Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pulp Writer Contest Begins Tomorrow!

At long last, the Pulp Writer contest begins tomorrow!! Sponsored by OutWest Western Boutique and Cultural Center, there will be FOUR different prizes awarded - one a week for four weeks, with the fourth prize being a GRAND PRIZE!!

What ARE the prizes, you are probably asking? Well, that's part of the FUN.

You will need to go to pulpwriter.com for the rules and information that will be posted tomorrow, November 1, 2010. So all of you who are addicted to THIS blog are going to have to go over there, even if I have to DRAG you over there.

As part of the contest, you're also going to get a chance to go over to the OutWest online store, so you can get an idea of how great a place it is.

So - tomorrow!! Enough of this Halloween stuff.




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Saturday, October 30, 2010

"An Embrace at Bell Chapel" by Paul S. Powers

To celebrate our WEIRD TALES week, here for the first time is AN EMBRACE AT BELL CHAPEL, written by my grandfather, Paul S. Powers. Judging from a return envelope attached to the original manuscript, (he had sent it to ESQUIRE but it was returned), this was written somewhere around the beginning of 1953.

This story will be one of the never-before-published stories written in the spirit of the old pulps that will be published next year. The first book will be a collection of Westerns; the second book will be a collection of mixed genre stories, including horror and noir. Keep checking back with us for news as to when they will be released.

Happy Halloween, everybody. I'll be returning tomorrow and going back to our Western roots, and I'll be kicking off November with a fantastic contest co-sponsored by OutWest.



AN EMBRACE AT BELL CHAPEL
By
Paul S. Powers

Steve stopped the car at the first culvert south of Lundstrom's. He left the headlamps on and the engine running, and he handed me six dollars. I got out with the flashlight, slid off the dirt road into the shallow ditch, and turned the beam into the drain. There was nothing but some rocks and dried mud at that end, so I went to the other side of the culvert and looked there.

"No dice," I called to Steve.

He got out of the car, took the flashlight and looked for himself. “Jim must've got drunk and forgot all about it, the crazy old foo1,” he said.

"Do you think it could have been highjacked?”

"No, the can isn't here, either, the can we were supposed to put the money in. He hasn't been here," Steve said, disgusted.

In the glare of the headlights he brushed the knees of his gray flannel pants. He was wearing white-soled black oxfords and a silk shirt striped brown and green. Because of the heat, our blue serge coats ware folded up in the back of the car. We both wore cream-colored Panama hats with fancy ribbons. We were snappy, Steve and me. We had class.

It was a July night in the middle 1920s. Prohibition times in Kansas. The harvest and the threshing were finished and we were out for a whingding. What we had failed to find under the culvert was the sixteen-ounce druggist's bottle of alcohol that we had arranged for.

"Think we should wait?" I asked.

"No; it's past eleven o'clock right now. I know two or three bootleggers in Ferguson, and we can be there in half an hour. Come on, Doc, let's step on it."

We climbed into the brand-new roadster that Steve's father had given him as a present for graduating from the agricultural college. Steve's folks owned a whole section of wheat, and they could afford it. I had worked beside Steve all that summer, but our friendship went back farther than that; we had gone to grade and high school together, and we were almost like brothers.

"Yay, Ferguson!" I cheered when we were under way again.

"Ferguson, here we come!" Steve yelled. "Hot diggedy dog!"

Ferguson was a railroad town of maybe forty thousand, the biggest within a hundred miles. There was a red-light district there if you knew where to look for it, and Steve and I knew our way around.

"I hope my little blonde is still at the Midland, Steve said."Oh,boy!"

"First let's hit the Belmont Rooms," I said. "There's a redhead there that'll knock your eye out."

"She's my darling, she’s my daisy," Steve sang.

She's cross-eyed, and she's crazy….”

The near-beer that we’d brought along to spike with alky was warm now, so we tossed the bottles out. I lolled back on the leather cushion and cocked one leg over the door, letting the wind slap my pants leg. The roadster was sure sporty; there was a lamp on the dash, and even a lighter that you unwound at the end of a long cord. The engine was a six, and we had a cutout for the muffler and were making a noise like an airplane. It was fine, rolling along like that between the hedgerows, and at that hour we were alone on the road. Every once in a while we would pass a grove of big cottonwoods, and there would be swarms of leaves overhead, all green and silver in the headlights.

We sang “Ma, She's Making Eyes at Me" and "Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight?” and then Steve started another one:

“Oh, we’ll sing, sing, sing of Lydia Pinkham.
And her l---o---v—e for the human race….”

