Sunday, August 16, 2015

Notes from PulpFest-The Mystery of the Missing Magazine

I came away from PulpFest with a copy of The Pulpster, the official publication of the convention. A colorized photograph of H.P. Lovecraft is on the cover, and inside is an article called "Lovecraft's Lasting Legacy," written by various authors, editors, fans, and critics of Lovecraft and Weird Tales. Marvin Kaye contributed to "Lovecraft's Lasting Legacy" and provides clues to the Mystery of the Missing Magazine, which has not been seen in print in more than a year.

Sometime within the last decade, Mr. Kaye went to work for the Jekyll and Hyde Club in New York City. "I was given the role of Mr. Shroud," he writes, "the head butler and major-domo to Dr. Jekyll." (p. 46) In that role, Marvin Kaye (b. 1938) met fellow actor John Harlacher (b. 1976). Sharing a taste for the macabre, the two became friends. Upon learning that Mr. Kaye had once edited H.P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror (6 issues, 2004-2009), Mr. Harlacher urged him to acquire the property from John Gregory Betancourt (b. 1963). To Mr. Kaye's surprise, Mr. Betancourt, when contacted, offered him Weird Tales to go with H.P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror, all for a bargain price. With both magazines in the bag, Marvin Kaye and John Harlacher created Nth Dimension Media, Inc., with Mr. Kaye as editor and Mr. Harlacher as publisher. That transaction took place in 2011. 

I don't know what legal arrangement the two men might have, but in my previous article, I suggested that Marvin Kaye the editor might be subordinate to John Harlacher the publisher. That's not necessarily the case. I also suggested that it was Mr. Kaye's decision to print an excerpt from Save the Pearls: Revealing Eden by Victoria Hoyt (2012) and that John Harlacher objected to that plan (at least after controversy inevitably and predictably ensued). According to Jeff VanderMeer, however, Mr. Harlacher and Mr. Kaye had dinner with his wife, then-editor Ann VanderMeer, in June 2012 (I think), during which they talked about their plans to print an excerpt from Revealing Eden. She advised them against it. That and other disagreements precipitated her resignation. John Harlacher may have tried to put a damper on the controversy, but it was already too late. To read accounts now, he seemed only to have thrown more fuel on the fire with his apologies and explanations.

Part of the problem in trying to reconstruct the sequence of events here is that the website for Weird Tales is no longer in existence except for as a placeholder, as one of my readers pointed out. There are still websites where you can read about the controversy over Revealing Eden, but only from one side, the side of the aggrieved. (1) The best place to start might be on a blog posting called "Weird Tales, Ann VanderMeer, and Utter Stupidity" by Jeff VanderMeer (her husband), dated August 20, 2012, here. Weird Tales itself remains silent.

Ann VanderMeer stayed on as editor for one issue of Weird Tales after its acquisition by Nth Dimension Media. That was the Winter 2012 issue, Volume 66, Number 3, whole issue number 359. Three issues edited by Marvin Kaye followed:
  • Cthulhu Returns Issue, with a tribute to Ray Bradbury--Fall 2012 (Vol. 66, No. 4) #360
  • Fairy Tales Issue--Summer 2013 (Vol. 67, No. 1) #361
  • Undead Issue--Spring 2014 (Vol. 67, No. 2) #362
In this year's issue of The Pulpster, Mr. Kaye states: "[T]he next issue [of Weird Tales] in development is our 'Swords and Sorcery' issue." (p. 46) I don't know when Mr. Kaye wrote those words. I presume it would have been since last year's PulpFest, as decisions about next year's themes are worked out during this year's show. I don't suppose it matters. The controversy over Revealing Eden (though maybe not over Marvin Kaye or his company's actions) has died down. Nth Dimension Media has had more than a year during which to get a new issue in print. There are no doubt scads of sword-and-sorcery stories and art available for publication. And, still, Weird Tales is missing.

In closing his essay, Marvin Kaye writes:
Though [Weird Tales] was closed down several times, it always returns, which is why I called it "the magazine that never dies." It is now in its 92nd year. May it go on until it is at least 200-years-old, and beyond!
I wonder if he sees any irony in those words.

(1) The controversy over Revealing Eden suggests that the current owners of the license to Weird Tales might have reason to remove the content of the website themselves. We simply can't say.

Copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Very interesting! The last few issues of WT that I have read, I've come away with the impression that it leaned more heavily of fantasy rather than horror. Nevertheless, I always look forward to a new issue every few years or so (sarcasm partly intended). You'll never catch me fronting money for a subscription, either! Long Live WT!

  2. The website still works? or It hasn't been updated in a long time, though.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I didn't mean to mislead anyone. You're right, the website works. It's just that it doesn't have any real content. I suppose the men behind the magazine are holding on to the various URLs until it's is back in business.

      Sorry for the misunderstanding.


  3. Hi, Terence,

    I read you post on the way home from PulpFest and intended to comment when I got home. Just now realized that I hadn't.

    You wondered when Marvin Kaye wrote his portion of the HPL article in THE PULPSTER. We received almost all of the contributions for that piece between April and June 2015. So all of the comments are fairly recent.

    Hope that helps somewhat.

    1. Bill,

      Thanks for the information. It does indeed help.