"Magnifique!" ejaculated the eminent publisher Richard C. Spargur, beneath his breath. The first issue of his new fanzine was done, collated and stapled and ready for an eager world…
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a bit and start in on how this came about.
The Story So Far…
A lot of things were lining up by 1965. After years of reading comics books and then science fiction, adventure stories, some horror stories (along with our fascination with horror movies during my junior high school years) and, of course, encountering Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Burroughs Bibliophiles (I was member #1006 and still have my old card), we were ready to do something constructive. We'd already done a fanzine devoted mostly to horror and science fiction movies that we sold to neighborhood kids and Charly Kagay had worked on his school newspaper in the ninth grade lending him a little more experience in the fast paced world of journalism. All we needed was a big spark.
The spark came in late 1964 when Charly and I met Chuck Pogue and Jerry Toner in used book store in downtown Cincinnati. After a lot of snail mail, a few phone calls and another visit, we went into action.
The result would be the first issue of our fanzine, The Long Sword.
Summer, 1965 and the First Issue of The Long Sword
Well, we were going to do a fanzine; that was a given by late spring. Chuck and Jerry, both fledgling writers themselves, were possibly more excited than we were. As for me and maybe Charly too, what inspired me was the production of the thing; that I loved. I also loved ERB to the point that I was just besotted with him and I wanted an audience to share this fascination I had for the guy and his works. All these things plus the sheer fact that I also knew this would be a lot of fun, drove me and the rest to undertake the work. Therefore, we all tasked ourselves with writing articles for the first issue. We soon found that this was the easiest part, however; making the fanzine look good was another thing altogether and this would take work and some experience coupled with input from others who had been there too.
First there was the fact that we'd have to type everything and do it neatly. For this, we lucked out somewhat when we happened onto a used electric typewriter that Charly's father’s office gave or loaned to us (I forget which). This was what we used at first.
Then there was the matter of formatting the typed copy itself. This was WAY before word processors and even before xerography had become as ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive as it is today. The only method of creating something to be printed was to either type it onto stencils or type it onto paper and use some kind of expensive photographic process to reproduce it. Either way, it had to be typed by someone, namely: us... And there'd be no right hand margin either unless you thought of some way around that too since the typewriter couldn't do it for us.
This is where Charly's experience on his junior high school paper helped us. He had learned that to make a right hand margin with a type writer you had to type every word of every article twice into columns of forty characters for each line. The first time through we typed it with as much as would fit into each line without going past the line's end and added a symbol (we used the letter the letter "x") to end of each line to fill it out --- the resulting number of x's told us how many extra spaces would be needed to fill out a line and maintain a right hand margin when it was completely retyped a second time. It's easier to show than to explain. Here's how the first two paragraphs of our new fanzine's introduction looked when typed in forty character columns when intending to keep a right hand margin:Welcome - to the first issue of Thexx
Long Sword. We Hope that you will en-xx
joy reading it as much as we did putting
The Long Sword is devoted to storiesx
of imagination and adventure, particu-xx
larly those of the monarch of adventure,
Edgar Rice Burroughs, and subjects re-xx
lated to these stories.
Note that the very first lines each ended with two instances of the letter "x" and so did several other lines; two did not because, by chance, they had exactly forty characters in each of them. Here's how the same thing looked when retyped:Welcome - to the first issue of The
Long Sword. We hope that you will en-
joy reading it as much as we did putting
The Long Sword is devoted to stories
of imagination and adventure, particu-
larly those of the monarch of adventure,
Edgar Rice Burroughs, and subjects re-
lated to these stories.
It was a tiresome task but it made a difference and we were complimented for it afterwards.
Then there the need of art because no Burroughs fanzine can ever go without artwork as indeed no Burroughs work can go without illustrations either. For that we relied upon Chuck Pogue and Gary Schauer and they did an equitable job.
The articles came together that spring and into the summer. Charly wrote a piece discussing ERB's prophecies of communist (i.e., Soviet Russian) aims toward Africa. I wrote one about ERB's historical novels. Chuck and Jerry wrote a piece solving the puzzle "The Lightship Murder Mystery" that had been reprinted in a then recent Burroughs Bulletin (old series) by Vern Coriell from the 1930's magazine Rob Wagner's Script as well as some reviews of things new at the time. Chuck wrote about P. C. Wren, author of Beau Geste, and Jerry wrote about Robert E. Howard. Chuck also provided an ERB puzzle.
What was left was to type it. I got everyone to type their contributions beforehand in the format I described above, so as to make possible a right hand margin throughout. Still there was a lot of work to be done and, being teen-aged boys with both limited resources and strange notions of what was really fun, we decided to make a sort of a party out of it. This was the summer of 1965 and we were all still pretty carefree. So, everyone converged on Charly's house; Chuck and Jerry by Greyhound bus; Charly, Gary and I by foot; and we camped out at the Kagay's house for a long weekend of cranking out the thing. We called it our "Long Sword Marathon"… Thank God for Charly's mother and mine. Charly's mother, always obliging, put up with us making noise in their basement all weekend, and my mother fed us all Southern fried chicken for one of our meals.
So we gathered and soon realized that even a long weekend wasn't going to be enough if we only worked during the normal hours, there was too much work to do. To get it done we'd have to work all night too and did. Today it's hard to imagine working all night and still thinking it was fun, but that's exactly what we did and we did have fun! And we "got it out" as they say in the trade.
We made it twenty pages. The cover was photo-offset, an expensive method of making photographic reproductions of printed matter. Of the rest, eight pages consisted of art that was spirit duplicated (that's the formal name of that cheap process that teachers used for years for our tests and quizzes) and ten pages were mimeographed. The main improvement in the spirit duplication of the art was a new means of making a duplicator stencil from a Xerox copy and we found somebody in Dayton who could make those for us; my dad then ran the stuff off for us at his school. The mimeographed pages were done by the mother of another friend who had a machine she used to put out a small regular trade periodical. The offset was done by some company in NYC that did it by mail order; we found their address in the classifieds of Popular Mechanics! When done, collated and stapled; it looked pretty damned good to me! The next step we needed to perform was to distribute it, get it out there and try to find an audience. This we managed to do too by a key move; we took it to that year's Dum-Dum being held in Chicago.
The Dum-Dums were then held in conjunction with the annual World Science Fiction Conventions. In those days ERB was still popular with SF fans, especially older ones. However, in 1965 the World-Con was held in England and this left the Burroughs Bibliophiles to their own devices. They came through by deciding to hold the Dum-Dum separately in Chicago in the old Chicago Hilton Hotel. And we decided to attend; i.e., Charly, Gary and I made plans to attend. Charly's family decided to make it a weekend of their own and drive up there with Charly. Gary and I, ever ready for adventure, opted to take the Greyhound bus up to the Windy City. Charly arrived fairly fresh and ready. Gary and I rode all night on these miserable buses, changing them in Indianapolis about a block from "The Circle" at 2 AM., and we were bushed when we got in there. I began to think that maybe riding a bus was not a good idea of adventure…
The upshot of this was that we showed off The Long Sword to the attendees. John Guidry was our very first subscriber. We met Paul Allen and got our copies of his first issue of the Barsoomian. We met and saw a lot of people we had been reading about in fan magazines. We saw a lot and heard a lot and sold a lot of copies of our first issue of The Long Sword. A highlight for me was when I was asked by Vern Coriell to stand up at one point during a session and be introduced. In short it was a great time and The Long Sword made a small splash. I'll have more to say about that Dum-Dum in a later ERB-APA.
So, we got back home and our fanzine began to attract some attention including plugs in other fanzines. The orders for copies and subscriptions began to trickle in; they never really ROLLED in but they did persistently trickle. We were on the ERB radar screen and soon the winter was approaching, requiring that we do a second issue.
Winter, 1966 and the Second Issue of The Long Sword
Well, when Christmas vacation finally got here in December of 1965, we once again set to work, putting out our second issue. The biggest thing to happen then, besides selling a number of subscriptions to The Long Sword was a package of art that appeared in the mail that fall. It was from a new subscriber from Rhode Island named Dave Peloquin and it just came out the blue. Compared to the best efforts of Chuck Pogue and Gary Schauer it was, well, like night and day. Chuck and Gary had their talents but their art didn't match Dave’s work. We immediately planned to use it and in fact he took over the front cover from there on out.
Another difference was a decision to go 100% mimeograph and offset. We ended up doing eight pages in offset, containing all of our art, and the rest was mimeographed. It made for a vast improvement and eliminated the cheap looking spirit duplicated art for good.
We also found a different place to do the "fun", all-night marathon when a friend of Charly’' offered up his home to us. His mother was the one who had the mimeograph machine, so it was a natural. He lived in a suburb of Columbus and we spent about three nights there typing, talking and having "fun" by staying up all night.
Articles included a piece by Gary Schauer that compared and contrasted Burroughs with Ian Fleming whose James Bond novels were then appearing in the successful series of movies starring Sean Connery. I wrote an article on Burroughs' use of the Frankenstein theme of man making man. Jerry Toner wrote about ERB's prescience beyond merely writing adventure stories. Charly Kagay wrote about the changes that ERB's stories underwent as they progressed from magazine serials to books. Chuck Pogue wrote about the then vast improvements showing up in the Tarzan comic books and we finished up with news and reviews and a short piece on Tarzan movies available in 8mm movie form.