All of a sudden, out of the big, yellow swirl of dust behind us, a vehicle appeared, pulled up even with us and went on by, going lickety-split. It passed us as though we'd been standing still. And it wasn't a car; it was a horse and buggy.

I could hardly believe it. The horse was pacing, and the rhythm and beauty of its motion was something wonderful to see. Sailing behind was a red-wheeled buggy with a man and a woman in it. We saw them only for a flash --- the driver was grinning, and she was waving at us --- and then they vanished behind a yellow curtain of dust that our lights couldn't penetrate.

Boy, are they traveling!" Steve said.

I laughed and laughed. "You and your super-six. Why even a horse and buggy can go around you."

"We were doing forty." Steve looked a little mad.

“Who are you kidding?"

“We were doing forty. We’re making forty-five right now."

I looked at the speedometer and thumped it with the flat of my hand, thinking it had gone haywire. But it hadn't.

"I didn't know a horse could step along this fast,” I said.

“It’s a pacer. They can go like blazes for a quarter mile or so. I wonder who those people are --- I didn’t get a good look at ‘em; did you?”

"No; let's catch up with them and have some fun. Or can't this car do it?"

"Of course it can --- we can make seventy miles an hour," Steve said. "But I can't see through the fog they're kicking up, and we might ram into 'em. They'll have to slow down pretty soon."

"There must be a shindig around here someplace. Weren't they in costume? Old fashioned, kind of?"

"I don't know. Maybe some country dance."

We seldom saw rigs, even in those days. Sometimes, when the roads were muddy or full of snow, the farmers would drive into the towns in wagons or carriages, but since Henry Ford had hit the jackpot, about ten years before this, horses had become scarcer. There were plenty of draft animals, sure. But fancy or racing stock had become about as rare as hen’s teeth.

“I'd like to get a closer look at that pony,” I said.

"And I'd like to get one at the jane," Steve answered.

The billowing dust ahead of us thinned out. The gay couple had turned off the road and stopped.

"They've pulled in at Bell Chapel," I told Steve.

“Yes, there they are, signaling to us, flagging us down. Maybe they've got a bottle," he said, hopeful.

"More likely they think we've got one. You're not stopping, are you?"

"Sure we are, Doc," Steve said, laughing.

Our brakes squealed, and the rear wheels skidded around toward the edge of the ditch before we came to a standstill a little beyond the rutted side road that led to Bell Chapel. Steve snapped the tail and parking lights on, and opened the door on his side. I was slower. Before I got out I shoved my billfold down under the cushion. It wasn't that I was overly suspicious, but the wheat harvests used to be followed by some pretty rough characters.

The man and the girl had got out of their rig and were standing on the low platform porch in front of the white-painted little building that stood a dozen yards from the road. They seemed to be waiting there for us. I was nervous, somehow, and with the excuse of rolling and lighting a cigarette I held back a bit and let Steve walk on ahead of me.

Bell Chapel had first been a country church, then a schoolhouse, but for several years it hadn't been used for anything at all.

Right behind it was an old burial ground, with some of the gravestones still standing, and in front was a caved-in well and a rusty pump. Weeds grew knee-high everywhere, and vines had forced their way through the rotted boards of the platform.

"Hello! What's the good word?" I heard Steve say. "Say! That's some nag you've got.”

It was a warm, sultry night. No breeze was stirring now, but overhead big masses of cloud drifted fast from west to east. There was a nearly full moon, but most of the time it was hidden; it would shine silvery bright now and again, then bury itself in the moving darkness. In the north were occasional winks of sheet lightning, far off.

The only answer to Steve's remark was just a low and sort of husky laugh from the girl. "This is Doc,” he said, trying again as we came right up to them. “My name’s Steve.”

I held out my right hand to the man. I couldn't make out his face, because it was very dark then. I couldn't tell whether he was young, or old, but he was straight and tall and he was wearing a long, light-colored duster that came below his knees. On his head was a flat, sailor straw-hat, with a brim too wide to be fashionable, tilted jauntily.

"Pleased to meet you, boys," he said.

I've mentioned that I extended my right hand. Instead of taking it, the man reached out and grabbed my left hand, and in a rather odd way he shook that. It surprised me, but then I figured that it was the greeting sign of some sort of lodge. Well, I didn't belong to it, that was sure.

“You don’t happen to have any drinking liquor, do you?" Steve asked humorously.

"No," the tall man said, and then I got another shock. The girl -- or woman; I couldn't tell how old she was, either -- pressed up close against me and put her arms around my neck. "I can go for you, Big Boy,” she whispered. “I can go for you, Doc.”

I drew back from her, understanding the play now, or thinking that I did. Although I'd never heard of them traveling by buggy before, such pairs showed up at barn dances now and then, plying their trade pretty openly and doing a land-office business.

The girl transferred her attentions to Steve. "How about you, Good Looking?” She had a tight grip on him, and while they talked together quietly her panderer just stood there. He looked bored.

"Come on, Steve, let's go," I said.

“He came over to me. "Do you want to take her, Doc?" Didn't I say we were like brothers?

"No,• I said. “Let's get out of here.”

I didn’t hold myself to be too nice for that sort of thing, but the layout didn't look good to me, and besides, I was cold sober.

"Listen, Doc; they don't want any money."

"Then what in hell is this?"

"I got a good look at her, and she's beautiful. Doc, she's beautiful, more than any girl I ever saw. You wait here. Watch the car. I can't help myself," Steve said, and he had that foolish, rapt look on his face that men get at such times.

After all, we'd been on the prowl for this kind of adventure, and in turning my back angrily on Steve I wasn't being very consistent. I waited, simply because there was nothing else I could do. And you can be sure that I kept my eye on the tall gink who was with me on the platform.

His behavior had been so queer from the first that I suspected him of being cockeyed drunk. I could smell something on him, even at two paces away. It wasn't any ordinary booze. I decided that he'd either just had a haircut, or he'd been drinking perfume. It was “kiss me or kill me” stuff – it stank like decayed carnations and rotten roses. I moved farther away from the guy.

“She’s taken him back where those old graves are,” I said, finally, when his silence was beginning to jangle my nerves.

“Don’t you think that an appropriate place?” He seemed amused at the whole thing.

"No, I don't think so," I told him. I had no use for the geezer; to me he was scum.

The horse was grazing on the rank, weedy grass of the Bell Chapel yard. Above the drone of locusts in the cottonwoods I could hear the animal's steady cropping as it moved the buggy slowly away from the side of the platform.

"I never saw a horse step so fast, Mister," I said. “I was at the State Fair in Ferguson, but I didn't get to see all the harness races. Did you enter him?"

"No,” said the fellow with the antique straw hat. “And she's a mare."

“Oh? What's she called?"

"She has a Greek name. It wouldn't mean a thing to you. "

"Are you a Greek?" I asked.

"Not especially."

To hell with you, I thought. Then I said, "Care if I have a closer look at her?"

"Go ahead," he said.

"I won't scare her, will I? Wouldn't want to cause a runaway.”

"You won't scare her."

I walked slowly and quietly over to where the racing mare was feeding. As I approached from the left side, soothing her with a "Whoa, lady," the clouds scudded away from the moon and the little clearing in the trees was filled with light. My hand was extended to stroke the animal's flank. I didn't do it. Instead of the sleek, glossy skin I expected I saw a roughened, matted hide hanging loosely over jutting bones. And it was all in shimmering incessant motion, the movement being the terrible industry of thousands of small, pale worms.

While I stood nailed to the ground, with my stomach sinking, the mare took another step forward to reach a tuft of grass, and three or four maggots dropped off at my feet where they writhed, squirmed and turned flip flops. Slowly the mare lifted her head and turned it to look at me. I saw empty sockets and lipless teeth.

I started toward the man on the platform. At first I could make no sound that meant anything.

"That horse!" was all I could say. "That --- that horse!”

"How do you like her?" he asked pleasantly. “You know, she's never lost a race? And she never will."

For the first time, I had a good, close look at the face under the slanted straw hat. I started running then, sprinting toward the road and shouting.

"Steve! Steve!" I yelled. "Quick, Steve! Hurry!"

I scrambled into the car, and if the key had been in the ignition I would have driven away without him.

Steve showed up, finally, just as I was about to jump out and go running across the fields.

He came leisurely along the side-road, adjusting his necktie, and came up to the car. I had the door open for him, but he took his time about sliding in under the wheel.

He was peevish. "What's eating on you, Doc?” He stared at me, hard.

"That horse of theirs --- it's dead. I tell you, Steve, it's dead!"

"He makes pretty good time for a dead horse," he said, laughing.

I was shaking, and sick. Steve had turned the ignition key, but instead of stepping on the starter he adjusted the rearview mirror, took a comb from his pocket and began smoothing his rumpled hair.

“Don't, wait to do that! We've got to get gone from here!"

"Are you bats, Doc?"

“The man is dead, too!”

"What you need is a drink. Soon as we get to Ferguson---”

"That man is dead, and he's been dead for a long time,” I said. "I saw his face as well as I can see yours, and Steve, there was a little gray moth walking in and out of the place where his nose should have been."

