Thursday, August 8, 2013

Weird Fiction & Fantasy Magazines-Weird Tales Part 2

Editor and publisher Leo Margulies acquired the Weird Tales property in the 1950s after the original run of the magazine had come to an end. Rather than sit on it and guard it like the fabled dog in the manger, Margulies wanted to do something with his new title and the stories that went with it. Sam Moskowitz, an associate of Margulies, was in a position to advise him. "I twice talked Leo Margulies out of reviving the magazine," Moskowitz remembered, "once in 1958 and again in the sixties, because I thought he would lose his shirt." (1) I can't say that I like Moskowitz's advice, but I wasn't there and I don't know the circumstances. It's worth noting that Robert A.W. Lowndes' Magazine of Horror, one of the longest running magazines in the Weird Tales mold, was in print from 1963 to 1971. If he could do it, I'm not sure why Leo Margulies couldn't have done it as well. Hindsight is always 20-20 of course. In any case, instead of publishing a magazine, Leo Margulies issued four paperback collections of stories from Weird Tales between 1961 and 1965. (Sam Moskowitz was ghost editor on at least two of them.) If you wanted Weird Tales in the 1960s, those four books were the place to start. (2) Of course interest in pulp fiction picked up as the decade went on. By its end, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft were household names, at least among fantasy fans.

Mass market paperbacks are obviously not periodicals. They don't really belong in a series of blog postings about weird fiction and fantasy magazines. Here I have included these four books not just for completists but also because they may have been a model of sorts to a later incarnation of Weird Tales, Lin Carter's four-issue paperback series. Before posting something on that series, I'll write about Sam Moskowitz's 1970s version of Weird Tales.

(1) From Weird Tales #1, edited by Lin Carter and published in 1981, p. 266.
(2) Leo Margulies also published The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, a digest-sized journal in which he recycled stories from Weird Tales. For example, "Hellsgarde" by C.L. Moore (Weird Tales, Apr. 1939) appeared in the November 1967 issue. "Hell on Earth" by Robert Bloch (Weird Tales, Mar. 1942) was reprinted in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine in November 1966.

The Unexpected, published in February 1961, edited by Leo Margulies, and containing eleven stories, all from Weird Tales. The only original content was an introduction by the editor. The cover art was by John Schoenherr. I believe I have seen this book in red as well. P.S. (Aug. 11, 2013): I was mistaken when I wrote that The Unexpected was printed with a red cover as well. Actually it was The Ghoul Keepers. See below.
Schoenherr returned to create the cover illustration for The Ghoul Keepers from October 1961. Once again, all the stories in the book were originally published in Weird Tales.
Weird Tales (the book) followed in May 1964 with eight stories and an introduction, which may have been written by Sam Moskowitz. The cover was by Virgil Finlay and all the stories inside are from the original Weird Tales.
Finally, Worlds of Weird from January 1965. (This is a reprint from 1977.) Sam Moskowitz finally received credit for his input. The seven stories inside are from Weird Tales. That's Virgil Finlay's art on the cover.
P.S. (Aug. 11, 2013): The Ghoul Keepers in the original edition with a red cover. Note that the art was cropped and reversed for the later edition with the yellow cover (above). Could Sam Moskowitz have had that process in mind when he reworked Jack L. Thurston's art for the cover of the Summer 1974 issue of Weird Tales? Thanks to Chap O'Keefe for the image.
Text and captions copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Looks like the venerable WEIRD TALES is still hanging on with (yet again), new owners. I'm still waiting for a renaissance of traditional horror stories, which is -- I know -- likely never to come any time soon I enjoyed your Robert Lowndes posts a great deal. Keep up the good work on this blog.

  2. Aren't we ALL waiting for that renaissance, John! And I, too, enjoyed the Lowndes posts. Although the Lowndes weird fiction mags didn't -- couldn't without the rights -- use the famous WT title, they did come the closest to recapturing the venerable magazine's flavor. They also published some notable stories from newcomers. One of those newcomers was Stephen King.

    Terence, there certainly was a red version of the cover for The Ghoul Keepers. I'll email you a scan.

  3. Hi, John and Chap,

    Thanks for writing and thanks, Chap, for the image. You're both waiting for a renaissance of traditional horror stories. What do you mean exactly? What are the characteristics of the traditional horror story? When did they come to an end? How do newer horror stories differ? Who are the exemplars among traditional horror stories or writers? How might a renaissance come about? I ask these questions not only to start a discussion but also because I'm interested in publishing my own story magazine. You (or anyone else) can leave comments here or email me at: Thanks.


  4. Will be happy to oblige in the way of an off-line reply as time permits. As a former horror fiction 'zine editor and publisher (ex. LOVECRAFT'S WEIRD MYSTERIES) I can share with you the trials and tribulations of this kind of venture, as I experienced them anyway.

  5. If only your questions were easily answered! The several bold attempts over the years to bring WT back to life have produced ample evidence that a broadly based, commercial success is elusive. Indeed, the quest for it is as challenging as any that could be presented in fantasy fiction itself. I've already given some pointers to my own thoughts on the subject in a comment to your post here with the title "Robert A. W. Lowndes Part 2" (July 4). More of particular pertinence at this time can be found in the introduction to the ebook WITCHERY: A DUO OF WEIRD TALES, which is available at a budget price from Amazon.
    Keith Chapman