American Indians and the American West appeared on four covers of Weird Tales. There is also one cover showing a scene from Old Mexico. Each of the four Western covers has a supernatural or weird element, signifying that they are part of what is now considered a distinct sub-genre, the weird Western. So what are the origins of the weird Western story? Well, if you look at the Wikipedia article "Weird West," you will see several lists of weird Westerns in different forms. The first chronologically on those lists is "The Horror from the Mound" by Robert E. Howard, published in Weird Tales, May 1932. It's clear by the following covers that there were Westerns with weird or supernatural elements before Howard's tale, but is a ghost story also a weird tale? I'm not sure that it is, if in fact weird fiction is a separate genre from the ghost story. That would bring up a question, then: What was the first weird Western story in the history of literature?
|Weird Tales, February 1924. Cover story: None. Cover art by R.M. Mally. Two successive months, two successive Western covers by R.M. Mally. First the cowboy, then the Indian. In fact, this is the first cover for Weird Tales showing what is now called a minority. I have written about it before in my entry on Ralph Allen Lang, here.|
|Weird Tales, September 1942. Cover story: "Satan's Bondage" by Manly Banister. Cover art by A.R. Tilburne. I have written about this cover before, too. It's partly a swipe. You can read more about it by clicking here.|
Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley