Friday, November 11, 2016

Winged Creatures on the Cover of Weird Tales

I have written before about monsters, aliens, bats, devils, and demons. We have already seen most of these covers. The exceptions are the second and third shown here. The second is of two winged people, the third of what looks like a god or idol and one that I should add to my listing in that category. All others shown here are of monsters or aliens, a couple of which appear to be benevolent or helpful.

Weird Tales, January 1927. Cover story: "Drome" by John Martin Leahy. Cover art by C. Barker Petrie, Jr. This is one of my favorite Weird Tales covers, for its poster-like simplicity, the great flying monkey kind of monster, and the pose and costume of the female figure. This story can be added to a polar fiction database of "The Unique Magazine."

Weird Tales, November 1927. Cover story: "The Invading Horde" by Arthur J. Banks. Cover art by C.C. Senf. This is an odd image, I think. With their helmets, goggles, and dress, the two figures here look like aviators except that they seem to have flown in by their own power. The setting is almost surrealistic, and if there is any threat, it is offstage. Putting aviators on the cover of your magazine makes sense if you remember that Charles Lindbergh made his famous transatlantic flight in May 1927, half a year before this issue of Weird Tales was published. I don't know the story, but it seems likely to me that it and this illustration were designed to capitalize on the popularity of Charles Lindbergh or the general popularity of aviation in the 1920s. 

Edward Hopper's "Rooms by the Sea," from 1951. In a moment, Senf's two winged figures will fly through the doorway and alight.

Weird Tales, September 1932. Cover story: "The Altar of Melek Taos" by G.G. Pendarves. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. The winged creature here looks like a god or idol of an eastern persuasion, fitting for the Orientalist 1930s.

Weird Tales, May 1934. Cover story: "Queen of the Black Coast" by Robert E. Howard. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. This is a simple and somewhat awkward composition. One of the things that stands out for me is that the man--Conan--is in an inferior position and the woman intervenes between him and the winged creature that threatens him. That seems to be a recurring theme in Margaret Brundage's art. You might imagine that she was one of her dainty little women. In fact she was tall, strong, and tough.

Weird Tales, March 1940. Cover story: None. Cover art by Hannes Bok. Here the winged creature is in the background and not obviously the focus of the picture. 

Weird Tales, May 1940. Cover story: "The City from the Sea" by Edmond Hamilton. Cover art by Hannes Bok.

The figure on the far left of Bok's painting makes me think of a figure in the same position in this work by Frank Frazetta. That doesn't look like a swipe to me. Instead it looks like two artists separated by time and space but solving the same kind of problem in the same way.

Weird Tales, September 1940. Cover story: "Seven Seconds of Eternity" by Robert H. Leitfred. Cover art by Ray Quigley.

Weird Tales, July 1942. Cover story: "Coven" by Manly Wade Wellman. Cover art by Margaret Brundage, a different kind of work by the artist, characteristic of her covers from the 1940s.

Weird Tales Canada, November 1942. Cover story: "Coven" by Manly Wade Wellman. Cover art by an unknown artist. This is one of at least three Canadian issues with the same cover story and subject as their American counterparts.

Weird Tales, March 1944. Cover story: "The Trail of Cthulhu" by August Derleth. Cover art by John Giunta.

Weird Tales Canada, July 1944. Cover story: "The Trail of Cthulhu" by August Derleth. Cover art by an unknown artist. Each of these two images has its merits. Although the Canadian artist here had a greater talent for verisimilitude, Giunta's painting is filled with the spirit of adventure and has a childlike sense of the fantastic.

I have written before that both images remind me of this painting by Frank Frazetta. Again, this isn't a swipe. However, it seems likely to me that Frazetta knew of Giunta's original work, for Giunta was his mentor when Frazetta broke into comic books in the mid 1940s. 

Weird Tales, May 1945. Cover story: "The Shining Land" by Edmond Hamilton. Cover art by Peter Kuhlhoff.

Weird Tales, July 1948. Cover story: None. Cover art by Matt Fox.

Weird Tales, November 1948. Cover story: None. Cover art by John Giunta.

Weird Tales, March 1949. Cover story: None. Cover art by Matt Fox.

Weird Tales, Winter 1985. Cover story: None. Cover art by Ro H. Kim. This must be the most bizarre of all the winged creatures shown here.

Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Happy Veterans Day, you happy veteran!

    One of the things that I find fascinating when looking at art from days gone by is noting the changes in people's perception of what made a man or woman physically attractive. On the cover of the May '34 issue, Margaret Brundage gives us a version of Conan who looks much like Francis X. Bushman in the silent Ben-Hur; quite different from the now familiar muscleman interpretation that Frank Frazetta created three decades later (and which, in turn, helped launch Arnold Schwarzenneger to movie stardom.)

    1. Hi, Mike,

      Thanks for remembering. I served eight years and eight months in the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard and in two war zones. People thank me for my service, but I should thank this country and the people of this country for everything that it and they--you--have given me.

      I started to write a reply, but it got to be so long and full of hypostulatin' that I decided to make it a separate blog entry. Look for it tomorrow.