Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reaching Hands

Reaching hands are something of a cliché‎, especially in movies. Artists and moviemakers use reaching hands to create a sense of mystery and suspense. But using reaching hands on a magazine cover serves another purpose: it allows the artist to pack a lot of stuff into his or her tableau, and whoever can't fit can at least get his hand into the picture. That's not always the case, but it happens often enough, and when it does, the composition suffers, as in Rankin's cover and Senf's cover from January 1931. Even Margaret Brundage was guilty in an otherwise fine cover from March 1937. In any case, the artists who contributed to Weird Tales relied on reaching hands for eleven covers in all. 

Weird Tales, April 1930. Cover story: "The Dust of Egypt" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Hugh Rankin. The first reaching hand cover doesn't quite fit the pattern, for the hand isn't obviously a threat.

Weird Tales, May 1930. Cover story: "The Brain Thief" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by C.C. Senf. You almost get three for one in this picture: the guy in the turban has not one but two reaching hands. In the background is another reaching hand holding a sword. As you can see, sometimes the reaching hand is the hand of a good guy, but most of the time, it's the hand of a bad guy.

Weird Tales, January 1931. Cover story: "The Lost Lady" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by C.C. Senf, whose weird menace cover has a little bit of everything: a beautiful and scantily clad woman, a green monster, a bald villain with a cat-o'-nine-tails, a reaching hand holding a pistol, and some bondage for those who favor that kind of thing. There's so much squeezed into the picture in fact that the hero is squeezed out. As always, Senf handled the female form, face, and hair very nicely and with good taste. It's pretty plain to me that Senf liked and respected women, even if he did tie them to a post on occasion. There are entirely too many artists who don't like or respect women, and they show it in their art.

Weird Tales, November 1931. Cover story: "Placide's Wife" by Kirk Mashburn. Cover art by C.C. Senf. From here on out, the reaching hands are bad hands, or at least they appear to be.

Weird Tales, December 1931. Cover story: "The Dark Man" by Robert E. Howard. Cover art by C.C. Senf. This may be the most well composed of all the reaching hand covers.

Weird Tales, July 1932. Cover story: "The Phantom Hand" by Victor Rousseau. Cover art by C.C. Senf. At last, the reaching hand has found its way into the title of a cover story!

Weird Tales, March 1935. Cover story: "Clutching Hands of Death" by Harold Ward. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. Here the reaching hands have become "clutching hands," and not just any clutching hands, but "clutching hands of death." 

Weird Tales, May 1935. Cover story: "The Death Cry" by Craig Kennedy. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. Finally, a man rather than a woman is in peril from the reaching hands.

Weird Tales, March 1937. Cover story: "Strange Orchids" by Dorothy Quick. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. Here the reaching hand is actually a shadow of a reaching hand. The shadow on the cover is a theme for another day. The woman coated in gold showed up later in James Bond's bed in Goldfinger. Margaret Brundage made nice use of the three primary colors here.

Weird Tales, May 1941. I believe the cover story is "There Are Such Things" by Seabury Quinn. The cover artist was Hannes Bok. Here the reaching hand imperils an effigy of the heroine instead of her real self. Bok's cover may fit into the reaching hand category only just barely.

Weird Tales, January 1951. Cover story: The Hand of Saint Ury" by Gordon MacCreagh. Cover art by Charles A. Kennedy. Ten years went by before the reaching hand showed up again. I think it's a bad hand. Just look at those nails. Plus, it's green. But I'm not sure. Note the skulls in the woman's eyes.

Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, April 14, 2014

John Giunta Update

A reader (also a writer), Christopher M. O'Brien, has kindly provided me with Sam Moskowitz's two-page personalized obituary of John Giunta from Luna Monthly No. 20 (January 1971). Sam Moskowitz may have his detractors, but to his credit, he wrote about people and events about which no one else has written. His obituary of John Giunta has as much personal information on the artist as anyone will ever know.

John Giunta did indeed pass away on November 6, 1970, at age fifty. Unless he was about to turn fifty-one at his death, that would make his birth year 1920. Maybe only the city or state of New York knows his birthdate. Giunta did not die alone, but he lived alone. As Sam Moskowitz wrote:
His death was in the all-too sad tradition of artists which has become almost stereotyped in fiction and moving pictures. He died nearly penniless, receiving public assistance and with art assignments rare and poorly paid. Though only 50, he looked nearly 65, and probably did not weigh much over 100 pounds at the time of his death.
Giunta suffered a stroke in his room at the Village Plaza Hotel in New York. He died eight hours later in the hospital.

"He was a gentle, soft-spoken, kindly, generous individual," Moskowitz wrote, "optimistically striving to better his fortunes throughout his entire life. He was always his own man, losing many important assignments rather than compromise his ideas."

 * * *

I listed Giunta's credits in my previous postings on him. There's one I missed however. In 1949, John Giunta edited a comic book called True Crime Comics. Among the contributors were Giunta's science fiction friends, Sam Moskowitz, Raymond Van Houten, and James V. Taurasi. Also among the contributors was Giunta's nephew, Aldo Giunta. Like his uncle, Aldo Giunta contributed to fan publications. He also had a story, "Jingle in the Jungle," published in If in June 1957.

* * *

In the same issue announcing the death of John Giunta, Luna Monthly also announced the death of the artist Steele Savage. Born in Michigan in 1900, Savage illustrated a number of books, including science fiction books by John Brunner and Robert A. Heinlein. He also contributed to Famous Fantastic Mysteries in the 1940s. Savage died on December 5, 1970. I was researching Savage's life well before I read of his death in Luna Monthly. My sense is that Steele Savage may have been another in a line of artists (or human beings in general) that is entirely too long: men and women who have lived lonely and very often desperate lives. The question is: Must the artist suffer so that he might create? There have been happy artists, artists with families. N.C. Wyeth is one who comes to mind (although he died suddenly and tragically). Even so, does the artist suffer so that the rest of humanity might gain some joy or pleasure from his work? Did H.P. Lovecraft practically starve himself so that we might have his stories to read? I'm not sure that such things are needful. It may be that the artist is a person who finds himself in a box of a certain kind (as we all do), and though he can escape one kind of box, he can't escape another. And so--despite his suffering and desperation, and very often by heroic effort--he creates.

The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein, with cover art by Steele Savage (1900-1970). Savage painted in a style that is at once dreamlike and hyperrealistic. That peculiar combination is sometimes referred to as magical realism and was popular in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, especially in illustration and advertising. Simon Greco (1917-2005) was another practitioner of magical realism. If I remember right, The Rolling Stones has Tribble-like creatures, just in case you're putting together a list of influences on the TV show Star Trek

Thanks to Christopher M. O'Brien for providing the article from Luna Monthly.
Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tarleton Collier (1888 or 1889-1970)

Edward Tarleton Collier
Reporter, Editor, Author, Public Speaker, Penologist
Born December 22, 1888 or 1889, Mobile, Alabama
Died June 4, 1970, Fulton County, Georgia

Edward Tarleton Collier was born on December 22, 1888 or 1889, in Mobile and grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. Collier graduated from Auburn University in 1907, presumably with a bachelor's degree. He also received a master's degree from Auburn and studied at the University of Chicago. Collier was a newspaperman for more than a quarter century: editor of the Selma Journalreporter for, then editor of the Atlanta Georgian; then with the Chicago American, International News Service (I.N.S.), and by the mid 1940s editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal. Collier also worked for the Farm Security Administration in Montgomery, Alabama.

From 1914 to 1938, Tarleton Collier wrote for pulp and story magazines, including Baseball Stories, Breezy Stories, Brief Stories, The Midland, The Parisienne Monthly Magazine, The Smart Set, Snappy Stories, Telling Tales, and Young's Magazine. He wrote two stories for Weird Tales, "The Siren" from June 1923 and "Top of the World" from November 1935. Collier also wrote Georgia Penal System (1938), Penal System: A Reflection of Our Lives and Our Customs (1940), and Fire in the Sky (1941), a novel of the South. He died on June 4, 1970, in Fulton County, Georgia.

