was subsequently collected in Dwellers in Darkness (1976, Arkham House) and again in Volume 2 of The Macabre Quarto in 2009. the the illustration was not included; in hind sight it would have been a good idea to collect all the original magazine illustrations fromt he magazine appearances for the stories in the Macabre Quarto; hind sight is always clearer than foresight! I also selected a striking image for the back cover titled “Other Worlds.”

On the facing page of the Virgil Fndlay volume was another illustration for “Sexton, Sexton, On the Wall” a story by August Derleth which appeared in Weird Tales, January 1953. this story subsequently appeared in Lonesone Places (1966, Akrham House) without an illustration.

Now I pose the quetion — How many other times did Virgil Finlay illustrate the work of August Derleth, and I will leave the answer to the readers of this post, and invite dialogue. I know VF illustrated “Roads” but although that was an Arkham House publication in 1948, it was written by Seabury Quinn.

I attach all three illustrations by VIrgil FInlay, as additiional eye candy for the reader.


Who is Sir Edward Leithen?

 I first met John Robert Colombo, many years ago now; If I had to guess it would be 2003. I was hot on the trail of Thomas Patick Kelley a Toronto based Pulp story writer from the 1940’s and 1950’s, and he proved most helpful. We subsequently met with the granddaughter of Kelly’s landlady, and we are still working on a deal. Since Kelley died in 1982 nothing can be published without permission. Kelley had some interesting stories published in Weird Tales which would be worth republishing, but then again, permission would be needed. John Robert and I were sitting in his living-room discussing strategy, and John asked what other authors I was interested in, and I replied Stephen Leacock and John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir. And so a couple of years later here is the John Buchan project as it currently stands. There are five volumes in the project:

The Complete Adventures of Richard Hannay Vol. 1 (Buchan) ISBN 978-1-55246-???-?

Adventures of Mr. Dickson McCunn and Other Swashbucklers Vol. 3 (Buchan) ISBN 978-1-55246-???-?

The Historical Novels Vol. 4 (Buchan) ISBN 978-1-55246-???-?

Memory Hold-The-Door and Other Essays Vol. 5 (Buchan) ISBN 978-1-55246-???-? @

The Saga of Sir Edward Leithen

Volume 2. By John Buchan, with an introduction and essay by John Robert Colombo, Hard Cover Folio 390 pp. ISBN 978-1-55246-560-8 @$75.00

Twelve Ghostly Tales by Estrid Balslev


Early in 2010, I received a manuscript of ghost stories in Danish from an enthusiastic member of The August Derleth Society, one Estrid Balslev. Although I couldn’t understand a work of it, I suggested to the author in an e-mail, that if she translated it into English, I would submit to the editorial board — The Sacred Six for consideration. The English translation arrived a couple of weeks ago as an E-mail attachment. John Robert Colombo has reviewed the manuscript for esl’s (English as Second Language) and this process is now complete. Estrid’s colleage Neils Reiter has send along a proposed cover illustration and here it is. Patricia Visneskie has almost completed the cover, and the text is ready to go to press. I am waiting for CIP data from Ottawa.

Twelve Ghostly Tales

by Estrid Balslev. Cover photographs by Neils Reiter. Trade Paperback 136 pp. ISBN 978-1-55246-948-4 @ $20.00

Visiting Raymond

I enjoyed the John and Ruth’s Colombo’s hospitality last Saturday night, but Sunday was an even more eventful day. John and I drove to High Park to visit a large private library which holds all the core writings and correspondence of Madame H.P. Blavatsky. It was originally assembled before the turn of the century, and moved from London England, to Victoria B.C, and now resides in Toronto. I look forward to looking through a complete run of Lucifer and The Theosophist later this fall. We enjoyed a cup of tea with the present custodian and we both received an inscribed book of her poetry.

