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Richard Allen Lupoff: Among the Memories

In preparation for the upcoming book promotion, Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff posed for me at the 1969 St. Louiscon World Science Fiction Convention. Nearly two decades later, Ken Lupoff joined Dick, Pat, Don, and me for this photo at a Comic-Con International: San Diego.

To begin with, it should be noted that Dick Lupoff’s life was never just about comic books: far from it. While he and Pat were among the pioneers of a fan-publishing focus on comic books, his credits include:

1963 Hugo Award Winner for the fanzine Xero (with some of his later output in a variety of fields also nominated for awards)

1960s Canaveral Press editor with a focus on reprinting Edgar Rice Burroughs material

1967 Beginning of professional writing career, often focused on science-fiction, fantasy, and mystery genres (with the footnote that his “12:01 P.M.” preceded Groundhog Day by two decades)

1977 Beginning a KPFA-FM book-focused radio series of interviews and reviews

When Don Thompson and I first met each other in 1957, our conversation was nonstop about pop culture years before it became a common term. But it wasn’t until we saw Dick and Pat Lupoff as Captain and Mary Marvel at the 1960 Pittcon costume competition that Don and I started to discuss publishing an actual fanzine about comic art.

But that wasn’t all that the Lupoffs contributed to the world. Their Hugo Award eventually recognized the entirety of Xero — with contributions from such folks as Dan Adkins, James Blish, Lin Carter, Landon Chesney, Buck and Juanita Coulson, Avram Davidson, Roger Ebert, Harlan Ellison, Jim Harmon, Larry Ivie, Roy Krenkel, Richard Kyle, Frederik Pohl, Bhob Stewart, Steve Stiles, Roy Thomas, Arthur Thomson, Donald E. Westlake, and Donald A. Wollheim … (And, yes, there were many more than that.)

There were other contents in Xero #1 (September 1960) (Pat Lupoff’s discussion of Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan trilogy and Harlan Ellison’s review of Psycho, to name two) but this was a pioneering moment.

But facts, dates, awards: They don’t convey just how much fun it was to hang out with Dick and Pat — and how eternally kind they were as hosts. I’m speaking here as one among many who experienced their kindness. For example, they: provided home base, as Don and I explored Manhattan’s comics publishers; played host, as Don and I visited Poughkeepsie to tour the Western printing operation; and brainstormed collecting a bunch of nostalgia articles into book collections that others could share. Heck, I haven’t even mentioned their kindness, as the plans for us all to see the Broadway show It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman fell through — and they arranged to substitute the off-Broadway The Mad Show. They were there for us so that we could attend John Benson’s multi-day New York City comics convention that same year (with Pat and me as two of the four attending females). And it was grand to see them more than once at Comic-Con International: San Diego.

Cover editor credits for the Arlington House collections (1970 and 1973) were swapped: symbolic of the friendly work ethic involved in the project. The two books were instigated by Ace editor Terry Carr (who suggested arranging the first hardcover so that Ace could do a mass-market paperback reprint).

And now?

It’s still grand to have the memories — and to see their kids helping to preserve those memories. Do check out his Wikipedia entry, and if you want to see Dick’s early reactions to what was happening in the early days of comics fandom, you can find his 1961 “Re-Birth” essay here. 

These — and many more — memories are a blessing.

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