Saturday, February 18, 2017

Zombies, Liches, Corpses, and the Undead

So far, February has been Zombie Month at Tellers of Weird Tales. I guess I'll keep it up for a while, beginning with all of the covers of Weird Tales showing zombies, liches, corpses, and the undead, plus a couple of creatures that look like they could be from among the undead. I count more than a dozen of these covers. One thing I noticed in pulling them together is that many of the undead seem to have lost their pupils, like Little Orphan Annie. If the eyes are a window upon the soul, I guess that makes sense. Anyway, the first cover is for a story by Arthur J. Burks, who may be the forgotten father of the zombie in America. I don't know for a fact that the taller of the two figures is a zombie, but once I learned a little something about Burks, the cover made sense: in front appears to be a bokor, houngan, or mambo, and in the rear, a zombie? I plan to read this story soon. When I do, I'll let you know for sure.

Weird Tales, August 1925. Cover story: "Black Medicine" by Arthur J. Burks. Cover art by Andrew Brosnatch.

Weird Tales, April 1930. Cover story: "The Dust of Egypt" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Hugh Rankin. The creature in the middle looks like one of the undead, plus he doesn't have any pupils. You have seen this cover before in the categories of Egypt and of the reaching hand, but I think it has a place here, too.

Weird Tales, January 1931. Cover story "The Lost Lady" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by C.C. Senf. Another reaching hand, and in the rear, a zomboid creature. Or maybe he's a ghoul.

Weird Tales, August 1932. Cover story: "Bride of the Peacock" by E. Hoffman Price. Cover art by T. Wyatt Nelson. More than a skeleton, less than alive. In my book, that makes for one of the undead.

Weird Tales, October 1936. Cover story: "Isle of the Undead" by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. Cover art by J. Allen St. John. There's no doubt about this cover.

Weird Tales, February 1937. Cover story: "The Globe of Memories" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Virgil Finlay.

Weird Tales, October 1937. Cover story: "Tiger Cat" by David H. Keller. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. I don't know that the men in the picture are of the undead, but their eyes are blunked out, as MAD magazine put it in its parody of Pogo, so here they are. Update (Feb. 18, 2017): I have just read this story. You can read it, too, by going to this issue of Weird Tales at the website pulpmags.org, here. As it turns out, the men in the story are not undead, and though the woman is defending herself from them, the whole situation is not what you might think. Just read for yourself. I think you'll like the story.

Weird Tales, July 1938. Cover story: "Spawn of Dagon" by Henry Kuttner. Cover art by Virgil Finlay. More missing pupils, plus the short guy in front is pretty green and seems to be past his expiration date.

How did Virgil Finlay see the future so well?

Weird Tales, November 1939. Cover story: "Towers of Death" by Henry Kuttner. Cover art by Virgil Finlay. This is a rare cover and one we haven't seen before (if I remember right).

Weird Tales, July 1940. Cover story: "An Adventure of a Professional Corpse" by H. Bedford-Jones. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. This guy wins the prize for the spiffiest corpse so far.

Weird Tales, Canadian edition, November 1943. Cover story: Uncertain. Cover art by an unknown artist. The Canadian edition of Weird Tales had its own look. You would barely know that it was the same magazine as the American edition. And some of the Canadian covers were superior to their American counterparts.

Weird Tales, Canadian edition, March 1944. Cover story: "The Valley of the Assassins" by Edmond Hamilton [?]. Cover art by an unknown artist. More blunked-out eyes. Are these men undead?

Weird Tales, July 1947. Cover story: "Weirdisms: The Vampire" by E. Crosby Michel. Cover art by Lee Brown Coye. This is actually a vampire cover, but Coye's vampire looks more like what we think of as a zombie. Coye tended to draw and paint decrepit people, but I think that with his artist's keen vision, he saw and depicted the true nature of the vampire as an evil and depraved being. People who think of vampires as cute and sexy have forgotten or overlooked that. Why do they have to be reminded that vampires are here to kill us all?

Weird Tales, November 1949. Cover story: "The Underbody" by Allison V. Harding. Cover art by Matt Fox.

Text and captions copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

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