Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rivals of Weird Tales-Strange Tales of the Mysterious and Supernatural

In my previous article, I wrote about the American magazine Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror. Today I will write about the similarly titled British magazine Strange Tales of the Mysterious and Supernatural. Like its predecessor, the British Strange Tales was shortlived, lasting only two issues.

I don't know what connection the American magazine Weird Tales might have had to a British magazine of weird fiction and fantasy, but Weird Tales would not have been unfamiliar to British readers. The American version of the magazine would easily have made the crossing to Great Britain by mail. Over the years, many British writers contributed to Weird Tales. More to the point, Weird Tales was printed in a British edition on three occasions, once prior to the publication of Strange Tales, once roughly contemporary with it, and once afterwards:
  1. Weird Tales war edition--G.G. Swan of London printed three issues of Weird Tales, one each in February, March, and June of 1942. The first American servicemen arrived in the British Isles at about that time. The British wartime edition may have been printed for their reading pleasure, but I don't know that anyone has addressed that as a possibility. (Those three issues were reprints of the September 1940, November 1940, and January 1941 issues of Weird Tales, respectively.)
  2. Weird Tales ca. 1946 edition--William C. Merrett of London printed one unnumbered, undated issue in about 1946. That issue reprinted selections from the October 1937 issue of Weird Tales.
  3. Weird Tales 1953-1954 edition--Thorpe & Porter of Leicester printed twenty-eight issues of Weird Tales with roughly the same contents of selected American issues from July 1949 to May 1954.
In addition, British readers would have seen Christine Campbell Thomson's Not At Night series. Printed in a dozen volumes between 1925 and 1937, the stories from the Not At Night series numbered 170 in all. One hundred of those stories came from Weird Tales. (1) The upshot of all this is that Weird Tales and a taste for weird fiction had, by 1946, made the crossing to the United Kingdom.

As I said, Strange Tales of the Mysterious and Supernatural lasted all of two issues dated six months apart. That suggests either a semi-annual schedule or real trouble. We should remember that Britain underwent a period of severe austerity after the war ended. (2) The British Strange Tales would have suffered from economic hard times just as its American predecessor had. In any case, the publisher was--ironically--Utopian Publications of London. The editor is unknown. 

Here is the complete list of contents from the first published issue, called the "First Selection", provided by Susanne V. Paradis:
  • "Non-Stop to Mars" by Jack Williamson (originally as "Nonstop to Mars" in Argosy, Feb. 25, 1939)
  • "Pink Elephants" by Tarleton Fiske (originally in Strange Stories, Aug. 1939, as by Robert Bloch)
  • "The Brain of Ali Khan" by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach (originally in Wonder Stories, Oct. 1934)
  • "The Hunters from Beyond" by Clark Ashton Smith (originally in Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, Oct. 1932)
  • "Experiment in Murder" by John Russell Fearn (originally as "Portrait of a Murderer" in Weird Tales, Dec. 1936) 
  • "The Tombstone" by Ray Bradbury (originally in Weird Tales, Mar. 1945)
  • Cover art by Alva Rogers; interior illustrations by Fredric
Here are the contents of the second published issue, called the "Second Selection." I believe this to be a complete list:
  • "The Moon Devils" by John Beynon Harris, pseudonym of John Wyndham (originally in Wonder Stories, Apr. 1934)
  • "The Nameless Offspring" by Clark Ashton Smith (originally in the American Strange Tales, June 1932)
  • "The Sorcerer's Jewel" by Tarleton Fiske, pseudonym of Robert Bloch (originally in Strange Stories, Feb. 1939)
  • "The Song of the Dark Star" by Richard Presley Tooker (originally as "The Song from the Dark Star" in Astounding Stories, Sept. 1936)
  • "Cool Air" by H.P. Lovecraft (originally in Tales of Magic and Mystery, Mar. 1928; reprinted in Weird Tales, Sept. 1939)
  • "The Manikin" by Robert Bloch (originally as "The Mannikin" in Weird Tales, Apr. 1937)
  • Cover art by Alva Rogers; interior illustrations by Fredric
According to a vague listing on an Internet book sale site, the First Selection was actually the second issue. The first issue was withdrawn either from publication or from distribution because the cover art showed a woman with bare breasts. The website doesn't say what happened to that first issue or what its contents might have been. I wonder if the First Selection was just a reprinting of the first issue with a different cover. In any case, with the Second Selection, the whole magazine went the way of the first issue. Luckily for us, Thomas G. Cockcroft indexed the contents of the magazine in the 1960s.

Strange Tales of the Mysterious and Supernatural
Apr. 1946 to Oct. 1946
2 Issues
Published by: Utopian Publications, London, England
Edited by: Unknown
Format: A little less than digest size (4-3/4 x 7-1/4 inches); 64 pages

(1) Christine Campbell Thomson also contributed to Weird Tales under the pen name Flavia Richardson in 1927 and 1929.
(2) George Orwell composed 1984 during this period (1947-1948). I have read that apologists for totalitarianism (they don't call themselves that, but that is their function) consider Orwell's novel to be merely a satire of postwar British austerity. The rest of us know better.

A poor reproduction of the cover of the first issue of Strange Tales of the Mysterious and Supernatural. There may not be a good reproduction of this image, as the magazine was withdrawn because of the offending naked breasts of the woman on the cover. It isn't clear to me whether the contents were repackaged with a different cover or not. Postscript (Sept. 3, 2013): In looking over Index to the Weird Fiction Magazines by T.G.L. Cockcroft, I found this note: "Copies of the first issue of the British Strange Tales exist which, like the second, have a cover picture by Alva Rogers rather than by H.W. Perl." I assume, then, that this cover is the work of Alva Rogers and there were at least a few copies that made their way into the marketplace. Presumably the contents of the magazine shown here and of the one shown below were the same. Second postscript (July 8, 2015): Information provided by Susanne V. Paradis confirms that Alva Rogers was the cover artist.
Here's the much less offensive cover of the "First Selection" (instead of first issue) of the magazine. I'm not sure what this illustration has to do with weird fiction or fantasy, but at least it made its way to the newsstand. The artist was H.W. Perl.
Here's the cover of the "Second Selection" with art by American artist Alva Rogers (b. 1923). Note that this is a three-color cover or even a two-color cover vs. a four-color cover for the First Selection--a sign of a tightened budget.
As a bonus, here's an interior illustration by an artist named Fredric for "Cool Air" by H.P. Lovecraft, reprinted in Strange Tales in October 1946.
Postscript (July 8, 2015): Here is a much better image of Strange Tales number one, kindly provided by Susanne V. Paradis, who has a copy of the magazine offered for bid on Ebay. Thank you, Susanne. You can find her listing by clicking here.

Revised and updated on July 8, 2015.
Text and captions copyright 2013, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Rivals of Weird Tales-Strange Tales

The Thrill Book blazed a trail for weird fiction and fantasy in the pulps. Unfortunately that magazine lasted only a few months. Four years later, in March 1923, Weird Tales made its debut, and for awhile it was the only American magazine wholly devoted to fantasy fiction. In April 1926, Amazing Stories showed up next to Weird Tales on the newsstand. Science fiction magazines proliferated after that. Weird fiction and fantasy magazines were far less common--and usually short lived.

Despite its perennial financial troubles, its relatively low circulation, and its meager payments made to authors and illustrators, Weird Tales seems to have set a standard for pulp fantasy. It's hard to imagine that any magazine publisher would look upon Weird Tales from a financial viewpoint and think, "I've got to get a piece of that action." Yet during the pulp fiction era, one publisher after another attempted to enter the fantasy market. One of the first was the notorious Bernarr Macfadden. His Ghost Stories ran from July 1926 to December 1931 for a total of sixty-four issues. I'll write about that magazine after I'm finished with the current batch.

The current batch begins with Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, often shortened to Strange Tales. Popular culture--which could probably also be called popular commerce--is all about imitation. Weird Tales (dating from 1923) and Amazing Stories (dating from 1926) ran on parallel tracks. Every pulp publisher worth his salt sought to imitate those two magazines, right down to their titles. William Clayton, head of Clayton Magazines, was no exception. In the late 1920s, Harold Hersey, former editor of The Thrill Book, urged Clayton to publish a science fiction magazine. Clayton declined--but only for awhile. In January 1930 he issued Astounding Stories of Super Science with Harry Bates as editor. Astounding Stories of Super Science later became Astounding Stories, then Astounding Science-Fiction, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr., bringer of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. That magazine is still with us as Analog Science Fiction & Fact.

