Ray Cuthbert – A Collector’s Brief Biography
came by my collecting interests honestly. My father, Chester D.
Cuthbert was the true collector. He amassed what was believed
to be the largest science fiction and fantasy collection in Western Canada
over his lifetime, eventually donating the bulk of it to the University
of Alberta in 2007, a few years prior to his death. My Dad said that
so far as he could recall, the first fantastic novel he read was Edgar
Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan the Terrible, which was printed
as a serial in the Argosy All-Story magazine, a weekly magazine
his own father subscribed to. It was first published as a serial
in the pulp magazine Argosy All-Story Weekly in the issues for February
12, 19, and 26 and March 5, 12, 19, and 26, 1921. By the age of twelve
my Dad’s favourite author had changed from Burroughs to Abraham Merritt,
whose novel The Ship of Ishtar, published in the same Argosy
All-Story Weekly magazine beginning November 8, 1924. Chester
loved the novel so much that he would read it nearly annually for most
of the rest of his life.
Hugo Gernsback, often referred to as the “Father of Science
Fiction” published two of my Dad’s stories in the February and July
1934 issues of Wonder Stories, when he was 21 years of age and single.
Both were deemed good enough that they were later reprinted in book or
Growing up with such a collection as my Dad’s meant two things: (1)
collecting was both normal and to be aspired to, and (2) there is no way
that I could compete with my father’s collection of science fiction and
fantasy, so I'd better pursue my own interests which were mainly about
comic art. My Dad and I shared an interest in the writings of Edgar
Rice Burroughs, and because of this my Dad gave me his collection of the
works of Edgar Rice Burroughs which I have supplemented in the years
prior to and since that gift was made.
I started buying comic books in 1963 with my huge allowance of 5 cents
a week. Since comic books were 12 cents each I needed to save up
three weeks for the first comic book and two more weeks to get a second!
I never gave up purchasing comic books except for a period of months
when I was transitioning from university student to graduate school student.
In 1976 I began an even more satisfying aspect to my collecting – I began
collecting original comic and fantasy artwork. My favourite artist
since childhood has always been Alex Raymond, who created the FLASH
GORDON, JUNGLE JIM, SECRET AGENT X-9 and RIP KIRBY comic strips. My collection
has a number of examples by this wonderful artist, as well as a number
of other favourites familiar to collectors of comics and Burroughs such
as Dave Stevens, Frank Cho, Al Williamson Mark Schultz, J. Allen St.
John, Frank Frazetta, Thomas Grindberg and a number of other artists
whose work excites me. That portion of my collection is so large
that there will never be enough wall-space to display it all, and much
of that portion of my collection is in art portfolios.