Saturday, February 15, 2014

Machines on the Cover of Weird Tales

Machines fit well with science fiction and not so well with weird fiction, yet machines figured prominently on five covers of Weird Tales. I can see the influence not only of science fiction but also popular science on these covers. I don't think it's any coincidence that two of them are the work of Ray Quigley, who worked as a draftsman at United Aircraft Corporation during World War II and who, after the war, launched into a long-running cartoon feature, "The Model Garage," in Popular Science Magazine. Another influence was in the world at large, for all but one of these covers came during the years of World War II.

Weird Tales, December 1926. Cover story: "The Metal Giants" by Edmond Hamilton. Cover art by Joseph Doolin.

Weird Tales, September 1940. Cover story: "Seven Seconds of Eternity" by Robert H. Leitfred. Cover art by Ray Quigley. If you're making a list of the most bizarre covers of Weird Tales, this one would probably be near the top.

Weird Tales, July 1941. Cover story: "The Robot God" by Ray Cummings. Cover art by Hannes Bok.

Weird Tales, May 1942. Cover story: "Vengeance in Her Bones" by Malcolm Jameson. Cover art by Ray Quigley. Another bizarre cover by Quigley.

Weird Tales, January 1943. Cover story: "Quest of a Noble Tiger" by Frank Owen. Cover art by A.R. Tilburne.

Text and captions copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Trees and Other Plants on the Cover of Weird Tales

Plants make human life possible, yet writers of science fiction and fantasy have often shown them to be strange and menacing. For instance, the title character in The Thing from Another World (1951) is a plant, a kind of super carrot. The aliens from The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and the plague species in The Day of the Triffids (1962) are also plants. Then there was The Happening from 2008.

Science fiction and fantasy artists often let us know that something is strange or alien by painting it green. So why should plants be scary or threatening? They may be alien to us, and they may be green, but they are mostly harmless. There are of course plants to stay away from: poison-ivy and giant hogweed for their toxins, briars and brambles for their thorns. Maybe those plants remind us of wild beasts with their poisoned fangs and their claws that catch. More disturbing are plants that move, like the Venus flytrap. Maybe we imagine that plants might want to devour us. After all, we have been devouring them since the beginning. (A moving plant large enough to devour a human is a staple of fantasy, science fiction, and horror stories.)

I can think of a couple of other reasons why plants might be seen as strange or menacing. Both have something to do with weird fiction. First, the dense, dark, overgrown forest or jungle can seem frightening or oppressive. Wild animals lurk there. So might witches and demons and even the devil himself. The Puritans are supposed to have been frightened of the forest. Young Goodman Brown was stripped of his illusions after a night in the darkened woods. Second, if weird fiction is about the past and about decadence, then the image of a tree or a jungle overtaking or growing up among a ruined house or a ruined city becomes symbolic. It may just be too much for us to consider, for we, too, shall be overtaken as all things are by the passage of time.

Who says a weird story can't be told in the form of a gag cartoon? Charles Addams did it. So does Sam Gross. George Price (1901-1995), the creator of this drawing and one of my favorite New Yorker cartoonists, did it on occasion, too.
The great James Flora (1914-1998) told weird stories for children. I would highly recommend Grandpa's Ghost Stories (1978) and The Great Green Turkey Creek Monster (1976), about a plant that takes over a town. But then what would you expect from an artist named Flora? By the way, we just passed the one hundredth anniversary of Flora's birth--January 25, 1914. So Happy Birthday, Jim Flora!

Now let the covers begin.

Weird Tales, August 1926. Cover story: "The Woman of the Wood" by A. Merritt. Cover art by C. Barker Petrie, Jr. The tree on Petrie's cover is the most man-like of plants in this category. It would almost qualify as a monster except that it appears to be the woman's friend. When I first saw this illustration, I thought of the mythological story of Daphne and the laurel. 
Here's one example among many from the art world, "Daphne and Apollo" by the British Pre-Raphaelite artist John William Waterhouse (1849-1917).

