I promised six weeks ago to write about witches. Finally, here they are.
I count eleven covers of Weird Tales showing witches, wizards, and warlocks and all their magical ways. I'm surprised that there are so few. It seems like I have missed some somehow. (I'll add more if I discover more.) Even the covers shown here are a little fuzzy: If the word "witch" or "witchcraft" weren't there to clue you in, you might not know these are pictures of witches. Only Matt Fox (May 1947) depicted the classic or stereotypical witch. William Heitman's cover (May 1923) seems to me second in its witchiness.
So is there an explanation? Maybe. For one, it's not easy to depict conjuring or the casting of spells. For another, witches are not very scary, not like vampires, werewolves, or other monsters. (I always liked the Salem Witch in the Aurora monster model series, but she hardly qualifies as a monster.) Also, a witch is not a person of great or dramatic action. She works behind the scenes, puttering around her house with her herbs and her eyes of newt. Lastly, the witch may present a problem to artists and writers who don't handle female characters very well. In any case, here are the witches, wizards, and warlocks, the original www.
|Weird Tales, May 1923. Cover story: "The Moon Terror" by A.G. Birch (?). Cover art by William F. Heitman. This is one of two covers by Heitman. The other (June 1923) seems to have been a rush job and came off badly. This one is far more successful.|
|Dyalhis probably didn't mean it, but his title invokes the character of Sea Hag from Thimble Theatre, better known as Popeye, by Elzie Segar.|
|Weird Tales, December 1948. Cover story: "The Sin-Eater" by G.G. Pendarves. Cover art by Ray Quigley. Looks like a wizard to me. In fact, he looks a little like Dr. Strange.|
|Weird Tales, May 1941. Cover story: "There Are Such Things" by Seabury Quinn [?]. Cover art by Hannes Bok. Voodoo dolls are witchcraft, so here goes this cover.|
|Weird Tales, October 1939. Cover story: "Kurban" by Seabury Quinn [?]. Cover art by A.R. Tilburne. Here are the trappings of wizardry: book, skull, candle, and animal companion or familiar.|
|Weird Tales, July 1951. Cover story: "Flame Birds of Angala" by E. Everett Evans. Cover art by Charles A. Kennedy.|
Thanks to Lemuel Nash for corrections.
Text and captions copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley