Saturday, December 24, 2016

I'm Dreaming of a Weird Christmas . . .

Scenes of Winter, Snow, and Ice on the Cover of Weird Tales

Tonight is Christmas Eve, and for the occasion I would like to show the covers of Weird Tales in which there are scenes of winter, snow, and ice. There are five of them, and they're a mixed bag to be sure. The first, by R.M. Mally, isn't bad. I'm actually intrigued and would like to read about Joe Scranton and his amazing adventure. The second, by Andrew Brosnatch is also intriguing. C. Barker Petrie's cover from January 1927 is my favorite. In fact it's one of my favorite of all Weird Tales covers. And from there it's downhill again to the last cover, from May 1939. So here they are, and . . .

Merry Christmas to Readers of Weird Tales!

Weird Tales, October 1923. Cover story: "The Amazing Adventure of Joe Scranton" by Effie W. Fifield. Cover art by R.M. Mally. An icebound ship makes me think of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge . . .

Here illustrated by Gustave Doré. This episode from the poem is set in the South Atlantic, so there shouldn't be any polar bears. Oh, well.

Weird Tales, July 1925. Cover story: "The Werewolf of Ponkert" by H. Warner Munn. Cover art by Andrew Brosnatch.

Weird Tales, January 1927. Cover story: "Drome" by John Martin Leahy. Cover art by C. Barker Petrie, Jr.

Weird Tales, March 1933. Cover story: "The Thing in the Fog" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, May 1939. "The Hollow Moon" by Everil Worrell. Cover art by Harold S. De Lay.

Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Terence,
    Merry Christmas, my friend!

    I can't think of any weird fiction that is more invocative, more artistically inspiring than "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Late in his career, the underground comix artist Greg Irons did a series of prints depicting scenes from Coleridge's poem. Irons was great at creating images of oppressive horror, and that set of prints was among his finest efforts.
    Of course Gustave Dore handled the subject masterfully, even if his knowledge of zoological geography was a bit lacking. Or perhaps he was just taking artistic license. (I suppose polar bears are more menacing than a flock of penguins would have been.)
    I'm probably not the first person to note that the January '27 cover is reminiscent (or is it predictive?) of the winged monkeys from the movie "The Wizard of Oz." That sequence scared the crap out of me when I was a kid!
    Of the covers that you've presented here, the one for the July '25 issue comes closest to being a Christmas themed image: That could well be a young Santa Claus and his sleigh.

    Of course, the story of Jesus in and of itself qualifies as a weird tale; the story of a human who was fathered by an all-powerful deity and who later display abilities far beyond those of mortal men, and who ultimately rises from the dead. And crucifixion is one of the most horrible tortures that man ever inflicted upon his fellow man. Like Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythologies, the Bible provides templates for many of the tales of the fantastic that we find so compelling...

    1. Mike,

      I hadn't made the connection between the flying monkey-creature from Weird Tales and the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. Good catch.

      I agree with you that the story of Jesus is a kind of weird tale, but then weird fiction didn't just appear out of nowhere in the nineteenth century--it goes back to the beginnings of storytelling.

      Thanks for writing and Happy New Year.


  2. The "Weirdest" of holidays to you, Terence!