Weird Tales, September 1928. Cover story: "The Devil Plant" by John Murray Reynolds. Cover art by C.C. Senf. We have seen this cover before in the category of man, woman, and monster. The sexual symbolism here is unavoidable except that the woman is being engulfed by the plant--an obvious symbol of the woman--while the man endeavors to cut her loose. If you would like to see more explicit sexual symbolism in the depiction of flora, look no further than the art of Georgia O'Keeffe.

Weird Tales, April 1938. Cover story: "The Garden of Adompha" by Clark Ashton Smith. Cover art by Virgil Finlay. I pointed out before that there is a lot of looking in fantasy art, maybe in art in general. That's true in this image as well. Finlay had a talent for covering key parts of female anatomy with bubbles, stars, and other things. Here he used leaves and flowers such that we can look but not see. The plant isn't quite a monster, but it is moving.
Finlay's cover reminds me of "Persephone," a painting by Thomas Hart Benton from 1938-1939. I wonder if Benton would have seen Finlay's illustration before beginning his own composition.

Weird Tales, March 1952. Cover story: "Morne Perdu" by Alice Drayton Farnham. Cover art by Joseph R. Eberle. This is more or less a conventional haunted house picture of a kind we all drew as children, but of three monstrous trees (this image and the two to follow), I like this one the best.

Weird Tales, May 1953. Cover story: "Whisper Water" by Leah Bodine Drake. Cover art by Joseph R. Eberle. I guess nobody said, "We used a tree-monster on the cover last year. We'd better not do it again so soon," because here is another tree-monster. It looks like the white box is covering up a key part of the picture, but where else were they supposed to put the blurb?

Weird Tales, January 1954. Cover story: "Effie's Pets" by Suzanne Pickett. Cover art by W.H. Silvey. The illustration here is mostly about a Morlock-like woman and an unlucky guy, but there is also a monstrous tree in the lower right corner. Of all the plants shown here, this one reminds me most of . . .
The apple trees from The Wizard of Oz (1939), one of the creepiest parts of that movie.

Frank Frazetta got in on the act in 1970 with his own version of a monster-tree.

Text and captions copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, February 10, 2014

Weird Tales Cover Artists

(Plus: Who Created the Most Covers for Weird Tales?)

I have been writing about Weird Tales covers and cover artists. It might help to look at the big picture:

Weird Tales ran for 279 issues, from March 1923 to September 1954. If I count correctly, there were thirty-seven cover artists in all. Their rank by the number of covers each created (some covers were reprints):

1. Margaret Brundage--67 covers
2. Curtis C. Senf--45 covers
3. Virgil Finlay--20 covers
4. Andrew Brosnatch--15 covers (tie)
4. Hugh Rankin--15 covers (tie)
5. Matt Fox--11 covers
6. A.R. Tilburne--10 covers (tie)
6. Lee Brown Coye--10 covers (tie)
7. R.M. Mally--9 covers (tie)
7. J. Allen St. John--9 covers (tie)
8. Hannes Bok--7 covers
9. C. Barker Petrie, Jr.--6 covers
10. Harold S. De Lay--5 covers (tie)
10. Boris Dolgov--5 covers (tie)
10. E.M. Stevenson--5 covers (tie)
11. Six tied with three covers each: Jon Arfstrom, Frank Kelly Freas, John Giunta, Peter Kuhlhoff, Ray Quigley, and W.H. Silvey
12. Six tied with two covers each: Joseph Doolin, Joseph R. Eberle, William F. Heitman, Charles A. Kennedy, Bill Wayne, Edgar Franklin Wittmack
13. Ten tied with one cover each: Richard Bennett, Andrew Bensen, Ronald Clyne, Anthony Di Giannurio, Richard R. Epperly, Gretta (Joseph C. Gretter), Michael Labonski, T. Wyatt Nelson, Evan Singer, Washburn

(If you hover over the names with your cursor, you will find links to the artists about whom I have written elsewhere on this blog.)

I have divided Weird Tales into several periods based on changes in the staff or ownership of the magazine and on trends in the artists who created the covers. These divisions are not written in stone.

