Sunday, July 31, 2016

Rodney M. Ruth (1912-1987)

Illustrator, Advertising Artist, Children's Book Artist, Syndicated Comic Strip Artist

Born September 21, 1912, Benton Harbor, Michigan
Died January 27, 1987, Park Ridge, Illinois

When I introduced this series, I didn't know who RMR was. I found out at PulpFest by looking at an issue of Amazing Stories in which Rod M. Ruth signed several illustrations with a distinct flourish to his initials. He was born Rodney McCord Ruth on September 21, 1912, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Edd Cartier went to school in New York City and found work with Street and Smith, a publisher with headquarters in that city. Rod Ruth did much the same in his locale by studying at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, the Frederick Mizen School of Arts, and the Institute of Design, and going to work for Ziff-Davis of Chicago. His illustrations appeared in Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures from 1940 to 1951. He also drew the newspaper comic strip The Toodles from 1941 to 1958. Ruth had a more varied career than Cartier and continued working as a professional artist even after pulp magazines came to an end. He illustrated books about dinosaurs and animals and Rand McNally's series of books about monsters and aliens, for which he had a real flair. Rodney McCord Ruth--RMR--died in Park Ridge, Illinois, on January 27, 1987, at age seventy-four.

Rodney M. Ruth's Illustrations in Weird Tales
"Yellow" by Conda Douglas (Winter 1985; from an unknown source)
"The Bus People" by J.N. Williamson (Winter 1985; from an unknown source)
"Peau de Cuir" by Steve Perry (Winter 1985; from an unknown source)

Further Reading
  • "Ruth, Rod," The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (online), Jan. 14, 2013, here.
  • "Rod Ruth," Lambiek (online), no date, here.
Note: I have a new computer, but when you get a new computer, about half of your old stuff no longer works. For me, that includes some of my software, plus my scanner, plus my scanner/printer/photocopier. As soon as I solve the problem of a scanner, I will post images again.

Update (August 3, 2016): An illustration by Rod Ruth, used in Weird Tales for Winter 1985 but from an unknown original source. Note the stylized initial "R" on the far right.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Edd Cartier (1914-2008)

Illustrator, Draftsman, Art Director
Born August 1, 1914, North Bergen, New Jersey
Died December 25, 2008, Ramsey, New Jersey

Whether he knew it or not, Edd Cartier contributed to Weird Tales. His drawing in the Winter 1985 issue was used to fill out a page containing a book review by Gustavo H. Vintas, M.D. The drawing (which I will post once I have my scanning problem figured out) looks like a clipping from a larger drawing and probably came from another magazine. Cartier is best known for his illustrations in The Shadow, Doc Savage Magazine, Astounding Science Fiction, and Unknown. He also worked for Gnome Press and Fantasy Press. I suspect the drawing came from either Astounding or Unknown.

Edward Daniel Cartier was born on August 1, 1914, in North Bergen, New Jersey, and studied at the Pratt Institute in two stints, one before and one after the Second World War. He served in the U.S. Army during the war and used his G.I. Bill benefits to earn a bachelor of arts degree from Pratt in 1953. He was a unique and versatile artist, and his work, whether signed or not, is unmistakable. It's a shame that he never drew pictures for Weird Tales, as his dark, weird, macabre, and often humorous style would have worked in the magazine. In any case, Cartier died on Christmas Day in 2008 at age ninety-four. I checked my copy of Edd Cartier: The Known and the Unknown (Gerry de la Ree, 1977) and could not find the illustration used in Weird Tales. That's no great surprise, as Cartier created hundreds of drawings published from 1937 onward.

Edd Cartier's Illustration in Weird Tales
Spot drawing on the book review page (Winter 1985; from an unknown source)

Further Reading
  • "Edd Cartier (1914-2008)" by BhobPotrzebie (online), Dec. 27, 2008, here.
  • "Edd Cartier, 94, Pulp Illustrator, Dies" by William Grimes, New York Times, Jan. 8, 2009, here.

An illustration by Edd Cartier, originally from another source--an unknown source but not necessarily an Unknown source--and used in Weird Tales for Winter 1985.

Text copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Weird Tales and the Inner Sanctum

The Red Right Hand (1945) by Joel Townsley Rogers was first issued in hardback by Simon and Schuster as part of its Inner Sanctum Mystery series. As Mike Tuz pointed out in his recent comment, that was at about the same time that Universal Pictures was releasing a series of horror movies under the same name. If you listened to the radio in 1945, you were likely to hear a sardonic voice and the sound of a creaking door in the introduction to a weekly show called Inner Sanctum Mystery (more popularly known as Inner Sanctum Mysteries). A decade later, you could have watched Inner Sanctum on television, if only for a season. So how were these series related? Where did the Inner Sanctum brand begin? And what did it all have to do with Weird Tales? That's what I'll write about today.

