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The Hogan/Steeger Letters 2

Link - Posted by David on January 22, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

A few years ago, writer and frequent Age of Aces contributer Don Hutchison came up to our table at PulpFest and handed us a manilla envelope, entrusting us with its contents. When we opened the envelope, amung other things, there were letters from Robert Hogan to Harry Steeger and back again.

Responding to Steeger’s letter of the 11th, Hogan fills Steeger in on the interview with Bob Swift for the Miami Herald Sunday Magazine and talk of the rights structure to the G-8 stories and the possibility of a G-8 television show. . .


January 22, 1962    


Dear Harry:

    So good to get your letter of December 11th. Thanks for your congrats and your always kind words.

    We’ve had the interview with Bob Swift, Editor of the Miami Herald Sunday Magazine, and photographer. Also met Jim Eussell, Business and financial Editor of the Herald, who as a Louisiana boy had G-8 mania. These G-8 fans I’ve met and heard from in recent years are a high-type bunch of guys, literate and respected. Fact, I’ve never met or heard from a G-8 reader who didn’t seem someone to be proud of. The G-8 interview, with pictures, was supposed to consume about an hour last Tuesday afternoon. It consumed 3½ hours Instead, and two days later Bob Swift talked for an hour and a half on the phone, all of which I enjoyed, of course.

    Bob is returning the magazine you sent him as soon as the photo lab at the Herald gets squared away for their color print from the cover. Then, I believe, he hopes to ask you for several more to choose typical passages from for the article. Also, he said, “I’d read every one if I could get them again.” That seemed to me a fantastic angle. Bob read G-8s as a boy. Now he’s editor of one of the largest magazine Sunday supplements in the country and still likes to read them. He said he enjoyed reading the novel you sent him just as much as when he was a kid. Said, as before, he couldn’t lay it down.

    That seems to be the opinion of others who have grown to positions of responsibility. A letter arrived the other day from an old reader who got our Coral Gables address from a recent SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. It was written on the stationary of one of the larger Madison Avenue advertising agencies and he signed himself; “Executive Producer Radio-TV Programming Department.” I’d like to think it’s a feeler for some use of G-8 in either of his mediums, but more than likely not. Anyway, it could be a wedge. He says, in part: “With regard to G-8, I would certainly like to see more of this kind of reading for my boy who is just about the age I was when I was first Introduced to our hero.” He also said he deplored a lack of back copies of the magazine and was trying to think of some way to get the past ones reprinted possibly as paperbacks. He went on about settling a little bet with another G-8 fan as to whether there was ever a woman villain in any of the G-8 stories. He ended the letter: “With many thanks again for everything you have done for us indirectly —-” There must be some smoke behind all these little signal fires, which might be to our advantage if handled correctly.

    You mentioned in your letter, Harry, that you had no sales set-up for a G-8 renaissance and suggested I try selling G-8 to one or several mediums. So far as adapting or scripting any of the old stories for TV or whatever, I’ve never done a script although my/stuff has sold to TV in GE and Loretta Young and to the movies, all of which was adapted in the studios, the only thing I might help out in, beside sales, would be in an advisory capacity. I’m also afraid any efforts to write new G-8 stories would lack the old zing of twenty or more years ago. Anyway, there were a hundred odd old stories, which the old readers have forgotten and, according to their many expressions of hope, would like to read over again in newly published paperback editions. Also new reader possibilities.

    I’ve thought of the autobiographical book I mentioned in my other letter (a backward look at the old pulp days with a G-8 novel added) as a possible build-up to a string of republished G-8 paperbacks, if we could sell the idea to any of the paperback publishers. This might eventually lead to the sale for TV. In any event, it Is a very long shot in the dark. However, with all the furor the old readers have whipped up, particularly in the nation-wide organization known as “The Society of World War I Aero Historians,” which boasts a pretty impressive membership of successful young executives, including the advertising guys I mentioned, something might go.

    Betty’s father, Vic Lambdin, lives near us. He, my father-in-law, has been political cartoonist and newspaper man all his life (now retired). He says this thing busting out as a feature in the Miami Herald Sunday Magazine could very well bring what is needed to set off G-8 as a big thing. Turns out there are upwards of 5,000,000 readers of the Sunday Magazine down here at this time of year, with Florida loaded at the peak with what some laughingly call “the nation’s most important people.” Vic says they’re likely to burn up the Hogan phone with various offers or whatever. I don’t count on it, but it would be fun up to a point and, If so, it would be well to be prepared. With that in mind, it seems that maybe we should have some better idea of rights, mine and yours, in this thing.

    Here is the way I recollect the G-8 set-up as to ownership. I remember near the start you told me it was understood that the magazine was yours. As long as I wanted to and/or could write the G-8 stories, that was fine. But if anything happened to me, you wanted Betty to understand that you would have to get someone else to write it under Robert J. Hogan. Of course we agreed.

    As to the rights to all stories I wrote for you, at first you purchased only first serial rights. Then, because some writers were selling second serial rights to competing magazines, you bought all serial rights. At the time you explained this to me, you said that at any time I had legitimate sales for my writing to mediums other than competing magazines you would release the rights back to me.

    So, from the above, you own the magazine and I own the story rights. Now it seems to me with the bare possibility of something some day coming of this G-8 furor in paperbacks, TV, radio or whatever, there could be overlapping of rights and interests here and there. Also, we’ve always had the best relations with each other, Harry, and never a line of written contract. It seems to Betty and me that the best way to handle this, for all concerned and our joint good, would be on a fifty-fifty basis on all past G-8 stuff. If G-8 went into paperbacks I would like to write a forward for each, telling how that particular story came to be written and how I got the idea for that menace or war machine which seems to be the main part that the old readers still go nuts over. That would be part of our joint paperback sales, if any.

    In other words, whatever we could make out of old G-8 we would split the gross take, you and I, fifty-fifty. We might need an agent, but so far we have never needed one, and if contracts required a careful check, your Popular Publications attorney might take care of it.

    There probably isn’t a chance in the world that this G-8 comeback will amount to anything. However, some crazy things are happening these days. And wouldn’t it be fun to see the old boy diving in again with Nippy and Bull flying wing in Spads 13 and 7?

    If this idea is agreeable with you—the feature story is due out in a week or two—would it be well for Bob Swift to mention in the article that the G-8 stories, series or whatever, are being submitted or negotiated for paperback and/or TV? How would you suggest wording it on the chance of raising some interest?

                    Our best to you and yours, Harry.
                    Robert J. Hogan


— ✪ ✪ ✪ —


January 25, 1962    


Dear Bob:

    Needless to say, I enjoyed your letter of January 22nd very much. It was nice to hear from you and it was good news that the popular demand for a return of G-8 and his Battle Aces appears to be growing.

    I think your idea for a fifty-fifty split on possible sales is very fair and I agree with your letter in every respect. Since I agree completely, I am sure it won’t be necessary for me to requote these points.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a pocketbook of G-8 stories or a television program? I’m sure that either one would be a real success. In fact, just the reading of your letter made me feel nostalgic again about Nippy and Bull.

    Here’s wishing us luck, Bob – and my kindest personal regards to you and the family.