Mar. 1923-May/June/July 1924
13 Issues
Richard R. Epperly (1 cover)
William F. Heitman (2 covers)
R.M. Mally (9 covers)
Washburn (1 cover)

Weird Tales began in March 1923 with Richard R. Epperly's one and only cover for the magazine. Only four artists created covers during the magazine's first year under editor Edwin M. Baird. R.M. Mally did the majority of those. None of these artists returned after Farnsworth Wright took over as editor in November 1924.

Nov. 1924-Feb. 1927
28 Issues
Andrew Benson (1 cover)
Andrew Brosnatch (15 covers)
Joseph Doolin (2 covers)
C. Barker Petrie, Jr. (5 covers)
E.M. Stevenson (5 covers)

After a gap of four months, Weird Tales returned in November 1924. Five new artists combined to create the next twenty-eight covers. Andrew Brosnatch was responsible for more than half of those, including thirteen in a row between November 1924 and November 1925. After February 1927, only C. Barker Petrie, Jr., returned, and then only for one cover.

Mar. 1927-Aug. 1932
63 Issues
T. Wyatt Nelson (1 cover)
C. Barker Petrie, Jr. (1 cover)
Hugh Rankin (15 covers)
J. Allen St. John (1 cover)
Curtis C. Senf (45 covers)

From March 1927 to August 1932, two artists--Curtis C. Senf and Hugh Rankin--created sixty out of sixty-three covers for Weird Tales. Senf's forty-five designs land him in second place (after Margaret Brundage) for the most covers for Weird Tales. J. Allen St. John made his debut in June 1932. Out of the five artists for this period, only he returned after August 1932.

Sept. 1932-Oct. 1938
73 Issues
Margaret Brundage (58 covers)
Virgil Finlay (7 covers)
J. Allen St. John (8 covers)

The 1930s were dominated by three artists, Margaret Brundage, J. Allen St. John, and Virgil Finlay. Margaret Brundage's first cover was in September 1932. For the next six years, she was responsible for fifty-eight covers or almost four-fifths of the total for this period. That includes an astonishing run of thirty-nine issues in a row, from June 1933 to August/September 1936. J. Allen St. John dropped out of the picture after this. Margaret Brundage and Virgil Finlay returned.

Nov. 1938-Jan. 1945
44 Issues
Richard Bennett (1 cover)
Hannes Bok (7 covers)
Margaret Brundage (8 covers)
Harold S. De Lay (4 covers)
Virgil Finlay (9 covers)
Matt Fox (1 cover)
John Giunta (1 cover)
Gretta (Joseph C. Gretter) (1 cover)
Ray Quigley (3 covers)
A.R. Tilburne (7 covers)
Edgar Franklin Wittmack (2 covers)

Weird Tales changed hands in November 1938, and although Farnsworth Wright continued as editor, the magazine was published out of New York City instead of Chicago. A.R. Tilburne, a cover illustrator for Short Stories (the new owner of the magazine), created the first cover of Weird Tales under new ownership. Margaret Brundage and Virgil Finlay returned during this period. The other nine artists were new to Weird Tales. Hannes Bok, a fan turned pro, was a major discovery. Richard Bennett, Matt Fox, and John Giunta were fairly new to illustration. Harold S. De Lay, Gretta, Ray Quigley, and Edgar Franklin Wittmack were by then veterans. Only Finlay, Fox, Giunta, and Tilburne returned after January 1945.

Mar. 1945-July 1950
33 Issues
Lee Brown Coye (8 covers)
Ronald Clyne (1 cover)
Boris Dolgov (5 covers)
Matt Fox (10 covers)
John Giunta (2 covers)
Peter Kuhlhoff (3 covers)
Michael Labonski (1 cover)
A.R. Tilburne (3 covers)

The next five years were dominated by three new artists, Lee Brown Coye, Boris Dolgov, and Matt Fox. Each had a style that helped Weird Tales maintain its reputation as "The Unique Magazine." Of the artists listed here, only Coye would return after July 1950.

Sept. 1950-Sept 1954
25 Issues
Jon Arfstrom (3 covers)
Margaret Brundage (1 cover--reprint)
Lee Brown Coye (2 covers)
Harold S. De Lay (1 cover--reprint)
Anthony Di Giannurio (1 cover)
Joseph R. Eberle (2 covers)
Virgil Finlay (4 covers, one of which was a reprint)
Frank Kelly Freas (3 covers)
Charles A. Kennedy (2 covers)
W.H. Silvey (3 covers)
Evan Singer (1 cover)
Bill Wayne (2 covers)

The covers after July 1950 were spread pretty evenly among a dozen artists. For the first time, Weird Tales used reprints on its covers. One of those reprints--the last cover of the magazine--was by Virgil Finlay. Finlay also created three original covers, making him the only artist with an original cover in each of three different decades. Frank Kelly Freas was a major discovery during this period. Sadly, after thirty-one years, Weird Tales gave up the ghost in September 1954.

Copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Conan and The Lancer Artists

If Robert E. Howard created a genre in heroic fantasy, then he also created the most well-known character in that genre, Conan of Cimmeria. Howard's original stories of Conan came to an end in June 1936 with the author's death. Since then, Conan has served as a model for countless characters, from Henry Kuttner's Elak of Atlantis (1938-1941), to Crom the Barbarian by Gardner Fox and John Giunta (1950-1951), to John Jakes' Brak the Barbarian (1963 and after), to imitations of the present day. Conan has been drawn by many artists over the years, including Hugh Rankin and Margaret Brundage of Weird Tales. I would hazard a guess that in the minds of most readers, especially of a certain age, Conan is as Frank Frazetta depicted him on the covers of eight Lancer paperbacks from the 1960s and '70s.

Conan the Adventurer (1966), "volume one of the complete Conan" published by Lancer Books. I can't imagine that readers of fantasy and science fiction would have been prepared for a cover like this one in 1966. After years of Buck Rogers comic book covers, Li'l Abner women, J. Allen St. John- (and Roy Krenkel-) inspired Burroughs covers, and comic movie posters, Frazetta--in all his muscularity, violence, mystery, and eroticism--arrived.
Conan the Warrior (1967). Frazetta's sophomore effort was less inspired, though no disappointment. I have always found the figure of Conan here to be a little stiff and flat. The four figures on the right are more skillfully done. The action on this cover looks like it would have taken place before that in the first cover. When my brothers and I were drawing as kids, we would call this a "blood pile."
Conan the Conqueror (1970). I'm not going to try to sort out the various re-printings of the Lancer Conan books. This printing says that it's volume five. The first printing, from 1967, calls it number three. In any case, I find this cover to be extraordinary, like a vision from a nightmare. A lesser artist might have failed here. I think Frazetta's success depends in a large part on the look on Conan's face. Based on the cover illustration, this book could easily have been called Conan the Berserker.
Conan the Usurper (1967), volume four in the series. You can easily make jokes about this cover, but you can't really dismiss it, if only for the expression of power in the back and arms of the main character who--contrary to common practice in composition--has his back turned to the viewer. I suppose readers would have known Conan well enough by then that they didn't care that they couldn't see his face.
Conan (1967), volume five in the series. Frazetta's first three covers for the series showed exterior scenes. The next three take place in murky interiors. This one gives you the best look yet at Conan's face. The pose and the use of the red cloak and its brilliant sheen are unconventional, but then Frazetta was not a conventional artist. This is an eye-catching cover and one of the most powerful in the series. 
Conan the Avenger (1968), in order of publication, Frazetta's sixth cover in the series and the first with a clearly defined female figure--and what a figure. I suppose it is a man's fantasy to rescue a beautiful woman and a woman's to be rescued. A cover like this one offered plenty of room for fantasy, not in a lewd or lascivious sense, but in the kind of fantasy that has drawn men to the Conan stories from the very beginning. Incidentally, the wizard must be pretty small in stature. Conan is as large as he is while still on the other side of the table.
Frazetta revised his painting in 1980. I doubt that the original exists in its original form. The revised version has its merits, but I think the original is better, its parts more harmonious.
Conan of Cimmeria (1969), by date of publication, Frazetta's last cover for the series drawn from Howard's original stories and I think one of the strongest. While the others are gloomy, this one is bright, despite the violence and blood. I didn't quite understand this illustration when I was young. It takes a moment to realize that Conan has cut the throat of one of the Frost Giants. The scene is fantastic, but the violence is real: instead of vivisection and extreme gore, we realize the mortally wounded Frost Giant is drawing his last breath because, with his hand at his throat, he stumbles, his helmet askew, his eyes with a dazed, unseeing look; because his axe is dropping in a weakening hand, his blood is reddening the tip of his adversary's sword, and two tell-tale drops have fallen into the pristine snow at his ankles.
Conan the Buccaneer (1971), a Conan novel written not by Robert E. Howard, but by his successors. I didn't see this illustration until many years after I had seen the others. I was struck by the oddness of it. Conan looks like he is made of bubbles. I wonder if musculature and a pose like that are possible or if Frazetta's imagination carried him away into another realm.
Frazetta revised this painting as well. The revision appears to be limited to the figure of Conan. Maybe Frazetta wasn't happy with the first go-around. I think both versions have their strong points. The strangeness of the first version gives it a certain power. The second version is more conventional, but it probably works better as a composition and as a narrative.