First, I should say that there doesn't seem to be much of a connection between Weird Tales and Inner Sanctum Mystery. In beginning my research, I was hoping to find more. So maybe the title of this article is a little misleading. On the other hand, there are some pretty big gaps in the online history of the brand. For example, a list of radio episodes on Wikipedia includes the names of only a few scriptwriters. Likewise, The Internet Movie Database includes the titles and casts of all forty episodes of the TV series, but the writers' names are mostly missing. And good luck finding a comprehensive list of the titles in Simon and Schuster's hardbound Inner Sanctum Mystery series. So maybe there are still connections awaiting discovery. Weird Tales and the Inner Sanctum had this much in common at least: both began in the 1920s as the creations of enterprising young publishers.

In the case of Simon and Schuster, those enterprising young publishers were Richard L. "Dick" Simon (1899-1960), a piano salesman, and M. Lincoln "Max" Schuster (1897-1970), an editor of a trade magazine. (1) According to Wikipedia, that fount of all knowledge, "Simon's aunt, a crossword puzzle devotee, asked Simon whether there was a book of these puzzles that she could give to a friend. Simon discovered that none had been published, and, with Schuster, launched a company to exploit the opportunity." The year was 1924, plumb in the middle of a decade of fads and other wonderful nonsense. Crossword puzzles became the latest, and Simon and Schuster was off and running.

Almost from the beginning--or at least as early as 1927--Simon and Schuster ran a regular advertising column called "The Inner Sanctum" in the New York Times and Publishing Weekly. Readers may or may not have known it, but "the Inner Sanctum" is the name the two publishers gave to an office within their own suite of offices on 57th Street, just off Fifth Avenue. The Inner Sanctum was in fact a room situated between the respective offices of Dick Simon and Max Schuster. Here is a playful map from 1927, drawn by C. Vernon Farrow:

The legend reads, in part, "The Sun Never Sets on The Inner Sanctum of Simon and Schuster." Before going on, I would like to show another map drawn by the artist Charles Vernon Farrow (1896-1936):

This one is entitled "A Map of the Wondrous Isle of Manhattan" and is dated 1926. The isle was and is wondrous to be sure, and the cartographer Farrow made a wondrous map to match it. This map in particular makes me think of Dell's famous line of map-back paperbacks of the 1940s. Dell was the second major publisher of paperback books in America. Simon and Schuster, publishers of Pocket Books, was the first.

So "the Inner Sanctum" originally referred to the house of Simon and Schuster, then to series of books published by that house. Not all of the Inner Sanctum books were mysteries, at least at the outset. There is, for example, an Inner Sanctum edition of War and Peace, published in 1942. According to Martin Grams Blog (here), the Inner Sanctum series, published monthly, were color coded: blue binding for "serious drama," red for "lighter fare" and/or romance, and green for "detective stories." (Mr. Gram's wording is a little ambiguous. I hope I interpret it correctly.) Later, once the radio show became popular, the Inner Sanctum series were strictly mysteries.

The first Inner Sanctum Mystery was I Am Jonathan Scrivener by Charles Houghton, published in 1930. In 1935, a young woman named Lee Wright (1904-1986) began working at Simon and Schuster as a secretary. The following year, she became editor of the Inner Sanctum Mystery series, and in 1944, senior editor. It was Lee Wright who was so effusive about Joel Townsley Rogers' story and novel The Red Right Hand, and it was she who saw it into print in 1945.

Another Simon and Schuster employee figures pretty prominently in the story of Inner Sanctum Mystery as well. His name was Leon Shimkin (1907-1988), and in 1924, at age seventeen, he signed on with the firm as a $25-a-week bookkeeper. Described by the New York Times as "[t]ireless and hard-driving," Shimkin soon worked his way up to be business manager and eventually to chairman of the board and owner of the company. He was in on the founding of Pocket Books, the first line of mass-market paperback books in America, in 1939. (Shimkin was treasurer of the venture.) "While critics scoffed at the notion of selling 25-cent paperback books in supermarkets and similar outlets," wrote the Times, "Pocket Books was an immediate success." It also spawned myriads of paperback book publishers, many of which lived on the pulp genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, detective, and mystery stories. Paperbacks also helped bring pulp magazines to an end after World War II. Hardbound books survived of course, and the Inner Sanctum Mystery series carried on at least until the 1960s. I have titles for 1960--The Dead Beat by Robert Bloch--and 1966--The Incredible Schlock Homes by Robert L. Fish. I don't know when the last title in the series was published.

