Robert E. Howard Readers discussion

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message 1: by Gene (new)

Gene Phillips | 7 comments How many times did REH feature "crossovers" in his work, whether between characters/concepts he created himself, or between his characters and those of others, esp. HPL?

The Bran Mak Morn "Kings of the Night" seems to be the most substantive, since REH's character Kull actually appears alongside the Pictish chieftain.

Incidentally, nothing to do with crossovers, but here's a summation I wrote about the Pict hero after re-reading the Dell collection recently:


"Most of the heroes created by Robert E Howard, creator of the “sword and sorcery” genre, are ordinary swordsmen who oppose the evils of sorcery. In contrast, most of Bran Mak Morn’s stories associate him with acts of sorcery. Howard’s depiction of the Picts is arguably influenced by Celtic myths in which early Irish tribes go “underground”—i.e., becoming fairy-people—when crowded out by invaders. In “Men of the Shadows” Howard imagines the Picts forced to hide in caves, whereon most of them devolve into ape-men. However, “Worms of the Earth” imagines an even earlier stratum of humanoids driven by the Picts to become chthonic beings, to the extent that these earlier denizens of Britain take on serpentine aspects and can tunnel under earth like moles. The summoning of ghosts is also a strong theme in Bran-stories: in “Kings of the Night” Bran summons another of Howard’s serial-heroes, King Kull, to help fight the Romans, though Kull has been dead for thousands of years, and in “The Dark Man” Bran himself returns as an embodied spirit to battle Viking pirates."


message 2: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Sailor Steve Costigan, the hero of a collection of humorous boxing stories, shows up in at least one non-humorous Boxing story ("Iron Men"). Likewise, Kid Allison is mentioned a few times in stories not featuring that character. Many of his boxing stories include mention of other boxing characters, creating sort of a "world" of boxing of REH's own creation.

Thoth-Amon's demon-summoning ring from the Conan story, "The Phoenix on the Sword," shows up in the modern-day story "The Haunter of the Ring." Professor Kirowan, Michael O'Donnel, and Jim Gordon have to deal with a modern-day (well, 1930s modern) villain who has found the demon ring. "The Haunter of the Ring" can be found in quite a few collections, including The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard, Black Canaan, Beyond The Borders, and The Weird Writings of Robert E. Howard: Volume 1.


message 3: by Ron (new)

Ron Gilmette (rongi) | 4 comments Let's not forget Marvel comics Conan and Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone'. They teamed up in Conan the Barbarian's comic of the same name. The story was called "A Sword Called Stormbringer".
The story also featured Prince Gaynor the Damned from the Corum series.
I'm aware this was about Howard's characters but I thought it worth mentioning.


message 4: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments There were a lot of neat crossovers in the old Marvel Comics, and one could even argue that Red Sonja, as she is based on Red Sonya of Rogatino from REH's "Shadow of the Vulture", is technically a crossover between two REH stories.

Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser also appeared in the Marvel Comics with Conan, albeit renamed slightly as Fafnir and Black Rat (Conan the Barbarian #6, June 1971). The Fafnir version of Fafhrd reappears in #17-#20, then travels with Conan again from #161-#170, and appears in several of the old Savage Sword issues.

Kulan Gath, created for Conan the Barbarian #14 and #15 (the Elric issues you mention), would later become a full-fledged Marvel villain, after he was resurrected in Marvel Team-Up #79 (Red Sonja and Spiderman) in 1979. After that, he would go on and fight the X-Men and the Avengers. Kulan Gath is a priest of Shuma-Gorath, which comes from Robert E. Howard's "The Curse of the Golden Skull."


message 5: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments However, there are other REH crossovers worth mentioning too. His story "Double Cross" has the same main characters as "The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux."

Also, "Mark of a Bloody Hand," features Jack Maloney in a minor role. Maloney is the main character in "They Always Come Back," and appeared in "Iron Men" as one of the men Iron Mike Brennan smashed up.

Speaking of "Iron Men," Steve Costigan was mentioned therein as losing to Brennan. In "Alleys of Peril," Steve Costigan mentions his fight with Brennan. I really love the way Howard connected all these stories to create a boxing world.


message 6: by Ron (new)

Ron Gilmette (rongi) | 4 comments Vincent wrote: "There were a lot of neat crossovers in the old Marvel Comics, and one could even argue that Red Sonja, as she is based on Red Sonya of Rogatino from REH's "Shadow of the Vulture", is technically a ..."

Nice feedback Vincent.


message 7: by Vincent (last edited Jul 18, 2019 08:20PM) (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments The Elric crossover was always a favorite of mine, especially since Elric was the antithesis of Conan, and IIRC written as a counter-point to him.


message 8: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 75 comments Most of Howard's series characters share some common elements. For example, Kull and Bran Mak Morn appear together in "Kings of the Night," Bran Mak Morn crosses over with the Cthulhu Mythos in "Worms of the Earth," Kull's Thurian age is the background to Conan's Hyborian age in "The Hyborian Age" (both of which reference Picts as well), and references to a lost Atlantis that worshiped a god of death named Golgor or Golgoroth appear in the Solomon Kane story "The Moon of Skulls" as well as "The Gods of Bal-Sagoth," and 'black kings of Atlantis' are referenced in "Black Canaan." Thoth Amon's serpent ring from "The Phoenix on the Sword" appears in again in "The Haunter of the Ring" (and something much like it in the Solomon Kane story "The Right Hand of Doom."

And, as mentioned above, a number of the boxing characters reappear or are referenced in several boxing stories.

Beyond that, Howard had a tendency to recycle certain themes: an alien, winged race and highly intelligent gray apes for example appear in several stories. I touched on that in the essay "Bêlit’s Bane: Where the Falling Demon Meets the Rising Ape."


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments He also swapped some character names around to publish in similar or the same issue of magazines, didn't he? IIRC, The Incredible Adventures Of Dennis Dorgan is really a bunch of Steve Costigan stories save for one where REH had changed the name. Zebra did it for the rest for some reason when they republished them.


message 10: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 75 comments Yes, although that kind of cannibalism is a little more difficult to parse - for example, "Amra of Akbitania" in "Gods of the North" is really just Conan. L. Sprague de Camp made a habit of turning non-Conan stories into Conan stories to feed an audience hungry for more, and that kind of adaptation got even weirder in the comics.

Probably the most confusing example of that is "The Black Stranger."


message 11: by Ó Ruairc (last edited Jul 22, 2019 11:35PM) (new)

Ó Ruairc | 169 comments I'm quite fond of Howard's "Worms of the Earth". I've read the story not a few times, but it's been awhile. Refresh my memory, Bobby, but where in the story does it "cross over with the Cthulhu Mythos"? If memory serves me a-right, I rather thought the story crossed over more with the Celtic mythos. The beings that Bran Mak Morn encounters underneath the earth are reminiscent of the Tuatha De Danann - a half-mythical race that inhabited Ireland during prehistoric times.
As the story goes, the Tuatha De Danann ruled Ireland for centuries until a new race of Celtic peoples, the Milesians, came and conquered them. Instead of assimilating with this new race, the surviving Tuatha De Danann fled into the underworld. In time, occasional sightings of the Tuatha De Danann, lurking above ground in the twilight, gave rise to numerous mythologies regarding Ireland's "wee people" or "magical beings", and the numerous cairns and megaliths decorating Ireland's landscape were thought to be entranceways that led into their underworld lairs.
Again, it's been a mighty while since I last read "Worms of the Earth", but were the beings that Bran encounters underneath the earth referred to as the "Old Ones"? If so, I can understand how the story may be linked to the Cthulhu Mythos. Then again, the Tuatha De Danann were often called the 'Old Ones", and given Howard's penchant for all things Celtic, one might conclude that he got the idea for those underground beings in "Worms of the Earth" from Irish mythology.


message 12: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 75 comments Bran Mak Morn in "Worms of the Earth" swears by "Black gods of R'lyeh" and "the Nameless Ones"; the name "Dagon" is also repeated throughout in place-names ("Dagon-moor," "Dagon's Burrow," "Dagon's Ring") although that probably is a coincidence rather than a direct homage; the first version of "The Phoenix on the Sword" also had some rather direct references to the Mythos.

As for the "Worms of the Earth" - I don't think Lovecraft intended them to be directly referential to Irish mythology in the way you are thinking. He did certainly read some Irish mythology, but that particular development seems to have evolved more from Arthur Machen and Lovecraft: http://onanunderwood5.blogspot.com/20...


message 13: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments While just a case of REH reusing similar themes and not an actual cross-over, I like to imagine that the titular antagonist of "Skull-Face" is none other than Thulsa Doom (from "The Cat and the Skull"/"Delcardes' Cat"). He is named Kathulos of Atlantis, which is very similar to the non-de-plum of "Kuthulos" which Thulsa Doom used.


message 14: by Ó Ruairc (last edited Jul 24, 2019 10:36PM) (new)

Ó Ruairc | 169 comments Bobby,

Well, much depends upon how we interpret "crossovers in Howard's works" in this particular thread. You mentioned how, in "Worms of the Earth", Bran Mak Morn swears by the "Black gods of R'lyeh" and "the Nameless Ones", and how the name "Dagon" is oft repeated in place-names throughout the story, but does this mean the story actually "crosses over" with the Cthulhu mythos? I would say no. Even though some names from the mythos are uttered in the story ("Dagon" being the exception, as it was also the name of an ancient Canaanite fertility god), I don't think Lovecraft's world played any part in "Worms of the Earth".
For a better perspective, consider Howard's Conan tales. Conan often swears by his god, Crom. Crom was actually the name of pagan deity in pre-Christian Ireland. That being said, does this mean Conan "crosses over" with the mythologies of ancient Ireland? The word "Nemedians" also comes from ancient Irish myth and legendry. The Nemedians, according to the "Book of Invasions" were purportedly the third group of peoples to first inhabit Ireland. Along a similar vein, the names "Cimmeria" and "Cimmerian" stem from an ancient Indo-European group of nomadic peoples called the Cimmerians. For all of that, besides having some of the same names, Conan's world doesn't necessarily "cross over" with the prehistoric world of Indo-Europe and Ireland. But, again, it all depends upon how we are interpreting the term "crossing over with".

By the by, thank you for attaching the link. The contents within are quite fascinating. I'm re-reading it now, in fact.


message 15: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 75 comments Sure. And there are edge cases. "Dagoth Hill" in "The Scarlet Citadel" may or may not have taken its name from Frank Belknap Long's poem "Dagoth Wold," and it may or may not have been inspired by Sentinel Hill in Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror":

"As for Tsotha—men say that a dancing-girl of Shadizar slept too near the pre-human ruins on Dagoth Hill and woke in the grip of a black demon; from that unholy was spawned an accursed hybrid men call Tsotha-lanti—"

In the case of "Worms of the Earth," I would say that it is likely - we can't judge Howard's intent with exact precision, but he had been corresponding with Lovecraft, he had already poked a toe into the Mythos with "The Black Stone" (WT Nov 1931) and other stories, and Lovecraft in turn was borrowing elements from Howard for his own fiction (which is another crossover-element which we haven't discussed because it's people crossing over with Howard, not Howard writing a crossover).


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