It was a pretty dense issue with a lot of content and the presence of Dave Peloquin's art presaged a much better fanzine. This was a harbinger of things to come.
One more thing happened that week while we were in Columbus. Charly's friend took us into Columbus to look through their used book stores. In one store, while we grumbled about seeing just the usual and very common Tarzan books, I noticed that one title, Tarzan and the Golden Lion, was an odd mustard color and then happened to see the publisher’s name on the spine: A. C. McClurg! I remember shrieking "A. C. McClurg" and snatching the thing from the shelf. It was a bit battered and lacked several plates including the famous "Tarzan and the Golden Lion" painting but it was a FIRST EDITION and the first McClurg I'd ever laid my eyes upon. And it cost me only twenty five cents!
Summer, 1966 and the Third Issue of The Long Sword
Dave Peloquin rapidly blossomed as an artist. He was our artist and everything he did always seemed to be better than everything he had done previously. Issue number three was our first real inkling of how good this guy was to be for us. And we were getting pretty good too. We learned from Paul Allen and others; our writing was better and so was our presentation. The third issue is where we hit our stride. The second issue was possibly more informational but the third issue was just a great looking fanzine; better than most we'd seen with a few notable exceptions.
This time we converged upon Chuck Pogue's home and spent our long weekend typing out this third issue there. Actually, it was fun even if we had to stay up all night to get it done…
Another thing occurred with this issue. Charly and I wrote a song to accompany the lyrics found in The Bandit of Hell's Bend and sung throughout the book by the character Texas Pete. We decided to print the song, arranged and harmonized by my dad, in this issue and wanted to include the lyrics themselves. To that end I wrote to Hulbert Burroughs requesting permission which he gladly gave as long as it was copyrighted. That was fine with us and so we became holders of a copyright that we shared with Edgar Rice Burroughs. It's real too; I found it in Lexis-Nexis copyright files and elsewhere and was renewed by ERB, Inc. in the early 90's—just in case Nashville became interested, I suppose… It appeared in issue #3 with the copyright notation under the title of "Texas Pete’s Song". Talk about busting your buttons! I was on cloud nine for days, weeks afterwards. I'll have more to write on this in a later ERB-APA too.
Other articles included a book review of Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (an authorized pastiche by Fritz Leiber), Charly's "Humor in The Bandit of Hell’s Bend," Chuck's "Forever Class" (an article about his then emerging passion for movies), an article claiming an almost impossible connection between Azimov and ERB, Jerry's article on excesses in literature and my own piece on the then hot Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The issue was beautiful to look at (I thought) and was "all-offset", our first such issue. Because of the extra expense, we raised our subscription fee from four issues for a dollar to a whopping three issues for a dollar, if you can believe that in these days that have followed years of inflation.
We took issue number three to the World-Con being held that year in cross-state Cleveland, Ohio. That was the same con that introduced "Star Trek" and Azimov’s movie, "Fantastic Voyage". The guest of honor at the Dum-Dum was Hulbert Burroughs and if you look carefully at the cover of issue three that I have reproduced above, you'll see his autograph—"To Dick -- Congratulations, Hulbert Burroughs". He was very keenly concerned that we got the copyright notice right and looked it over immediately to see that we had. We didn't fail him, I am happy to say. Hulbert gave a nice slide show presentation at the convention with pictures of lots of things from their warehouse and private collection including a photograph of the dust jacket for the McClurg Tarzan of the Apes. I was in heaven again!
We sold many subscriptions and issues and impressed a few key people, people like George Scithers, who published Amra, a prominent fanzine devoted to Robert E. Howard. He complimented us on our work. It was all a great experience.
Winter, 1967 and the Fourth Issue of The Long Sword
Well, things for this issue weren't quite as smooth. Chuck and Jerry weren't available to help us. Dave Peloquin had done a color cover for us (in colored pencil) that we tried to reproduce in black and white half tones but it didn't work very well.
We also had the bright idea that, after three issues, it was time to do an index for all those Burroughs scholars out there using our words for their research. Actually, we liked to make lists and this was just another one. By chance, the index seemed to be better illustrated than was the issue itself! Because of the index, we shortened the issue to sixteen pages.
The fun marathon was held in Charly's dad's office in downtown Dayton—he trusted us enough to give us full rein there! We did it in the Christmas break of the school year 1966-67 and got the issue out that January.
Articles included some more discussions on The Lord of the Rings, the second half of Chuck's movie survey, Gary Schauer's article on the character of Bull in The Bandit of Hell’s Bend and Charly's article on ERB's philosophies that he saw as evidence of a twentieth century romanticist. It was an OK issue but not up to the quality of issue number three.
