Admittedly, that Realmgard’s finest Pulp writer Howard R. Morton is named for Texas’ finest Pulp writer Robert E. Howard should be fairly apparent.
Though part of deciding to name him “Howard R. Morton” is meant less to be a direct reference and more just to replicate the “Two First Names and a Middle Initial” pattern.
Honestly, I’ve never intended for Howard R. Morton to be a direct parody or Fantastical version of the real Robert E. Howard, mostly I just went with a reference to my favourite Pulp writer because I needed a name for the author of the Krimson Katja stories — a reference, of course, to Red Sonja.
If anything, Howard R. Morton’s probably going to end up being a fictional version of me…
Again, it’s worth reminding that Red Sonja is not, in fact, a Robert E. Howard character. She was created for Marvel Conan comics, though Howard did have a story featuring a character named Red Sonya — admittedly an inspiration for the later Red Sonja but notable for being rather more grounded than the later character, due in part to Howard’s Sonya featuring in a story set during the 1529 Siege of Vienna and being from Ukraine (specifically the parts that were under Polish-Lithuanian control in 1529).
“Pela,” Amara as she steps into the room. “You forgot your gloves at the Lyte’s tavern. I happened to be in the neighbourhood and —”
She stops mid-stride on the threshold of the Strahlends’ living room when she sees the Strahlends’ current esteemed guest.
“By the Powers!” she exclaims, balanced precariously on the edge of a swoon that would not be out of place in the latest volume of Happenings at Bridgewalltonshire Priory.
Pela surges to her feet and guides her friend to one of the couches.
“Here. Sit down, Amara,” Pela says. “And don’t forget to breathe.”
“By! The! Powers!” Amara repeats, gazing raptly at the man seated at the other end of the very same couch. “You’re Howard R. Morton! The Howard. R. Morton!”
She starts desperately fanning herself with her hand.
“ByThePowersByThePowersByThePowersByThePowersByThePowersByThePowers,” she gasps.
A tall, well-built man, Howard R. Morton fits poorly in a living and a house designed with Dwarves and Goblins in mind, though he bears his ill-suitedness to his environs with the quiet, unflinching stoicism and dignity befitting one of his epic literary heroes.
Pela looks over to him. “Amara’s a big fan, Mr. Morton,” she explains.
He nods. “I gathered that, yeah,” he mutters.
“I think she’s read all the Krimson Katja stories,” Pela says.
She glances over to her mother, who’s seated on the living room’s other couch.
“Oh, and she likes your stories, too, Mom,” she assures her mother.
“Would you like some tea, dear?” Eleonora asks Amara. “It will help calm your nerves.”
“Thank you,” Amara, her voice cracking as she reaches for the cup and saucer.
“It’s always nice to meet a fan,” Howard offers.
To be addressed so familiarly by her largest literary hero causes Amara’s eyes to go wide in reverential awe.
And to choke on her tea.
“Oh dear,” she mutters. “I am making a fool out of myself.”
“Take your time,” Howard tells her gently. “I was exactly the same way the first time I met Mrs. Eleonora.”
“And now look at us,” Eleonora interjects. “We’re tea buddies!”
The prospect of regularly having tea with Howard R. Morton use makes Amara’s eyes go even wider.
“Well,” he offers. “How about this. I’ll just ask a question, and you only have to nod or shake your head?”
Amara nods mutely.
“So, you’re a big Krimson Katja fan?”
Amara nods mutely.
“And you’ve read all my books?”
Amara nods mutely.
“Mr. Morton,” Amara asks timidly, having finally regained her wits to remember how to speak. “I have a question, if I may.”
“Go on,” Howard says.
“Why in the world is Krimson Katja always wearing nothing more than wrought iron undergarments?” she asks.
Howard nods knowingly.
“It’s always her armour,” he says, heaving a heavy sigh. “Actually, that’s my illustrator’s and my publisher’s fault, and not something I get much say in. Most of the Krimson Katja readers are men, and apparently it catches my readers’ attention to have her dressed — well, like that.”
“And is, by chance, your illustrator also a man?” Amara asks
Fangirl Amara be like:
Incidentally, while Red Sonja the comic book character has basically always been depicted wearing a metal two-piece swimsuit, Robert E. Howard’s original Red Sonya is generally depicted in armour, that — while drawn to, ahem, accommodate (if not accentuate) the, uh, female form — is all in all pretty reasonable.
Men, I am right?
As you may have guessed, Red Sonja was indeed created by a man (also in the 70s, when this sort of thing would have been much less controversial), though several recent runs in the comics have been written and/or drawn by women.
And, finally, a reminder to check up this week’s epilogue chapter of Fryte’s Gold here:
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