Now comes a not very pleasant part of categorizing the covers of Weird Tales. Black people are on the cover of ten issues of the magazine. Few if any of these covers show a black person in a positive light. Most depictions here are either neutral or negative. The first, from December 1924, shows a white guy pummeling a black man in the back of the head. Some would say that things haven't changed very much since then.
It might be worth noting that the first three covers shown here were published while Weird Tales had its offices in Indiana and that the 1920s were a high point in the power of the Ku Klux Klan in the state. I wouldn't make too much of that, though, for official or semi-official attitudes towards black people were pretty bad pretty much everywhere in the first few decades of the twentieth century. When I say official or semi-official, I mean within the offices of government, academia, magazine publishing, and Hollywood moviemaking, among other places. Few writers, artists, screenwriters, or movie directors demonstrated the imagination and courage necessary to depict black people truthfully and honestly as human beings. Popular culture was especially bad in that way. In other words, these covers for Weird Tales were not out of the ordinary for the time. I wish it could have been different.
Updated April 12, 2017.
Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley