Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weird Fiction & Fantasy Magazines-Weird Tales Part 3

Sam Moskowitz may have talked Leo Margulies out of restarting Weird Tales in the 1950s and '60s, but by the early '70s, they both seemed ready to give it a try. Margulies the publisher and Moskowitz the editor put out four issues of a new Weird Tales in 1973-1974.  Those four issues are roughly in the format of old pulp magazines: 6-1/2 inches by 9-1/2 inches, color covers, black-and-white interiors, ninety-six pages in length. As for content, there was a letters page ("The Eyrie"), editorial content, verse, non-fiction, illustration, and an array of short stories. Most of those short stories were reprints, though only a few came from the original Weird Tales. And thereby hangs a tale.

In an interview from 1976, C.L. Moore discussed her early short story, "Werewoman," first published in Leaves #2 in 1938:
I very foolishly . . . gave it to a fan magazine who wanted to print it. . . . The error that I made there was I didn't realize they had copyrighted it. So twenty years later, who but Sam Moskowitz . . . [ellipses original] uh, performed his usual, um, practice [emphasis hers] of jumping on things two seconds after the copyright had lapsed! So he reprinted it, of course, without paying me anything for it. Incidentally, it is simply not a thing any other publisher I know of has ever done. I have had stories of mine printed after the copyright had lapsed and I've always been paid for them. Publishers just don't do things that way, but Moskowitz is an exception to the rule and nothing can be done about that! (1)
During the 1960s, Sam Moskowitz seems to have busied himself with exhuming old and out-of-print stories from the dusty vaults where they had lain for decades. It helped that those stories were copyright-free. It helped even more when the author was in his grave. In any case, Volume 47 of Weird Tales, published between Summer 1973 and Summer 1974, relied heavily on reprints, mostly from long-dead authors who were in no position to object or to request payment. Even the cover art was mostly old: a never-published painting by Virgil Finlay, a recreation of a painting by Hannes Bok, and a swipe of a painting by Jack L. Thurston. The most conspicuously new material was the interior art, the letters in "The Eyrie," and Moskowitz's three-part critical and biographical essay on William Hope Hodgson.

In its original incarnation, Weird Tales limped along for years before meeting its end in 1954. The second and third (see the next entry) Weird Tales lasted a mere four issues each. Most imitations of Weird Tales have also met an early demise. That begs the question: Is the category of weird fiction and fantasy fiction in magazine form destined to fail? Was Sam Moskowitz right when he warned Leo Margulies against reviving Weird Tales? The latest version of Weird Tales, still breathing after twenty-five years and myriad changes in its staff, would seem to argue against that contention. More to the point, I think, is that commercial success is gravy. The genre itself is the meat. If you can make money off of it, great. Even if you can't, you keep doing it. That's why Jacob Clark Henneberger stuck with Weird Tales in 1923-1924 and why the rest of us (people like Sam Moskowitz not withstanding) still do after ninety years.

(1) From Chacal, Winter 1976 (Vol. 1, No. 1), pp. 26-27.

Weird Tales
Summer 1973 to Summer 1974
4 issues (Volume 47)
Published by: Weird Tales (Leo Margulies)
Edited by: Sam Moskowitz
Format: Pulp size (6-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches)

Weird Tales, Vol. 47, No. 1, Summer 1973, with cover art by Virgil Finlay. Note the blurb: "5oth Anniversary Issue, 1923-1973."
Weird Tales, Vol. 47, No. 2, Fall 1973, with cover art by Gary van der Steur, after Hannes Bok.
Weird Tales, Vol. 47, No. 3, Winter 1973, with cover art by Bill Edwards.
Weird Tales, Vol. 47, No. 4, Summer 1974, with uncredited cover art by Jack L. Thurston, almost certainly swiped and used without his permission. Note the absence of the "fiftieth anniversary year" blurb. Note also the blurb for all-new stories, a rarity in the new Weird Tales.

So did Margulies and Moskowitz publish their new Weird Tales mostly to observe the fiftieth anniversary of the original? Did the wind go out of their sails once that year had passed? Or were they losing their shirts as Moskowitz had predicted would happen years before? Maybe Weird Tales of 1973-1974 was mostly a vehicle for stories Moskowitz had discovered in his reading of old newspapers and magazines. Publishing a magazine is one way of getting stories like that into print--and of making a little money in the process. Maybe "a little money" was actually little or no money. Whatever happened, this was the last issue of the 1970s.
Text and captions copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Ond of the new stories in the second issue, "Funeral in Another Town" by Jerry Jacobson, was about writers blackballing a faltering horror, wonder what might've inspired such a tale.

    1. Dear Todd,

      I just read Mr. Jacobson's story, in which he poked fun at writers, editors, and publishers of mystery magazines. The writer in the story is an Oregon attorney named Amis Bannerman. The magazine is Guillotine Horror Magazine, published by Jonathan Quillisey and his daughter Charlotte, owners of a funeral home in St. Paul, Minnesota. Like so many magazines, Guillotine Horror is short-lived, with a run of only ten issues. I'm not sure for whom, if anyone, the poke was intended, but anyone involved in the publication of a small mystery or fantasy magazine would have been familiar with the situation. The closest case in real life that I can come up with is Golden Fleece magazine from the 1930s. You can read more about that title at the following URL:

      Thanks for writing.