Steve Tompkins died ten years ago today. I and a few other bloggers will be posting blog entries in tribute to Steve, whom I consider the best “genre” blogger of the first decade in this twenty-first century. Below, you'll find a very concise history of Mr. Tompkins' life and hyperlinks to all of his blog entries and online essays. This post is intended to function as a one-stop guide to Steve's online legacy.
Grab a mead-horn and lash yourself to the rudder, Gentle Reader, 'cuz this is gonna be a long one...
Steve Tompkins was born in New England. From childhood, he was a huge fan of weird fiction, especially that of Robert E. Howard. He was also a big fan of Marvel comics, Sergio Leone movies and James Bond. After high school, he studied in Europe for several years. Upon his return to the States, he once again pursued his love of genre fiction, eventually joining the Robert E. Howard United Press Association (REHupa) in 1995. It was within the ambit of that group of REH fans that Steve really began to write fantasy literary criticism in earnest, drawing upon his extremely wide knowledge of the field. Meanwhile, he also posted occasionally online, especially at the REH Yahoo group, “rehinnercircle.”
The year 2001 saw Steve's unique brand of litcrit hit the Interwebz for real. Visions, Gryphons, Nothing and the Night, his online “zine” for Frank Coffman's REHeapa website, produced one classic essay after another.
Tompkins drifted away from REHeapa in 2003—while maintaining his membership in REHupa. He used that relative downtime to put together the classic REH collection, The Black Stranger and Other American Tales, for Bison Books. His introduction for the volume incorporated and greatly expanded upon his “North By Southwest” essay. He then wrote an article about the experience for Leo Grin's legendary Howard studies journal, The Cimmerian. Tompkins would go on to be one of the standout contributors to the journal, with his essays appearing therein right up through the final issue.
At the 2006 Howard Days celebration in Cross Plains, Leo Grin announced that Tompkins would be writing for The Cimmerian blog, which had been up and running for almost a year. Less than a week later, Steve took the bit in his teeth and hit the Road of Kings at full gallop.
A week after uploading his last post to The Cimmerian, Steve Tompkins suffered a very serious case of food poisoning. Complications from that triggered a heart attack and he died on March 23, 2009.
Requiescat in pace, Steve.