By Luke E. Dodd
(Editors' Note: This is a preview of a larger study Dodd is conducting. The full study will be made available on our web page in December. Figures appended. JRC and NE)
Publication of The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E. Howard and Pulp Studies (hereafter, TDM) dates to August of 1990. Over more than 30 years, this journal has provided over 1,800 pages of content both for and from the Robert E. Howard fandom. To date, TDM has spanned 24 issues.
Given the long tenure of this publication, lead editorial efforts have shifted over the history of TDM. Across all editorial eras, the publication rate of TDM has been 0.9 ± 0.2 (mean ± SE) issues per year. However, TDM has maintained a rate of 1.3 ± 0.4 issues per year since the landmark 25th anniversary issue, and since 2019 the journal has maintained a twice-annual publication schedule. Along a similar trajectory, the page count of any given TDM issue has increased dramatically over the years (see Figure 1 above). While the length of TDM has averaged 75 ± 6 pages across all issues, the journal currently hews consistently to a length of 100 pages per issue. These metrics indicate substantial growth of the journal across multiple decades.
Across the full tenure of the journal, the majority of all entries in TDM have been either scholarly articles (47%) or reviews of published works (22%). Authorship of these pieces of criticism has varied widely over the decades, and serves as a testament to an inquisitive, vocal fandom that includes both established members of the field as well as newcomers to works of Robert E. Howard. Indeed, 63 individuals have contributed scholarly articles, notes, and reviews to TDM. Considering these, the most published contributors to TDM include Charles Hoffman (10 entries), followed by Rusty Burke (9 entries) and Dr. Charles Gramlich (8 entries). Editorial materials in TDM (21%) have spanned a variety of topics, and include not only prefatory remarks, but occasionally interviews, opinion pieces, or special features.
Considering general trends across editorial eras, scholarly articles and notes tend to provide about half of the total contributions to TDM, while total editorial and review entries have been more variable over the years (see Figure 2 below). Importantly, memorials penned for deceased members of the field (3%) have also been featured in TDM across editorial eras, as well rarer materials from Robert E. Howard himself (6%). These contributions underscore the important inclusion of irregular miscellany in TDM over the years.
The author extends a hearty thanks to the Robert E. Howard Foundation, and specifically www.howardworks.com for their tireless efforts to catalog the publication history of Robert E. Howard; nearly all data summarized here was procured from that resource. Data visualizations in this publication were generated in R (version 3.6.0; R Core Team 2019; https://www.r-project.org//). Many thanks also go to Josh Adkins for conversations and suggestions related to data visualization. Finally, the author extends a deep gratitude to the many editors of TDM for their many decades of service to pulp fandom.
Luke E. Dodd is a professor, scientist, devourer of music, and collector of hobbies. He is one of the three hosts of The Cromcast, a podcast dedicated to the works of Robert E. Howard and other weird fiction (www.thecromcast.blogspot.com). He lives in Kentucky with his wife and son.