Steve grinned, but then a thought seemed to strike him and his grin stiffened and went away. He looked back toward Bell Chapel.

So did I. The couple had got into their buggy again, and they were coming down the driveway into the road, behind that awful horse. Steve kicked the starter and threw the car into gear. We jerked forward into intermediate and high, and he jammed the accelerator down to the floorboards.

The drum of the speedometer crept past fifty, then fifty-five. An all-hiding sandstorm of dust roared out behind us as we went careening on, bouncing over ruts and chuck-holes. A stretch of washboard nearly shook the teeth out of us.

“Doc,” Steve said, "I'm going to tell you something. About that woman. She was excited, all trembling with excitement, but her body was as cold as ice."

"We're almost at the Corners," I reminded him.

"Anything behind us?"

"All I see is dust. Better slow down now."

At the Corners the dirt road connected with the paved highway that led into Ferguson. We came near overturning when Steve spun the wheel, but with our rear tires screaming and skidding sideways we just managed to hang to the asphalt. When we'd straightened out we were booming better than sixty-five. The new road was as straight as a string for eight miles west, hugging the tracks of the CRI&P.

There was a train ahead of us, and we gained on it steadily. Soon we saw the tail-end of the observation car, with its round, illuminated emblem reading Golden State Limited. In a minute we were abreast of it and slowly pulling past darkened Pullmans, so close that I could spell out their names: Glen Cove, Forest Park, Appalachicola. Then we overtook the diner,brightly lighted, where a waiter was serving something from a tray to a lone occupant. Next, the chair cars, with some of the passengers tilted back and asleep and others reading magazines and newspapers. Seeing all those people so near to us was comforting somehow. I rolled and lit a cigarette, put it between Steve's lips, and made another one for myself.

Steve didn't puff on his quirly, and it went out. I could tell that he'd seen something in the mirror, and I squirmed around on the seat and looked back. There was no dust now, and the moon was high and bright in a clearing sky.

"Is it them?" Steve asked.

"Yeah,” I said.

The object on the highway a quarter of a mile behind us was the horse and buggy; it carried no lights, and of course it couldn't have been anything else. It was gaining rapidly.

Steve couldn't go any faster. The speedometer was sticking at past seventy, waves of heat from the engine were blasting us, and the floor of the car was so hot that my shoe-soles began to curl.

The motormeter on the radiator-cap registered boiling and was spurting steam. We overhauled and passed the rest of the Rock Island train, the express and mail cars sliding behind us one after another. In one of them a clerk in striped coveralls watched us from the bright doorway, and I could see him grinning and thumbing his nose. Then the huge, thundering locomotive, with the engineer hanging on the throttle, and the fireman heaving scoops of coal into the red maw of the firebox. We drew past it, and its great headlight drowned us in a white blaze.

The beam caught the thing behind us, too. The buggy was only fifty yards away, and it hung there, neither lessening nor increasing the gap. Did you ever see a pacer going at a seventy-mile-an-hour clip? Silhouetted against the dazzling light, her mane and tail whipping in the wind, that mare, in spite of all the horror, was wondrous to behold. Steve turned his head for a moment and looked.

"The woman is throwing you kisses," I said.

Steve's hands relaxed on the wheel, and again I saw that silly, slack look that had been on his face at Bell Chapel. He eased up on the gas, and the speedometer number rolled backward. The buggy began to gain on us and so did the Golden State Limited.

The locomotive’s whistle was shrieking right in our ear, and looking ahead I saw the white cross-arms of the warning that marked the intersection of railroad and highway. We had to make that turn ahead of the train, or ram a rocky embankment, head-on.

"Step on it, Steve!" I yelled. "We can't slow down now! The crossing!"

When he answered, his voice seemed to come from afar off. "The woman? I don't care what she is, Doc, she's wonderful. You know, I think I'm in love with her."

I tried to jump, but there wasn't time. We took the turn, but the locomotive was there at the same instant. Everything flew to pieces around us, the whole world flew to pieces with a crashing sound that seemed to last for hours, and I came to myself in the hospital at Ferguson. Wreckage of the roadster, they said, had been scattered for a quarter of a mile. Steve had been killed instantly.

I was lucky. All that happened to me was I lost my left hand.

One summer night, three years later, I saw the buggy once again. There had been a barn dance, but it was late, and most of the people had gone. I was at a roadside stand, eating a hamburger, when I saw a rig coming hell-bent up the country road. It flashed past in a cloud of dust, and it was the same red-wheeled buggy, the same beautifully pacing mare. I recognized the woman, too.

