Monday, February 10, 2014

Weird Tales Cover Artists

(Plus: Who Created the Most Covers for Weird Tales?)

I have been writing about Weird Tales covers and cover artists. It might help to look at the big picture:

Weird Tales ran for 279 issues, from March 1923 to September 1954. If I count correctly, there were thirty-seven cover artists in all. Their rank by the number of covers each created (some covers were reprints):

1. Margaret Brundage--67 covers
2. Curtis C. Senf--45 covers
3. Virgil Finlay--20 covers
4. Andrew Brosnatch--15 covers (tie)
4. Hugh Rankin--15 covers (tie)
5. Matt Fox--11 covers
6. A.R. Tilburne--10 covers (tie)
6. Lee Brown Coye--10 covers (tie)
7. R.M. Mally--9 covers (tie)
7. J. Allen St. John--9 covers (tie)
8. Hannes Bok--7 covers
9. C. Barker Petrie, Jr.--6 covers
10. Harold S. De Lay--5 covers (tie)
10. Boris Dolgov--5 covers (tie)
10. E.M. Stevenson--5 covers (tie)
11. Six tied with three covers each: Jon Arfstrom, Frank Kelly Freas, John Giunta, Peter Kuhlhoff, Ray Quigley, and W.H. Silvey
12. Six tied with two covers each: Joseph Doolin, Joseph R. Eberle, William F. Heitman, Charles A. Kennedy, Bill Wayne, Edgar Franklin Wittmack
13. Ten tied with one cover each: Richard Bennett, Andrew Bensen, Ronald Clyne, Anthony Di Giannurio, Richard R. Epperly, Gretta (Joseph C. Gretter), Michael Labonski, T. Wyatt Nelson, Evan Singer, Washburn

(If you hover over the names with your cursor, you will find links to the artists about whom I have written elsewhere on this blog.)

I have divided Weird Tales into several periods based on changes in the staff or ownership of the magazine and on trends in the artists who created the covers. These divisions are not written in stone.

Mar. 1923-May/June/July 1924
13 Issues
Richard R. Epperly (1 cover)
William F. Heitman (2 covers)
R.M. Mally (9 covers)
Washburn (1 cover)

Weird Tales began in March 1923 with Richard R. Epperly's one and only cover for the magazine. Only four artists created covers during the magazine's first year under editor Edwin M. Baird. R.M. Mally did the majority of those. None of the artists returned after Farnsworth Wright took over as editor in November 1924.

Nov. 1924-Feb. 1927
28 Issues
Andrew Benson (1 cover)
Andrew Brosnatch (15 covers)
Joseph Doolin (2 covers)
C. Barker Petrie, Jr. (5 covers)
E.M. Stevenson (5 covers)

After a gap of four months, Weird Tales returned in November 1924. Five new artists combined to create the next twenty-eight covers. Andrew Brosnatch was responsible for more than half of those, including thirteen in a row between November 1924 and November 1925. After February 1927, only C. Barker Petrie, Jr., returned, and then only for one cover.

Mar. 1927-Aug. 1932
63 Issues
T. Wyatt Nelson (1 cover)
C. Barker Petrie, Jr. (1 cover)
Hugh Rankin (15 covers)
J. Allen St. John (1 cover)
Curtis C. Senf (45 covers)

From March 1927 to August 1932, two artists--Curtis C. Senf and Hugh Rankin--created sixty out of sixty-three covers for Weird Tales. Senf's forty-five designs land him in second place (after Margaret Brundage) for the most covers for Weird Tales. J. Allen St. John made his debut in June 1932. Out of the five artists for this period, only he returned after August 1932.

Sept. 1932-Oct. 1938
73 Issues
Margaret Brundage (58 covers)
Virgil Finlay (7 covers)
J. Allen St. John (8 covers)

The 1930s were dominated by three artists, Margaret Brundage, J. Allen St. John, and Virgil Finlay. Margaret Brundage's first cover was in September 1932. For the next six years, she was responsible for fifty-eight covers or almost four-fifths of the total for this period. That includes an astonishing run of thirty-nine issues in a row, from June 1933 to August/September 1936. J. Allen St. John dropped out of the picture after this. Margaret Brundage and Virgil Finlay returned.

Nov. 1938-Jan. 1945
44 Issues
Richard Bennett (1 cover)
Hannes Bok (7 covers)
Margaret Brundage (8 covers)
Harold S. De Lay (4 covers)
Virgil Finlay (9 covers)
Matt Fox (1 cover)
John Giunta (1 cover)
Gretta (Joseph C. Gretter) (1 cover)
Ray Quigley (3 covers)
A.R. Tilburne (7 covers)
Edgar Franklin Wittmack (2 covers)

Weird Tales changed hands in November 1938, and although Farnsworth Wright continued as editor, the magazine was published out of New York City instead of Chicago. A.R. Tilburne, a cover illustrator for Short Stories (the new owner of the magazine), created the first cover of Weird Tales under new ownership. Margaret Brundage and Virgil Finlay returned during this period. The other nine artists were new to Weird Tales. Hannes Bok, a fan turned pro, was a major discovery. Richard Bennett, Matt Fox, and John Giunta were fairly new to illustration. Harold S. De Lay, Gretta, Ray Quigley, and Edgar Franklin Wittmack were by then veterans. Only Finlay, Fox, Giunta, and Tilburne returned after January 1945.

Mar. 1945-July 1950
33 Issues
Lee Brown Coye (8 covers)
Ronald Clyne (1 cover)
Boris Dolgov (5 covers)
Matt Fox (10 covers)
John Giunta (2 covers)
Peter Kuhlhoff (3 covers)
Michael Labonski (1 cover)
A.R. Tilburne (3 covers)

The next five years were dominated by three new artists, Lee Brown Coye, Boris Dolgov, and Matt Fox. Each had a style that helped Weird Tales maintain its reputation as "The Unique Magazine." Of the artists listed here, only Coye would return after July 1950.

Sept. 1950-Sept 1954
25 Issues
Jon Arfstrom (3 covers)
Margaret Brundage (1 cover--reprint)
Lee Brown Coye (2 covers)
Harold S. De Lay (1 cover--reprint)
Anthony Di Giannurio (1 cover)
Joseph R. Eberle (2 covers)
Virgil Finlay (4 covers, one of which was a reprint)
Frank Kelly Freas (3 covers)
Charles A. Kennedy (2 covers)
W.H. Silvey (3 covers)
Evan Singer (1 cover)
Bill Wayne (2 covers)

The covers after July 1950 were spread pretty evenly among a dozen artists. For the first time, Weird Tales used reprints on its covers. One of those reprints--the last cover of the magazine--was by Virgil Finlay. Finlay also created three original covers, making him the only artist with an original cover in each of three different decades. Frank Kelly Freas was a major discovery during this period. Sadly, after thirty-one years, Weird Tales gave up the ghost in September 1954.

Copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

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