We drove along the Greandier pond to visit Raymond Souster at The Grenadier Retirement Residence. Ray was in fine form, and I presented him with his Battered Box Medallion for publishing Millenium Madness (2010) I took the coin out of its acetate sleeve, so Ray could feel the surface of the coin because is blind, and accidently dropped it on his bedside table, it produced a rolling, bobbly, sonorous sound, which was impressive, and I must purposely do that in the future when other coins are presented. The conversation went back and forth between all three of us. Raymond talked of his projects scheduled for publication — Big Smoke Blues and Rags, Bones and Bottles and Not Counting the Cost (2011) and Easy Does It (2011). I discussed James Deahl’s introduction to the former volume, and we also discussed what to use on the cover. We discussed the founding events of The League of Canadian Poets, and these two fellows were two of the founding members. I took a picture of John and Raymond and both photos are included below.

At mid-day John had to get home for a visit with his grandchildren, and I travelled south to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to attend the 2010 Toronto Resource Investment Conference. It was a good conference, and I came away with a bag full of squeeze balls, hats, pens, night lights, water bottles and great USB memory sticks.

Then off to 2010 Toronto Word on the Street at Queen’s Park. I did the rounds, and it was my subjective opinion that attendence was down for the year. I talked with all the usual suspects, gave and received much information, useful only to me, but essentially not gossip. Got a lead for Souster’s covers.

Adjourned to Charles Pachter’s studio on The Grange Avenue and presented him with a Battered Box Medallion for his cover art “Oscar Wilde Moose Kiss,” and passed along one of those USB memory drives. Charles has a busy fall and we discussed new projects in the abstract. Charles is hosting an open house at his Ice House on Lake Simcoe over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Retired to Chinatown for dinner … and home.


War Christmas in January!

Once again John Robert Colombo referred Dwight Whalen to me with this project. Dwight has laboured hard in musty old newspapers or their microfilm equivalents to assemble epistoles from the troops abroad in the two Great Wars received by their families and published in papers in The Niagara Peninsula. It is an excellent selection from soldiers seving in all three services. The blurb text is appended below along with an excerpt from “Reflecting Back” by Barney Danson.

What has been called “the human side of war” has been brought to the “home front” through this series of poignant letters, all of them penned by our troops overseas and printed in the correspondence columns of the hometown newspapers of the Niagara Peninsula during the Christmas season. Students of military and social history and of Canadiana should stand up and salute researcher and writer Dwight Whalen for the vast labour that he has undertaken on their behalf — and on ours.

— John Robert Colombo, author and anthologist

Dwight Whalen is a freelance writer who was born and lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario. His special interests are the area’s colourful local history as well as stories of the strange-but-true variety. He has published articles in the St. Catharines Standard and other newspapers in the Niagara area, as well as articles about anomalies in Fate magazine, Fortean Times, and The Anomalist.

Excerpt from interview “Reflecting Back” by The Honourable Barnett J. Danson, P.C., C.C., LL.D. (Hon.), Legion D’Honneur (FR)

Do you remember one particular letter with bad or good news?Yes, I remember a letter from my younger brother, who had run away from school and hitchhiked to North Bay. Once there, he enlisted with the Air Force. Writing from one brother to another, he admitted that he had lied about his age. My letter back to him is around somewhere. Other than that letter, I can’t recall receiving any that had any particular impact.
Did you have any troubles with the censors who used to read the letters that you sent home?No. Well, to be truthful, we used to treat the censorship as a bit of a joke, and we often made naughty remarks about the censors in our letters!
That’s a good idea! I wonder how the writing of letters nowadays has been affected by cell phones and satellites.It’s amazing, isn’t it. Email! Communications are ridiculously efficient these days. Why, in the old days, we used to be just hanging on for mail, just hoping to get some letters. Now all you have to do is pick up a phone and call.



Walt Whitman illustrated by Charles Pachter

I have never met Walt Whitman, and before John Robert Colombo introduced me to the writings of Richard Maurice Bucke, I had not read the poetry and writings of neither of them. I thought of Walt as being a pioneer of the American Poetry tradition, and did not know that he travelled through Canada with Bucke well over 100 …years ago now. This new volume was originally published as a QuasiBook by Colombo and Company and is a very interesting,labour-intensive compilation of writings and photographs. I worked on it, on and off, over the last couple of years, but couldn’t decide on a suitable cover, other than reproduce yet another picture of “Old Walt.” JRC showed me a picture of an inscribed rock in Bon Echo Provincial Park which was donated to the province by the Denison family. There was an interesting, long, narrow boat floating in front of the rock containing many people in period dress.