With his own iteration of Amazing Stories in hand, Clayton launched Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror in September 1931 with Harry Bates at the helm. The abbreviated title, Strange Tales, is in obvious imitation of Weird Tales. The covers for the seven issues of Strange Tales are clearly not. The main title logo--the words "Strange Tales" enclosed in a black bat cartouche--is distinctive. Six of the seven cover illustrations are credited to H.W. Wesso (Hans Waldemar Wessolowski), an artist who never worked for Weird Tales.

"At times, the contents pages of Strange Tales and Weird Tales seemed interchangeable," wrote Stefan Dziemianowicz. The first issue of Strange Tales included stories by Ray Cummings, Arthur J. Burks, Gordon MacCreagh, Clark Ashton Smith, S.P. Meek, Victor Rousseau, and S.B.H. Hurst, all of whom also contributed to Weird Tales. Clark Ashton Smith's contribution was "The Return of the Sorcerer," a tale on the edge of the Cthulhu Mythos, which originated of course in the pages of Weird Tales. The letters column was called "The Cauldron: A Meeting Place for Sorcerers and Apprentices."

Needless to say, there were differences between the two magazines. Strange Tales paid better and printed longer stories than Weird Tales. If not for the timing--the early 1930s were the worst years of the Great Depression--Strange Tales might have given its weird cousin a run for its money. Instead the whole thing came to an end in January 1933 and that's a shame. It would be nice to write a companion blog called "Tellers of Strange Tales."

Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror
Sept. 1931 to Jan. 1933
7 Issues (Volumes 1-3)
Published by: Clayton Magazines
Edited by: Harry Bates
Format: Pulp size (6-5/8 x 9-3/4 inches); 144 pages
Note: Clayton Magazines also published and Harry Bates also edited Astounding Stories of Super Science.

Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror ran for just seven issues between September 1931 and January 1933. According to the Speculative Fiction Database, H.W. Wesso was responsible for six of those seven covers. Otherwise known as Hans Waldemar Wessolowski (1894-1948), Wesso was a prominent artist of science fiction and fantasy of the pulp fiction era. His life and career were entirely too short.

This is striking image--no pun intended. The reaching hand holding the bow and arrow is unnecessary. The snake clothed in some kind of spirit or energy is compelling enough.
The Speculative Fiction Database doesn't credit Wesso with this illustration for the November 1931 issue, but other sources do. This is probably the weakest cover of the seven. The draftsmanship on the woman's body is very poor. Maybe Wesso was a better artist than this.
Another wolf cover (Jan. 1932), like the first issue of The Thrill Book from thirteen years before.
Wesso's cover for the March 1932 issue is bizarre and surrealistic. If you had seen it hanging in a gallery between paintings by Salvador DalĂ­ and Giorgio de Chirico, you might not have blinked an eye.
Wesso's cover for the June 1932 issue was more conventional, but it looks strangely out of place in the 1930s. George Barr or Stephen Fabian could have painted this picture.
Note the big gap, from June to October 1932. What happened to the August issue? In any case, that could easily be a Lovecraftian hero in the picture. Wesso's cover was reused for the dust jacket of Rivals of Weird Tales (1990).
The last issue, January 1933, again with cover art by Wesso. The bat motif is almost repeated in the bow tie of the vampire.
Bat imagery abounds in popular culture. Nine months after the last issue of Strange Tales came out, Weird Tales published this cover by Margaret Brundage. I'm not sure how many people know or have read "The Vampire Master" by Hugh Davidson, but no one who has ever seen the cover illustration for Davidson's story is likely to have forgotten it. It's a truly iconic image in the history of the pulps.
In Spring 1940, National Periodicals published Batman #1, with a main title logo reminiscent of the logo for Strange Tales. The cover art is signed Bob Kane.
The main title logo for the Batman television show of the 1960s is even more like the magazine logo of thirty years before.

