Friday, May 13, 2011

Loual B. Sugarman (1894-1965)

Architectural Draftsman, Graphic Artist, and Author
Born May 24, 1894, Little Rock, Arkansas
Died July 2, 1965, Cook County, Illinois

Loual Berthold Sugarman had a singular name and wrote a single story for Weird Tales magazine. It's called "The Gray Death" and it appeared in the June 1923 issue of "The Unique Magazine." According to Robert Weinberg, Sugarman's story, a "tale of a fungus that devoured everything alive that it touched," made the issue in which it appeared readable. Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright thought enough of "The Gray Death" that a decade after its first appearance, he reprinted the story in the May 1934 issue of Weird Tales. It was reprinted again in the anthology The Eighth Green Man and Other Strange Folk (1989). A letter from Edwin Baird, the editor of Weird Tales in 1923, indicates that Sugarman's story was heavily edited before going to print. "[I]t was no easy job to whip your story into shape," Baird wrote. In any case, "Ooze," the cover story of the first issue of the Weird Tales, was about a giant amoeba that devoured all in its path (like The Blob of the 1950s). In Sugarman's story, the Kingdom of Fungi got in on the act. Although I have not read the story, it sounds like "The Gray Death" could have inspired H.P. Lovecraft's "Colour Out of Space," published in Amazing Stories in September 1927.

Loual B. Sugarman (later just plain "L.B.") was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on May 24, 1894. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and Harvard University (Class of 1915), where he studied to be an architectural draftsman. His young career was interrupted by service in World War I. Enlisting as a private in February 1918, he was promoted to second lieutenant and separated in January 1919. By the early 1920s, he was living in Chicago, and that's probably where he discovered that Weird Tales was looking for submissions. His other titles included "Fool's Gold," "Art for Heart's Sake" (both short stories), "The New Skyline," and "Chicago Puts on Long Pants" (both essays). Sugarman enjoyed a long career in architecture, commercial art, and graphic art. He died in Cook County, Illinois, on July 2, 1965.

Loual B. Sugarman's Story in Weird Tales
"The Gray Death" (June 1923, reprinted May 1934)

Further Reading
"The Gray Death" in The Eighth Green Man and Other Strange Folk, edited by Robert Weinberg (Starmont House, 1989), a very expensive book by the way

A poor reproduction of an architectural rendering by Loual B. Sugarman, author of "The Gray Death" for Weird Tales magazine. From the Chicago Tribune.
Loual B. Sugarman (1894-1965)
Thanks to Randal Everts for the photograph of and other information on L.B. Sugarman.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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