Ron Goulart (1933-2022)

Ron Goulart. Photo (c) and taken by Andrew Porter.

Ron Goulart died January 14, the day after his 89th birthday. A science fiction and mystery author, he published more than 180 books under his own and other different names, including the house names Kenneth Robeson and Con Steffanson, and personal pseudonyms such as Chad Calhoun, R T Edwards, Ian R Jamieson, Josephine Kains, Jillian Kearny, Howard Lee, Zeke Masters, Frank S Shawn, Joseph Silva – even William Shatner.  (His interview about working on the Shatner-bylined Tek War comic series can be read in a 1992 issue of Starlog Magazine available at the Internet Archive.)

Goulart’s first professional publication was a 1952 reprint of the SF story “Letters to the Editor” in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, a parody of a pulp magazine letters column originally written for UC Berkeley’s Pelican.

His short story “Calling Dr. Clockwork ” (Amazing Stories Mar 1965) was a 1966 Nebula nominee. Translated into Japanese, “My Pal Clunky ” was a 2005 finalist for the Seiun Awards. He received an Edgar Award nomination from the Mystery Writers of America Award for his science fiction novel, After Things Fell Apart (1971). That same year he won the Pat Terry Award for Humor in Science Fiction, which used to be presented at the Worldcon.

Jon D. Swartz wrote in a 2018 issue of Tightbeam:

Goulart can satirize almost anything, and many of his stories are hilarious. He has also written some serious stories, of course, but he’s best known for his satirical fiction. Much of his funniest writing occurs in the several series he has written around his characters of Jack Summer (Death Cell, Plunder, A Whiff of Madness, Galaxy Jane), Jake Conger (the invisible government agent), and especially The Chameleon Corps stories about the shape-changing government agent Ben Jolson.

Mark Evanier’s News From ME appreciation adds, “He was a great lover of comic books and a fine historian of the form.” 

Goulart put his genre knowledge to work on nonfiction books such as The Dime Detectives: A Comprehensive History of the Detective Fiction Pulps. a 1989 Edgar Award nominee for Best Critical/Biographical Work. Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines, and Comic Book Culture: An Illustrated History.

In the 1970s, Goulart wrote several scripts for Marvel Comics, mostly adaptations of classic science fiction stories. Later in the decade he collaborated with artist Gil Kane on a newspaper strip called Star Hawks.  His comics work was recognized with an Inkpot Award from San Diego Comic-Con (1989).

For television, he scripted episodes of the series Monsters (1988), Welcome to Paradox (1998) and Thundercats (1985).

He is survived by his wife, author Frances Sheridan Goulart, and two sons.

10 thoughts on “Ron Goulart (1933-2022)

  1. I see Gaiman deleted his tweet about Into the Aether, one of my favorite novels by Dick Lupoff. I hope he got to say nice things to both Lupoff and Goulart (both of whom were very important role models to teenage me…but Goulart was even funnier).

  2. I enjoyed Ron Goulart’s series of detective novels featuring Groucho Marx as an amateur detective. He did a particularly good job of coming up with one-liners that read as something that Groucho might have said. I’m sorry to see him go.

  3. Going through my file cabinet of photos—looking for photos of the recently departed—to scan, really sucks. I would appreciate it, Mr. Glyer, if you could intercede with the gods to lower the death rate in our microcosm.

    Honestly, this is horrible.

    One of my fond memories is walking, a few years ago, with Ron Goulart from the NYC Paperback and Pulp Show from the hotel it was held in, on West 57th Street, to Grand Central Terminal, where Ron was to catch a train back to his Connecticut home.

  4. The town library in the small Mississippi town where I went to high school had a fantasy and SF section that was four shelves roughly three feet long each. I didn’t read everything in it, because even then I knew that life was too short for some things, and acquisitions were a bit eclectic – there was a whole lot of Piers Anthony in there, for example. But, gloriously, out of those 75-100 books, there were 5 or 6 constituting the best of Ron Goulart’s output from the 70’s and early 80’s – Hawkshaw, Cowboy Heaven, Brinkman, Crackpot, Calling Dr. Patchwork – and that was a lightning bolt for little old pre-Internet small-town me.

    As an adult, I fell in love all over with his scholarship on the history of comic strips; it’s rare to find someone with the courage and the love to write about whatever he wanted to and let the market do what it wants to with it, and it’s always encouraging to see them make a life of it. Fair seas and following winds, sir.

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