Summer, 1967 and the Fifth Issue of The Long Sword
Actually, this issue didn’t appear in 1967 at all. We had intended to get it out during the summer of 1967 but life was beginning to interfere. No one could help out much that summer except for Charly and me. We two tried but couldn't do it all. We did what we could and then set it aside. Anyway, we were all nearing the end of our tenures in high school. I was the oldest of our crew (Gary was next oldest, born about a month after I was) and Chuck, Jerry and Charly were all about a year younger and entering their senior years. We were thinking of things other than ERB, like college (and girls too!).
I was accepted by The Citadel, in Charleston, S.C., entering that fall of 1967, and found myself dwelling on that more and more. The Citadel is a military school and here I was fulfilling some of ERB's youthful passion for military heroics myself! Gary was accepted by Ohio State University. The others were the thinking of what their college choices would be in the following year and preparing to do the steps to apply to them. We didn't fully realize it at the time, but we were fast approaching a big change in our lives; it was called "adulthood". Little did we realize what was in store for us; does anyone?
All of my ERB pen pals were being infected by this disease too. Some of them were older (e.g., Dave Peloquin, Dave Kohr, Joe Maronna and Paul Allen); some were younger (Fred Kwiecien); but we all had to worry about more than Opar and Barsoom, not to mention life and impending adulthood. This extra worry was something we were only starting to feel then; it was the effect of the very hot war in Viet Nam and the draft. After this summer of 1967, I virtually lost track of all my pen pals. I know that Paul Allen finished college and entered the navy, becoming an officer. Paul, Dave Peloquin, Fred Kwiecien, Dave Kohr and the others sadly faded from my life forever, I'd love to get back in contact with them again but I haven't been able to locate them. If any of them ever sees this, I hope they'll contact me.
I went through my freshman year at The Citadel and felt like a changed man. The military experience there was transfiguring. I felt I'd out grown "kid stuff" like ERB and prepared to move on. I think we all felt that way by 1968. But, we also felt we had a duty to perform for our faithful subscribers and we decided to band together once more and finish off this issue #5 that Charly and I had started. This time we gathered again in Fort Thomas, Kentucky at Chuck Pogue's home for our last marathon. This issue we created had such articles as book reviews of I Am a Barbarian and the then recent ERB biography called The Big Swingers, an analysis of the historical aspect of The Outlaw of Torn by one of my pen pals named Joe Maronna, another article on Torn by me, a lot of great Peloquin art and a page of farewells from us. We were officially signing off on it and the summer of 1968 saw the last of The Long Sword. It was the end of an era.
Where are they now?
I became a computer programmer after graduating from The Citadel with a BS in education and an MS in Computer Science from Wright State University. After years of working in the area, chiefly at Lexis-Nexis, I have retired to spend more time with my family… Fortunately, I also didn’t really grow up and drop ERB altogether.
Charly attended Harvard University and, coincidentally, so did Jerry Toner. They roomed together for a while. Both went to law school after Harvard. Charly graduated from Harvard Law School and Jerry from the law school at the University of Kentucky. Charly practices law in San Francisco and Jerry practices in Louisville where he is an acquaintance of George McWhorter. Jerry is also a published writer specializing in Christmas stories with at least three collections of them in print.
Gary Schauer drifted away from us completely and keeps his distance. He worked in his family business for a long time but I am unsure of his present employment status.
Chuck Pogue, as I said, had a passion for the movies. We all observed this back in the late sixties but assumed (I did, anyway) that it was a passing fancy and he'd get on with his "real work" later. He entered the University of Kentucky and majored in journalism, at first. I was surprised to learn years later that he'd just bounced out of that and into the fine arts program of UK and had become an actor. Eventually, he became a screen writer in Hollywood. He has had a number of scripts produced including one I'd seen without realizing that he had written it! That was "The Fly" with Jeff Goldbloom and Geena Davis. Other credits include "Kull the Conqueror", "Dragonheart" and "Psycho 3". He also wrote one of the many unproduced scripts for a movie version of A Princess of Mars. He's now living outside of Lexington, Kentucky.
None of us has completely grown up I must say. Charly still laughs at bad horror and science fiction movies and still has his ERB collection. I rejoined the Burroughs Bibliophiles in the early nineties and now have a pretty good collection of my own. I also covet the collections of others. Chuck is still in the Burroughs Bibliophiles and still has his collection and a lot more. When I last saw Jerry, he was looking for a first edition of Tarzan and "The Foreign Legion". It's pretty hard to do that and still be a "grown up", isn't it! I hope we all stay this way.
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