Thursday, August 13, 2015

Where Is Weird Tales?

Weird Tales has been called "The Magazine That Never Dies," and in the ninety-two years since it was first published, Weird Tales has lived up to that sobriquet. This week, Weird Tales is being celebrated at PulpFest, the annual pulp magazine convention held in Columbus, Ohio. H.P. Lovecraft, who probably helped keep the magazine afloat, is also being celebrated on the 125th anniversary of his birth. Lovecraft is long gone. But where is Weird Tales?

Weird Tales was last seen in Spring 2014 when Volume 67, Number 2--whole issue number 362--was published. The editor was Marvin Kaye, the man who many years ago nicknamed his recent charge "The Magazine That Never Dies." It's either a coincidence or an irony that the Spring 2014 issue was subtitled "The Undead Issue," for the magazine that never dies appears to have done so after all. But then it has died before and has always come back, in 1924, 1973, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1998. Although Weird Tales was in print in almost every year from 1988 to 2014, the roster of publishers and editors in that time became bewildering. And now the magazine is lost.

Marvin Kaye succeeded the widely admired Ann VanderMeer as editor of Weird Tales with the Fall 2012 issue. He was at the helm for just three issues, Fall 2012, Summer 2013, and Spring 2014. Somewhere along the line he got himself into some trouble when he announced that Weird Tales would print an excerpt from Save the Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt (2012). Written for young people, Revealing Eden is a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel of a world ruined by global warming. (1) If she had stopped with global warming, the author (and Marvin Kaye) probably wouldn't have caught any grief. It is, after all, a politically favored idea. Instead, Ms. Foyt proceeded to tell a story in which white people--the "pearls" of the title--are lower in status than are black people, specifically because of their skin color. (Black people are called "coals" in the book.) Ms. Foyt's book was self-published; the weight of the inevitable political charges against her might only have dragged her down. But then Marvin Kaye chained himself to Victoria Foyt's anchor, and he, too, went under when fans, authors, and publisher John Harlacher objected to his plan to reprint Revealing Eden. [Update, Aug. 19, 2015: John Harlacher's objection may only have been an attempt at damage control for a decision that he and Mr. Kaye may have made together. We can't be sure of some of these things because all the content on the Weird Tales website is gone.]

But is that why Weird Tales is missing from the scene? I don't know. If you look at the supposed website of the magazine, which is called Weird Tales but is found at a URL called www.weirdtailors.com (for some unknown reason), you will find only an image of the Undead Issue cover by Danielle Tunstall. (2) The website has been like that for almost a year. A former staff member told me that the original website was wiped out by another former staff member who, unbeknownst to his coworkers, had it stored on his own server. That sounds like a disgruntled former staff member. Whatever the case may be, he was probably well qualified to work for Hillary Clinton after that. No one since has rebuilt the Weird Tales website, and so it shows, appropriately, only the image of a zombie.

Weird Tales in its last four issues (from Winter 2012 to Spring 2014) was published by Nth Dimension Media, Inc., with an address at 105 West 86th Street, Suite 307, New York, NY 10024. The man in charge presumably is or was actor, director, and producer John Harlacher (b. 1976). However, the Weird Tales property itself is owned by Viacom, which acquired it from Robert Weinberg. I can't say for sure, but I presume Nth Dimension Media is or was operating under a license from Viacom, which may have had some plans for it, but nothing seems to have come of any of its plans or anybody else's plans. So as you can see, Weird Tales is still lost or missing.

Or dead.

Or maybe mostly dead, like Westley from The Princess Bride.

But Weird Tales has always returned from the dead, and I would wager it will again. But it won't be in time for PulpFest this weekend, so we'll have to celebrate without it. (3)

Notes
(1) Oddly, Revealing Eden, the first book in the Save the Pearls series, won an Eric Hoffer Award for the Young Adult Category in 2012. So some people liked it and some people hated it. Not having read it, I can't say what merits, if any, the book might have.
(3) As an aside, Weird Tales, in its first incarnation, was in print during every year from 1923 to 1954. In later incarnations, Weird Tales was in print in every year from 1988 to 1994 and from 1998 to 2014. If no issue comes out this year, then the second longest string of publication will be broken and we'll be starting over again at year one.

The most recent--or maybe the last--issue of Weird Tales, No. 362 from Spring 2014. The artist is Danielle Tunstall, a British artist and photographer. Note the ubiquitous zombie. If Weird Tales has died again, here's hoping for a resurrection or maybe a reanimation. Where's Herbert West when you need him?

Text and captions copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

11 comments:

  1. http://weirdtales.com/ seems to be a placeholder at least if nothing else.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Shane,

      Thanks for checking out that URL and for letting us know about it.

      TH

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  2. I remember that I paid for a subscription, perhaps quarterly; it's been a long while. I eventually received three (or four; like I said, it's been a long while) copies of the same issue. Also, there was supposed to have been some kind of extra thrown in with the subscription, but there was nothing else included in the shipment. I was slightly puzzled. I tried contacting the publisher, but received no answer. As time wore along, it dawned on me that I'd been sent enough copies to fulfill the subscription. At least, that's what I came to assume. It's too bad they couldn't at least scrounge up three or four different past issues instead of just one. I chalked it up to experience, and have been much more reluctant to subscribe to any magazine since.

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    1. Dear Jeff,

      I wish people would understand just how important customer service is. They don't pay attention to details or take the time to do it right. What they don't realize is that those are the things that make the difference between a customer who will keep coming back and one who has gone somewhere else. Forever.

      Thanks for writing.

      TH

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  3. John Harlacher told me the the next issue should be coming out "soon".

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    Replies
    1. Dear Doug,

      Thanks for the update. We'll keep watching.

      TH

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    2. Looks like it didn't after all?

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  4. I paid for an annual subscription, but I received only a issue...

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  5. WARNING: DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO THIS MAGAZINE. I was promised 4 issues plus a bonus and I only received 2 issues and no bonus. All this since December 2013. Same thing that apparently happened to all the other people commenting here. I am going to report them to the BBB.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    Replies
    1. Dear C Cleland and Others,

      Sorry to hear about your travails with Weird Tales. As far as I can tell, the magazine is still missing and we might as well presume it dead.

      TH

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