In Memoriam: Comics Historian, Writer and author Ron Goulart

We’re sorry to report the passing of Ron Goulart, award-winning American author and historian of comics and pulps, who died this week (14th January), one day after his 89th birthday.

Ron Goulart F&SF 60th Anniversary South Street Seaport, in 2009. Photo: Houari Boumedienne | Via Creative Commons

Besides writing extensively about pulp fiction, including the seminal Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of Pulp Magazines (1972), Goulart had written for the pulps since 1952, when The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction published his first story, a sci-fi parody of letters to the editor. He went on to write dozens of novels and countless short stories, spanning genres and using a variety of pennames, including Kenneth Robeson, Joseph Silva, and Con Steffanson.

In the 1970’s, Goulart wrote novels starring series characters like Flash Gordon and the Phantom, and in 1978 released Calling Dr. Patchwork (1978), a comic sci-fi novel that began the Odd Jobs, Inc. series; and created the brilliant newspaper strip, Star Hawks, with Gil Kane, most recently republished by IDW.

After Things Fell Apart (1970) is the only science-fiction novel to ever win an Edgar Award. Its outline sounds almost prescient, set in a future, fractured America, disrupted by internal factionalism as well as a short-lived foreign invasion. “Out of this chaotic background. Ron Goulart has produced an imaginative, fast-paced an constantly delightful odyssey through our possible future,” notes the Fantastic Fiction site.

He was also the ghost writer for William Shatner’s popular TekWar novels, Goulart also wrote several comic mystery series, including six books starring Groucho Marx.

He was author of comics and several books on the history of the art form, including Comic Book Culture (1980), The Great Comic Book Artists (1986), Ron Goulart’s Great History of Comicbooks (1986), The Encyclopedia of American Comics (1990), and the Comic Book Encyclopedia (2004).

“I don’t know how many books Ron wrote and I wonder if even he did,” commented author Mark Evanier in a tribute. “A lot of them had other folks’ names on them as author, sometimes even William Shatner’s.

“… He was a great lover of comic books and a fine historian of the form,” Mark added. “He dabbled now and then in writing for comics and at one point, collaborated with artist Gil Kane on an ahead-of-its-time newspaper strip called Star Hawks.

“The last time Ron and I were together – which I now sadly realize was too long ago – we had a long talk about how he wished he fit in better with the comic book field but kept finding more comfort in prose writing.

“He was awfully good at it. He was awfully good at everything he did.”

“Ron is one of my favourite writers, but he was also one of my favourite contributors to Pulphouse and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction,” noted author Kristine Kathryn Rusch. “His manuscripts, before he got a computer, were always typed on yellow (or blue or pink) paper, and hand corrected…with maybe a dozen bits of whiteout per page. I came to think of those manuscripts As Ron back when I was editing.

“I’m so glad we still have his writing. I’m so very glad I knew him.”

“I have known Ron since the late 1970s and had him write about classic comic strips for me at Comics Scene,” notes writer Robert Greenberger. “He was never less than professional and he always had a good story to share… his histories of comic books, comic strips, the pulps remain invaluable resources. His SF, crime, and media tie-in books (The Phantom and Challengers of the Unknown among them) were always enjoyable. And he’s the only one I know to turn Groucho Marx into a private investigator, without losing the character.

“His type of writer is a vanishing breed and Ron will be seriously missed.”

Ron Goulart, 13th January 1933 – 14th January 2020

Rick Marschall: Ron Goulart – Chronicler of Many Adventurous Decades

“Many aspects of Ron Goulart will live forever. Not the least in the fond memories and now broken hearts of many friends and uncountable strangers he inspired.”

Fantastic Fiction has a visual guide to Ron Goulart’s books here

Wikipedia: Ron Goulart

Categories: Books, Comic Art, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Magazines, Obituaries, Other Worlds, Science Fiction, US Comics

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