“Remembering Ron: A Tribute to Ron Goulart”
by Gary Lovisi
I always knew Ron Goulart was a writer who excelled in many genres of fiction and non-fiction. So much so that it sometimes boggles the mind about his amazing output in so many venues. He was the consummate science fiction and fantasy professional, and wrote with great humor and heart. What I didn’t know about him though was that he was an avid fan and collector of the same!
I was privileged to have met Ron, and to know him personally, and I even published a slim book of his crime fiction (Playing Detective, Gryphon Books, 2010). I met Ron at my Collectable Paperback Expo (an annual book show I put on in New York City for 25 years, from 1989–2014). I met him at my show when he came in as a buyer, looking to buy comic books and pulps, vintage paperbacks and magazines for his collection, and for research for books he was writing at the time.
At that show a friend said to me, “Hey, Gary, do you know Ron Goulart is here?”
I said surprised, I had never met Ron before nor knew what he looked like, and the room was full of people and very busy, so I told him, “No! He is here? Where?”
My friend then pointed him out and said, “Why, he’s right over there!”
And there he was. It was him! There was Ron looking over tables full of old pulps.
I was so happy and amazed to see him that I went right over to him and blurted out a question to be sure, “Are you Ron Goulart?”
He just smiled at me with a twinkle in his eyes and quipped, “At least I was, when I woke up this morning.“
I was taken a bit aback by his answer, but he just smiled and I immediately asked him if he would consent to being a guest at the show, and if I could announce him to the attendees to meet fans and sign books for them. I was surprised to learn that he had been a frequent attendee of my shows, something I never knew.
Ron very graciously said, “Sure, but announce me in a little while, after I finish looking around at all these tables full of pulps and comics!”
Well, Ron proved to be a terrific guest, he was very popular with the fans. Often times, if he had the time, he would draw a small humorous sketch along with his signature, and that really made meeting him special for fans. Ron was a guest every year since that show—for about 15 years! I was overjoyed to meet him and to get to call him a friend.
Ron Goulart loved the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror; but also hard-boiled crime and classic mystery stories. He really loved the old pulps and classic comic books, and created wonderful, gloriously visual books on these subjects such as Great American Comic Books and Cheap Thrills (Hermes, 2007, in a new revised and expanded version). These are beautiful books created by a master researcher and scholar. He was also a collector of all these genres and the various venues they appeared in—pulps, comic books, hardcovers, paperbacks and more. He edited a fine book that collected classic hard-boiled pulp stories in 1988 titled, The Dime Detectives, and other volumes that are highly prized by collectors and readers. His books on hard-boiled pulp crime stories and their authors, and pre-code comics books—and the history of it all, were simply wonderful. And they are important works in these genres.
Ron was a most knowledgeable fellow on all these subjects, but he also wrote so many great, fun fiction books and stories. For instance he wrote a terrific series of mystery novels where Groucho Marx (a favorite of his) was the detective. It was great fun! He wrote many TV and movie tie-in paperbacks (and some hardcover) that were excellent—and always entertaining. These books made the TV shows and the movies come to life. He continued The Avenger pulp hero crime fighter series as by Kenneth Robeson (created by Lester Dent); and he wrote three of the Flash Gordon paperbacks for Avon Books (Bruce Cassidy writing the other three of this six book series). He wrote the sexy horror Vampirella series, and the SF adventure comic book series Star Hawks (with art by the great Gil Kane). Ron did it all. He even ghost-wrote the science fiction Tek War books by Star Trek’s William Shatner! Shatner notes in the books “That they could not have been written without Ron Goulart.” Literally! And that is just a small sampling of this multi-talented and versatile author’s work. Ron Goulart could write anything about anything, and often did!
I first became aware of Ron through his great early DAW science fiction novels. Each one was a humorous, fascinating, amazing, and sometimes wacky SF story. They were books about weird robots, weirder planets, and the weirdest aliens Ron could ever imagine—and he could imagine some incredible stuff! He wrote the award-winning SF novel After Things Fell Apart (1970) featuring wild Goulart creations as The Richard Nixon Institute For Aging Rock Stars; or the Amateur Mafia (no Italians allowed). Ron’s SF was a hoot, wacky and wonderfully funny. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his books—I knew anything written by him would always be good—if not great!
Ron Goulart was a special person. He was funny and charming, kind and witty. He had a rather caustic wit—that at first might put some people off a bit, until you got to know him. Then you realized he was just kidding and putting you on. He had a great sense of humor. He was actually a rather playful fellow, charming and witty and fun to be with and talk with. I treasured our talks and the time we spent together at my book shows over the years. He was a massive talent who wrote fine fiction in every genre—but also wrote finely researched and scholarly books, that are a fountain of information and a visual joy and wonder. He will never be forgotten for the many legacies of fine work in so many genres. He was a man who was a fine writer and a true gentleman.
Ron Goulart was 87 when he passed away on January 21, 2022. He was ever and always, a precocious 12 year old boy, who seemed to be trapped in an adult’s body. I can still see that sly twinkle in his eyes, part of that young fan’s joy. He was truly a living legend.
Gary Lovisi is a fan, book collector and freelance writer whose work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies over the years. He is the editor of Paperback Parade magazine and publisher of Gryphon Books. For 25 years, beginning in 1988, he sponsored the New York City Collectible Paperback & Pulp Fiction Expo. His latest books include the fiction crime novel pastiche Sherlock Holmes in Oz (Wildside Press) and the non-fiction study of all things Holmes, A Sherlock Holmes Notebook (Stark House Press). Forthcoming is Hardcases & Homicide, a collection of his Griff & Fats hard crime stories (Bold Venture Press). He is also the author of The Sicilian series of novels that take place in Ancient Rome (2 so far); and the Jon Kirk of Ares series of sf novels in the style of John Carter of Mars (5 so far). For more information visit gryphonbooks.com, Facebook, or YouTube for his videos about all kinds of rare and collectable books.