Text and captions copyright 2013, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weird Fiction & Fantasy Magazines-The Thrill Book

Fans of Weird Tales like to say that their magazine was the first American title devoted exclusively to weird fiction and fantasy. That's true as long as you use the word exclusively, for there was weird fiction, fantasy, and science fiction (or scientific romance) in American magazines before March 1923, when the first issue of Weird Tales came out. Argosy, The Blue Book Magazine, and Adventure Magazine were among the top pulp fiction titles of the early 1900s. All printed genre fiction from time to time. Edgar Rice Burroughs' first Martian novel, "Under the Moons of Mars," very famously appeared in All-Story Magazine in February 1912. Those earlier magazines were all general fiction magazines however. The Thrill Book was different.

I don't have any copies or facsimile editions of The Thrill Book. Everything I know about the editorial slant of the magazine comes from an article called "The Thrill Book" by Bob Jones (with annotations by Harold Hersey) in the book Pulp Magazine Thrillers (1998) and reprinted from an earlier fanzine. Some quotes:

"In its sixteen issues, it attained a high degree of competency, both in storytelling and editorial direction." p. 152

"There is flavor there. Coming so soon after the turn of the century, THE THRILL BOOK has a quaintness that is part of its charm to the present-day reader." p. 152

The author, Bob Jones, quoting from the magazine on what it would offer readers: "'Queer psychological phenomena, mystic demonstrations, weird adventures in the air--and things that men feel but cannot explain'." p. 152

"The back covers [of the magazine] were filled with inventive elaborations. It was there that the editor eloquently--and at great length--explained what he was doing and why. THE THRILL BOOK early took the stand that the weird, fantastic story is 'essentially fundamental in truth and plausibility'." p. 153

Each issue featured several stories, some weird or fantastic, some mere adventure, and occasionally one or two science fiction. Readers of the later Weird Tales would have recognized the names of some of the contributors to The Thrill Book: Greye La Spina, Perley Poore Sheehan, Seabury Quinn, H. Bedford-Jones, J.U. Giesy, Murray Leinster, and Francis Stevens (Gertude Barrows Bennett). There were short stories, serials, poems, non-fiction, and letters from readers. The covers are mostly unremarkable.

So was The Thrill Book a model or an inspiration for Weird Tales? It's hard to say. The Thrill Book is known now to have been poorly distributed. It was comparatively rare and may not have been widely read. Jacob Clark Henneberger, who was in Indianapolis at about the time The Thrill Book was in print, may or may not have seen the magazine. It's easier to say that weird fiction, fantasy, and scientific romance were in the air after World War I and that it was only a matter of time before someone published a magazine devoted to those genres.

The Thrill Book
Mar. 1, 1919 to Oct. 15, 1919
16 Issues (Volumes 1-3)
Published by: Street and Smith
Edited by: Harold Hersey and Eugene A. Clancy (first eight issues); Ronald Oliphant (last eight issues)
Format: First eight issues: Dime novel size (8 x 12 inches), 48 or 64 pages according to different sources; Last eight issues: Pulp size, 100 or 160 pages according to different sources

On the left, the first issue of The Thrill Book, "A Delightful Number Of A New Type Of Magazine." The date was March 1, 1919, and the cover artist was Sidney H. Riesenberg (1885-1971). The cover artist on the March 15, 1919, issue is unknown. The Thrill Book was a semi-monthly magazine. Each pair of covers shown here and below is for a different month in the life of the magazine. 
The cover artists for these two April issues are unknown. Note that the subtitle has changed to "A New Type of Magazine for Everybody." According to the editor, Harold Hersey, that subtitle--"A New Type of Magazine"--was a timid compromise. Evidently the staff of The Thrill Book wanted readers to know that this magazine was different, but it didn't want to scare them off. In other words, the subtitle was a euphemism for a magazine that printed science fiction, fantasy, and horror. "A New Type of Magazine" is akin to the subtitle for Weird Tales, "The Unique Magazine." That leads me to think the latter could have been influenced by the former. Note the reaching hand in the cover on the left. 
The May 1919 issues, both showing women in peril. The characters on the right don't seem to be very excited about the woman's plight. The cover artists are once again unknown.
June 1919. For two consecutive issues, readers of The Thrill Book got to see a woman being threatened with a knife (May 15 and June 1). The cover artists are unknown.
July 1919 with cover art by an unknown artist (left) and Sidney H. Riesenberg (right). 
August 1919 with cover art by an unknown artist (left) and Sidney H. Riesenberg (right). 
September 1919 with cover art by James Reynolds (left) and Charles Durant (right).

