Category Archives: Coming Soon in 2010

Musing on Bookmarks and Bookplates

It has always been a source of irritation for me, that large retailers of books, purchase large quantities of books, undercut your established retail price, and then request return privileges for the unsold books in 180 days for full credit, that is if they have actually paid for them. Frequently they have not paid in the first place. Is it any wonder then that I have declined the opportunity of enjoying their business in the past. Imagine my surprise and displeasure then when I learned that a large US retailer of books was advertising on line the opportunity of pre-ordering a book that I had just approved to go to press not 24 hours before — at a substantial discount which also included shipping. I imagine, but do not know, it was on the basis of a starred review that had appeared in Publishers Weekly. With the basic premise that all resellers have to be treated the same — what to do? Well there is a tipped in page signed by the author or the illustrator. There’s a limited edition bookplate and or perhaps a creative bookmark. I decided on the latter two, and here is the result of my musing. The two interpretive paintings of Lovecraft and Conan Doyle are by Victor Molev. The Lovecraft will also be used on a cover of a volume of Poetry that August Derleth originally compiled in 1947 entitled Dark of the Moon in 2013; The Conan Doyle will also be used on a package cover for an electronic edition of an ACD Bibliography originally compiled in 1981 by Richard Lancelyn GReen and John Michael Gibson, and revised and updated by Philip Bergem. This project is in the final stage, and shold appear early in 2011.

Arkham House Bookmarks

BSI Bookplate 6 — Trade Edition


Contemplating Deerstalkers

I have observed over the years that most Sherlockians own a deerstalker hat. They don’t often wear them, because perhaps they are afraid of being identified as part of a fringe group of readers who might firmly believe in something their heart believes is true. But I purchased my own Fore-and-Aft Cap from a mailorder firm in Florida many years ago now, and which, undoubtedly, has gone out of business by now. It is well used and is beginning to fray at the edges, but it will do me for my remaining breathing time. But I have also inherited some deerstalkers from other Sherlockians.

My friend Bob Gray died some years ago now. He gave me two first editions of the Hound shortly before his death, along with countless other Sherlockian Treasures, including signed material from Richard Lancelyn Green whom he met at the Metro Toronto library in 1980 when Richard was doing research for his ACD Bibliography with John Michael Gibson. When Bob passed away, his family invited me to select some stuff and I ended up with Bob’s deerstalker, his reading lamp and his Betamax tape collection. The hat is a little small for me, but I will always treasure it.

When my friend Bill McCoy died last year, I was in the unenviable position of emptying his apartment. Most of the cupboards and drawers went to Good Will or The Salvation Army, but not his WWII Air Force Uniform, and not his Deerstalker. It too is a little small for me, but I will treasure it always.

When I travelled to Don Izban’s CCC (Canonical Convocation and Caper — I think) in 2005 Don Izban presented me with a handsome black and white checkered deerstalker which did fit, and I wear it proudly, and each time I wear it I remember the events of that late summer weekend in Door County, Wisconsin very fondly. It is a wonderful place to visit on the south shore of Lalke Superior. We took the ferry across Lake Michigan on the way home.

In early 2010, I purchased some of the books from the library of August Derleth from his daughter April Rose Derleth. His deerstalker came as part of that package. It was still hanging on a coat & hat-rack in his studio library upstairs at The Place of Hawks. I tried it on with trepidation. Alas, it too was small. But it had a label inside which intrigued me “Hawkshaw” this was undoubtedly the manufacturer. BUt it also reminded me of a comic Strip that Derleth collected over many years, and I plan to extract and republish from the State Historial Society in Madison. Hawkshaw the Detective. It had some name changes over the years because of conflict with those two reprobates Denis and Adrian Conan Doyle, but I think a collection of the Hawkshaw strips by whatever name would be a useful adjunct to the Sherlock literature — always remembering, never has so much been published by so many for so few!

And finally I contemplated Derleth’s Deerstalker itself. It had a shades of green and dark green checkered design that was familiar to me. The Mycroft & Moran logo than Coyne (not Utpatel) designed for Derleth in 1945. This hat was the model Derleth used for his logo for his Solar Pons stories!


