Sunday, October 28, 2012

Authors from Sam Moskowitz's Weird Tales

As a business, Weird Tales was seldom on firm footing. It nearly died a-borning in 1923-1924. Throughout the following decades, the magazine struggled and was sold in 1938 to Short Stories, Inc. Dorothy McIlwraith came on as editor in 1940 and kept Weird Tales alive for a more than a decade, but in September 1954, "The Unique Magazine" finally gave up the ghost. In a later anthology, editor Marvin Kaye called Weird Tales "the magazine that never dies," and true to form, it has returned again and again. Leo Margulies (who purchased the Weird Tales property in the 1950s) issued several paperback anthologies in the 1960s. Then in the early '70s, editor Sam Moskowitz assembled four new issues of the magazine. Roughly the size of an old pulp magazine (or comic book), perfect bound, and amounting to 96 pages per issue, Moskowitz's Weird Tales included reprints from the original run, new stories from various authors, and some very old stories unearthed by the editor and given new life. I have written about American authors of the nineteenth century whose work was reprinted in the Weird Tales of the Farnsworth Wright era (1924-1940). Less well known are the authors from Sam Moskowitz's Weird Tales.

One of the labels I use in this blog is "Weird Tales from the Past." I have used this label for authors who died before Weird Tales began publishing in March 1923. (1) Farnsworth Wright availed himself of weird tales from the past. Dorothy McIlwraith was disinclined to do so. But when Sam Moskowitz brought back Weird Tales, he raided old story magazines for content, thereby creating a whole new category of authors for indexers and researchers like me.

It appears as though Moskowitz spent a good deal of the 1960s and '70s digging through old magazines for weird and fantastic fiction. He assembled the stories he found in a number of books and relied heavily on them for his four issues of the revived Weird TalesFollowing is a list of authors whose stories in Weird Tales appeared in the Sam Moskowitz issues. These are authors who may have lived into the first Weird Tales era, but by 1973-1974, they had passed away. For most of them, their only appearance in Weird Tales was during the very brief Moskowitz era. I have already written about some of them. (Click on the links to find them.) I'll get to work on the others over the next few weeks. Think of this as a companion to my previous posting, "Nineteenth Century American Authors."

(1) There are exceptions: Robert W. Chambers, Gustav Meyrink, Giovanni Magherini Graziani, Fedor Sologub, Jean Richepin, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Gaston Leroux. Most of these authors were European and may not have known their work was being reprinted in Weird Tales.

Fifty years after Weird Tales first arrived on the newsstand and nearly twenty after it had disappeared, editor and science fiction historian Sam Moskowitz revived the title with four quarterly issues. This is the first, from the Summer of 1973. The cover art is by Virgil Finlay, and though it had been created decades before, Finlay's cover had never before been published. Created as an illustration for Pearl Norton Swet's story "The Medici Boots," this was to have been Finlay's first cover for Weird Tales. Unfortunately, the young artist didn't leave any room for title or credits. The story appeared in the September 1936 issue of the magazine, but with a cover by Margaret Brundage. Moskowitz's wife, Christine E. Haycock, photographed the original art in Finlay's studio in 1962, and the image finally saw print here. 
The second issue, from the fall of 1973, with cover art by Gary van der Steur after Hannes Bok's cover from March 1940. 
Issue number 3, Winter 1973, cover art by Bill Edwards. The recent movies Willard (1971) and Ben (1972)  would have been on people's minds when this issue appeared.
The last issue of Sam Moskowitz's revival of Weird Tales, from the summer of 1974. The cover artist is unknown.
As a bonus, here's Virgil Finlay's interior illustration for "The Medici Boots" by Pearl Norton Swet.
And here's the cover that took the place of Finlay's original. The artist was Margaret Brundage.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley


  1. I bought the first issue of Moskowitz' WEIRD TALES re-launch and was captivated by its content. I finally had an issue of the legendary magazine in my hands! The cover of the 4th issue is a "flipped" and re-worked image from the 1962 Ballantine paperback, SATAN'S DISCIPLES by Robert Goldston. No credit is given to the artist.

  2. John,

    You have solved 90 percent of a mystery. Great work! See my next posting for more on the artist.