Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Woman and God or Idol on the Cover of Weird Tales

Gods and idols figure prominently in weird fiction. The sculpture of Cthulhu from "The Call of Cthulhu" is among the most famous of idols from Weird Tales. Unfortunately, Cthulhu never made it to the cover of the magazine. Instead, there are ten covers (by my count) showing gods or idols. Every one of them also shows a woman as worshipper or supplicant. 

Weird Tales, December 1927. Cover story: "The Infidel's Daughter" by E. Hoffman Price. Cover art by Hugh Rankin. Price and his friend Hugh Rankin were both orientalists. . .

Rankin would have found a model for his cover design close at hand, for the University of Chicago Oriental Institute holds a gypsum (?) relief sculpture of a Lammasu or Ĺ edu, a beneficial deity from Assyrian mythology. This one is from Dur-Sharrukin, the Assyrian capital, now Khorsabad, and dates from the Neo-Assyrian Period, ca. 721-705 BC.

Weird Tales, January 1928. Cover story: "The Gods of East and West" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by C.C. Senf. I find this cover bizarre, if not ridiculous. Pity the poor artist who got the assignment.

Weird Tales, December 1928. Cover story: "The Chapel of Mystic Horror" Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Hugh Rankin.

Weird Tales, March 1929. Cover story: "The People of Pan" by Henry S. Whitehead. Cover art by C.C. Senf. Senf's composition here is odd and complicated, but I believe it works. This is much more successful than the cover from January 1928.

Weird Tales, September 1932. Cover story: "The Altar of Melek Taos" by G.G. Pendarves. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. This was Margaret Brundage's first cover for Weird Tales. All of the following covers in this category are hers as well.

Weird Tales, June 1933. Cover story: "Black Colossus" by Robert E. Howard. Cover art by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, October 1934. Cover story: "The Black God's Kiss" by C.L. Moore. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. A very similar cover to the one preceding it.

Weird Tales, June 1937. Cover story: "The Carnal God" by John R. Speer and Carlisle Schnitzer. Cover art by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, January 1945. Cover story: "Priestess of the Labyrinth" by Edmond Hamilton. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. I'm not sure that the minotaur in this story is a god, but in the original myth, the Minotaur was the offspring of a gift from the Greek god Poseidon and the wife of Minos of Crete. In this illustration, the Minotaur has an appearance of bronze, like a statue or idol. In any case, this is the only cover in this category in which the woman is clearly superior in power or status to the god or idol. That's Margaret Brundage for you.

Weird Tales, January 1951. Cover story: None. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. Weird Tales recycled Margaret Brundage's illustration from six years before in its issue of January 1951. The first of the ten covers in the category of woman and god or idol shows a bull with a man's head. The last shows a man with a bull's head, and so we come full circle.

Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

No comments:

Post a Comment