I have placed seven covers in the category of man and animal. Surprisingly, four of the animals are birds, two corvids (a crow and a raven) and two vultures. Otherwise there doesn't seem to be much of a pattern. Sometimes the animals are helpers and sometimes adversaries.
As far as I know, the image of a whip-poor-will, the calls of which figure prominently in several weird tales, never appeared on the cover of the magazine. I'm not sure why whip-poor-wills should be associated with the supernatural. Is that from folklore? In any case, I don't find anything strange or eerie in the sound of whip-poor-wills calling. On the contrary, the call of the whip-poor-will in the evening woods is to me the sound of a kind of wildness, of something that has been lost in the irretrievable past. Seeing a whip-poor-will float through the woods might remind you of a kind of ghost. To me, it's more like the flight of a kite or like a weightless wooden toy with moving parts. The association of the whip-poor-will with the supernatural or paranormal continues. A whip-poor-will is a goatsucker, in Spanish, chupacabra.
|Weird Tales, September 1944. Cover story: None. Cover art by A.R. Tilburne. The website Yankee Classic has identified this cover as a swipe from the artist Jose Segrelles from an image published in American Weekly Magazine in October 1931. It's a shame that Tilburne resorted to that, but his is a fine version and well executed. If you look at the regular Weird Tales artists of the 1940s--A.R. Tilburne, Hannes Bok, Matt Fox, Lee Brown Coye, Boris Golgov--they stack up pretty well against the artists of the 1920s. The 1930s of course were dominated by J. Allen St. John, Margaret Brundage, and Virgil Finlay. This drawing reminds me of a cartoon by Shaw in The New Yorker from last year (June 3, 2013). The cartoon shows a man crawling through the desert. On his back is a vulture. The man is saying to the vulture, with some annoyance, "If I can crawl, you can circle."|
Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley