Saturday, October 29, 2016

Centaurs on the Cover of Weird Tales

While I'm on mythological subjects, I will show the two centaur covers of Weird Tales. In contrast to Medusa, these seem like pretty nice creatures.

Weird Tales, July 1934. Cover story: "Trail of the Cloven Hoof" by Arlton Eadie. Cover art by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, November 1942. Cover story: "Nursemaid to Nightmares" by Robert Bloch. Cover art by Richard Bennett, his only cover for the magazine.

Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

7 comments:

  1. That's another lovely Margaret Brundage cover; great diagonal flow to this one. But is that a centaur? The character seems to have deer antlers. In any event, it's a wonderful painting, accompanying a story with a most compelling title.
    The other cover seen here has all the look of a Golden Age comic, making me wonder if this image was swiped from a Speed Centaur strip. The timing would be right, since Centaur Comics ceased publication in 1942. Maybe somebody with an extensive collection of these ancient comics could answer the question...

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    1. Mike,

      "Centaur" isn't the right word for a half man, half deer, but I think that's the word most people would use for such a creature. (Is there a word for a half man, half deer?) I agree with you that this is a fine image by Margaret Brundage. Coupled with the title, it makes you want to read the story.

      I'm not sure about any connection to the comic book character Speed Centaur. If we knew more about the artist Richard Bennett, we might have a better idea on possible inspirations for his art.

      TH

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    2. I hear from my friend Gandelyn that the word for a half man, half deer is "faun." Thank you, Gandelyn.

      As for the Bennett cover: it's very comic book-like. I wonder if Bennett worked in comic books or if he read comic books. If so, maybe he was aware of Speed Centaur.

      TH

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    3. His proper title: Gandelyn the Mythographer.

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    4. That's very interesting. I had always thought that "faun" was equivalent to "satyr", the half-man, half-goat creatures of Greek mythology. I know that in Roman myth, Pan was sometimes known as Faunus. Certainly there are many versions of mythology, with names, creatures and characters often being interchangeable and terms having varying meanings. So it's certainly possible that in some ancient lore "faun" did indeed refer to half-man, half deer creatures.
      Gandelyn's definition got me wondering if there was a connection between"faun" and the term "fawn", which is the name of a baby deer. An etymological search was inconclusive; the Oxford English Dictionary states that "fawn" was derived from "foetus", the Latin word for "fetus."

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    5. Mike and Everybody Else,

      After some further research, I have kind of figured out that my friend Gandelyn the Mythographer is probably right. How's that for a decisive answer? Faunus was the Roman god of forests and fields, but he predated the Hellenization of Roman gods. So even though Faunus is considered the Roman version of Pan and fauns the Roman version of satyrs, there is reason to believe that a faun is a woodland creature, possibly a half man, half goat, but I think more likely a half man, half deer, or possibly just an animal, an animal hybrid, or an animal spirit. The word "faun" would seem to have been a general term for animal.

      Thanks for writing.

      TH

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  2. Well, I just found the answer to my question of a few days ago, as to whether any art by Margaret Brundage still survives. The answer is a resounding YES!
    On March 17, 2016 her original 13" x 15 1/2" painting for the cover of the June 1937 of Weird Tales sold at auction for $47,150.00. The auction house -- Hake's Americana & Collectables -- described it as "Stunning 1930s pulp art, the nicest example we've offered in our 49 years." So her artwork still survives, and is now being collected and revered. Like so many great artists, it's too bad that Brundage didn't live to see it...

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