There were eleven books in the complete Lancer Conan. Everyone remembers the Frazetta covers. Less well known are the covers by "the other Lancer artist," John Duillo.

Elmo John Duillo was born on January 4, 1928, a few weeks before Frank Frazetta and probably not far from him. Like Frazetta, Duillo was an Italian-American. His father, James Duillo, was born in Cosenza, Italy, and came to the United States in 1922. He brought his wife, Beatrice Perciasepe Duillo, and his son, Ettore, over in 1926. A second son, Edward, was born in New York that same year, and a third, Elmo John, the future artist, two years later.

Elmo Duillo was barely old enough to serve, but he was a veteran of World War II. While in the U.S. Navy, he learned aerial photography. In civilian life Duillo studied art with the painter and printmaker Adja Junkers (1900-1983) and photography with Berenice Abbott (1898-1991). Duillo ran his own commercial photography business for a time. He began painting covers for books and magazines in 1960. Many of his five hundred cover illustrations were for Westerns by authors such as Zane Grey, Max Brand, and Louis L'Amour. In the 1970s, Duillo turned to graphic art and fine art, but not before he had completed three covers for the Lancer Conan series.

Conan of the Isles (1968) with cover art by (Elmo) John Duillo. Judging from the number (73-800), this was the seventh book in the Lancer series. Strangely, Conan has a beard and gray hair. That snake that earlier crawled between his legs has gotten bigger and more dragon-like.
Conan the Freebooter (1968) with cover art by John Duillo. In Duillo's second cover, Conan looks more like Conan. The cover is needlessly gruesome. It reminds me of a scene from a Conan comic book from Mexico, reprinted in The Savage Sword of Conan many years ago.
Conan the Wanderer (1968) with cover art by John Duillo. Duillo's third cover is probably his strongest. The brushwork reminds me a little of Earl Norem (1924-2015), a later Conan artist.

Elmo John Duillo, who called himself John Duillo, did other work in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Here are two magazine covers from 1960:

Fantastic Science Fiction Stories (May 1960) with cover art by John Duillo. (The moiré effects are not in the original.) The cover blurb reads: "The Challenge from Beyond--A Long-Lost Story by H.P. Lovecraft." However, Lovecraft was not the only author, for "The Challenge of Beyond," from 1935, was actually a round-robin story in five parts, each part by a different author: C.L. Moore, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long, Jr.
Fantastic Science Fiction Stories (Sept. 1960) with cover art by John Duillo.
As I said, John Duillo also did paperback covers. Here's one for Evil in the Family by Grace Corren, a Lancer book from 1972. Sorry for the poor quality image.

