Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oriental Stories Covers

In 1930, Popular Fiction Publishing put out a companion magazine to its main publication, Weird Tales. Initially entitled Oriental Stories, the magazine would last nine issues, from October-November 1930 to Summer 1932, whereupon the name was changed to The Magic Carpet Magazine. Although Farnsworth Wright believed in the concept and recruited many of his authors and artists from Weird Tales as contributors, The Magic Carpet Magazine lasted just five more issues, from January 1933 to January 1934.

The West had of course been fascinated by the Orient since the Napoleonic Age. The rise of Japan as a world power and Chinese efforts to throw off European control and influence helped keep East Asia in the public eye during the early twentieth century. It's only natural that the Orient would show up in popular culture, in everything from Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu stories to Terry and the Pirates to the Road Pictures with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour to Oriental Stories and The Magic Carpet Magazine from Popular Fiction.

Oriental Stories (Vol. 1, No. 1), Oct.-Nov. 1930, with a cover by Donald von Gelb (aka Donald Gelb).
Oriental Stories (Vol. 1, No. 2), Dec.1930-Jan. 1931. Again, Donald von Gelb was the artist.
Oriental Stories (Vol. 1, No. 3), Feb.-Mar. 1931. Donald von Gelb drew the cover illustration, while Joseph Doolin did the interior illustrations.
Oriental Stories (Vol. 1, No. 4), Apr.-May-June 1931, the Spring Issue, with a cover by Donald von Gelb. Note that the logo has changed, just as Gelb's style has changed, from the colorful and decorative to a more naturalistic approach. Changes are often a sign of trouble behind the scenes of a magazine or other serial.
Oriental Stories (Vol. 1, No. 5), Summer 1931, with the last of Donald von Gelb's five covers for the magazine.
Oriental Stories (Vol. 1, No. 6), Autumn 1931. The cover artist is Lucille Holling, wife of children's book author and illustrator Holling Clancy Holling. It's a shame she didn't do more work for Popular Fiction. Note that once again, the logo has changed. 
Oriental Stories (Vol. 2, No. 1), Winter 1932. The cover artist is pulp workhorse J. Allen St. John.
Oriental Stories (Vol. 2, No. 2), Spring 1932. Margaret Brundage contributed this cover  to the magazine. Compare the sensuality of her drawing to Lucille Holling's more innocent piece.
Oriental Stories (Vol. 2, No. 3), Summer 1932, the last issue before Oriental Stories became The Magic Carpet Magazine. The cover artist is once again Margaret Brundage.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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