And then, last fall I had the pleasure of meeting with Charles Pachter in his studio in Toronto. (He has on Lake Simcoe too!) and we discussed using his art work for a cover of one of my proposed books, but that’s another story, and we concluded with a very interesting tour of the many floors of the studio, including the garage and the back shed. I noticed a un-titled picture on the wall in a back room and immediately asked “Where’s that?” Charlie replied “Bon Echo.” In an internet second, I had an epiphany, remembering the rock face inscribed “Old Walt” and with Charles’s permission we had an excellent front cover. Yes, there are pictures of the Rock & Walt on the back.

I visited Charles again to show him a layout of the cover, and he approved, but he was having a hectic time packing his art to travel safely to a showing in British Columbia in conjunction with the Winter Olympics in February.

You might ask where’s the moose? but the copyright notice states that the art was created in 1993, perhaps before the moose silhouette motif was created? However I do remember seeing a picture of a younger QEII on mooseback.


Six New Titles in 2010

It’s snowing here today overlooking the ice on Lake Eugenia. Standing on my veranda overlooking the lake I can see some fishing shacks in the channel beside the island. I am holding a fresh, hot mug of coffee in my hands, and many projects at hand to occupy the day. Later in the afternoon I will drive up to the post box where 3 days mail still waits in Post Office Box 50. I am also trying to prepare for a read trip to Sauk City Wisconsin; I am looking forward to the visit very much. Finally I am posting the front covers of the six books that have been published so far in 2010 (and it’s only January) — and time permitting each will require a separate blog post, but maybe not enough time. Yes, a good day lies ahead of me.

Reporter's Notebook -- Volume 11 -- by Vincent Starrett

A Verdant Green: A Florilegium of Poetry for Anna & Bill McCoy

The Greatest Canadian Love Poem and Other Treasures of the Heart by Allan Glenn Rose

Walt Whitman's Canada compiled by C.Greenland & J.R.Colombo

Millennium Madness by Raymond Souster

War Christmas by Dwight Whalen


John Robert Colombo’s Début Entry

Occasionally I come upon a phrase that sets me thinking. This happened a few days ago. I wanted to buy a copy of Colin Wilson’s book “Poetry & Mysticism” and when I checked Advanced Book Exchange (ABE), I found entries for five or six used-book dealers who were offering copies for sale at reasonable prices.

Whenever I decide to order a book online, I favour placing the order with a Canadian dealer – for reasons of patriotism, but also to save the hassle of customs inspection and the $5 charge for that “inspection.” (Canada Customs charges us “duty” to impose its tax on books purchased abroad!)

The Canadian bookseller I chose has an unusual name – Pilgrim Reader. The operation is located at Combermere, Ontario, and it is run by book-enthusiasts John and Sandy Lynch. I checked their website and found that they have a motto. Every bookseller should have a motto – or two!

Their motto is “So many books – so little time.” I liked it. At first, I thought it had come from Chaucer (“the crafte so long to learne”). I emailed John Lynch to find out, adding that, if he agreed, I would include it in my next “quote book.” He replied that the words are not his, but that they come from the U.S. author Flannery O’Connor.

“No problem,” I replied. “I want to include the motto in my next quote book anyway. Is that okay?” Mr. Lynch gave me the go-ahead, so when my next dictionary of Canadian quotations appears, it will include those words and it will credit both O’Connor and Pilgrim Reader, a disguised form of advertising!

Yes, life is very short and the list of all the books that I want to read is very long. I hope my life is long enough to read all the books
I plan to read. If that happens, I will live … forever! — J.R.C.

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Posted by on February 17, 2009 in Colombo, John Robert