Tarleton Collier's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Siren" (June 1923)
"Top of the World" (Nov. 1935)

Further Reading
"Top of the World" was reprinted in 100 Wild Little Weird Tales, edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg (1994). 

Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fiswoode Tarleton (1884-1931)

Author, Editor, Instrument Maker
Born August 14, 1884, Place unknown
Died April 2, 1931, near Bryson City, North Carolina

The 1929 city directory of Atlanta, Georgia, gives the following listings in exactly this order:
Tarleton Collier spl writer The Georgian Co
" Fiswoode r125 7th NE
The first man was newspaperman Edward Tarleton Collier, better known as Tarleton Collier and born on December 22, 1888 or 1889, in Mobile, Alabama. (1) The second was author and editor Fiswoode Tarleton, born August 14, 1884, in some unknown place. The compilers of that city directory obviously made a mistake, listing a man with the first name Tarleton immediately above a man with the last name Tarleton. Both were writers. Both shared the name Tarleton. The first question that leaps to mind is this: Did they know each other? I'll tell you right now, that question is trivial. A far better question is this one: How did the names of those two men, both of whom contributed to Weird Tales, end up in juxtaposition in a 1929 city directory? Do you see what I mean when I say the world is very often essentially weird? I set out to write about Fiswoode Tarleton. Now I am obligated to write about Tarleton Collier as well. Fiswoode first.

Fiswoode Tarleton was born on August 14, 1884. I have been unable to find him in census records. However, a man by that name filled out a draft card in Boston in 1918. He was then working as an instrument maker. Tarleton's headstone gives a birth date of 1890. That date appears to be merely an approximation, rushed through upon the author's sudden and unexpected death. But is it possible there were two men in the history of this country named Fiswoode Tarleton? It's possible, but an article from Poetry, 1921, announced the arrival of a new magazine of verse, called Voices and published in Boston, with Fiswoode Tarleton as associate editor. I think it's safe to assume that they were one in the same and that Tarleton was born not in 1890 but in 1884.

I don't know Fiswoode Tarleton's place of birth or much about his career, but by 1929, he was in Atlanta, Georgia, listed, if not living, next to Tarleton Collier. In addition to being associate editor of Voices, Tarleton was editor of The Modern ReviewHe also wrote short stories for Adventure, The American Magazine, The Bookman, The Century, Echo, The Golden Book Magazine, Good Housekeeping, McClure's Magazine, The Modern Review, Overland MonthlyPlain Talk, and Weird Tales. His story "Curtains" (or "Bloody Ground"), from McClure's Magazine (May 1928), won an O. Henry Award in 1928.

Fiswoode Tarleton may have been a Southerner, for he wrote a book, published in 1929, about the South. The book is called Bloody Ground, A Cycle of the Southern Hills. The New York Times had this to say about Bloody Ground:
The book flames and writhes. The pictures burn into the brain. One will encounter few books as unforgettable as "Bloody Ground." Fiswoode Tarleton, a Chaucer of the Southern hills [. . .] has transcribed a speech that will soon be lost, transfixed in flight a vanishing race, and written a cycle of stories which are both powerful and distinctive. (2)
Tarleton wrote a second book, Some Trust in Chariots, published in 1930. Unfortunately, his very promising career was nearing its end.

About this time of year in 1931, Fiswoode Tarleton went to visit with another writer named  Horace Kephart at Kephart's North Carolina home. On the evening of April 2, Kephart and Tarleton hired a taxi to drive them to a bootlegger's place near Cherokee. (This was still during Prohibition.) On the way back to Bryson City, the car overturned. The driver survived, but the two authors, Horace Kephart and Fiswoode Tarleton, were killed. Swain High School auditorium in Bryson City was full up on April 5 for the funeral, for Kephart (1862-1931) was a greatly admired writer and a lover of his adopted mountain home. He is remembered even today. And for some reason that may be lost, his guest, Fiswoode Tarleton, who was at the time of his death a resident of Decatur, Georgia, was buried with Kephart at Bryson City Cemetery. He was, then, once again placed next to a fellow writer.

(1) Collier died on June 4, 1970, in Fulton County, Georgia, and was buried in Fairburn, Georgia.
(2) New York Times, February 4, 1929, p. 63.

