Jon Arfstrom exhibit coming to the Anoka Historical Society

Arfstrom Exhibit header

Check out our Event listing for the upcoming Opening of the Jon Arfstrom exhibit at the Anoka County Historical Society. Those in the Minneapolis area should make some time for come check it out.

From the Anoka County Historical Society newsletter: Sept/Oct 2016. Article by Audra Hilse, ACHS Archivist

There is a house in the city of Anoka filled with hundreds and hundreds of original paintings, although you could not tell from the outside.

The artist, Jon Arfstrom, was an unassuming man, rarely found without paintbrush or pencil in hand. Because of this, the legacy he left behind following his December 2015 death is both large and treasured, if also leaving his family feeling overwhelmed at times. The sheer amount of art that Arfstrom produced during his life almost defies comprehension and covers a wide variety of mediums: pencil and pen, oils, acrylics, watercolor, markers, colored pencils, charcoal, and pastels all graced his canvases and sketchbooks.

Subject matter in Arfstrom’s art varies almost as widely as his mediums. His work ranges from beautiful watercolor and acrylic landscapes, to the formal portraits of U.S. Presidents he created for his 40-year employer, Brown & Bigelow. He made large acrylic paintings in the surreal genre, with underlying themes of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Arfstrom won awards both in the United States and in Europe for his work, and one of his paintings resides in a museum in Paris. He did numerous shows of his watercolors and was happy to give demonstrations to those wanting to learn the difficult medium (Arfstrom himself appreciated the challenge of it). He also took his surreal and fantasy works to conventions, showing the pieces and selling some of them. In spite of being known in these particular circles, however, Arfstrom did not put himself out to the wider world, and so many people do not know his name, even if they may be familiar with some of his art. Arfstrom carefully kept his work separated within those JON ARFSTROM A lifetime of art By Audra Hilse, ACHS Archivist Castle on the Rum 9-19-2007 9 distinct circles as fans of his surreal and fantasy work probably did not know much about his watercolors and his friends in the watercolor world did not see his surreal works.

Early in 2016, the Arfstrom family, including Jon’s wife, Norma, and one of his daughters, approached ACHS about preserving his legacy. Arfstrom had lived in Anoka with Norma for the last decade of his life, and scenes of the Halloween parades and the Rum River were common subjects of his art during that time. In addition to his art, Arfstrom was also a dedicated journal writer, noting daily his thoughts and events of the day. Scattered throughout these words are also sketches, cartoonish figures, and miniature watercolor landscapes. The family posed the question, “would ACHS be interested in having some of his art, and helping to tell his story?”

With little hesitation, ACHS staff said yes. While the Arfstroms lived in Duluth and St. Paul throughout much of their lives, they chose to retire to Anoka, and it is clear from his art that Jon was very fond of the area. We have been working with the family for the last several months to identify a representative sample of the art that will come to live permanently in the ACHS Collections, as well as planning an exhibit that will open in mid September. For the first time outside of the Arfstrom family home, the different genres of Arfstrom’s art will hang on the same wall at the same time for people to discover and enjoy. We also have some wonderful artifacts to fill in the exhibit including his drafting table, chair, lamp, and various tools of the trade that made up Arfstrom’s workspace for many decades, recreated any time the family moved to a new home. To once more recreate his workspace so visitors can see where and how Arfstrom made his art in addition to the art itself, is very exciting. Looking out a little bit further, we also plan to accession his journals, digitize them and make available online, and are looking into funding options to produce (in partnership with DreamHaven Books) a coffeetable style book about Arfstrom’s life and art.

We are very grateful to the Arfstrom family for giving us this chance to work with such an amazing collection. We hope you will join us starting midSeptember to come see and enjoy Arfstrom’s art, and come back periodically as we rotate in new pieces. We hope to keep Jon Arfstrom’s legacy alive and well, even though the artist himself is, unfortunately, no longer with us.

Getting ready for Furry Migration

Many Vernon

Next weekend (Sept 9 – 11, 2016) is the annual anthropomorphic convention Furry Migration, and I’ll be there with a table of assorted favorite books and interesting things.

The writer Guest of Honor this year is one of my favorite creators – Ursula Vernon! In addition to her best-selling Dragonbreath series, and the new Hamster Princess books (both written for younger readers but interesting for all), she has been entertaining the internet with her daily nature posts on Tumblr and her thoughtful LiveJournal essays.

And if you haven’t read Castle Hangnail yet – well, you should! One of my favorite books from last year.

Shelving added for Collectible Paperbacks

Collectible Paperbacks

We’ve moved the last of the $1 books out of the main section of the store (and to the Garage), providing space to more than double the amount of collectible paperbacks we can display.

