Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

RIP, Ron Goulart

I really don’t like having to write RIP posts, mainly for the obvious reason that they mark a sad event. And as I get on in years, they also make me feel, well, old because they remind me of my own mortality. And sometimes they just hit way too close to home. But in this case, it just seems like a necessity to mark the passing of Ron Goulart, who throughout his life has been the patron saint and/or guiding light for the type of material celebrated by the Atomic Junk Shop.

Goulart, who died yesterday a day after his eighty-ninth birthday, was a science fiction, fantasy and mystery writer and pop culture historian. From the early 1950s onward, he has written too many fiction books and short stories to count (including comics scripts). Goulart also loved the old pulp magazines and comics (both newspaper strips and comic books), and so wrote a number of histories and reference works dedicated to them – most notably his history of the pulps called Cheap Thrills, and many comic strip and comic book histories and reference works, among which the most recent is Comic Book Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Guide to Characters, Graphic Novels, Writers, and Artists in the Comic Book Universe from 2004.

Given the scope of his vast body of work, I’ve only read a small sampling, but I very much enjoyed everything I’ve read. Some personal favorites include the two science fiction novels featuring his recurring character Gypsy, Quest of the Gypsy and Eye of the Vulture as part of the Weird Heroes series…

…as well as the wonderful newspaper strip Star Hawks, with spectacular art by Gil Kane (which was the subject of an earlier post of mine):

Goulart had a wonderfully engaging and light-hearted writing style, and usually there’s a wry humor running through much of his fiction. If you’re familiar with his work, go back and re-read some of your favorites (or find something new from his bibliography), and if you’ve never read anything by him, do yourself a favor and pick something up – you won’t be disappointed. As Mark Evanier wrote in his own post marking Goulart’s passing, “He was awfully good at everything he did.”


  1. Chris Schillig

    I’ve read all three of the works you name specifically in your piece — Cheap Thrills, Quest of the Gypsy, and Eye of the Vulture. I’d also recommend Star Hawks, with art by Gil Kane.

    RIP, Mr. Goulart.

  2. I enjoyed the Gypsy series. Like everything else Weird Heroes, it’s a shame we got no follow-up.
    I’ll also mention his Challengers of the Unknown novelization (I’ll now reread it), his SF/quasi-superhero novel Emperor of the Last Days and his excellent look at pulp PIs, The Dime Detectives.

  3. conrad1970

    It’s been a pretty crappy month for celebrity deaths so far
    Betty White
    Sidney Poitier
    and now Ron Goulart, I’m sure there have been a few others I’ve missed as well.
    Kind of hits home the older you get.

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