Born on October 5, 1887, in Racine, Wisconsin, Charles Wilfred Durant was an illustrator and commercial artist. During World War I, he served in the field artillery. He died on November 8, 1947, and was buried at Long Island National Cemetery. Presumably these were the same artist.
The last month of The Thrill Book, October 1919, with cover art by an unknown artist (left) and James Reynolds (right). Out of sixteen covers pictured here, the tally is: six showing women in varying degrees of distress or peril; four with Oriental themes; two of historical adventure; and one each of sea adventure, Western, and African adventure. The cover that stands out in terms of its theme is the first, illustrating "Wolf of the Steppes" by Greye La Spina, a Weird Tales-like story of a werewolf. Greye La Spina (1880-1969) later contributed to Weird Tales. "Wolf of the Steppes" may have been her first published work.

Update (July 1, 2020): In his comment below, Joe K has let us know that the image on the cover of the October 1, 1919, issue of The Thrill Book was reused for the first issue of The Shadow magazine, which was published in April 1931. Both covers are shown below. The website ThePulp.Net made note of this in an undated posting called "The Shadow's First Pulp Cover," accessible by clicking here. Thanks, Joe K.

Text and captions copyright 2013, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weird Fiction & Fantasy Magazines-The Cockcroft Indices

Thomas George Lawrence Cockcroft, who published under the name T.G.L. Cockcroft, was born on July 28, 1926, and lived in the suburbs of Wellington, New Zealand. By day, Mr. Cockcroft dealt in IBM punch cards. By night, he devoted himself to weird fiction and fantasy fiction. According to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, Mr. Cockcroft's first book was The Tales of Clark Ashton Smith (1951). Fantasy fans must forever be grateful to Tom Cockcroft for his indexes to their favorite genres: Index To the Verse in Weird Tales (1960), Index To the Weird Fiction Magazines: Index by Title (1962), and Index To the Weird Fiction Magazines: Index by Author (1964, 1967). Mr. Cockcroft's fourth index, Letters in Weird Tales, Strange Tales, Strange Stories, Oriental Stories, The Magic Carpet, and Golden Fleece (no date), is available on the website of The FictionMags Index, here. (Mr. Cockcroft also published Index to Fiction in Radio News and Other Magazines [1970].) He corresponded with fans from all over the world.

Thomas G.L. Cockcroft died this year, on April 12, 2013. He was eighty-five years old. We should all take a moment to remember him and the fine work he did.

* * *

Thomas Cockcroft compiled indexes to a number of magazines under the heading of weird fiction. In alphabetical order, they are:
In his introduction to the index by title, Mr. Cockcroft recognized that only Weird Tales, Strange Stories, and the two magazines entitled Strange Tales are "true 'weird fiction' magazines." But in the interest of carrying on his work, I will include the other titles in this series on weird fiction and fantasy fiction magazines. I have already covered Weird Tales, Oriental Stories, and The Magic Carpet Magazine. The Thrill Book is next.

Collector, fan, author, indexer, and publisher Thomas G.L. Cockcroft (1926-2013).

Text copyright 2013, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Weird Fiction & Fantasy Magazines-Oriental Stories & The Magic Carpet Magazine

When Weird Tales began in 1923, it had a companion called Detective Tales. A year or so later, with Weird Tales gasping for air, J.C. Henneberger sold Detective Tales (which was retitled Real Detective Tales and Mystery Stories, later just Real Detective.) Weird Tales would spend the rest of the 1920s alone.

In November 1924, Weird Tales returned to the newsstand after many months' absence. Farnsworth Wright, the new editor and a native Californian, was interested in what was then called the Orient. He wasn't alone. The Orient--a broad swath of the earth's surface covering everything from Morocco to Japan--had long fascinated Europeans and Americans. In the 1890s and early 1900s, an exaggerated fear of "the Yellow Peril" filled the popular imagination. (1) That period coincided with the end of dime novels and the beginning of the pulp-fiction era. The Yellow Peril was personified in Fu Manchu, Wu Fang, Dr. Yen Sin, Ming the Merciless, and countless other Oriental villains. Farnsworth Wright took a more nuanced approach in his new companion magazine to Weird Tales.

October 1930 wasn't exactly an opportune time to launch a new magazine. The stock market had collapsed exactly a year before. The nation was approaching the very depths of the Great Depression. Nonetheless, the Popular Fiction Company chose that month to launch Oriental Stories. The title probably suggested to potential readers that within these pages they would find stories of magic, mysticism, intrigue, and menace. A look at the table of contents would have confirmed that their favorite writers from Weird Tales--Frank Owen, Otis Adelbert Kline, Paul Ernst, G.G. Pendarves, and Robert E. Howard; later E. Hoffman Price, Clark Ashton Smith, H. Bedford-Jones, Seabury Quinn, and Edmond Hamilton--were well represented. (2)

Like Weird Tales, Oriental Stories was a mix of short stories, novellas, verse, illustrations, and letters of comment. In its first three issues, Oriental Stories was bimonthly. In April 1931, it switched to a quarterly schedule. A more significant readjustment came in January 1933 when the title was changed to The Magic Carpet Magazine. A change in a title (or in a main character) is a sure sign that a creative endeavor is in trouble. Sometimes the change works. Usually it doesn't. With The Magic Carpet Magazine, it didn't. The magazine lasted only another year and a noble experiment met its end in January 1934. Weird Tales was once again alone and would remain that way until being purchased by Short Stories, Inc., in 1938.

(1) Strangely enough, Kaiser Wilhelm II coined the term according to Barbara W. Tuchman in The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War: 1890-1914 (1966), p. 145.
(2) E. Hoffman Price, a true Orientalist among the Weird Tales crowd, recounted that Farnsworth Wright "had once worked, during a school vacation, somewhere in Oregon or Washington, as a labor foreman in charge of a gang of Hindus. At this stage, he would say, 'An experience which makes me eminently fit to edit Oriental Stories. I learned enough Punjabi to ask for a drink of water'." From The Weird Tales Story (1977), p. 12.

Oriental Stories
Oct./Nov. 1930 to Summer 1932
9 issues (Volumes 1 and 2)
Published by: Popular Fiction Company
Edited by: Farnsworth Wright
Format: Pulp size (6-5/8 x 9-3/4 inches)

The Magic Carpet Magazine
Jan. 1933 to Jan. 1934
5 issues (Volumes 3 and 4)
Published by: Popular Fiction Company
Edited by: Farnsworth Wright
Format: Pulp size (same as Oriental Stories)

Note the gap in publication between Summer 1932 and January 1933. Weird Tales survived being out of print for several months in 1924. The Magic Carpet Magazine wasn't so lucky.

I previously wrote about Oriental Stories and The Magic Carpet Magazine. Click on the titles in the previous sentence for links.

Text copyright 2013, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weird Fiction & Fantasy Magazines-Weird Tales Part 6

In its first incarnation, Weird Tales lasted from March 1923 to September 1954. Those 46 volumes and 279 issues were followed by:
  • Volume 47--The Sam Moskowitz issues, 1973-1974 (4 issues)
  • Volume 48--The Lin Carter issues, 1981-1983 (4 issues)
  • Volume 49--The Bellerophon issues, or, the rare issues, 1984-1985 (2 issues)
And then the history of Weird Tales got really confusing.

In Spring 1988, Weird Tales returned again with a new publisher, new editors, and new material. The first new issue was numbered 290. In other words, the newest incarnation of the magazine that never dies honored the preceding three versions and their ten issues. The last twenty-five years in the history of Weird Tales have been uneven. Publishers and editors have come and gone. Formats have changed. There was even a four-year gap in publication from 1994 to 1998. Today Weird Tales is a magazine both real and virtual. (According to the website, you can subscribe by mail.) I don't know how long a magazine in print can hold out in this digital age. In any case, following another changeover in personnel, Weird Tales lives on. Nth Dimension Media is now the publisher. Marvin Kaye is editor, beginning with the Fall 2012 issue (Volume 66, Number 4, Issue Number 360). The current issue is dated Summer 2013 and numbered 361. You can order Weird Tales and peruse its website here.