You wouldn't know it to read anything on this lousy Internet we have to deal with every day, but John Duillo's wife is also an illustrator. Elaine Isobel Duillo was born on July 28, 1928, in Brooklyn. (1) She attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and studied under the cartoonist and illustrator Charles Mazoujian (1917-2011) at the Pratt Institute. She and her future husband met when they were teenagers and were married in 1949. Their two daughters are also artists. Elaine Duillo's first published work as an illustrator was for Seventeen magazine. She also contributed to Good Housekeeping before becoming an illustrator of paperback romances and Gothic romances. That part of her career began in 1959. Eventually she would earn the title "Queen of Romance Cover Art" for her five hundred or more cover illustrations. Among her accomplishments is the discovery of the Italian male model Fabio. Elaine Duillo was elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2003. You will find an entry on her in The Illustrator in America: 1860-2000 by Walt Reed (2001). You can also read an article about her from People Magazine, May 15, 1989, online.

Elmo John Duillo died on April 5, 2003, and was buried at Long Island National Cemetery under a stone that reads in part: "Through Art He Found God." Frank Frazetta died on May 10, 2010. It is in observance of his birthday--February 9, 1928--that I write today. Happy Birthday to Frank Frazetta, and Happy Belated Birthday to Elmo John Duillo, the two Lancer Conan artists.

Update (Apr. 16, 2022): I learned today that Elaine Duillo died on July 30, 2021. She had just turned ninety-three years old. You can read more about her and see her paperback covers on the following websites:
(1) Frank Frazetta's wife, Eleanor Kelly Frazetta, was also an artist. She was born on June 15, 1935, in Middleborough, Massachusetts. She and Frazetta were married in 1956 and spent the next fifty-three years together. Ellie Frazetta died on July 17, 2009. Her husband survived her by less than a year.

Text and captions copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, February 8, 2014

John Giunta (1920-1970)-Part 4

I'm not sure that anyone knows when John Giunta was born. One source after another gives his birth year as 1920 without citing a source for that information. (I have based the date given here--circa 1920--on the assumptions that the birth year of 1920 is correct and that Giunta turned twenty sometime after the enumerator of the 1940 census visited his home on April 13, 1940.) As for his death date--I have used the date given by what I take to be a reliable source, the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. The ISFDb has the date--November 6, 1970--but not the place of John Giunta's death. I presume it to have been in New York City or somewhere close-by.

* * *

Victor Gorelick, an editor for Archie Comics, remembers John Giunta:
I liked John Giunta. He was a nice guy who lived by himself and was a big smoker. He was usually on time with his work, but he was a pretty nervous guy, very insecure, but a very nice man. (1)
If Giunta lived alone, he may very well have died alone, in which case he can be added to a list that includes Hannes Bok and Hugh Rankin, two artists who also contributed to Weird Tales. Giunta's relatively young age at his death and the fact that he was "a big smoker" suggest that he died of cancer. Update (Feb. 1, 2021): Giunta actually died of a heart attack according to David Saunders.

* * *

John Giunta is remembered as the artist who got Frank Frazetta started in comic books.
When I was about sixteen [Frazetta recalled] someone in my family introduced me to John Giunta. He was a professional artist who was working for Bernard Bailey's comics publishing company and he really wasn't a very personable guy. He was very aloof and self-conscious and hard for me to talk to, but he was really very talented. He had an exceptional ability, but it was coupled with a total lack of self-confidence and an inability to communicate with people. Being around him really opened up my eyes, though, because he was really that good. He had an interesting style, a good sense of spotting and his blacks worked well. You can see a lot of his influence even today in some of my ink work. (2)
Frazetta, then sixteen, had earlier drawn a homemade comic book called Snowman. "Giunta liked [it] and persuaded Bernard Bailey to publish a revised version in Tally Ho #1 in 1944." (3) Frazetta penciled the story, and Giunta inked it and drew the cover for Tally-Ho Comics #1. Frazetta may or may not have been credited for his work. The Comic Book Database suggests that Frazetta's first credited comic book art was as a penciler and inker in Exciting Comics #59 from January 1948. So, at age nineteen, Frank Frazetta was a professional artist, thanks in part to John Giunta.