In the early 1940s, Leon Shimkin sold the rights to Inner Sanctum Mystery to Universal Pictures. By the time the first movie came out in 1943, Inner Sanctum Mystery, also called Inner Sanctum Mysteries or just Inner Sanctum, had been on the radio for a couple of years. I suspect that Shimkin helped orchestrate that deal, too. In any case, the radio show, which began on January 7, 1941, was a hit. Under producer Himan "Hi" Brown (1910-2010), Inner Sanctum Mystery ran for more than eleven years and a total of 526 broadcasts. The last came on October 5, 1952. (2) As I said, the writers' credits are mostly missing. Stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Guy de Maupassant, both of whom were in Weird Tales, were adapted for the show.

From 1943 to 1945, Universal released six movies in the Inner Sanctum Mystery series starring Lon Chaney, Jr. These are supposed to have been based on the radio show. The titles are:
  • Calling Dr. Death (1943)
  • Weird Woman (1944)
  • Dead Man's Eyes (1944)
  • The Frozen Ghost (1945)
  • Strange Confession (1945)
  • Pillow of Death (1945)
Weird Woman was based on the story "Conjure Wife" by Fritz Leiber, Jr., and although "Conjure Wife" wasn't in Weird Tales (it was in the rival title Unknown Worlds in April 1943), its author was. The movie title of course echoes that of Weird TalesBy the way, Leiber's father, Fritz Leiber, was in the non-Universal movie Inner Sanctum from 1948. He played a character called Dr. Valonius.

Finally, Hi Brown produced the television adaptation of Inner Sanctum in his studios in New York City. The show ran for forty half-hour episodes from January to October 1954. (The show ended a month after Weird Tales did.) As an early anthology series, it gave a lot of young actors and actresses--Warren Stevens, Jack Klugman, Jack Albertson, Betsy Palmer--a chance to appear on television. It very likely helped pave the way for other anthology series as well, particularly The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), which, like the original radio series, had, in its host, the series' only regular character. The host of The Twilight Zone was of course played by Rod Serling, a most worthy successor to the Weird Tales mantle.

(1) Simon seems to have been the principle partner. There is comparatively little on the Internet about Schuster. Find A Grave has him, but his birth date--March 2, 1897--and birthplace--Austria--are missing. Schuster's father was a U.S. citizen at the time of Schuster's birth. According to Schuster's World War I draft card, "[the] child came to the U.S. when [he was] 6 weeks old." Max L. Schuster died on December 20, 1970, at his home in Manhattan.
(2) Like pulp magazines, radio drama and comedy were casualties of the post-war world. All survived in one way or another, however. Pulps didn't die so much as simply change form. They became paperback books, digest-sized magazines, and standard-sized magazines. The last true pulp magazine was Ranch Romances and Adventure, which came to an end in 1971 or thereabouts. Radio shows didn't exactly die, either. They simply became TV shows, and most of the old radio stars made the switch to television. Some, like Jack Benny, were successful. Others weren't. Incidentally, Hi Brown produced a later radio show called CBS Radio Mystery Theater (1974-1982), more or less as a reprise of Inner Sanctum Mystery, complete with the sardonic host and the creaking door. I am happy to say that we listened to that show when we were kids, and so we got in on the very tail end of radio drama in America.

Here are some sources:

Simon and Schuster
"Leon Shimkin, a Guiding Force At Simon & Schuster, Dies at 81" by Edwin McDowell, New York TimesMay 26, 1988

Inner Sanctum Mystery

"Debunking the Myth . . ."

Original text copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, July 25, 2016

Joel Townsley Rogers (1896-1984)-Part Two

Joel Townsley Rogers' mystery novel The Red Right Hand began as a short story that at some point fell into the hands of Lee Wright, an editor at Simon and Schuster. On July 7, 1944, Ms. Wright wrote to Rogers. "I have fallen very much in love with THE RED RIGHT HAND," she effused, "and would love to discuss with you the possibilities of lengthening it to fit book publication." The short story version appeared in New Detective Magazine in March 1945. A couple of months later, Simon and Schuster issued the novel-length version in hardback as part of its Inner Sanctum series. A paperback edition by Pocket Books followed in October 1946, and The Red Right Hand has been reprinted several times since. I have the Carroll and Graf edition of 1983 and will use page numbers from that volume. (1)

The Red Right Hand is a murder mystery/detective tale. The detective (and narrator) in this case is a medical doctor named Henry N. Riddle, Jr., nicknamed Harry. His story, then, is a hairy riddle. The doctor himself is a riddle, and for a time, you don't know whether he can be trusted to tell the story or not. I'm still not convinced that he has told the whole truth.

The Red Right Hand is an odd story. It's non-linear--which is to say modernistic--in how it is recounted. Dr. Riddle circles around the events of the story, moving back and forth through time and looking at things from different angles in his attempt to untangle the mystery. His solution comes in real time, as, at the beginning of the novel, he does not yet know who the murderer is. (For a while, I had a feeling that he was the murderer.) The Red Right Hand is also unusual in that Riddle solves the mystery not by flatfooting around a city like Philip Marlowe or a hundred other tough-guy detectives but by sitting at a desk in a darkened house as the fiancée of the murdered man sleeps on a nearby couch and the voices of searchers resound in the night outside. Again and again he asks himself a number of questions, the foremost of which is:
     Where is the killer now?
     For I have a cold and dismal feeling that he is somewhere near me, no matter how far off the lanterns move and the voices call and the hounds bay. And near the sleeping girl beside me, his victim's wife to be. A feeling that he will strike again. That he knows I am somehow dangerous to him. Though how, I cannot yet perceive.
     Somewhere in the darkness outside the window.
     Or nearer even than that, perhaps. Inside this creaky two-hundred-year-old-hill-country farmhouse itself, it may be, so silent now and temporarily deserted of the hunters. (p. 10)
Riddle, who wanders freely through time and space in trying to solve the mystery, is also bound by time to do so before the killer strikes again, and in space to remain at his desk, where he can think through the problem before him and watch over the sleeping young woman. There is throughout the story a palpable sense of menace and terror, of an unknown and unseen killer close at hand and ready to fall upon the narrator at any moment.

The Red Right Hand is non-linear, as I have said. In addition to the non-linear narrative, there are webs of connection and coincidence so uncanny and bizarre that they call into question Riddle's reliability--even his sanity--as the storyteller. In addition, there are enough red herrings to fill a driftnet. The overall sense is that this is a dream. (The murdered man's fiancée, Elinor Darrie, sleeps through the entire novel.) Riddle names the dreamlike and nightmarish quality of his story only at the end:
     "What is there to tell?" he [Rosenblatt, the police detective] said.
     "Nothing but that it was all a nightmare," I said. "A bad dream without reality."
     "That's all it ever was," he said. (p. 191)
* * *

I have noticed that in postwar culture, there seems to have been a movement towards the strange, bizarre, and otherworldly, towards dream-states, nightmares, hallucinations, fantasies, and other altered states of consciousness. You'll see that in movies as varied as Spellbound (1945), The Boy with Green Hair (1948), and Invaders from Mars (1953). The war itself, with all its horrors, explains some of that. The arrival or importation into America of European intellectual ideas such as psychoanalysis and surrealism played its part as well. (2) By no coincidence, perhaps, there is in The Red Right Hand a surrealist artist whose presence offers a clue as to the author's purposes. The artist's name is Unistaire, and, like Salvador Dalí, he is from Spain (though not Spanish but Basque in nationality). It is Unistaire who diagnoses the crime:
"This is definitely a surrealistic murder. It is the murder of a genius. It has symbolism." (p. 133)
He calls the men investigating the crime "too much the routine policemen, thinking only in terms of moronic killers for gain" and Dr. Riddle "too pragmatic and unimaginative to understand it," continuing: "What you need is to believe with all your soul in phantasms which cannot possibly exist." (p. 133) Unistaire believes that he alone, as an artist, sees the situation clearly:
      "A surrealistic murder!" he said with delight. "And it takes a surrealist to interpret and explain it. I have the key. I understand the symbolism. I will interpret and explain it. Give me a quarter head of moldy cabbage, a wig, a pair of glass eyeballs, an old umbrella, a dressmaker's form, a cube of ice, and a copy of Mein Kampf with the title printed in red letters, and I will put the picture together and explain it." (p. 134)
Some of those seemingly random and unrelated objects are actually clues--the cabbage, the wig, the glass eyeballs. The color red figures prominently in the story--the red right hand; Dr. Riddle's red hair; the red-haired dwarf, also called "Doc"; and so on. But my eyes immediately lit upon the words a dressmaker's form, for just a few months back, I wrote about a real-life surrealistic murder, about Dalí and other surrealist artists, and about dressmaker's dummies. The murder was of Elizabeth Short, the so-called Black Dahlia. She was killed on the morning of January 15, 1947, less than two years after The Red Right Hand was published. (3)

* * *

Right before reading The Red Right Hand, I read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. It's a good book and was well read and well received. The Red Right Hand on the other hand is known only to a few fans of mystery. So is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a better book? The general opinion would seem to be "Yes," but why? Is it really better, or is it considered better because it was written with a British accent? There is to be sure a moral dimension to Mr. le Carré's book. At first glance, that would appear to be lacking in The Red Right Hand. Also, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy appears to be more serious and sophisticated. I might object to that characterization for two reasons. First, the solution to the mystery hinges on a slip-up by the mole that might have a better place in a Dr. Haledjian mystery than in a major novel. Second, it's entirely too easy to make the mole the same man with whom George Smiley's wife has had an affair. A more complex and perhaps more realistic solution would be for that man not to be punished for one transgression by being punished for another. Instead, Smiley--and by extension Mr. le Carré, who had, when writing the book, recently gone through a divorce--gets to punish the man who has wronged him. That's not to say the solution in The Red Right Hand works out well in terms of storytelling, for it seems to me too mechanical and too dependent on multiple coincidences. I didn't let that spoil my enjoyment of the story however.

As for the moral dimension of one vs. the other, The Red Right Hand seems to be simply an entertainment. But Joel Townsley Rogers hit on something in his book, identifying early on a kind of killer who is entirely too familiar to us now, the psychopath or sociopath. Dr. Riddle asks the question:
Assuming his brain is not just a dead jumble of loose cogwheels and broken springs, what is he trying to accomplish--what makes him tick? (p. 6) (4)
He approaches the problem as a man of science, a rational man, a physician--but also perhaps as a psychopath, for one way of looking at the psychopathic killer is as a person without a soul who wishes to open up his victim to see "what makes him tick." When the body of Inis St. Erme, the young woman's fiancé, is found, its skull is also found to have undergone a crude trephine. (5) Dr. Riddle describes it:
"It wasn't an operation with any sense to it, either. It looks like some crazy man trying to get an idea out of St. Erme's head with an auger after he was dead." (p. 138)
There it is again, something we have seen before, namely, the psychopathic killer opening people up, trying to find out what is inside them, what animates them, trying to uncover the mystery of the human soul or spirit which seems to be lacking in the killer himself. And as I said, the psychopath shares much with the medical doctor, who tends to see the human body as a mechanism, as a concatenation of cells, tissues, and organs rather than as the seat of the sacred human person. Again, Joel Townsley Rogers, in a lowly pulp novel, diagnosed the problem:
Old Adam [MacComerou, author of a textbook on psychopathology] . . . . had naturally found some amusement in pricking, in his quiet way, at practitioners of medicine and surgery . . . . One of the most interesting chapters in Hom. Psych. was one called "Jekyll-Hyde, M.D.," in which he had gathered together the case histories of murderers who had all happened to be doctors. I'll admit that he had plenty there. (p. 95)
The mole inside a spy agency makes for a nice villain, but he has shown himself to be a man of his time. The psychopathic killer, including the killer who acts out his bloody and bizarre pseudo-artistic or pseudo-intellectual theories, including also the medical doctor or surgeon, who sees people not as human beings but as soulless machines, is a killer who survives into the present and will very likely be with us for a long time to come.

(1) The quotes and publication history here are from a web page entitled "Joel Townsley Rogers-Writings" at this link.
(2) Postwar pseudo-religions based on science fiction owe a good deal to those developments as well. Dianetics and Scientology grew in part out of psychoanalysis. The myth and pseudo-religion of flying saucers, especially the contactee and abductee phenomena, are replete with accounts of dreams, nightmares, hallucinations, and other altered states of consciousness.
(3) To read more on the Black Dahlia murder, click on the label on the right.
(4) Notice the imagery of time passing and also of a mechanistic and reductionist or atomistic view of the human person.
(5) The victim's name is odd but significant: try rearranging the letters to see what you get. A hint: it's what the opposite of the hand named in the title of the book might say.

The Red Right Hand by Joel Townsley Rogers in the Carroll & Graf edition of 1983. The cover artist is unknown.

Original text copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, July 22, 2016

Joel Townsley Rogers (1896-1984)-Part One

Aka Roger Curley, Roger Curly
Aviator, Author, Editor, Civil Servant
Born November 22, 1896, Sedalia, Missouri
Died October 1, 1984, Washington, D.C.

Joel Townsley Rogers was born on November 22, 1896, in Sedalia, Missouri, to Otis J. and Bertha T. Rogers. He matriculated at Harvard University with the class of 1918, but world events had other things planned for him, for on June 25, 1917, Joel Townsley Rogers joined the United States Naval Reserve. Based on his record of service (below), I presume that he entered active duty on August 19, 1917. According to a website with the heading "Joel Townsley Rogers-Writings," Rogers received his flight training at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and was sent to Pensacola, Florida, to be a flight instructor. He served there, in Miami, and in Rockaway, New York, the last being the station where he separated from the Navy on August 15, 1919.

