On October 22nd 2017, Edgar Rice Burroughs fandom lost not just another fan, but one of the ‘greats’ that walked amongst us. He never used to say much, never had a big crowd around him, just went about his business in a quiet and unassuming way that you would hardly notice he was there. And yet, he was so knowledgeable about Burroughs that you could ask him almost anything and get a response that would enlighten you.
As we all know, Pete published the fanzine Erbania, originally from his home in Blackpool where he lived at the time. His first issue came out in April 1956 and in his opening editorial, commented that there were only three other fanzines in existence, all from the United States. The first was of course the Burroughs Bulletin, published by Vern Coriell in July 1947. The second came a little longer than a year later when Wallace Stone would publish The Amtorian on October 23rd 1948. The third was Operation Burroughs in August 1952 by Joseph Miller, but this changed its name to The Barsoomian and later became incorporated with Erbania in issue 3.
Pete’s goal was to bring a taste of Burroughs to English fans and what they were missing as to that being published in the United States. The main publisher in England was Methuen – there are others, but Methuen had the majority of the market. English editions had their dust jackets illustrated for the most part using the American covers, but occasionally would use British artists on some editions, meaning that British audiences never saw the U.S. counterpart covers for those editions. It was this difference that Pete wanted to bring to the British fans and also the fact that there were several stories that have never been published this side of the Atlantic even to this day.
Joe Musso, Pete Ogden, George McWhorter ECOF 1989
Pete published his first five issues from 3 Belgrave Road in Blackpool, England, then issues #6 through #9 from 46 Chester Avenue in Poulton (near Blackpool). He quickly gained a U.S. agent in Alfred Guillory, Jr. with issue #2 to co-ordinate new U.S. subscribers and eased the exchange difficulties between currencies. His last issue from England was dated March 1960 and on May 6th 1960, Pete and his wife Joan set sail for Canada, setting up home at 504 Douglas Avenue in Windsor, Ontario.
The following year on February 25th, Alfred Guillory was driving his Renault car through Eunice, Louisiana when it was struck by the Missouri Atlantic train at a level crossing. Alfred was killed instantly. He had just turned 25 years of age and only months before, had co-launched ERB-dom with Camille “Caz” Cazedessus II in May 1960.
With the help and sponsorship of Bob Hyde, who had become President of the newly formed Burroughs Bibliophiles, the Ogden’s were able to move south to Florida and set up home in the Otto Apartments in Tampa from which he published his first U.S. edition of Erbania with number 13. By September 1964, Pete and Joan had moved again to 8001 Fernview Lane in Tampa and from there #17 was published but in a smaller format and Bill Dutcher, who would later publish his own fanzine The Jasoomian, for a time became Pete’s assistant editor.
Earth / Moon upper right, Mars far left March 4th 1866
Several of the early issues of Erbania set up some great debates amongst the fans, such as the “The Red Herring” in issue #27, regarding the birthdates of Tarzan and Korak, that brought a response from Philip José Farmer no less in the following issue. Later, under the pseudonym of Filbert J. Blaggard, Pete wrote an article in #35 titled “John Carter, Hero or ?,” in which he pointed out that Carter could not have seen Mars in early March 1866 from Arizona, as the planet was in conjunction at the time, 205 million miles from Earth on the opposite side of the sun. He also pointed out that in Swords of Mars, John Carter stated that he was at the World’s Fair in 1893, when he should have been on Mars. Blaggard then had the temerity to ask what truly happened to his friend Powell if Carter was not on Mars. This brought a rapid response in the following issue from India Boone and John Flint Roy. And as an indication of Pete’s humour, he attacked his own article under yet another pseudonym, Philboyd J. Feeley, with a response in issue #37 titled “John Carter Is No Jailbird.”
Pete and Joan Ogden at the Dum-Dum 2009
Bearing in mind that issue #35 was published in June 1974, long before the existence of the internet and computers were only in the hands of large corporations, the fact that Pete was able to work out the position of Mars and the Earth over a 100 years earlier is quite remarkable. The attached image is taken from the program available at: www.faustweb.net/solaris where a date can be selected that will give the location of the planets at any given time.
In 2001 with a little persuasion from his fellow fans, Pete hosted the Dum-Dum in Tampa, with special guests Lydie Denier, who played Jane in the early 1990s “Tarzan” half-hour TV series, and Steve Hawkes, the star of two unauthorized Tarzan films. One of his original guests had been Eleanor Holm who played the character of “Eleanor” opposite Glenn Morris in the 1938 film Tarzan’s Revenge. However, Holm fell ill shortly before she was due to show and had to cancel. Unfortunately she passed away a little more than two years later.
Pete Ogden and Laurence Dunn. ECOF 1989
At the 2009 Dum-Dum in Dayton, Ohio, hosted by Dick Spargur, Pete became one of the only two recipients of the Burroughs Empire Medal, underscoring his place in ERB fandom (George T. McWhorter was the recipient of the other). Earlier at the 1988 ECOF gathering in Greystoke, England, Pete became the fifth recipient of the Bibliophiles’ Outstanding Achievement Award, presented to him by Frank Westwood.
Pete began to lose his sight in later years, and eventually decided that after almost 60 years – a feat probably unparalleled in fandom - to call it a day with the publication of Erbania #103 (Winter 2013). Pete had worked at Sears and Roebuck for most of his working life in the U.S. eventually retiring to enjoy family life.
One small peculiarity about Pete was the “D” that stood in front of his name. It actually stands for Derek but for reasons known only to him and his family, he preferred to use his second given name.
He is survived by his wife Joan, two sons Steve and Wayne, and grandchildren.
(1932 – 2017)
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