Solar Pons — Update

On my last trip to Sauk City I came across a stack “Solar Pons” material in the basement; including, Robert Pattrick ‘s correspondence about his chronology, with long replies from Derleth, and correspondence from other authors, as well as a couple of photographs of 7B Praed street from 1962 and I am attched one below. Also three manuscripts

The Muttering Man (7500 words) originally published as 7087 words.

The Birlstone/Yarpool  Horror  (6000 words) originally published as Burlstone Horror as 7776 words

The Gresham Marshes (6000 words) originally published as Gresham Old Place 5387 words.

two of which to be later versions than the ones that were discovered in the attic of 823 West Johnson and send to the archives of the August Derelth Society. I will include these in “The Dragnet Solar Pons et al.” If you remember I called you about these back in 1993, when I obtained a set from Paul Smedegaard to confirm that he had sent you the same thing. SO, what I thought was final back in 1993, wasn’t final after all.

7B Praed Street -- 1962


Baker Street Irregular ARC

The advanced reading copy (ARC) of Baker Street Irregular by Jon Lellenberg is going to press today. Attached is the cover layout which features cover art by Laurie Fraser Manifold. The graphic design by Pat Visneskie of Volumes Publishing in Kitchener Ontario. The publication date is November 2010, and the edition itself will be produced by the Maple Press in York, PA. This is the first Arkham House Publication since 2006, and this is a book published under the M&M imprint.

Woody Hazelbaker in love and war


More about H. Russell Wakefield

H. Russell Wakefield (1888-1964) is one author whose work has been pretty well overlooked, despite the fact that he is a fine and accomplished writer of supernatural horror stories “some of which rank alongside those of M..R. James, with whom he is sometimes compared,” as one critic noted.

During his lifetime Wakefield published some seven collections of stories, stories that are largely about “vengeful ghosts.” The last collection he published was called “Strayers from Sheol.” It appeared
in 1961 and it bears the imprint of Arkham House. Since then other compilations of his published and unpublished work have appeared, but none of these collection are complete in any way.

Indeed, three unpublished stories of interest and quality have turned up. They are comfortable, old-fashioned ghost stories, with just the right mixture of four ingredients: atmosphere, character, mystery, and
fear. Here are a few words about these three newly discovered stories.

“Blowing a Black Solitude” has the great period feel of the interwar years when Great Britain was still a force to be reckoned with. It is narrated by the private secretary of a publisher (Wakefield himself served in that capacity to the press baron Lord Northcliffe) who is invited to spend time at the publisher’s country home. Here he discovers that there is a room that no one enters. Indeed, in the past, no one ever slept in the same room twice. On the first opportunity to present itself, the narrator enters the room and is struck with the sense that “one was being observed by someone unseen.” Indeed, this proves to be the case, so rather than issue a Spoiler Warning, I will simply say that there are thrills and chills aplenty when someone does spend a night in the dark room. (For all that, I cannot resist quoting one short passage in which the narrator
concludes: “One cannot defeat Death, but one can become what is loosely called an Evil Spirit, a focus for the concentration of destructive energy, and, in that limited sense, Undying.”)

“A Crystal Pause” is one of those stories that is doubly interesting because it is inextricably tied to an incident or an event. The double interest of this story lives in the personality of the impressionable
narrator who visits old Eton College and in the event that occurs to him there that had to do with the Great War. Suffice it to say that this story should be read (and reread) on the eleventh of November, the day society honours its War Dead … who may not be quite as dead as we assume them to be. Not always are things (recalling the title of this atmospheric story) “crystal clear.”

“A Meeting off the Manacles.” The casual conversation that takes place amid the deck chairs on the promenade deck of an ocean-going vessel leads to unexpected revelations and consequences in this substantial and engrossing story, rich in characterization and in its glimpses of high society. What happens aboard the Melpomene is for the reader to discover for himself or herself. All I will say is that one of the
passengers avoid the vessel is a Professor and he has this to say: “There are a myriad things in the Cosmos that are, and for ever will be, inexplicable.” (Along the way the narrator explains what “the Manacles” – and they are crucial to the story and to its final, six-word sentence.

