It was one year ago today that we lost a giant among Howard scholars. On March 23, 2009, Steve Tompkins died of a heart attack, which was a result of complications that began with a simple case of food poisoning. He was only 48 years old.
The sudden passing of Steve reverberated across the worldwide web, shocking everyone who knew Steve and his work in Howard Fandom and fandom in general. Steve was also friend and contributor to TGR. With his unexpected and premature passing, the prolific Steve left us all wanting more, but we will just have to make do with what he left behind – thousands and thousands of words wonderfully woven together as only he could. Whether it was on The Cimmerian blog or in a number of publications and books, he amazed and delighted fans with his insightful and entertaining wordsmithing. I met him in person only once in Austin, at the 2006 World Fantasy Convention and was at first struck by his quiet shyness. However, this facade soon fell away when he got to talking on a particular subject, as he became animated and passionate about whatever topic he was speaking about.
Numerous times during the past year I would find myself thinking what would Steve have said about Avatar, The Wolfman movie, the upcoming Conan film and a myriad of other topics I knew he would have loved to have commented on. I did get a bit of a reprieve last month while reading Steve’s final essay in Del Rey’s El Borak and Other Desert Adventures. It was an essay I never want to have end, but like everything else in this world, it did.Last year a collection of special tributes to Steve was published in TGR #13.
You can read those tributes here and as you read what his friends and colleagues have to say about him, just try to imagine what could have been.Steve’s blog postings are archived at The Cimmerian website and his writings can also be found in the pages of The Cimmerian, The Dark Man, The Robert E. Howard Companion, The Chronicler of Cross Plains, TGR, The Barbaric Triumph, Kull, Exile of Atlantis, The Best of Robert E. Howard, Volume 2: Grim Lands and El Borak and Other Desert Adventures. He also edited the Bison book titled The Black Stranger and Other American Tales.