Because of where all the shelves are, they’re in three different locations around the shop. A to L remains in the shelves against the back wall, where Collectible Paperbacks have been for a long time. M to Z is in the back corner of the shop, across from the new Used Paperback racks. Collectible Paperback Anthologies are in the wire rack in the middle of the shop, right behind the New Paperback Anthologies.

All this new space means room for more things to come up from the basement!

Go Fund Me launched for Judy and Dave Peterson

Peterson Fantanimals

Judy and David Peterson, owners of Fantanimals, intended to attend the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City and sell in the dealers room.  But misfortune struck and their trailer full of hand-carved animal puzzles was stolen in Columbus Ohio.  They lost many thousands of dollars worth of their inventory and all of their potential sales at the convention.

Judy and David are wonderful people and this is an immense loss for them.  This money will help them cover expenses they’ve incurred already and allow Judy to create more inventory for future conventions.   I would like to see their many friends and fans contribute to show them how special they really are.


When your friend publishes his first novel – and it’s quite good!

Arabella shelf photo

Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine came out in hardcover from Tor Books in mid-July, and has made quite the satisfying splash with a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and both a starred review and “Debut of the Month” in Library Journal.

I’m always a little nervous about reading new works from good friends of mine – what if I don’t like it? Or I like it myself, but don’t think it would have enough general appeal to sell well? It can make for dicey conversation down the road.

Lucky for me, and all of us, that’s not the case with Arabella of Mars. A straightforward action-adventure in the classic style, with lots of Hornblower-like maritime details and a scattering of maybe-yes maybe-no romantic possibilities. I can see it being successfully marketed in the Young Adult section, if you wanted to highlight the age of the main character, or staying solidly in the main Science Fiction section.

A fun read, and likely to accumulate even more interest and notice as the year goes on.

New-to-us Used Bookshelves arrive

Earlier this week we cleared the back corner of the store, and installed some beautiful wood shelves that were originally made for the mystery bookstore Once Upon a Crime. A to Z Used paperbacks have now been moved from the small rack in the middle of the store to one whole side of the new racks, along with many boxes of paperbacks from the basement.

The back endcap shelves now house our used pb Anthologies, sorted by title, and the Media tie-in pb section fills the first two sections of the back side.

A to Z used pbs

All web-works are works in progress

We are on the brink of going live with this new WordPress based website, and long past time for a new chatty blog post.

There is still a ton of things that the website needs before it will be truly satisfactory – starting with a couple thousand or so more entries in the Product list – but all the really critical parts are working. And there’s nothing like having a potential audience to provide incentive for massive amounts of updates.

Future blog posts will focus on a particular author, or publisher, or perhaps a sub-genre. They’ll be ways to help people discover more of what they may really love, or weave a path through the towering stacks of choices.

Rather than find more words to squeeze out into this update, I’m going to go upload more books!

Looking forward to next week

On Wednesday, May 25th, the Speculations reading series convenes once again, and the marvelous Eleanor Arneson will gift us with reading from one of her works.

I had already created an Event here on the website, and a FaceBook event, but my building anticipation prompted me to revisit her own blog over at

I hope you can join us!

The Challenge of the Mountain

The mountain of titles, that is.

With hundreds of thousand of SF titles available, and a couple hundred more being added each month, I struggle with which ones to add to the website here.
I started with one small press publisher – Tartarus Press – because they do beautiful books, are fairly hard to find in shops, and only have several dozen titles available.
Now it’s time to get serious about uploading far more of what’s here at the shop, and I’m not clear on just how to tackle that. Like any gigantic task, I’m sure the answer is “Just start. And go from there.”

Mark Bodé signing Saturday Feb 27th, 6:30 PM


We are very much looking forward to our next author event, as Mark Bodé joins us to sign copies of his new book Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me, which collects art from both him and his father, Vaughn Bodé.

If you can’t make it to the signing, we’ll be happy to ship you a signed hardcover afterward. The book is $29.99, and shipping will depend on the destination and speed, so let us know what your address is.

So much to talk about

Struggles with new website engine continue, with all the uncertainty and workload you might expect. Will the shopping cart function properly? How much and which sections of the store to add to the inventory lists? Will I ever remember where all the update controls are?

As with all large projects, at some point, ready or not, you just have to leap and then deal with requirements as they’re encountered. One thing I can start now, though, is writing up what’s going on, and soliciting for feedback.

Have any comments or complaints? You can drop a note here, or send me an email at I’m always interested in listening.

Lois McMaster Bujold Signing: Feb 3, 2016

Please join us Wednesday, February 3rd, as we celebrate Lois McMaster Bujold’s newest novel in the Vorkosigan universe. Set three years after the events in Cryoburn, Vicereine Cordelia Vorkosigan is setting up to make new changes to her life.

