Saturday, September 28, 2013

Weird Menace Magazines-Martin Goodman's Titles

Wherever there was a trend to follow, there was Martin Goodman. Weird menace was already five years old and getting close to its end when Goodman got in the game. Known for his myriad publishing ventures under myriad names (I think that's why his comic books were called "Marvel Comics Group"), Goodman published several short-lived weird menace magazines between 1938 and 1941. Some of them leaned towards science fiction. Goodman's editors relied in part on comic book artists Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, and Alex Schomburg for illustration.

Martin Goodman (1908-1992) entered the publishing field in 1931 with Columbia Publications. He founded his own company, Western Fiction Publishing, in 1932 and published his first pulp title, Western Supernovel Magazine, the following year. (Note: Some of the foregoing is in error. See the comment by Doc V. below. Mar. 27, 2015.) Comic books, the offspring of newspaper comics and pulp fiction, arrived on the scene shortly thereafter. The advent of Superman in June 1938 made superheroes super popular. Goodman responded with Marvel Comics #1 in October 1939. Weird menace was on its way out by then. But comic books had arrived. Although he published pulp magazines, men's magazines, humor magazines, true crime magazines, and paperback books, Martin Goodman is remembered today as the publisher of Marvel Comics in all their vast array. Goodman and his cousin-in-law, Stan Lee, catch a lot of grief, but they also have given us a world of entertainment.

Mystery Tales
Mar. 1938 to May 1940
9 Issues (3 Volumes)
Published by: Red Circle (Martin Goodman)
Edited by: __________
Format: __________

Uncanny Tales
Apr. 1939 to May 1940
5 Issues (2 Volumes)
Published by: Manvis Publications, Inc. (Martin Goodman)
Edited by: __________
Format: __________
Notes: Uncanny Tales began publication as Star Detective, which ran for 11 issues, from May 1935 to November 1938.

Marvel Tales
Dec. 1939 to May 1940
2 Issues (2 Volumes)
Published by: Martin Goodman
Edited by: Robert O. Erisman
Format: __________
NotesMarvel Tales began publication as Marvel Science Stories, which ran for 5 issues (Aug. 1938 to Aug. 1939). The title was changed to Marvel Tales for two issues before becoming Marvel Stories (2 issues, Nov. 1940 to Apr. 1941). The title was revived as Marvel Science Stories for five issues published in 1951-1952. According to Mike Ashley in his History of the Science Fiction Magazine, Vol. 2: 1936-1945, Marvel Science Stories was "the first new American [science fiction] magazine since Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories . . . in 1931" (p. 35).

Real Mystery Magazine
Apr. 1940 to July 1940
2 Issues (1 Volume)
Published by: Western Fiction Publishing, Chicago (Martin Goodman)
Edited by: Robert O. Erisman
Format: Standard pulp
Notes: Real Mystery Magazine reprinted stories from Uncanny Tales and Mystery Tales.

Uncanny Stories
Apr. 1941
1 Issue (1 Volume)
Published by: Manvis Publications, Inc. (Martin Goodman)
Edited by: Robert O. Erisman
Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Alex Schomburg
Format: __________

Mystery Tales, March 1938, according to my list, the first of Martin Goodman's weird menace magazine titles. Note the Red Circle imprint. Note also the man in the red robe.
Mystery Tales, June 1938. There's the half-naked woman, there are the chains and the woman being put into a bottle or jar, and there is the menacing dwarf, all standard elements for a weird menace cover. (The red robes and the hot poker are missing, however.) I have included this image because the dwarf looks like a Jack Kirby figure. June 1938 may have been a little too early for him to be at work for Martin Goodman. Hal K. Wells also contributed to Weird Tales.
Uncanny Tales, April/May 1939. Arthur J. Burks (his name is misspelled here) and Mindret Lord wrote stories for Weird Tales.
Uncanny Tales, August 1939. There's the chained woman in a bottle, with strategically placed bands to block our view of certain anatomical features. The artist here has shown some imagination by making the villain's robe yellow rather than red.
By the May 1940 issue of Uncanny Tales, the villain had gotten his red robe back from the cleaners.
Different title, same formula: chains, woman, bottle, and red robe all appeared on the cover of Marvel Tales in May 1940. The man on the left looks like Doctor Pretorius from Bride of Frankenstein. The man on the left looks like Rondo Hatton, who by then had already begun appearing in movies. The red and yellow robes were both available for this picture.
Real Mystery, July 1940. Those look like Jack Kirby faces down in that cage.
Finally, Uncanny Stories, April 1941. According to my list, this was the last of Martin Goodman's weird menace magazine, but it looks more like standard science fiction to me. Ray Cummings and David H. Keller were also writers for Weird Tales

Text and captions copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Hi, great blog! Let me correct your information on the earliest publishing history of Martin Goodman. He started at Eastern Distribution under Louis Silberkleit. Silberkleit and Goodman left when Eastern went under in the Fall of 1932 and formed first Mutual Magazine Distributors at the end of 1932 and then Newsstand Publications in 1933. Their first release was Western Supernovel Magazine, as you mentioned. Silberkleit cashed out in mid 1934 to form Winford Publications and others, which within a few years was collected under Columbia Publications. Goodman had nothing to do with Columbia and Columbia didn't exist in 1932. Goodman took over Newsstand in mid 1934 and then added his own new company, Western Fiction Publishing also. All of this in detail can be found in my recent book, "The Secret History of Marvel Comics".

    I also run a Goodman blog here:

  2. Hi, Doc V.,

    Thanks for the corrected information. I have made a note above to refer people to your comment.


  3. Great! I also just added your blog to my blog roll on my own blog.