* * *

Victor Gorelick called Giunta "a nice guy," while Frazetta remembered that "he wasn't really a very personable guy." To be fair to Giunta, we should note that Frazetta was a teenager when he met Giunta, and that Giunta was only in his mid-twenties. Presumably, Gorelick knew Giunta--then in his forties--in the early 1960s. Frazetta may have been sensitive to perceived slights in a man who was--by both accounts--insecure and lacking in self-confidence. Upon reading those accounts, I couldn't help but think of Roy G. Krenkel, another of Frank Frazetta's mentors and an artist who also lacked confidence in his work.

* * *

I think it pretty safe to say that Robert E. Howard created the genre of heroic fantasy, at least as we know it today. After Howard died by his own hand in 1936, the mantle of heroic fantasy was taken up by Henry Kuttner, Fritz Leiber, Jr., and others. Unlike other pulp genres, heroic fantasy did not easily make the transition to comic books. That changed with the debut of Crom the Barbarian in the first issue of Out of This World, from June 1950 (4). Gardner Fox, an old hand at comic books and pulp fiction, wrote the script. John Giunta, with one foot in the pulps and one in comic books, was the artist. Both had also contributed to Weird Tales, birthplace of Howard's Conan the Cimmerian. They were probably the perfect combination to revive Conan under the name of Conan's god, Crom. There were other similarities between Crom and Conan. ("Swipes" might be a better word.) I'm not sure that Crom's yellow hair would have thrown anybody off. (5) In any case, Crom appeared in two issues each of Out of This World (6) and Strange Worlds in 1950-1951. Heroic fantasy returned to the comics with a vengeance in 1970 with Marvel Comics' Conan the Barbarian

* * *

John Giunta drew interior illustrations for Weird Tales beginning with the November 1942 issue and ending in May 1950. He also created three covers for "The Unique Magazine" from 1944 to 1949. His last was for "The Damp Man Again" by Allison V. Harding. The Damp Man is a comic book-like villain (also a weird menace kind of villain). As both a comic book artist and pulp artist, John Giunta would have been well qualified to draw the character.

* * *

I'll close by saying that we should remember John Giunta and his work.

John Giunta's Covers for Weird Tales
Mar. 1944, "The Trail of Cthulhu" by August Derleth
Nov. 1948
May 1949, "The Damp Man Again" by Allison V. Harding

John Giunta's Interior Illustrations in Weird Tales
Nov. 1942
Jan. 1943
Mar. 1943
July 1943
Sept. 1943
Nov. 1943
Mar. 1944
July 1944
Sept. 1944
May 1947
July 1947
Sept. 1947
Jan. 1948
Mar. 1948
May 1948
July 1948
Nov. 1948
May 1949
July 1949
Sept. 1949
Jan. 1950
May 1950

Further Reading
"John Giunta (1920-1970)" by David Saunders on his website Field Guide To Wild American Pulp Artists, from 2019, here.

(1) Quoted in The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Companionedited by Jon B. Cooke (2005), p. 74.
(2) Quoted in Icon: A Retrospective by the Grand Master of Fantastic Art, edited by Arnie Fenner and Cathy Fenner (1998), p. 4.
(3) Fenner and Fenner, p. 4. The actual title is Tally-Ho Comics. The date was December 1944.
(4) Fourteen years to the month after the death of Robert E. Howard.
(5) John Jakes' Conan-like character, Brak the Barbarian, also has yellow hair.
(6) Out of This World was called Out of This World Adventures with issue number two.

Tally-Ho Comics #1 (Dec. 1944) with cover art by John Giunta and probably an uncredited Frank Frazetta.
"Crom the Barbarian" by Gardner Fox and John Giunta from Out of This World #1, June 1950.
Weird Tales, March 1944, with cover art by John Giunta.
Weird Tales, November 1948. Giunta was again the artist. By the mid to late 1940s, Weird Tales was in a science fiction phase. Giunta's art anticipated that of Richard Powers, John Schoenherr, and Jack Gaughan from the 1950s and '60s. 
Weird Tales, May 1949, with cover art by John Giunta. There were three stories of The Damp Man in Weird Tales. John Giunta illustrated them all and created a cover for the last, "The Damp Man Again."

Updated on February 1, 2022.
Text and captions copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley