Category Archives: AAW History and Affiliates

Ramirez’s abundant bibliography now available

A new link has been added to the “Our Members” section, below the name of Allied Authors of Wisconsin member Thomas P. Ramirez. This is both a first and substantial step in compiling the complete bibliography of Tom’s work.

Thomas P. Ramirez

Thomas P. Ramirez

Nearly all of Tom’s 150-plus novels were issued under pseudonyms (e.g., Tony Calvano) or publishers’ house-names, which has proven to be an obstacle to recognition. The novels, averaging perhaps 225 pages or roughly 50,000 words each, tally a total of 7-8 million words.

Tom was a later-day “pulp smith,” writing erotic novels during the two decades following the demise of such magazines. The titles, which are shocking by today’s standards of political correctness, were usually supplied by the respective publisher. Most were written-to-order as pornographic novels during the 1960s and early ’70s, vividly describing with words what vintage mass-market paperback covers had, for decades, thrived on provocatively suggesting.

Despite this signal purpose, what could be overlooked is the careful plotting, thorough research and (for those of us who lived then) the authentic 1960s patina that went into the books. Each is written with captivating verve that compels reading.

Tom was ultimately drawn into the industry’s beleaguered history, defending free speech (more on that here: https://allied-authors.org/our-members/thomas-p-ramirez/), but eventually as the written word gave way to the VCR and other modes of delivery, he moved on, toned things down and entered the mass-market mainstream. There he produced several highly regarded Phoenix Force action books and even several soap operas for a Ballantine series.

The bibliography is a work-in-progress. We hope to add short fiction and nonfiction in the future. Additions, corrections and comments are welcome and can be sent to allied-authors@hotmail.com or Denysbarry@aol.com.

John D. Haefele submitted this article.


AAW member’s 30-year-old book reviewed anew

AAW member Thomas P. Ramirez ghost wrote this and several other Phoenix Force novels in the 1980s.

AAW member Thomas P. Ramirez ghost wrote this and several other Phoenix Force novels in the 1980s.

Evidence that books are eternal, a novel written in 1982 by Allied Author of Wisconsin member Thomas P. Ramirez  was recently reviewed at Chess, Comics and Crosswords.

The review of Phoenix Force: Atlantic Scramble appeared as part of the blog’s  “Friday’s Forgotten Books” feature.

Ramirez ghost wrote the book, along with several other installments of the action-packed military fiction series.

Read the full review here.


Bloch-Heads

Before publication of Psycho in 1959, before his purely coincident move to California that same year, Robert Bloch cast his spell upon the Milwaukee Fictioneers, that notable group of Wisconsin writers. Its effect began soon after his famous correspondent H. P. Lovecraft passed away in 1937 and endured throughout waning years and the final months in 1954 of the iconic Weird Tales magazine.

In 1987, near the end of Bloch’s life, historian Jack Koblas conducted a 90-minute interview with Bloch (transcribed in The Lovecraft Circle and Others: As I Remember Them, Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2012) that touches briefly on this period to reveal a little more of this lost history of the Fictioneers. Under discussion: the 1930s. Subject underway: Bloch’s young friend (future SF & Mystery writer) Henry Kuttner, still a beginner: “You told me,” Koblas reminds Bloch, “that you did something with Kuttner. Did you collaborate with Kuttner?” Bloch answers:

“The Black Kiss,” but he had been trying to sell that story and he couldn’t. He gave it to me and he said, “Do something with it.” So I rewrote it and I used the basic premise that he had, and that was published…. Then I wrote another one for the Milwaukee Fictioneers and one of the writers, who had been a very successful writer of boys’ books, a real good writer, a nature writer, dying to get into Weird Tales. He couldn’t do it. He submitted it. He said, “What can I do?” and I said let me see some of it. He showed me a story and I said I think this will work but I think it would have to be restyled. He said, “Would you collaborate with me on it?” I did, I rewrote it, and it was printed—Jim Kjelgaard, printed as “The Man Who Told the Truth.” Then I did one on the same basis for another member of the Fictioneers, for Strange Stories, Ralph Milne Farley…. (41)

Indeed “The Black Kiss,” bylined “Robert Bloch and Henry Kuttner,” was published in the June 1937 Weird Tales, but this is not Kuttner’s first WT story, though undoubtedly it did help pave the way for others to follow (there would be fourteen more of his own); Kuttner in fact had appeared there nine times already. Kjelgaard had been there, too, logging three individual appearances before “The Man Who Told the Truth” (none identified as collaborations) in 1946, which turned out to be his last. And the same must be said of Farley, who booked eleven stories from 1930 to 1943.