Three unusual – and hitherto unpublished – stories from the typewriter of the master ghost-story teller: — H. Russell Wakefield. — John Robert Colombo


4 Macabre Poets: Alive or Passed over?

I have a question — in fact four questions. I have been working on the 1947 edition of Macabre Poetry entitled DARK OF THE MOON edited by August Derleth for a new 2012 edition for Arkham House Publishers. One of the items that needed updating was the series of death dates by a number of the authors including Derleth and Wandrei the
founders of Arkham House. There were four authors that I was unable to establish death dates, and it is plausible that a couple are still alive. Can anyone assist me in this quest? The four poets are: Yetza Gillespie, Duane W. Rimel, Harvey Wagner Flink and Coleman Rosenberger. What say you the reader?


Three New Wakefield Manuscripts

Tucked into the August Derleth scrapbook was a pile of H. Russell Wakefield manuscripts. Some had been published in a collection by Arkham House in the 1960’s, but three have so far never been published to the best of my knowledge, and they are titled:

— A Crystal Pause (1300 words)

— Blowing a Black Solitude (6800 words)

— A Meeting Off the Manacles (7000 words)

No decision has been made on what to do with these manuscripts, and all three of them will be on the agenda, the next time I meet with Bob Weinberg in Chicago, scheduled for the first week in August.

Note Bene: Alas, At Pulpfest 2010, Douglas Anderson has informed me that “The Black Solitude” has already been published in Weird Tales March 1951. So now there are only 2, but more news to follow shortly….


The Garden of Eden — Auggie and Eve

August Derleth’s  scrapbook contains many different interesting items, including some woodcuts by Frank Utpatel that I have not seen before. There are two of particular note which I have entitled “The Garden of Eden” and “Auggie and Eve.” I suspect the originals were produced in the 1940s when Frank was at his best. I have censored the latter not so much because it has a single pornographic overtone, but rather to stump the pirates on the internet from appropriateing it the whole and reusing it. These illustrations would make good content for the dustjacket of Annals of Walden West. This volume is long overdue, and August was working on it, at the time of his death. Peter Ruber started to assemble short pirces for the volume in the 1990’s. I received the manuscript directly from April, in 2002, and showed it at the Walden West Festival that year, misplaced it at the Freethinker’s Hall and retrieved it once again in 2004.


“Er … what’s up, Auggie?”

Here’s an item from Auggie’s scrapbook it is undated, but the caption reads “Er … what’s up, Auggie!?” and it signed JC Melendez. Melendez was an illustrator at the Disney Studio and also did work on Charlie Brown. There is no record of correspondence under ‘M’ or Melendez in the Archives, nor Disney nor Warner Brothers. The item is undated. Perhaps it was a Christmas Greeting? It certainly is the Bugs Bunny I remember in my youth in the cartoons that accompanied Saturday afternoon at the movie theatre.

4 Blue Books and 2 Ears of Pigs

I recently attended the Windy City Pulp and Paper Back Show at the Westin Hotel in Lombard, Illinois. Before the show I met with April Derleth at “Place of Hawks” in Sauk City. We sat outside, it was a beautiful Spring morning, and the lilocks would be in bloom in less than a week. This was August Derleth’s favorite month: he named his daughter April. After an animated discussion, which included the ritual smoking of a cigar (A Monte Cristo) we achieved the agreement which eluded all three of us the day before in a 3 way conference telephone call with Bob Weinberg in Chicago. As a prelude to the meeting “Sundrop” was served and Queenie and Reggie enjoyed two left entire Pig’s Ears, and subsequently Pig’s ears in parts. Their behaviour which is interesting will be a subject of a subsequent blog, but after a bark or two in greeting, silence reigned for the remainder of the meeting.

I loaded up some books to sell at the Windy City Show. Some file copies of Ballantine paperbacks — nine different in all (7 Lovecraft and 2 Clark Ashton Smith); I also got a box of unbound signatures for an Arkham House title under the reign of Jim Turner, and four other bound (in blue cloth) volumes.

These volumes are remarkable, and I shall have to study them in detail. In fact I showed them to John Haefele at the show, and he undertook to look at them one at a time as well. The titles on the spine will tell you, and their size (15″ x 23″) will give away their content — Tear sheets from newspapers: The Capital Times and The Milwaukee Journal.

1. Book Reviews (Oct 1941 — December 1943)

2. Book Reviews (1946-1953)

3. Book Reviews (1. 1954 – 4. 1956)

4. Book Reviews (4. 1956 – 8. 1964)

Aug reviews his own books for the paper as well. A practice which is unheard of — at least officially today! I note in passing that he wrote up a series of 100 best books for 1950 etc.