Today is Memorial Day and in addition to a day of honoring the brave men who fought and died in combat so we can enjoy the many freedoms we have, it also signals the official beginning of summer and that means the convention season is kicking into high gear. Of course, Howard Days 2012 is just days away and only the tip of the iceberg of a number of fan gatherings to come during the next three months.Pulp conventions are of particular interest to Howard Heads since those magazines are where Howard plied his trade. The pulps have a rich history and just about every year there are several anniversaries of note. Two milestones that are getting a lot of attention this year are Edgar Rice Burroughs’s very first novels, Under the Moons of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes, which are celebrating their centennials and are the main theme at this year’s many pulp conventions, including the granddaddy of them all, PulpFest, which will be held August 9th through the 12th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Not to be outdone, Robert E. Howard and a certain Cimmerian named Conan, who is celebrating the 80th anniversary of his first appearance in the pages of Weird Tales in “The Phoenix on the Sword,” are also getting their due. Two Conan panels are on the schedule as outlined on the PulpFest website:

 PulpFest will celebrate the Cimmerian’s eightieth birthday and honor Howard’s career with two very special programs. First, Rusty Burke will moderate a panel of REH experts who will discuss Conan, Howard’s other characters, and the author’s influence on the sword-and-sorcery genre. Rusty needs no introduction to devotees of “Two-Gun Bob.

” He is the editor of the highly acclaimed Howard reprint series published in the US by Del Rey Books, the president of the Robert E. Howard Foundation, and a long-time participant in REHupa (The Robert E. Howard United Press Association).

We will provide the names of other panelists as soon as they are confirmed.The second Conan-themed presentation will be made by another well-known Howard aficionado, Jim Keegan, who with his wife Ruth produces “The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob,” which appears in every issue of Conan, Kull, and Solomon Kane published by Dark Horse Comics. The Keegans have also illustrated several of the Del Rey volumes (including Crimson Shadows and Grim Land: The Best of Robert E.

Howard, Volumes One & Two) and are the proprietors of Jim & Ruth’s Two-Gun Blog. Jim will offer a look at the Cimmerian as depicted by various illustrators over the last eight decades.

As mentioned above, the panelists who will be joiing Rusty will be anounced soon, but I’ve learned two of panelists will be Don Herron and TGR blogger Brian Leno. So if you do not blow all your pazoors attending Howard Days, head to Columbus the second weekend of August for PulpFest. For complete details, please visit the PulpFest website or write to Jack Cullers, 1272 Cheatham Way, Bellbrook, OH 45305 — or e-mail Jack directly.

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