As I mentioned the last time I posted here, what with Covid-19 and a massive book project, there hasn't been much news to talk about. While I'm waiting, I thought I'd share some stories of some of the many authors I've known, through my decades as a fan, writer, bookseller, and publisher.
I'm starting with the first person I ever met who did what I wanted to do--and have since been able to do, to my great delight. In college I had professors who had written a book or two, or some stories or academic papers, but until I met Richard A. Lupoff, I had never met anyone who delved professionally into the worlds of pop culture that I loved. As a teen, I voraciously read comics and sword & sorcery and horror and science fiction and mystery. In college I had a huge box of comics under my bed and Frank Frazetta posters on the wall and books all over my desk. I'd had friends who shared these interests, but I never knew anyone who did it for a living.
The first time I met him was in April 1977, when he signed at Recycle Bookstore in San Jose, CA (a store that's still in existence, though not in that location). I don't think I'd read any of his fiction yet, but I was a huge fan of All in Color for a Dime, a book about comics that he'd co-edited with Don Thompson (digression--until his death in 1994, Don was married to Maggie Thompson, with whom I became good friends during the time I worked in comic book publishing and she ran Comics Buyer's Guide, a vital publication in that field. The one time I met Don, in 1989, I didn't yet know Maggie, or at least not as well as I came to. Small worlds colliding).
Here's the inscription I got from Dick, that day in 1977, and the signature Don added in 1989.
In 1980, I joined the staff of a small comics, sf & fantasy con called the Fantasy Symposium. Because I was a bookseller at Books Inc. by then--the genre fiction hub of the South Bay--my job was to round up and wrangle authors. Dick was one of those I brought in, and our friendship grew. I saw him and his wonderful wife Pat many times over the years, at local cons, and even visited them at their home inn Berkeley once.
On one of those occasions, I got my favorite inscription ever from Dick, in the Gregg Press edition of his brilliant Space War Blues. Here's the inscription:
And, turning the page, one finds the "evidence" to which he referred:
By 1983, I had moved to San Diego to manage Hunter's Books (part of the regional, independently owned Books Inc. chain) in La Jolla. I used what I'd learned at Books Inc. to make that store as much a genre hub as Books Inc. had been. And because San Diego was also home to what was then (and still is) the biggest comic-con in the US, I started selling books there, as the first dealer offering new prose fiction (vs. used, or books with pictures in 'em). Because Dick was a fan and a pro in related fields, he often made it to SDCC, so I got to keep our friendship going.
In 1988, I sold my first short story, "The Last Rainmaking Song," which was published in a critically acclaimed and influential anthology called Full Spectrum. Dick congratulated me this way:
It's been a few years since I've seen Dick and Pat. Kinder, more generous people you've never known. I can't even say how much I learned from Dick about being a pro, about writing and trying and not giving up and loving what you do. It was also from Dick that I learned about the concept of "Relaxicons," at which a group of friendly authors gets rooms at a nice hotel somewhere and just hangs out together, without the pressure of trying to sell stuff or entertain fans. Thanks, Dick, for all the good times and warm memories.
Finally, just for fun, my favorite cover of one of Dick's books, by the great Frank Frazetta. This is one of the books that invented Steampunk, long before it was ubiquitous.