We are taking pre-orders for the book, and looking forward to a joyful event.

Dreamhaven Mentioned in Pulpfest Post

Pulpfest 2015-FlyerDreamhaven books was mentioned in a blog post on the Pulpfest 2015 website:

Dreamhaven will be attending this convention.

The article has a very nice biography of artist Jon Arfstrom, it has been reprinted here:

By the mid-1950s, pulp magazines had largely disappeared from America’s newsstands. Hence, even those creators who were first getting started when the rough-paper magazines of the early twentieth century were in their last days, have either departed this mortal coil or have a difficult time traveling in our day and age. For these reasons, PulpFest is extremely proud to welcome artist and illustrator Jon Arfstrom as its special guest to this year’s convention. We all owe Greg Ketter, proprietor of DreamHaven Books, our sincerest gratitude for helping to arrange Mr. Arfstrom’s appearance at PulpFest 2015.

Born in 1928, Jon Arfstrom has lived in Minnesota for most of his life. Largely self-taught, the artist also studied with the Famous Artist School, founded by members of the New York Society of Illustrators, and at the Minneapolis School of Art. Always interested in fantasy art, Arfstrom began to contribute to fanzines in the late 1940s, including THE FANSCIENT, FANTASY ADVERTISER, SCIENTIFANTASY, and SPACE TRAILS.

Working in a factory to make ends meet, Arfstom began to submit his work to the digest market around 1950, selling interior drawings to Ray Palmer’s MYSTIC MAGAZINE and OTHER WORLDS SCIENCE STORIES, William Crawford’s SPACEWAY, and Dorothy McIlwraith’s WEIRD TALES. For the latter, he also painted three covers, beginning with the January 1952 issue. He continued working for “The Unique Magazine” until its demise in 1954.

Following the collapse of the pulp market, Arfstrom turned to commercial art, producing illustrations for a large retail store
chain and art for a religious publisher. He also worked as a staff artist for a calendar company. Gradually, he became a major midwestern artist, holding more than thirty one-man shows, winning numerous awards, producing work for many institutions and private collections, and serving as the President of the Northstar Watercolor Society.

During the mid-nineties, Jon Arfstrom returned to the fantasy art field, creating dust-jacket art for Fedogan & Bremer, Haffner Press, and PS Publishing. Robert Bloch’s THE EARLY FEARS, published by Fedogan & Bremer and featuring both jacket and interior art by Arfstrom, won a Stoker Award in 1994 for “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.”

Beginning at 8:45 PM, on Friday, August 14th, and following our guest-of-honor presentation by author Chet Williamson, please join pulp art historian David Saunders for a short interview with fantasy artist Jon Arfstrom, perhaps the last surviving artist to paint covers for the original run of “The Unique Magazine,” WEIRD TALES. Mr. Arfstrom will also have a table at the convention where he will be displaying some of his original art. He will have a sampling of paintings and drawings, mostly from the 1970’s on, that he will be selling at the convention. His table will be next to the DreamHaven Books display in the PulpFest 2015 dealers’ room.

Please register as soon as you can for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be to be part of this exciting event. A prepaid, three-day membership to PulpFest 2015 will cost $30 for those members who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and $35 for those staying elsewhere. The price at the door will be $40. Although are host hotel is completely booked, there are still some rooms available through several hotels that that are close to the convention. Remember that PulpFest will be sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon in August. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. Afterward, click the red “register” button on our home page to be assured that you won’t miss this opportunity to meet one of the terrific artists who labored for the long-gone pulp market, Jon Arfstom, the last of the WEIRD TALES artists.

(The January 1952 issue not only featured Jon Arfstrom’s first cover for “The Unique Magazine,” but also August Derleth’s cover story, “The Black Island.” This was the final tale of a series of five connected stories that would later form THE TRAIL OF CTHULHU, published by Arkham House in 1962. Also appearing in the issue is a reprint of Anthony M. Rud’s “Ooze,” the story of a giant amoeba that originally ran in the first issue of WEIRD TALES, dated March 1923.”

35 Years Ago Today…

It was 35 years ago today that I opened the doors to my bookstore. It was called Star*Lite Books, later The Compleat Enchanter, and finally DreamHaven. I don't know where all that time has gone; I must have been only a year old when I opened the store since I still can't believe that I'm now eligible to join the AARP and get the senior menu at Denny's. I still think of myself as just barely out of my teens.

I'm in Cleveland at Cinema Wasteland. Next week is Minicon. Hope to see you there.

Happy April's Fool Day.