What must have happened is that all of these authors believed they would learn more about their craft through Bloch’s reworking of their stories. Learning from each other was (and is) a hallmark of Milwaukee Fictioneer-Allied Authors, and there apparently was a lot that could be learned from Bloch, who in these pre-Hollywood days chalked up 67 appearances in Weird Tales, equivalent or surpassing numbers elsewhere, and who effortlessly might have landed oodles more had WT not folded.

John D. Haefele submitted this article. (© 2012 all rights reserved)


A Derleth Christmas card

No one has yet performed the daunting task of preparing the complete bibliography of Wisconsin writer and publisher August Derleth, which might fill two thick volumes or more with small print.

Alison M. Wilson came closest, compiling a bibliography of Derleth that is both academic and rigorous, but only in some categories.  Facing a project that was “swelling” (Introduction) to “impossible dimensions,” Wilson quickly realized she needed to waive many standard components of the typical catalog. August Derleth: A Bibliography (Scarecrow Press, 1983) has neither the section of Verse (Derleth’s poetry collections and anthologies are listed, but perhaps a thousand or more individual listings are missing) nor of Reviews and Columns (Derleth appeared weekly at least in newspapers for nearly all of forty years); nor does it have a section of items written about Derleth.

Also missing—obviously—are publications after 1983 (three decades’ worth), unpublished manuscripts and other materials (first uncovered in the 1990s), most published letters, much nonfiction (especially for the Small Press), and many reviews of Derleth’s books.  Despite these omissions, Wilson fills well over 200 pages, listing 736 primary items.

Derleth himself is partially responsible for any lack of completeness, having meticulously recorded, published and circulated his own bibliographies during most of his career.  As a result, few readers found it necessary to track anything on their own.  Unfortunately, this had a downside, for Derleth focused only on his published books and also because the last compilation he did in 1962 is lacking the final (and most important) decade of his life.

I was reminded of bibliographies only a week ago when I made an astonishing discovery in a Wisconsin antique store.  Though only once had I seen one before—and that was in a photograph—I recognized immediately (though they were partially hidden) Derleth Christmas cards.  I decided to purchase the small stack of them, no matter how many or what the dealer was asking.

Print of an original August Derleth Christmas card

There were five cards, and each also featured a reproduction of a woodcut by Wisconsin artist Frank Utpatel.  I will assume that for consecutive years Derleth chose one he newly favored for inspiration, composed a new Christmas/New Year poem, and then stamped these onto heavy stock paper to give as a holiday greeting.  Derleth personalized each by signing them individually and adding to a few warm patches of yellow moonlight.

None of the five poems published thus are in Alison Wilson’s bibliography, where all contents of all Derleth’s poetry collections are listed in full.  So these too must one day be added to make a complete bibliography of August Derleth, and I will see that they are.

Print of an original August Derleth Christmas card

Prolific Wisconsin author August Derleth was a life-long friend of Allied Authors. A proponent of Wisconsin regional writing and fan of genre-writing, Derleth maintained ties with numerous Allied Authors members. A business man and editor, he promoted and sporadically published their work.

John D. Haefele submitted this article (© 2012 all rights reserved)


Dubious Derleth

Though he is gone now more than four decades, raising the subject of August Derleth, the dean of Wisconsin writing, to members of Allied Authors elicits mixed and cautious reactions.

Though few present-day Allied Authors were around when “Aug” (as he was affectionately called) was in his heyday, even those who have not read his many books think they know one thing about the famous Sauk City author and publisher because of an anecdote recounting an event in 1968, when the relatively young Council for Wisconsin Writers, an organization of volunteers promoting Wisconsin writing through awards, education and media recognition, announced the 1967 awards.