Fiswoode Tarleton's Story in Weird Tales
"The Blue Lizard" (June 1928)

Further Reading
If you do a  search for "Fiswoode Tarleton," Tarleton Collier," and especially "Horace Kephart," you will find many articles of interest on the Internet.

A gallery of covers of Adventure, one of the premium pulps, with Fiswoode Tarleton's byline on the cover.  The first is from 1925, the last from February 1, 1931, two months before the author's death.
Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Marietta Hawley (1836-1926)

Pseudonym of Marietta Holley
Aka "Josiah Allen's Wife"
Poet, Author, Humorist, Music Teacher
Born July 16, 1836, near Adams, Jefferson County, New York
Died March 1, 1926, near Pierrepont Manor, Jefferson County, New York

I have pored through the list of writers who contributed to Weird Tales, and I thought I had found all of its writers of the nineteenth century. Now another turns up. I guess this is why it's called research.

The November 1927 issue of Weird Tales closed with a long poem called "The Haunted Mansion" by Marietta Hawley. That name would not have been familiar to readers, for it was an old pseudonym of an author who had passed away the year before at age eighty-nine. Her poem would not have been familiar, either, for it was already six decades old, having originally appeared in 1867 in Peterson's Magazine as "The Haunted Castle." The author's real name, Marietta Holley, would likely have been unknown as well. And perhaps only a few readers would have remembered her nom de plume, "Josiah Allen's Wife." Nonetheless, at one time, Marietta Holley was one of the most popular writers in America.

Marietta Holley was born on July 16, 1836, near the town of Adams in Jefferson County, New York. Called "the female Mark Twain," she was younger than old Sam Clemens by just eight months. Like him and other American humorists of the nineteenth century ("Josh Billings," "Petroleum V. Nasby"), Marietta Holley used a pseudonym in her popular writings. She began as "Marietta Hawley," a poet, but with the publication of My Opinions and Betsey Bobbet's (1872), she became known as "Josiah Allen's Wife." Over the next four decades, Marietta Holley wrote more than two dozen books. Ten were in her very popular "Samantha" series, Samantha being Mrs. Josiah Allen and the narrator of the books.

The New York Times called the Samantha series "beloved" by readers of the 1880s through the early 1900s, yet Marietta was little remembered even late in her own lifetime. My library is small, but I have not found her in The Popular Book by James D. Hart (1950) or The Popular American Novel, 1865-1920 by Herbert F. Smith (1980). Nor have I found her in American Humor by Constance Rourke (1931), The Rise and Fall of American Humor by Jesse Bier (1968), or The Comic Spirit in America edited by John K. Massey (1969). Then I looked in the book Laughing Their Way: Women's Humor in America by Martha Bensley Bruère and Mary Ritter Beard (1934), and there she is--though only briefly (and, incidentally, in a section called "Feminists"). The point of all this is that the writings of Marietta Holley, so popular in their day, quickly passed from memory after her death. Kate H. Winter has helped to revive the memory of "Josiah Allen's Wife" in Marietta Holley: Life with "Josiah Allen's Wife", originally published in 1984 and more recently in a paperback edition.

Marietta Holley died on March 1, 1926, thus she lived into the Weird Tales era, though not long enough to see her poem published in the November 1927 issue. That poem, again, originally entitled "The Haunted Castle," was reprinted in Weird Tales as "The Haunted Mansion." I can't say why. In any case, here it is in its entirety.

The Haunted Castle
by Marietta Holley
(reprinted in Weird Tales as "The Haunted Mansion")

It stands alone on a haunted shore,
With curious words of deathless lore
On its massive gate impearled;
And its carefully guarded mystic key
Locks in its silent mystery
From the seeking eyes of the world.

Oft do its stately walls repeat
Echoes of music wildly sweet
Swelling to gladness high-- 
With mournful ballads of ancient time,
And funeral hymns--and a nursery rhyme
Dying away in a sigh.

Pictures out of each haunted room,
Up through the ghostly shadows loom,
And gleam with a spectral light;
Pictures lit with a radiant glow,
And some that image such desolate woe
That, weeping, you turn from the sight.