Once returned to civilian life, Rogers decided to give writing for the pulps a try. The FictionMags Index has his first published story as "Finders-Keepers," published in Telling Tales in July 1920. However, according to the previously mentioned website, Rogers, writing as Roger Curly, had a story called "The Battle Cruiser Lady" in Snappy Stories for February 18, 1920. We probably should assume for now that "The Battle Cruiser Lady" was his first story using any byline. Dozens more followed, the last coming with the end of the pulp era in the 1950s. They were published in Action Stories, Adventure, Air Stories, Argosy, Detective Fiction Weekly, Metropolitan Magazine, New Detective Magazine, Snappy Stories, Warbirds, and other titles. Rogers had only one story in Weird Tales, "Hark! The Rattle!" from the very first issue, March 1923. Other works in the genres of fantasy and science fiction appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Startling Stories, Super Science Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories. Incidentally, Joel Townsley Rogers was one of few pulp writers who crossed over into writing for slick magazines, for he had three stories in The Saturday Evening Post between 1943 and 1958.

In 1920, Rogers was in Washington, D.C., with his parents and siblings. He was still working in aviation, in this case in the private sector. In 1922, the young writer was a graduate student at Princeton University and an editor at Brentano's Book Chat, where he used the pseudonym Roger Curley, a reference to his own curly hair. Rogers' first book dates from about that time as well. Entitled Once in a Red Moon, it came out in 1923, the same year in which he was published in Weird TalesBy 1940, he was in New York and working as a freelance writer. His remaining books came after that, The Red Right Hand in 1945, Lady with the Dice in 1946, and The Stopped Clock, also called Never Leave My Bed, in 1958. Rogers' books have been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Icelandic, and German. I don't know what he did once opportunities in the pulps dried up in the 1950s, but he lived for another quarter century and died on October 1, 1984, in Washington, D.C.

To be concluded . . .

Joel Townsley Rogers' Story in Weird Tales
"Hark! The Rattle!" (Mar. 1923)

Further Reading
There are lists of Rogers' stories on The FictionMags Index, The Internet Speculative Fiction Database, and on a web page with the heading "Joel Townsley Rogers-Writings," here. The last website also has information on Rogers' family, life, and career. You can of course also do an Internet search, which will likely prove fruitful, as Rogers is a widely admired writer, especially for his book The Red Right Hand, about which I will write next.

A military record for Joel Townsley Rogers, from U.S. Adjutant General Military Records, Harvard's Military Record in the World War (1921).
A passport photograph of Rogers, with his signature, from 1919.

Text copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, July 21, 2016

PulpFest This Weekend

A gathering of great significance takes place this week in Ohio. No, I'm not talking about the Republican national convention. That's in Cleveland. The gathering to which I refer is PulpFest, the annual pulp magazine convention. Now in its eighth year, PulpFest begins tonight, Thursday, July 21, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and continues through Sunday afternoon. Here is a link to the PulpFest website:

I hope you can make it.

* * *

I have been out of commission these past two weeks. My computer died on July 8. Luckily my hard drive is safe, and I have all my files. I took the poor thing to a computer store. When I told him how old it is, the technician there called it "vintage." That's their official term for a machine that if it were a person would this summer be entering first grade. I wonder what that technician would make of a pulp magazine. An impossibly old and hopelessly primitive form of communication? Or a treasure like a cuneiform tablet or the Rosetta stone? Anyway, I'm back in action, if you can call sitting in front of an electronic device "action." I will pick up where I left off with the artists of the Bellerophon Weird Tales, but first with an interruption in the form of a biography of a writer whose 1945 mystery novel The Red Right Hand has been called "strange and terrifying" (New York Times) and "surely one of the dozen or so finest mystery novels of the 20th century" (Jack Adrian). I read it since I left you and I would like to tell you about it before too much longer.

Copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, July 8, 2016

Clare Angell (1874-1932)-Part Three

Clare Eugene Angell was born on March 4, 1874, in Lansing, Michigan, and lived in Michigan and possibly Indiana as a child. In an article from The Inland Printer, from 1897 (Vol. 18, p. 670), Angell detailed his work as a clerk, a student of architecture, and a draftsman and designer for the Park Commission of Detroit. Angell attended school in Lansing and Detroit, including a year of night school at the Detroit School of Arts. Before going to Chicago, he spent some time working on a farm. I wonder now if that was his mother's family farm in Goshen, Indiana.

Before the end of the decade and of the century, Clare Angell made his way to New York City. He seems to have spent the rest of his life there. By the time the article mentioned above was published, he had begun working as an artist with the New York Press where he was recognized as a talented cartoonist and caricaturist. Angell also drew pictures of daily news events for the paper, especially when he could give them a humorous slant. His work earned him mention in the Encyclopedia Britannica under the entry "Caricature."

During the early 1900s, Angell illustrated stories and articles for popular magazines, including The Boys’ Magazine, Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, The Illustrated Companion, and Outing. If he is known at all now, it is for his illustrations for three dozen books published from 1901 to 1920 and his designs for several series of postcards printed from 1907 to 1919. Angell created illustrations for many genre stories, including Westerns, war stories, adventure stories, crime stories, and thrillers.

As of 1921, Clare Angell was still living, though supposedly widowed. His home was in Forest Hills Gardens, in Queens, New York, one of the nation’s oldest planned communities, founded in 1908 and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. The community's park-like setting and collection of Tudor and Georgian homes must have been conducive to the work of an artist, but I have not been able to find any work that is incontrovertibly his from after 1921. The Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay, Ohio, houses some of Angell's original art. Collector and researcher Ken Dickinson has made a thorough study and catalogue of his work as well. Unfortunately, the drawing from Weird Tales of Winter 1985 is not in Ken's catalogue, so we don't know the original source.

So, if Clare Angell's last known credits as an illustrator are from 1921, and he died in 1932, what did he do for those last eleven years? Did he in fact contribute to one or more pulp magazines, possibly science fiction magazines of the period 1926-1932? Is that where the Weird Tales illustration came from? Whatever else might be said, we can suggest that Clare Angell's name be added to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDb) and that he receive credit for his illustration reprinted in Weird Tales. And I would suggest that credit for the illustrations Angell did for Fugitive Anne: A Romance of the Australian Bush (1902), a lost-worlds story by Rosa Campbell Praed, be added to the ISFDb as well.

A drawing by Clare Angell showing the end of the world, from an unknown magazine (1902).

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Clare Angell (1874-1932)-Part Two

The third mystery concerning the artist Clare Angell isn't a mystery so much as a possibility, and it isn't really essential to understanding his life or work.

Clare Eugene Angell (1874-1932) was the son of Eugene Angell (1848-1907) and Mary Butterfield Angell (ca. 1853-?). Eugene Angell, born on May 13, 1848, in Livingston County, Michigan, was the son of Henry Angell (1809-June 2, 1872) and Sarah M. (or W.) Bennett Angell (Jan. 4, 1821-May 25, 1872). (1) Henry and Sarah were both natives of New York, but that is as far east as I can get them. In 1850 they were in Michigan. Before that . . . ? And I don't know the names of their parents.

Angell is a common name in some places in the East. One of those places is Providence, Rhode Island. In fact, there is a street in Providence called Angell Street. At 494 Angell Street, there is a large house, once home to a family named Lovecraft. On August 20, 1890, the last male child in America with that surname was born in that house. He was christened Howard Phillips Lovecraft. In 1926, H.P. Lovecraft penned a story called "The Call of Cthulhu." One of the characters in that story is named George Gammell Angell, almost certainly after one of Lovecraft's own ancestors and an unknown Angell of Providence. So was Clare Angell the artist descended from the Angells of New England? Maybe. We may never know. But like I have said before, if you draw any line long enough, it becomes a circle, and so a connection to Weird Tales eventually meets another connection to Weird Tales.

* * *

The last mystery of Clare Angell concerns this drawing, reprinted in Weird Tales in the Winter issue of 1985:

The first thing to take care of here is the signature and the artist's credits. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDb) gives the artist's name as "Clare A. McGill." The misreading of the signature is understandable. If I hadn't already written about Clare Angell, I might have looked right past his name myself. But there's no doubt in my mind that Angell was indeed the creator of this illustration--or at least the right side of it.

One of the things I have noticed in looking over the Bellerophon issues of Weird Tales is that some of the illustrations appear to be amalgamations of drawings, either two old drawings fitted together, or a collage of an old drawing and a new drawing to make the old drawing fit a new story. There is something a little odd about the drawing above, attributed as a whole to "Clare A. McGill." The men on the right are dressed in early twentieth-century costume. The woman on the left is obviously a creation of a later period, probably no earlier than the 1920s. Also, the perspective is off: she's a giant compared to the men. And note the mostly blank area separating the two sides of the picture, which are linked by a few scribbled lines. Lastly, she seems to have been drawn in a different style or with a different technique than the men on the right. I would not be surprised to learn that she was drawn by a different artist.

So I guess here is the issue: If this is one drawing created by Clare Angell, then it seems to have been drawn for a science fiction magazine of the 1920s or '30s. But Clare Angell is not elsewhere on the website of the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Did he slip through the cracks somehow? If this is an amalgamation of two drawings, then maybe the right side of the drawing came from one of the many books illustrated by Clare Angell in the early 1900s and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database is correct in not giving him any pulp magazine credits, even if he lived into the pulp magazine era (assuming the death date of 1932 is correct). Still, the right side of the drawing obviously illustrates a science-fictional scene, so I guess we had better track down Clare Angell's credits as an illustrator and make a case that he belongs somewhere on the ISFDb.

(1) They were married on August 5, 1872, in Mason County, Michigan, not long after the deaths of Eugene Angell's parents.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Clare Angell (1874-1932)-Part One

Cartoonist, Designer, Illustrator 
Born March 4, 1874, Lansing, Michigan
Died October 7, 1932, Manhattan, New York, New York

There are mysteries surrounding Clare Angell. One is of little or no interest to anyone who is not a proud Hoosier. Another might be thought of as a mere detail. A third offers a possibility. The last--and the newest--should interest science fiction fans and begs for some inquiry.

The first mystery involves Angell's place of birth. In her book Art and Artists of Indiana (1921), Mary Q. Burnet listed Angell as having been born in Goshen, Indiana. Public records tell a different story. If those records are accurate--and I believe they are--then Clare Eugene Angell was born on March 4, 1874, in Lansing, Michigan. His father, Eugene Angell (1848-1907) was also a native of Michigan. Clare Angell's mother, Mary Butterfield Angell (ca. 1853-?), was born in Indiana, probably in Goshen. In 1880 she was with her husband and children in Lansing. Three years later, Eugene Angell, a banker and investor, became insolvent. Presumably he and his wife separated after that, and she took the children with her. The records of the 1890 census have of course been lost. They may very well have shown Clare Angell with his mother in Goshen, where she was enumerated in the 1900 census with her surviving family. But by then Clare Angell was on his own as an artist and probably living in New York City. So a mystery remains: Why did Mary Q. Burnet list Clare Angell as an Indiana native? That mystery will probably never be solved, but being a Hoosier and having no small amount of Hoosier pride, I take Clare Eugene Angell as one of us, and I have included him on my blog Indiana Illustrators and Hoosier Cartoonists. You can read what I have written about him by clicking here and here.

The second mystery involves Angell's date and place of death. Writer and collector Ken Dickinson and I have looked in vain for anything on Clare Angell's life and career after about 1923. What happened to him? Where did he go? What did he do? Well, the fourth mystery, about which I will write in Part Two of this series, seems to indicate that Angell survived at least long enough to contribute to science fiction magazines. That means at least until 1926 and the advent of Amazing Stories. Then I found an entry on the artist in a truly impressive work on series novels authored for children, research done by James D. Keeline. The problem is that I don't know what that work is called or how to get to the whole thing. Luckily I have a link to the part in question: authors, artists, and titles beginning with the letter A. Here's the link:

On page 24, you'll find a note speculating that Angell, age sixty-two, died on October 27, 1932, in Manhattan. Although the age is wrong, the name is right and the place fits with what we know about him. So for now, that mystery is solved--or at least semi-solved.

Clare Angell's Illustration in Weird Tales
"The Girl with the Indigo Eyes" by Stanton A. Coblentz (Winter 1985; from an unknown source)

Further Reading
  • "Clare Angell (1874-?)" by Terence E. Hanley, Indiana Illustrators and Hoosier Cartoonists (online), Sept. 29, 2010, here.
  • "Clare Angell: Postcard Artist and Illustrator" by Ken Dickinson and Terence E. Hanley, Picture Postcard Monthly (magazine), Nov. 2013.
To be continued . . . 

Copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, July 4, 2016

Art and Artists in the Bellerophon Weird Tales-Introduction

In 1984-1985, publisher Brian L. Forbes and his Bellerophon Network put out two issues of Weird Tales, Volume 49, Number 1 (Fall 1984) and Number 2 (Winter 1985). Those two issues were made up of old and new material, including not only stories but also artwork. The art and artists of the Bellerophon issues can be placed into one of five categories:

1. New artwork created specifically for the Bellerophon Weird Tales.

2. Old artwork probably reprinted from previous issues of Weird Tales.

3. Old artwork reprinted from other sources, probably from other magazines.

4. Unsigned decorations, spot drawings, and small illustrations.

5. Photographs.
  • A photograph of Eric Idle holding a copy of Weird Tales Volume 49, Number 1.
  • A photograph of model and actress Jacqueline Pulliam.

I have written about some of these artists before. (Click on their names for links.) Some I will write about at some later date. For now, I would like to look at only a few of them, beginning with Clare Angell, who, with the second Bellerophon issue of Weird Tales, became another mystery of "The Unique Magazine."

To be continued . . . 

Copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley