“Richard A. Lupoff is a mass-culture historian and critic, having written extensively on everything from Buck Rogers to Edgar Rice Burroughs, and novelist (mostly crime and science fiction), and also something of a obsessive collector himself, being the proud owner of thousands upon thousands of vintage paperbacks, comics and Lord-knows-what-else. He’s also, fittingly enough, the author of The Great American Paperback, which draws upon his life-long interests, and actually uses scans from some of his collection.” —Thrilling Detective
Once upon a time (okay—1962 for the literal-minded) three fan boys named Roger Ebert, Vic Ryan and myself joined the fine science fiction writer Wilson “Bob” Tucker and headed to Cincinnati.
Here’s Roger’s recollection of it:
“A year or so after that I joined Tucker and Ed Gorman, a fan from Cedar Rapids, on a trip to the MidWestCon in Cincinnati. We drove in my family’s Dodge, nearly skidding off a road in Indiana, talking all the way about fandom in a giddy rapid-fire exchange of inside jargon. At a motel in Cincinnati, I made people laugh with my reproductions of Bob and Ray routines, and drank a little beer, which felt like a lot of beer to an inexperienced drinker, and—here is the earth-shaking part—I actually met Buck and Juanita Coulson, Dick and Pat Lupoff, and Harlan Ellison!”
Roger could work a room like an experienced politician (I know whereof I speak; later in life I wrote speeches for pols). He was the sensation of the convention. Roger was not only clever and witty he was, most important of all, warm and generous.
The same can be said of Dick and Pat Lupoff. In the early 1960s they were among the bright stars in science fiction fandom and for good reason. Their fanzine Xero was one of the two or three most imposing and important zines ever published, capturing the zeitgeist of the times perfectly. It spoke in a voice I’d never heard before in fandom—urban, hip, controversial. From the hilarious and sometimes snarky cartoons to the serious but always readable reviews and criticism to the sometimes cantankerous letter column, Xero was the most revered fanzine of its time.
It even went where none had gone before (at least not so well) and that was the world of comic books. The thoughtful history of the field turned readers who’d never had much interest in the field into fans and made comic book fans grateful for serious, amusing and respectful surveys of a disdained form. Later Dick and Don Thompson edited All In Color For A Dime, a collection of pieces about comic book history, many of them from Xero. It remains the seminal book on the subject.
One of my favorite photographs of the time shows the Lupoffs regaled in the costumes of Captain and Mary Marvel. The lovely Pat was an integral part of Xero and the photo reflects that. It also speaks of their genuine affection for the various fandoms they were part of.
As a fanboy myself, one who’d published his own zine and appeared in many others, I submitted a piece to Xero and was downright jubilant when it was accepted. This was the pinnacle for my fan writing and I’ve kept my copy for more than half a century now when all my other fanzines except for the wonderful Yandro have been lost, including those containing my own stumbling work.
So . . . Dick Lupoff.
In 1963 he was one of the gods based on his fan work. What I didn’t know, couldn’t know at the time, was that his life was already rich in so many other ways. That’s what this enormous book is about. The Life and Times of one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever known. And even if Dick did pay me a $1.38 to say that, it’s true.
Here we have Dick as boy, student, young man, soldier, boy friend, husband, nascent writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs editor and accomplished and major writer .