John Myers Myers: From Conan To Doc Holliday


Author John Myers Myers passed on thirty years ago today. If for no other reason, his novel, The Harp and the Blade, would justify a blog post about him here on the DMR blog. However, Myers wrote many other interesting works and the arc of his life holds some interest as well.

John Myers Myers was born in Northport, Long Island on January 11, 1906. That's just eleven days before the birth of Robert E. Howard. There are a few other interesting parallels between the two men.

Like REH, Myers attended college but never received a degree. Like Howard, he was fond of writing poetry and, so the story goes, got kicked out of one college for writing unflattering verse about the faculty. Myers did some work writing for newspapers and periodicals, as did REH. In fact, it appears that JMM once lived in Texas and wrote for The San Antonio Evening News. He grew to love the West so much that he permanently settled in Arizona.


However, what really struck me was that Myers started his fiction-writing career with a novel about a black-haired warrior named Conan and then gradually moved on to writing almost exclusively about the American West. Robert E. Howard scholars are fairly unanimous in the view that Bob was moving in that direction when he died, albeit with him still writing some fantasy fiction now and then, which is precisely what Myers actually did. I can easily see Howard writing something like The Westerners or Doc Holliday as he grew older.

All of this is not to say that Myers wrote exactly like REH or that he was as good a writer as Howard. Myers was his own man--albeit probably a Howard fan--and he wrote some books, like Silverlock, that I can't really see Howard writing. Like The Harp and the BladeSilverlock requires it's own post. I'll suffice it--for now--to say that Poul Anderson, Jerry Pournelle and Gordon Dickson were all fans of the novel.

A novel that I haven’t read by Myers that I look forward to is Out On Any Limb. Apparently, it's a swashbuckler set in Elizabethan England--Solomon Kane territory--and I've got a feeling that it will deliver the goods.