Shining like stars in the twilight gloom
Brows as white as a lily's bloom
Gleam from its lattice and door;
And voices soft as a seraph's note,
Through its mysterious chambers float
Back from eternity's shore.

In the mournful silence of midnight air
You hear on its stately and winding stair
The echoes of fairy feet.
Gentle footsteps that lightly fall
Through the enchanted castle hall,
And up in the golden street.

And still in a dark forsaken tower,
Crowned with a withered cypress flower,
Is a bowed head turned away;
A face like carved marble white,
Sweet eyes drooping away from the light,
Shunning the eye of day.

And oft when the light burns low and dim
A haggard form ungainly and grim
Unbidden enters the door;
With chiding eyes whose burning light
You fain would bury in darkness and night,
Never to meet you more.

Mysteries strange its still walls keep,
Strange are the forms that through it sweep-- 
Walking by night and by day.
But evermore will the castle hall
Echo their footsteps' phantom fall,
Till its walls shall crumble away.

Original text copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Grace Keon (1873-?)

Pseudonym of Mary Grace Wallace Doonan
Aka G.K. Doonan, Mary Wallace
Author, Poet, Playwright, Proofreader
Born October 1873, New York
Died Unknown

Grace Keon was a pseudonym of Mary Grace Wallace Doonan, an American author born in New York to Irish-American parents. Her father was William Wallace, a driver; her mother was Ann Keon, from whom Grace derived her nom de plume. Grace Keon was also known as G.K. Doonan and Mary Wallace. Mary Grace, who went by Grace, was born in October 1873, probably in New York City.

Grace worked as a proofreader early in life and became a published author as early as 1904 with her book The Ruler of the Kingdom and Other Phases of Life and Character. She followed that with Not a Judgment (1906) and The Life on Earth of Our Blessed Lord, Told in Rhyme, Story and Picture for Little Catholic Children (1913). Grace Keon specialized in Catholic literature and had several stories published in Catholic World and Extension Magazine from 1915 to 1933. Her other works included The Ruby Cross (a mystery, 1917), The Tiger of the Desert (a play, 1917), Just Happy: The Story of a Dog--and Some Humans (1920), Broken Paths (1923), The High Road (1930), Stars in My Heaven (1941), The Story of Doctor King (1944), and Love Is Strong (date unknown).

Grace Keon did not contribute to Weird Tales. However, she wrote three stories for Oriental Stories/The Magic Carpet Magazine in 1932-1933. Her first, "The Dance of Yesha," was reprinted in The Daily Mail on October 12, 1935.

Grace Doonan was married to James F. Doonan, a sales manager for a publication. I'm afraid I don't know her date or place of death.

Grace Keon's Stories in Oriental Stories/The Magic Carpet Magazine
"The Dance of Yesha" in Oriental Stories (Winter 1932)
"The Maid of Mir" in The Magic Carpet Magazine (Jan. 1933)
"The Gardens of the Nawwab" in The Magic Carpet Magazine (Apr. 1933)

Further Reading
Nothing of note that I could find.

Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Josie McNamara Lydon (1865-1948)

Poet, Lyricist
Born September 7, 1865, Canada
Died March 12, 1948, Los Angeles, California

Josephine McNamara, nicknamed Josie, was born on September 7, 1865, in Canada, and  arrived in the United States in 1868. Her husband was Patrick R. Lydon, a West Virginian. The Lydons lived in Denver and Englewood, Colorado, in Silver City, Idaho, and in Glendale, California.

Josie was a poet and lyricist. She wrote the words for "God Guide Our President" (1915). The music was provided by ragtime composer Theodore H. Northrup (1866-1919). She was published in Evenings with Colorado Poets: An Anthology of Colorado Verse, edited by Francis Shanor Kinder and Frank C. Spencer (Denver: World Press, 1926) and in Weird Tales. Her lone poem for the magazine was "White Lilies" from December 1927. Josie McNamara Lydon died on March 12, 1948, in Los Angeles, California, and was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.

Josie McNamara Lydon's Poem in Weird Tales
"White Lilies" (Dec. 1927)

Further Reading
None known.

Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley