The People of the Black Circle

The People of the Black Circle is a 1977 collection of four Conan short stories. This is the second of the three volumes comprising “The Authorized Edition”. Edited by Karl Edward Wagner. The illustrations by Hugh Rankin are from the original pulp publications. There was also a 1977 Science Fiction Book Club edition, which was retypeset and introduced numerous errors.

The pieces in The People of the Black Circle, in common with those in the other Conan volumes produced by Karl Edward Wagner for Berkley, are virtual reproductions (other than typo correction) of the originally published form of the texts as they appeared in Weird Tales, in contrast to the edited versions appearing in the earlier Gnome Press and Lancer editions of the Conan stories. In contrast to the earlier editions, which included Conan tales by authors other than Howard, Wagner took a purist approach, including only stories by Howard, and only those thought to be in the public domain. His prefaces and afterwords dismiss editorial revisions made in the earlier editions.

Red Nails

Red Nails is a 1977 collection of three Conan short stories. This is the last of the three volumes comprising “The Authorized Edition”. Edited by Karl Edward Wagner. 

The collection was edited by Karl Edward Wagner. It was first published in hardcover by Berkley/Putnam in 1977, and in paperback by Berkley Books the same year. It was reprinted in hardcover for the Science Fiction Book Club, also in 1977, and combined with the Wagner-edited The Hour of the Dragon and The People of the Black Circle in the book club’s omnibus edition The Essential Conan in 1998. The stories originally appeared in the fantasy magazine Weird Tales in the 1930s.

The Essential Conan

The Essential Conan is a collection of Conan short stories written by Robert E. Howard. The book was published in 1998 by the Science Fiction Book Club. It collects the editions of the Conan books, edited by Karl Edward Wagner and published by Berkley Books in 1977. Most of the stories originally appeared in the magazines Weird Tales, The Phantagraph and The Howard Collector. The Wagner editions were the first to virtually reproduce Howard’s original stories without any editorial changes other than typo fixes.

Sword & Fantasy #1

Fanzine published by James Van Hise.

Articles include detailed guides to several classic Robert E. Howard fanzines (CROSS PLAINS, LONE STAR FICTIONEER, etc). Jim also gives a detailed look at the Robert E. Howard story “Valley of the Worm.” There is also the transcript to the Wandering Star Robert E. Howard panel (which I was on) from the 2002 San Diego Comicon. Plus featuring his 7,000 word article on Karl Edward Wagner’s KANE series wherein he reviews and examines every published Kane story Wagner wrote. Jim also takes a detailed look at Gil Kane’s classic sword & sorcery comic BLACKMARK.

This issue also features artwork by Mike Zeck (a vintage Conan illustration he did in the 1970s, which is a real knockout), art by Steve Fabian, Rick McCollum and others. Plus some surprises, like a nice repro of an illo from the WEIRD TALES appearance of “Kings of the Night”.

Sword & Fantasy #2

Articles include a lengthy interview with Jim & Ruth Keegan, the writers and artists of THE ADVENTURES OF TWO-GUN BOB, the Robert E. Howard bio-strip which appears in each issue of the Dark Horse CONAN comic book.

There is also an article on the Conan story “The Scarlet Citadel.” Plus a 1938 article by Henry Kuttner “Selling The Fantasy Story.” Also presented is an 8 page letter by Harold Preece about a Robert E. Howard biography he planned to write. Also included is an article on MODERN ROBERT E. HOWARD FANDOM and the new fanzines currently available, a 1940s article on Robert E. Howard from the old fanzine THE FANSCIENT, and a 1940s review of the Arkham edition of SKULLFACE & OTHERS from a British science fiction fanzine, FANTASY REVIEW. There is also first in a series of articles on Sword & Sorcery in comics (this installment on the 1960s Warren magazines which featured Reed Crandall, Steve Ditko, Gray Morrow, Frank Frazetta and Jeff Jones), and much more!

Sword & Fantasy #3

The front cover art is by Joe Jusko (which he sent to Van Hise to use as it previously only appeared on a promo for a statue and was not a SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN cover). The back cover is the color art for the cover of the 1976 British paperback edition of KING KULL. Articles include a lengthy section on the making of the movie KULL THE CONQUEROR, including examinations of three different screenplay drafts, and an interview with screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue (who wrote the original screenplay which was later rewritten by others). There is also a look at the Conan story “Shadows In The Moonlight” (complete with the old WEIRD TALES illo). A 1935 biographical sketch of E. Hoffman Price. A 1951 author profile of L. Sprague de Camp, a WEIRD TALES cover gallery and more, including artwork by Eduardo Barreto, Rick McCollum, Hannes Bok and others.

Sword & Fantasy #4

The front cover art is by Wally Wood, reproduced from the color version of the original art. This art first appeared on the dustjacket of the Gnome Press hardcover THE RETURN OF CONAN in 1957.

Articles include the transcript of the entire WEIRD TALES panel from the 1998 San Diego Comicon (the panelists included Forry Ackerman and Gary Gianni). There are also various articles on heroic fantasy and sword & sorcery. An articles on Henry Kuttner’s Elak of Atlantis (a character which was first published in WEIRD TALES from 1938-41). A 1989 interview with Karl Edward Wagner reprinted from the British publication DAGON. An interview with writer Chuck Pogue about the movie and novelization of DRAGONHEART. “Sword & Sorcery In Comics, part 2”. A facsimile reprint of “The Challenge From Beyond” from its original appearance in FANTASY MAGAZINE in 1935. A 1950s profile of Virgil Finlay. An examination of the possible origins of the art published on the cover of SWORD & FANTASY #1 and more. Artwork in the issue is by Rick McCollum, Mahlon Fawcett, Virgil Finlay and others.

Sword & Fantasy #6

The front and back cover art is from foreign Robert E. Howard paperback editions. Articles include a long analysis of the Robert E. Howard story “Tower Of The Elephant” (profusely illustrated). A six page folio of illustrations from Robert E. Howard stories printed in Czechoslovakia. An interview with Ray Capella and a short sword & sorcery story by Ray titled “The Lair.” A seven page folio of WEIRD TALES pulp art from Robert E. Howard stories. An article on the REH story “Lord Of The Dead.” An article on Conan pastiche novels (in other words Conan books not written by REH), and more. Artwork by Rick McCollum, Eduardo Barreto, Mahlon Fawcett, and others.

Sword & Fantasy #12

Features include an article on Frank Frazetta, 1945 Harper’s review of H.P. Lovecraft, covers of foreign HPL books, old article on Clark Ashton Smith, index to STRANGE DETECTIVE STORIES, E. Hoffman Price tribute to Edmond Hamilton, an interview with the late Nils Hardin (publisher of XENOPHILE), a long article on comic books and horror by James Van Hise, previously unpublished fantasy art by Eduardo Barreto, article on artist Mahlon Fawcett who died in 2015, and more.

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