Sunday, January 3, 2016

Weird Tales-The Magazine That Died

The end of the year is always a time to remember those who have passed away. Now a new year has begun and we're ready to look forward again. But in all the remembrances of those who departed last year, nobody has mentioned Weird Tales. Marvin Kaye once called it "The Magazine That Never Dies." Well, he seems to have presided over its death, for in 2015, for the first time since 1997, we had a year in which not a single issue of Weird Tales was published. The second longest streak for publication of the magazine is over.

Who knows what's going on. The Weird Tales website, inexplicably called www.weirdtailors.com, is still just a placeholder. There is no real content to be found there. The URL www.weirdtales.com redirects to www.weirdtailors.com. Don't ask me why. It only makes sense that your web address would match the name of your publication. Anyway, Weird Tales has a Facebook page. I don't use Facebook. One of the reasons is that it is aesthetically horrifying. The Weird Tales page is no exception. In fact it looks like a mess. I'm not sure that there is any real content there, either, although there is a link, http://weirdtalesmagazine.com/, which redirects to the web address www.weirdtales.com, which is the same as www.weirdtailors.com. You can spend all day circling from one website to another and never read an informative or entertaining word. In the current age, I guess having a useless and meaningless presence on the web counts for more than actually producing something. Marvin Kaye and company may not have a magazine in print, but at least they have 1,459,622 likes on Facebook. Maybe that's the kind of thing people put on their résumés these days.

When it gets down to it, there was probably only one Weird Tales. It ran for thirty-one years, from March 1923 to September 1954. Even in its later days, it was a mere shadow of its former self. Everything since then has been a self-conscious imitation or an exercise in nostalgia. Since the 1970s, publishers and editors have simply traded on a brand. They made a magazine they called Weird Tales, but was it really Weird Tales? I would say no. The spirit of the magazine is gone--dead and departed, despite Mr. Kaye's sobriquet of Weird Tales as "The Magazine That Never Dies." The time in which it lived is long gone, too. Despite that, I think you could still have a magazine called Weird Tales and that you could still publish weird fiction, fantasy, and so on in its pages. The readership may be small (and shrinking), but it could still be done. We should realize, though, that the past is gone and will never be brought back. It especially won't be brought back if the owners of the license, whoever they might be, don't put out a magazine.

Copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

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