Sunday, October 23, 2016

Robert Weinberg (1946-2016)

Robert Weinberg has died. As a writer, editor, publisher, fan, and collector, Mr. Weinberg did more than anyone, I think, to carry Weird Tales from the defunct era of the pulps into the 1970s and beyond. He acquired the Weird Tales property from Leo Margulies in the mid 1970s and immediately set about reviving the title and the franchise with WT 50: A Tribute to Weird Tales (1974), a self-published paperback that included material both old and new. Mr. Weinberg followed up that effort with the hardbound volume The Weird Tales Story in 1977 and a six-part serial, The Weird Tales Collector, published from 1977 to 1980. If I understand my history of the property correctly, Robert Weinberg was owner when various revivals of the magazine came about, in 1980-1983 under Lin Carter; 1984-1985 under Gordon M.D. Garb; and 1988-2010 under George H. Scithers, Darrell Schweitzer, John Gregory Betancourt, Ann VanderMeer, and Stephen H. Segal. As his health declined, Mr. Weinberg sold the Weird Tales property to Viacom, while the license to publish a magazine passed to Marvin Kaye in 2012. That is how I understand the situation anyway. Unfortunately, Weird Tales is, at this point, moribund and in need once again of revival. It is unfortunate as well that no one of Robert Weinberg's caliber as an editor, publisher, and--perhaps most importantly--fan and devotee seems to be standing ready to do what he did with Weird Tales. No one can speak for the departed, but I feel certain that Robert Weinberg would not have wanted this to happen.

As for biographical facts on Robert Weinberg: He was born on August 29, 1946, in Newark, New Jersey, in the first year of the Baby Boom and in the last decade of Weird Tales in its original run. According to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, his first published work in a genre magazine was a letter in Robert A.W. Lowndes' Magazine of Horror in November 1965. Mr. Weinberg's first credits as magazine editor (Deeper Than You Think . . . , Jan. 1968); reviewer ("Skull-Face and Others" in Deeper Than You Think . . . , Jan. 1968); fictioneer ("Destroyer," in If, May 1969); essayist ("Some Notes on Robert E. Howard," in Return to Wonder #7, Nov./Dec. 1969); author of non-fiction (The Robert E. Howard Fantasy Biblio, 1969); and poet ("Heaven, Hell," in Return to Wonder #8, Jan./Feb./Mar. 1970) followed in rapid order. Those works began a career that lasted half a century and ended only with Robert Weinberg's death on September 25, 2016, in Oak Forest, Illinois.

I would like to thank Randal A. Everts for bringing Robert Weinberg's passing to my attention. I would also like to offer to the Weinberg family my sympathies and, on their behalf, the sympathies of everyone who dreams, writes, reads, and enjoys works of fantasy, horror, and science fiction, a field to which Robert Weinberg gave so much.

Weird Tales, July 1946, published in the month before Robert Weinberg's birth, a happy event of August 29, 1946. The cover art, perfect for this Halloween season, was by the inimitable Matt Fox.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

3 comments:

  1. This is sad news. Mr. Weinberg's contribution to weird fiction and related genres is inestimable. His name was commonly seen during the time I was first being introduced to WEIRD TALES and pulp horror fiction, and he should be remembered for helping to keep alive classic imaginative literature in pop culture when it could have otherwise succumbed to the banality of modernism.

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  2. I too am sorry to hear of Robert Weinberg's passing. He was an important presence in the preservation of pulp history, and a fine talent himself.

    The Matt Fox cover that you've printed here is a delight! It truly is "perfect for the Halloween season", as you noted. I always found it interesting that Matt Fox credited Alex Raymond as being his only artistic influence. Personally, I don't see it; especially in his comic book work, Fox's stuff reminds me most of Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk.

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  3. John and Mike,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Mike: I think it's strange, too, that Matt Fox would claim Alex Raymond as an influence, but then I think that it would have been hard for any genre artist not to have been influenced by the Alex Raymond (and Hal Foster) of the 1930s, even if that influence didn't show up overtly in his or her work.

    TH

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