It is now more than ninety years since Weird Tales first went into print. I'm not sure that any story magazine or pulp magazine of its age or older is still being published. Does that make Weird Tales the king of the pulps? If so, it says a lot for a magazine that almost died in its infancy.

Weird Tales, 1988-2013. The cover on the left is from Spring 1988 (No. 290). The artist, George Barr, perfectly captured the look and feel of the original, except for perhaps the figure of the woman, who is straight out of 1970s sword and sorcery. Note the blurb: "Sixty-Fifth Anniversary Issue!"

The cover on the right is for the current issue, Summer 2013 (No. 361). The cover artist is Jeff Wong, who seems to have illustrated almost everything inside the magazine as well. That's a nice variation on the main title logo. Note that this marks another anniversary year. Note also the name of Margaret Brundage on the cover, eight decades after the first appearance of her byline in "The Unique Magazine."

Text and captions copyright 2013, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Weird Fiction & Fantasy Magazines-Weird Tales Part 5

Lin Carter's last issue of Weird Tales came out in Summer 1983. That's also the last issue of Weird Tales listed in The Collector's Index to Weird Tales by Sheldon R. Jaffery and Fred Cook (1985). Then the troubles began.

I don't know anything at all about the two issues of Weird Tales put out by Bellerophon Network in 1984-1985 except what I have read on three sources on the Internet. I have never seen these two issues. Probably few people have, as they are reputed to be rare. In any case, Bellerophon Network of California published two issues of Weird Tales and called them Volume 49 of the magazine. According to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Gordon M.D. Garb was the editor of both issues. Wikipedia tells a different and somewhat confused story, suggesting that Gil Lamont and Forrest J Ackerman were the editors of the first issue, while giving Gordon Garb sole credit for the second. The confusion over who was supposed to edit the thing is indicative of other problems, with printing, payments, scheduling, and distribution. On top of all that, the art for the second cover was a swipe from a Victoria's Secret catalogue.

The contents of Weird Tales, Volume 49, are a mixed bag of old and new stories, as well as old and new art. You can read the table of contents in detail on the website of the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

Weird Tales
Fall 1984 to Winter 1985
2 issues (Volume 49)
Published by: Bellerophon Network (Brian Forbes)
Edited by: Gordon M.D. Garb
Format: Quarto; Fall 1984: 76 pages; Winter 1985: 96 pages

Weird Tales, Fall 1984, with cover art by Ro H. Kim.
Weird Tales, Winter 1985, with cover art credited to Hyang Ro Kim although the art is clearly signed "Ro H. Kim." Jim Stafford's girlfriend would not like these covers, as they include spiders and snakes.
As a bonus, here's another piece of art by Ro H. Kim, the cover of Lon of 1000 Faces! by Forrest J Ackerman (1983).
P.S. (Aug. 18, 2013): Another bonus: If the 1984-1985 version of Weird Tales has done nothing else, it has at least allowed us to add Dave Stevens' name to the list of artists who contributed to the magazine. Stevens probably has his detractors. I admit that I find his more fetishistic artwork too extreme. But he was an artist who stood apart from the crowd and still does after his death. That's partly because he could draw. But it's the way that he drew, the way he composed a picture, the way he handled a brush. . . .

The illustration is for "The Pandora Principle," part one of an unfinished serial by Brinke Stevens and A.E. van Vogt, printed in the first issue. (It was also the cover story.) Brinke Stevens, the ex-wife of the illustrator, is or has been a student of Esperanto, a marine biologist, an actress and model, and a movie screenwriter. Her biography reads like the work of some fictioneer's imagination. If she were in the pulps, she could be a sidekick to Doc Savage. (Postscript [Aug. 26, 2013]: I was mistaken in assuming Brinke Stevens was not related to Dave Stevens. A reader has corrected me and I have made the correction here. See the comments below.)

Revised on Aug. 18, 2013.
Text and captions copyright 2013, 2023 Terence E. Hanley