Posted by David Houston on January 4th, 2012 on the Fantasy Unlimited blog (no longer there).
My thoughts and feelings about a man I never met and never knew much about until I joined the world of REH Inner circle, and wrote to some deep opinionated downright obstinate and knowledgeable people. I write this with a smile on my face of coarse, as they are all individuals that come from all walks of life from scholars to layabouts that had one thing in common, that being Robert E. Howard the creator of Conan foremost and then Glenn Lord the literary agent of REH’s works.
Well this is my way to work out why I knew the name Glenn Lord somehow and could not recall, as people wrote such moving memoires of Glenn in the email group and on the web in general and I pondered, but I did not know the person behind the name? I scanned my early Savage Swords of Conan, laughing as I took my Conan no # 1 out of the bag and taking care with the poster that was neatly pressed in the middle. It is so old now 1974’ish, that when I try to open poster it cracks and makes funny noises that have me sweating with worry if I will rip it. Why was I starting there you may ask to try and discover who Glenn Lord was? I had remembered reading somewhere a forward by Roy Thomas the man behind some of the best and greatest Conan stories mentioning him on passing. I was trying to hunt out this info for a written piece for my blog which I never really write anything for but just add artwork. I felt compelled to add something of the man that brought me Conan because of what I received from Conan in my youth.
I came across Conan in the late 80’s. I was into fantasy/sci fi and I played D&D (dungeons and Dragons) in my youth with a few friends. From here I found the comics belonging to Marvel and then collected the British Savage Sword of Conan and then books. This is where I remember seeing the name Glenn Lord in the small print somewhere. I then came across a novel in a shop when I was hunting for fantasy genre stuff called Conan the Buccaneer, my first ever Conan read. A pastiche novel by L Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter, who had taken some of Robert E. Howard’s stories and rewritten and added their own taste to the character created by Howard. I hunted for more stuff and came across bits and pieces in the second hand book shop. I finally came across the board game by Mongoose publishing and I had found a real sense of wonder at the world of Hyboria which Robert E. Howard had created in the 1930’s. The film Conan the Barbarian of 81, did not quench my thirst for more knowledge of Hyboria, but the game and comics give picture and wonder to my young mind and they were consistent and quantifiable. I was enthralled at this barbarian, it had everything a young boy wanted, danger, monsters and sexy girls and I wanted more!
I joined a club called Numenor in late 80’s, a fantasy role playing and live action or LARP as it is known now, even though it was Lord of the Ring’s based they soon catered for my barbarian tastes. I formed a group called The Free Corps and with the White Numenoreans on the one-side and the Black Numenoreans on the other, and allowed defectors from both White and Black to join my small band of mercenaries. I absolutely thought I was Conan, I trained religiously in weights and joined boxing and strived in my ambitions to be as greatest sword thruster the world had seen. I giggle now at the thought and the simplicity of youth, but I tell you this as I now realise that it was because of what Glenn Lord had accomplished with Howard’s works, which had led me to this path in life. Without it I would have been caught up in the daily life of riots and death in the streets of my native town Belfast, Northern Ireland. It shaped me and formed my life for the better and without it I would have been worse off no doubt. My father used to say to my mother when she complained of her child playing with demon figures and pentagrams and small barbarian figures, that it is damaging to his mind, and my father pointed out, that least he is were we can see him and not on the streets fighting and getting shot etc. So that is why I am spending a few hours of my time in trying to know the man that helped shape me and so many others and why we should give him credit.
After a bit of hunting through dusty boxes and shelves, I found some evidence of who and why Glenn Lord is the reason that so many kids of the 70’s and 80’s owe agreat debt too, and what he did for Robert E. Howard’s works. When you think back to the great work done by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith and John Buscema and others, you need to add the name Glen Lord. He was the one that give the go ahead while others stumbled over detail and money with Roy when he wanted to pursue the idea of Conan as a comic. Stan Lee and others were focusing on Superhero dribble in the 70’s! (Sorry superhero fans, I was obsessed then as a kid and the only superhero was Conan for me). Only for Glenn Lord saying yes to conan being used by Roy, we could be talking about Thongor the barbarian (Lin Carter creation) on the Conan forums, and we recently would have been debating Thongor the Barbarian movie lately instead of Conan?
Roy Thomas had approached Lin Carter for the rights at the time for his character and had over looked Conan. Even Stan Lee liked Thongor name better than Conan’s, (phew what a lucky move for us Conan fans :)). After reading one of Lin Carter’s books he noticed the name of Glenn Lord as the literary agent for the Howard estate and thought why not try for Conan, he did believe Conan was out of his league but what the hell. To his surprise he received a response from Glenn and in his words, ‘On a whim I sent Glenn a letter – offering him the grandiloquent sum of $200 per issue for the rights for Marvel to publish a Conan comic book’. The rest is history as they say and we have Glenn to thank as we lift every Conan comic to read, right up to the current stock that is Dark Horse so widely available today. If Roy Thomas is seen as the father of Marvel Conan, then Glenn should be seen as the Grandfather of Conan comics all over the world.
Roy Thomas had lost friends through dealing directly with Glenn’s Estate for the rights to Conan and had by passed L Sprague De Camp and Lin Cater, but thank god as the comic industry spawned a new hero and still a cult hero in comics to this day 30 years later.
Roy Thomas managed to talk Glenn into allowing him to adapt one of Howard’s most colourful literary pieces, The Tower of the Elephant and Barry Windsor Smith enjoyed this story out of most, drawing it was a pleasure for him. Thomas wrote in his notes in Savage Sword that he applied to do the story as he only had the rights for the Conan character name, and as always Glenn obliged him without issue. Roy states, ‘Tower of the Elephant which had quickly become my favourite tale of all as an issue of Conan’. Then more permissions followed endlessly from Glen, the next one being ‘The Grim Grey God Passes’, also ”The Blonde Goddess of Bal-sagoth’. He just didn’t give permission to use Conan he also helped Roy Thomas steer the boat at times. He give Roy access to unpublished stuff that others had not seen before except a brave few (and some not so brave), Roy wrote,’…I was furiously reading everything by REH I could get my hands on, much of it unpublished and courtesy of Glen Lord,…’. Not only was Glen obliging in keeping Conan alive and kicking in the main market of comics, but he helped steer one of the best comic writers of Conan stories Roy Thomas.
Roy talks about reading The Howard Collector, published by Glenn Lord in order to copyright Howard’s materials in his possession. He found nice little gems in there to work from, ‘Two against Tyre’ and with Glenn’s blessing he changed the heading to ‘Two against Turan’ and created another solid Conan story and tried sticking to timelines already set by Howard and others.
This started for me as a blog on a man I knew little about, but now know that he give to me and others unselfishly in his time and effort in keeping Howard’s name current. I never knew the man Glenn Lord who passed away on December 31st ending a year when we see the Conan the Barbarian movie released, and Dark horse announcing a 2 year run of Conan and The Queen of the Black Coast. In a small way for me the name Glenn Lord existed back then in the past, but now as I put my comics and other memorabilia of my child hood back in the box, I am now wiser on who the man was and what he did for Conan. He was the anchor that kept Robert E. Howard alive and current and carried the standard on Howard’s legacy going forward for us all to see and enjoy.
Thank you and rest inpeace good sir and I hoped you died knowing what you did for me and so many others in the world. You will never walk apon this soil again, but you have left foot prints into time that many a young man will follow.
Slancha brave warrior, who no doubt Howard would have fought with and laughed with if only?