Ron Goulart: An Appreciation
by Jeff Baker
Ron Goulart. Comic book historian, expert on pulp fiction and a master of blending humor with science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery, has died just after his 89th birthday.
I never met Ron Goulart, never communicated with him on line but I heard him nonetheless. Sometime in the 1970s I read one of his histories of comic books. Then in the late 1980s I started reading genre short stories, and encountered a library book “The Best Horror Stories From The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.” In it was Ron Goulart’s story “Glory.” I’d read funny vampire stories before. And I’d read stories that meshed vampires and Hollywood. But never one that blended them all into a screwball brew. In the decade or so when I read all the genre anthologies he became one of the influences on my writing.
Only Goulart would have written “Please Stand By,” about a man cursed with turning into an elephant on national holidays.
The wink at Hollywood was practically a Goulart trademark. From his mystery novels with detective Groucho Marx, his mystery series about Hix, set during Hollywood’s Golden Age (Hix is after enough money to get married with!) Los Angeles was also a setting (and frequent target) of his stories.
He also blended fantasy, science-fiction and mystery and was nominated for the Edgar Award in 1971 for his science-fiction novel “After Things Fell Apart.”
Ron Goulart may be almost as well known for his opening lines in his stories and novels. He had worked in advertising and learned about grabbing the reader’s attention early on.
“Twenty-six million people saw them die, and that’s not counting reruns.”
“On the eleventh take, something made the assistant director float up in front of the camera.”
“I was hardly there when the electric dishwasher grabbed me.”
“They never did find all of her.”
Beginnings and an ending.
Ron Goulart, R.I.P.
And thanks for the stories.