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Friday, December 15, 2017

STANDING TALL—A TRIBUTE TO BILL CRIDER

STANDING TALL—A TRIBUTE TO BILL CRIDER
AN ENTRY IN BILL CRIDER DAY HOSTED BY PATRICIA ABBOTT
 
Bill Crider is arguably my oldest friend connected to the mystery genre and the writing world. There are a few other friends—Cap’n Bob Napier, Steve Mertz, James Reasoner—who come in as a photo finish for that dubious honor, but as I remember it, Bill pipped them all. I cherish each one of those friendships, as like with Bill, I’ve never heard a harsh word or an unsupportive comment from any of them directed toward any other writer, wanna-be writer, or fan/reader of mysteries and Westerns.

My friendship with Bill Crider became a touchstone of sorts for me. As James Reasoner mentioned in his tribute to Bill today, anytime I met Bill it was as the cliché of no time appearing to have passed since we were last in each other’s company. Conversations were picked up from the exact point where they last left off, and there was always excitement and a willingness to share all of the experiences and knowledge related to our mutual interests in books, movies, writing, and much more.

Back when the West was wild and the East was still the mysterious Orient, mystery fandom wasn’t a simple matter of keeping abreast of daily blogs, publisher’s e-blasts, and Facebook group posts…it had to be earned.

I’m not kidding...In 1973, DAPA-EM (which stood for Elementary, My Dear APA—don’t ask, because I don’t know the origin of the name) became the first and only APA (Amateur Press Association) devoted to the mystery genre.

APAs were limited membership groups whose members produce copies of their amateur magazines, which were then sent to an Official Editor. The Official Editor then collated  and bound the magazines together, mailed the bulk result to the APA members across the country (and sometimes internationally), kept track of the APA’s finances (dues to cover mailing expenses), maintained a waiting list of contributors, and made sure current contributors met the requirements for minimum activity—which in the case of DAPA-EM was four pages of mystery related information or research (three of which had to be original material) every four months. Since issues were gathered and sent out every two months, a contributor could miss only one issue before facing an inactivity deadline.

DAPA-EM was originally founded with six contributors. By the time I joined in the late 70’s, DAPA-EM was up to its limit of thirty-five members with a half-a-dozen names on the waiting list. This was hardcore, chisel and stone, tape and paste, mimeograph machine, surreptitious Xeroxing at work, seat of the pants publishing…and it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in the mystery genre.

I established cherished friendships, acquaintances, and contacts, which have continued across the decades and are still viable today. Bill, of course, was among those ranks. Outside of DAPA-EM, Bill and I both got our professional publishing start in the pseudonymous pages of the men’s adventure paperback series, which were hugely popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s—Bill writing a Nick Carter Killmaster tale, and I galloping out with the Western series Diamondback. From there however, Bill’s output of consistently excellent novels in many genres exploded. His Sheriff Dan Rhodes books became a staple of readers/fans' end of year Ten Best Novels lists. And his Texas Vigilante Westerns are, IMHO, among the best in the revenge genre ever written.

A small selection from Bill's massive library...
 
As a collector, I stand in awe of Bill’s epic accumulation of first editions, rare paperbacks, and close to every oddball related mystery or Western title ever published. An amazing accomplishment that will never be matched.

Bill and his VBks (very bad kitties)--who became an Internet staple after Bill rescued them...

Gentleman, scholar, teacher, erudite writer, and bon vivant,
Bill Crider embodies everything good used to define friendship. His support has been a constant in my career. As he currently fights his deadly battle with cancer, I see him in the role of the many staunch, fast thinking, hardmen heroes he wrote about. You know the ones I’m talking about—the heroes who can never be counted out no matter what the odds...

 

3 comments:

  1. A great piece Paul! You got to DAPA-EM just a year or two ahead of me.

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  2. Great piece, Paul. Bill is one of a kind. And nice work trying to explain DAPA-EM to the uninitiated. The best description I heard was "It's sort of a cross between a religion and a disease."

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  3. Good words, Paul. Bill has elevated everyone he's ever met.

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