Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Human Sacrifice and Execution in the 1930s and Beyond

There was more human sacrifice and execution in the 1930s in Weird Tales. The pattern was pretty well the same as before: a helpless woman, usually bound and recumbent, is about to be knifed, usually by a man. The pattern is a little different in two pictures here. One shows a man as the victim. The other shows a woman as the perpetrator. Once again, there is only one scene of execution, this one with a rope. In the last picture, there is no weapon at all, but I assume this is an image of human sacrifice.

Weird Tales, February 1930. Cover story: "Thirsty Blades" by Otis Adelbert Kline and E. Hoffman Price. Cover art by Hugh Rankin.

Weird Tales, October 1930. Cover story: "The Druid's Shadow" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Hugh Rankin. A nicely done cover by Hugh Rankin in complementary blue and orange.

Weird Tales, March 1932. Cover story: "The Vengeance of Ixmal" by Kirk Mashburn. Cover art by C. C. Senf.

Weird Tales, July 1933. Cover story: "The Hand of Glory" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, July 1936. Cover story: "Red Nails" by Robert E. Howard. Cover art by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, September 1938. Cover story: "As 'Twas Told to Me" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, Summer 1974. Cover story: None. Cover art by Jack L. Thurston, a reworked version of an earlier paperback cover by the artist.

Next: Scientific Experimentation.

Text and captions copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley


  1. If you'd like to, you could create a sub-category using the third cover in each of these two postings depicting human sacrifice. Both of these images feature a beam of light falling upon the intended victim. On the cover of the March '32 issue the narrow beam appears to be part of the ceremony, while the broad ray of illumination on the February '27 cover looks more like an interruption, perhaps (divine?) intervention. These covers do their job; they make me curious.

    1. Mike,

      Good catch. I had not picked up on the similarity. It's not entirely clear what's going on in the cover from 1927, but the beam of light is more than just a beam of light. Maybe I should add it to my entry on weird forces on the cover.

      Like you, I have wanted to read some of these stories based on the intriguing cover illustration.


    2. Terence,

      I just did a bit of research, and discovered several sources that say that "The Man Who Cast No Shadow" -- the cover story from the February '27 issue -- was a vampire tale. Apparently it was one of a number of stories starring Jules de Grandin ; a "French ghostbuster" as he is described on the Weirdlit website.
      Curiouser and curiouser...