Saturday, July 14, 2012

ROBERT BLOCH GOES ROGUE


Robert Bloch had to put food on the table. So, like any other working writer he was omnivorous in his market choices to sell his wares.

Over his life he became friends with many other writers and publishers (including H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Palmer). Unknown as such at the time, what he was doing was a form of networking that is often cited as being a successful business tool.

One of his friends started up a line of magazines that included science fiction and the newly-burgeoning "men's magazine" market.

For a year and a half, Bloch contributed a monthly column to William Hamling's ROGUE magazine.

While he didn't elaborate, Bloch mentions his tenure at ROGUE in his "Unauthorized Autobiography" entitled, ONCE AROUND THE BLOCH (Tor, 1993):

"...during the forties I sold a great number of nonseries efforts to the Ziff-Davis publicatons as more magazines were added to their schedule. Over the later years of the decade I combined a weekend visit to Chicago relatives with a poker game at Palmer's residence [Ray Palmer, one-time editor of Amazing Stories]. On occasion I'd also pay my respects at the office. Thus, over desks or the poker table I met fellow writers who, like William P. McGivern, became lifelong friends. Howard Browne, himself a contributor, was the associate editor and took over Plamer's job when he lieft. Other staff members who came and went included Louis H. Sampliner, Paul Fairman and William R. Hamling. When Bill departed, it was to publish magazines of his own, including Imagination, Imaginative Tales, and Rogue. I contributed ot all three and for a year and a half wrote a monthly column in the latter which Bill titled "Basic Bloch."

"During the 1950s I branched out into the new men's magazines -- Playboy, which started with lowly reprints and small-pay new material, and its many imitators, including Bill Hamling's Rogue. I wrote a monthly column in the latter, just as I had in his earlier science fiction magazine, Imagination."

Below is an example of a "Basic Bloch" column, from the June 1962 issue of ROGUE. He tells the story of a fishing trip to Arizona. The first half teems with Bloch's classic wit and I found myself laughing out loud several time. The short essay then settles into a quieter, more poignant recollection that is finished off as skillfully as anybody writing this type of work.


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