Karl Wagner Inducted into the East Tennessee Writers' Hall of Fame

On the eleventh of October Karl Edward Wagner at last, received the recognition due him as one of the finest writers of Knoxville and East Tennessee. The event took place at the Crown Plaza Hotel on Knoxville's Summit Hill, and members of Karl's family, his former wife Barbara Mott and several fans were present. Karl's sister Audrey Elam accepted the award.

Other honorees included Quentin Tarantino. The annual Wagner gathering and celebration took place the following Saturday in the Old City only two blocks away. A prophet is without honor in his own land, as a rule, but that is no longer true of Knoxville's Midnight Son.


Wagner Festival Most Successful Thus Far

Blackgrass Fans

Several Wagner Fans gather outside a Blackgrass concert, one of a number of events held in celebration of Wagner's work and life.
Blackgrass is a gothic bluegrass ensemble, a genre that some of us thought repesented an East Tennessee horror writer very well.


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New Wagner Volume Will Make an Excellent Gift

The first complete US collection of Wagner tales, all of his short horror in two volumes, is available from Centtiepede Press. These are large, handsome heirloom volumes, with photographic illustrations by J.K. Potter. I was surprised at the choice of photography as the medium for Karl’s stories, but they are very artfully done. I laughed out loud in the bookstore when I saw the photo on the back of the dustjacket. My only reservation about the books lies with the introduction. This is obviously a labor of love, but I wish Mr. Jones had done a bit more research before writing his introduction; it’s not entirely accurate. Not inexpensive, but still a bargain, as there are already sites demanding more than its cover price. More at Revelations


Welcome to the Perilous Worlds of Karl Edward Wagner
Introduction by the Late Michael Elam

The Mark of Kane

Paperback Fanatic Kane Cvr

A recent article about Karl and Kane appears in issue 15 of The Paperback Fanatic. It’s already sold out, but you might find an issue on eBay or elsewhere. Generally a good, positive article, though I might quibble with a few points. Once again, Kane was NOT an anti-hero, which is a word properly used to describe a Woody Allen-like nebbish. Second, he was in no way a “Conan-clone” as the article itself makes clear. Karl knew nothing about Conan when he became writing his Kane tales; it would be years before the Lancer books again introduced Conan to the American public. And I’m sure no one has ever suggested that Karl’s liver exploded due to decompression. I hope I am not the source of that bizarre legend; I used that term once figuratively to describe the extreme deterioration of that organ at the time of Karl’s death. Otherwise, a fine piece..

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Cimmerian Tribute

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Learn about the ongoing effort to establish in his hometown and in his honor a yearly

Fall Fear and Fantasy Festival

Wagner aficionados believe some sort of recognition of Knoxville’s greatest horror writer is long overdue, and we intend to conjure up a Wagner's Sabbat in his hometown.s

Coming soon: The Weird World-Wide Wall of Wagner, where we will post photos of some of Karl’s readers around the world, wearing the first Wagner Festival shirt

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Webnecromancer’s mea culpa: aplogies for letting this site lie fallow for so long. The press of a number of events (including my first real grave-robbing experience) and my first actual job in the medical profession (backtracking along Karl’s path), have prevented my uptdating this page regularly and my promoting the Wagner Festival. I’m hoping a Chosen One will present her or himself to take over that latter mission. If interested, contact via the Wagner forum or my own address. Both links are below.

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Can Knoxville pull off a worthwhile Speculative Fiction Event? We’ve done it before. In 1983 some of the top horror writers in the world gathered in Knoxville, in our hotel patterened after an Aztec temple, for the DeepSouth Con. As a member of Wagner’s posse I got to party with Harlan Ellison, Stephen King and others as well as with the Wagners. At the time I was gainfully employed as an art director and tossed off the illustration below as part of the event’s promotion.The convention was an enormous success, with hundreds of fans from all over the country, the most elaborate costumes I’ve ever seen at a convention, good press coverage from Knoxville and surrounding areas, some of the biggest names in fantasy, horror and science-fiction, and a rollicking good time. No reason we can’t do it again.


(This faded copy is all I have left, but the original was done in the now obsolete technique of flouro. Each color was done on a separate overlay and the light shining down through the layers gave the whole work color flouro’s distinctive jewel-like quality. Advertising director Jerry Dunning was so impressed he borrowed it, and some other pieces my staff had done, to show visiting executives how much the paper’s art department had improved. Then he threw all the samples away. My staff was justly furious and, of course, blamed me.)


