Reaching hands are something of a cliché, especially in movies. Artists and moviemakers use reaching hands to create a sense of mystery and suspense. But using reaching hands on a magazine cover serves another purpose: it allows the artist to pack a lot of stuff into his or her tableau, and whoever can't fit can at least get his hand into the picture. That's not always the case, but it happens often enough, and when it does, the composition suffers, as in Rankin's cover and Senf's cover from January 1931. Even Margaret Brundage was guilty in an otherwise fine cover from March 1937. In any case, the artists who contributed to Weird Tales relied on reaching hands for eleven covers in all.
|Weird Tales, April 1930. Cover story: "The Dust of Egypt" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Hugh Rankin. The first reaching hand cover doesn't quite fit the pattern, for the hand isn't obviously a threat.|
|Weird Tales, November 1931. Cover story: "Placide's Wife" by Kirk Mashburn. Cover art by C.C. Senf. From here on out, the reaching hands are bad hands, or at least they appear to be.|
|Weird Tales, December 1931. Cover story: "The Dark Man" by Robert E. Howard. Cover art by C.C. Senf. This may be the most well composed of all the reaching hand covers.|
|Weird Tales, July 1932. Cover story: "The Phantom Hand" by Victor Rousseau. Cover art by C.C. Senf. At last, the reaching hand has found its way into the title of a cover story!|
|Weird Tales, March 1935. Cover story: "Clutching Hands of Death" by Harold Ward. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. Here the reaching hands have become "clutching hands," and not just any clutching hands, but "clutching hands of death."|
|Weird Tales, May 1935. Cover story: "The Death Cry" by Craig Kennedy. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. Finally, a man rather than a woman is in peril from the reaching hands.|
Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley