Sunday, November 23, 2014

Vampires and Bats on the Cover of Weird Tales

Vampires are a very popular kind of monster, so popular that I'm surprised there were so few on the cover of Weird Tales. I count only three images that are obviously vampires and three that look like the popular image of the vampire. The other covers here have bat motifs, some of which are related to vampires and some are not.

Weird Tales, September 1926. Cover story: "The Bird of Space" by Everil Worrell. Cover art by E.M. Stevenson. I'm not sure that the male figure here is a vampire, but he's got the look: dark suit, discolored skin, pointy hair, and evil grin. If you were to straighten her out, the woman would probably be taller--certainly larger--than he is, so he's got the super strength, too.

Weird Tales, May 1932. "The Brotherhood of Blood" by Hugh B. Cave. Cover art by C.C. Senf. Red hair, red dress--is this the same woman as in the previous image and in so many pulp covers? And leave it to a guy named Cave to write a story with bats in it.

Weird Tales, October 1933. Cover story: "The Vampire Master" by Hugh Davidson. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. This is one of the most iconic images ever to appear on the cover of Weird Tales, and without a doubt one of the most striking. The imagery of bats must have been in the air (no pun intended) during the 1930s. I can't help but think that the October 1933 issue of Weird Tales stuck in the heads of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, creators of . . . 

Batman, who made his debut in May 1939, seventy-five years ago this year. The U.S. Postal Service has issued a sheet of postage stamps to commemorate the anniversary. The top row is of no interest, but the next three are. The bottom row represents the Batman of the 1930s and early '40s.

Weird Tales, June 1936. Cover story: "Loot of the Vampire" by Thorp McClusky. Cover art by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, January 1937. Cover story: "Children of the Bat" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. I have a category called "Red Robes and Cultists," and though the guy in this picture looks like a cultist, he's lacking the red robe. The bat motif is there, however, in the image and in the title of the cover story.

Weird Tales, December 1938. Cover story: "The Sin-Eater" by G.G. Pendarves. Cover art by Ray Quigley. Like the previous image, this one shows what must be a cultist (or maybe a sorcerer), but the motif of the bat makes another appearance. This might be the one and only pulp cover to show an osprey.

Weird Tales, January 1944. Cover story: "Bon Voyage, Michele" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Harold S. De Lay.

Weird Tales, July 1944. Cover story: "Death's Bookkeeper" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by A.R. Tilburne. I don't think the non-skeleton figure on this cover is a vampire, but as in the first cover in this category, he looks the part.

Weird Tales, July 1947. Cover story: None? Cover art by Lee Brown Coye. Lee Brown Coye told the truth about vampires. They are not sexy. They are monstrous, and in Coye's illustration, the monstrousness of the vampire--his evil and decadent state--is expressed in his monstrous countenance.

Lee Brown Coye drew a pictorial feature for Weird Tales called "Weirdisms." I don't know which installment of "Weirdisms" was included in this issue, but if it was about vampires, then this may have been the only Weird Tales cover illustrating a feature rather than a story or poem.

Weird Tales, July 1950. Cover story: None. Cover art by Matt Fox. A conceptual cover from Matt Fox and one of only a few Weird Tales covers showing a writer.

Weird Tales, July 1954. Cover story: None. Cover art by Harold S. De Lay. This is the second to last issue in the original run of Weird Tales. Like the last (by Virgil Finlay, from September 1954), this one is recycled. 

The editors of Weird Vampire Tales recycled the same image again in 1992, but this might be a copy of the original and not the work of Harold S. De Lay at all.

Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

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