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Early Karl

Kevin Elam has sent along a couple of family photos of Karl as a very young man, one of Karl with Kevin and his other Elam nephews, the founders of this site and, as the late Mike Elam related in his introduction here, among the first to enjoy Karl's story-telling. There is also a newspaper clipping announcing that young Dr. Wagner is beginning his residency.

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The Last Karl Wagner Interview

Kevin Elam has found a copy of Karl’s Last interview, which appeared in Horror: The News Magazine of the Horror & Dark Fantasy Field. The publication only lasted five issues, and the fifth issue in which this appears is a rarity indeed, currently unavailable from any known vendor. David Drake has spoken disparigingly of his collaboration with Karl on Killer, indicating he was trying to do the fading and dissolute writer a favor. Here Karl tells his version, but much more charitably, never once saying he saved a struggling and, ultimately, ungrateful writer from richly deserved obscurity. On the KEW page.

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The Louise Stewart Collection

Louise Stewart was Karl’s first and last sweetheart, the woman for whom he carried the torch for much of his life, at least up until he married Barbara Mott. She attended a number of conventions with him, late in his life, after they both became single, and has been kind enough to provide me with photos and her own sketches - unlike myself, a humble illustrator, Louise is a gifted serious aritst. Getting these images up will take a while, but well begun is half done...

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Gothic Touches in “The Gothic Touch”

An insightful examination by writer and Gothic scholar Charles Rutledge of the influence of the Victiorian Gothic novel on Wagner’s tales of Kane, as exemplified by the last of them, “The Gothic Touch.” Mr. Rutledge suggests that, despite the frightening tone of the story, Karl was also winking at those few readers who knew the genre. Linked from the KEW page.

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“If I laugh at any mortal thing, it is that I may not cry,” said Lord Byron, the original Byronic Hero and a Kane inspiration. So do we laugh or cry at bookseller John McCormick’s description of the ham-fisted butchery of Karl’s text in the Powell edition of Darkness Weaves? Johnny calls it, “The true 1st unrevised edition.” He informs us that “All later printings are revised, and the title shortened to Darkness Weaves.“ This “unrevised” copy can be had for $23.28 & shipping.

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The Karl Edward Wagner Rediscovery Award

For some reason the link I had for this article broke, but I’ve found it again: author William Lindblad encourages the community of horror and dark fantasy authors and readers to create a Rediscovery award to honor Karl’s great success in unearthing forgotten masterpieces of weird fiction. Again I offer my services in doing a portrait sculpture of Karl for the purpose, an undertaking I’d like to begin while I still have one good eye. If you think the notion worth pursuing, weigh in.

Perhaps the concept could be extended beyond horror to all pulpish realms. If so, I suggest K B Shaw, the creator of iPulp as a candidate for the first such award. His stated goal is no less an ambition than to save the short story.

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Kane in Danger! The well-known Warner Kane covers by Frank Frazetta, painted according to Karl’s descriptions and now widely associated with Karl’s only series character, are slated to be used as the covers of new graphic novels. The protagonist will be a red-haired swashbuckler drawn to match the Kane covers, but will have no other connection to Kane or his creator whatsoever. Learn more about this outrage on the Revelations page.

Dale Ripke on Kane   •   Paula Guran  •  Jessica Salmonson

KEW   •   Wagner on Wagner     Works & Awards   *  Wikipedia Entry on KEW

   Philip Challinor On Doctors in Wagner's Horror

Join the Wagner forum, moderated by editor Benjamin Szumsky
and the new Wagner FaceBook group hosted by Steve Harbin

Gallery of Shadows    •   Forbidden Library

A note to younger visitors: it hadn’t occurred to me that some might not recognize the clicking sound effect I’ve used here. No, that is not, as some have speculated, a camera. It is the device from whence derived the layout of your computer keyboard: the typewriter. You must have seen them in old movies. Karl acknowledged himself to be a “one-finger” typist; hence the hesitant tempo here. A little bell would sound to let you know you'd reached the end of the line.


Summon Us
We will attempt to respond to correspondence as appropriate and as time permits. As a minimal protection against bots, in the address please take “the.pen.” from Arbas.the.Assassin. “An assassin as a guide; I like that.” Kane in Darkness Weaves

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Mike Elam, one of the founders of this site, and the nephew of Karl Wagner succumbed two years ago to Crohn's disease, an illness that may have been a result of his adventurous life as an anthropologist, digging up ancient sites and, possibly, ancient microbes in South America and the Middle East.
To learn more about Crohn's disease or to make a contribution, visit the CCFA site


There are places no one may visit and leave untainted. You are number Counter to arrive at this one.


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