Recalled once more, for the Sept. 2007 issue of The Quill Driver by the editor, we have the story this time “according to Jerry (Jerry Apps, the 2007 winner) and told to him by Robert Gard” (U.W. writing instructor):

In the early years CWW gave only one award per year—best book by a Wisconsin author.  As the story goes, Run, Rainey, Run by Mel Ellis and a book of poetry by August Derleth, were among the finalists.  As Mel Ellis was announced the winner, August Derleth, who had written well over 100 books by that time, jumped to his feet.  Red in the face and jumping to his feet and storming out, Derleth yelled, “No damned dog book should ever win over a book of poetry.”

Only this time, either because the unnamed editor or Jerry himself had gained insight into Aug’s display, the article goes on to say, “And so it was that CWW thought that perhaps they should give out more than one award per year,” with Jerry adding, “Maybe it was a stretch to judge a dog book and a poetry book in the same class—sort of like judging a Holstein cow and an apple pie in the same class at a country fair!”

But was this enough to help Aug’s reputation?  Derleth had been a long-time friend of Allied Authors, but in 1967 Mel Ellis was active member.  Derleth helped found CWW in 1963, but so did Allied Authors members Donald Emerson, Larry Lawrence, Larry Keating, Al P. Nelson and Larry Sternig.

To this day loyalty trumps empathy.  But what should interest Allied Authors and others is what influential Wisconsin writer Edna Meudt had to say for Wisconsin Academy Review (19.2, 1972) in the article she titled, “August Derleth: ‘A Simple, Honorable Man.’”  She wrote:

Much has been written of this incident, of [Derleth’s] resignation from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, and of his walking out on their awards celebration.  His actions were misinterpreted as “juvenile,” “a feud with the Council,” and a “lack of respect for the book that won.”  His decision was, in fact, a long-considered one.  As for the “feud” he dismissed that with a quotation from Eliot’s Four Quartets: “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.”  He had reviewed favorably the book that was to win.  And he had been suggesting that the award be changed from “For a Best Literary Work (by a resident Wisconsin Writer)” to “For a Book of Outstanding Merit…” for two reasons: (1) This new designation would eliminate much criticism of the choices.  (2) The award could then be limited (the $1,000 top prize sponsored by the Johnson Wax Foundation) to a one-time only reception.  “As it stands,” he wrote me, “such a designation will always be open to question, and it cannot be limited.  The ‘best’ is ‘best’ and it can’t be done otherwise.”  […]

Derleth’s entry had been The Collected Poems, the cream of thirty years work, restructured to make a unity to stand behind the Apologia—illuminating a philosophy and a way of life; poems that had been praised by major poets from Edgar Lee Masters to last year’s Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress, William Stafford.  By its author’s published statement the award-winning book was his first, turned out in three weeks at the urging of his agent to meet a nature-book contest deadline.  [And here Edna emphasizes] Again: Had it been for “Outstanding merit,” August would not have withdrawn from the Council; it was the “Best Literary Work” decision he protested.

Elsewhere in the article Meudt reflects: “August had an objectivity that must have been difficult for him to live with, and there was in him that which would not ever permit his taking the easy course.  About the CWW awards she adds, “Never was this illustrated more clearly.”

Knowing this, will it change how the Allied Authors feel about Aug’s behavior that day?  Perhaps not, but it does help explain it.  The “best” award went away—today CWW issues “achievement” awards in eight categories: Short Fiction, Poetry Book, Short Nonfiction, Children’s Literature, Book-length Nonfiction, Book-length Fiction, Outdoor, and Poetry—and the historical record merely shows Mel’s win for Run, Rainy, Run as CWW’s 1967 Book-length Nonfiction recipient and Derleth’s Collected Poems the 1967 Poetry recipient.

Prolific Wisconsin author August Derleth was a life-long friend of Allied Authors. A proponent of Wisconsin regional writing and fan of genre-writing, Derleth maintained ties with numerous Allied Authors members. A business man and editor, he promoted and sporadically published their work.

John D. Haefele submitted this article (© 2012 all rights reserved)


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