But there was a new guy driving, a guy in a rakish Panama. And he looked very much like Steve.

-- END --

Copyright 2010 by the Estate of Paul S. Powers.



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Friday, October 29, 2010

This Halloween: Keep an Eye Out for Marauding WEIRD TALES Thieves

As the WEIRD TALES week winds down, I want to thank everyone who contributed, especially Barry Traylor and Walker Martin. The last post will be tomorrow when we'll be posting AN EMBRACE AT BELL CHAPEL, my grandfather's never-before-published short horror story. I'm proofing it right now and will be posting it when I'm done. Has anyone transferred a pdf document of a 50 year-old manuscript into a Microsoft Word document? That's a horror story in and of itself.

BUT in the meantime, keep reading those WEIRD TALES and if you are lucky enough to have some originals of this great magazine, hang on to them. Don't let them out of your sight. You can always hire someone to guard them like Barry does, as seen in this photo: The perfect Guardian of the WEIRD TALES.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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A Safety Net for Six Feet Under

Do you fear being buried alive? Back in the eighteenth century, people were very concerned over the idea of being buried alive in coffins when they weren't necessarily, officially, positively, DEAD. In fact, many people were buried alive after falling into comas as a result from cholera. It became such a concern that "Safety Coffins" were invented. This article from io9.com talks about the invention of safety coffins for those who feared waking up to find themselves Six Feet Under. Some went so far as to make sure that they were buried with food, "in case they needed a snack before breaking out."

Apparently, nowadays people are more concerned with being off the grid than starving to death if they're buried alive. Now you can buy a coffin-ready PC to make sure you can stay connected. The article has a photo of one installed in a coffin.

I'd certainly like to read the Facebook status written by that person when they wake up.

Thanks to Barry for the tip.





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Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Special Treat in Store for Halloween!

As a grand finale to our WEIRD TALES week, to celebrate Halloween, and to celebrate the upcoming release of a new Paul Powers short story collection, on Saturday I will be posting a short horror story that my grandfather wrote that has never seen the light of day - until now. Yep, it's a brand new story and it will be making its debut here Saturday. Called "An Embrace at Bell Chapel," it's a fast-paced spooky ride, and very much something that would have fit into WEIRD TALES. "An Embrace at Bell Chapel," was written in the early 1950s and will be going into the second collection of Paul Powers stories that will be released next year.

As an added bonus, I'll be including a link to the pdf of the actual manuscript, so if you want, you can read it as it came out of his typewriter, typos and line outs included.

Pretty cool, huh? I love this story and I think you all will too.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween decorations, WEIRD TALES style

Barry Traylor gets the award for best Halloween front yard. Here are some photos. If this isn't a WEIRD TALES kind of yard, I don't know what is.








Barry's wife Lynne made the coffee pot a few years ago and Barry made the coffin himself. A lot of the materials, including the coffee pot, the liner for the coffin and the bridal gown were found at his local Salvation Army.

Thanks for sending them, Barry. All I know is that I would think twice before approaching your door on Halloween!

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WEIRD TALES artist J. Allen St. John

You might recall from Walker Martin's post yesterday that he feels that James Allen St. John is the finest artist ever to work for WEIRD TALES. That motivated me to look a little bit more into him.

While St. John (1872-1957) is considered one of the finest of fantasy artists and is well-known as a WEIRD TALES cover artist,he is generally best known for his work for Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels. His work has inspired generations of artists, most notably Frank Franzetta.

David Saunders' bio of St. John at www.pulpartists.com says that at a young age, he was exposed to the old masters when his family moved to Europe. After returning to America, he moved to the San Joaquin Valley at the age of 16 and began to study under Eugene Torrey.

This is where things get confusing to me. The Vanguard Publications site (publishers of a volume of his work, discussed below) says that "St. John began his career by studying the old master in the museums of Paris around 1880. Returning to America, his notoriety among Fine Art enthusiasts developed with recognition from the Society of American Artists and Metropolitan magazine in 1889." But if his birthdate is 1872, as shown on the www.pulpartists.com site, that means that St. John started studying the old masters at the age of 8, and was recognized by the Society of American Artists and Metropolitan magazine when he was 17, one year after moving to California. Either he was a prodigy, or someone has their dates wrong. Maybe someone can clue me in.

In any event, by 1912, he was married and living in Chicago, where he began to do work for A. C. McClurg, the publisher of several Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. In 1915 he illustrated the first of many Tarzan novels, THE RETURN OF TARZAN.



He also did work for other magazines and even did work for Liberty Bonds posters during World War I.





According to THE COLLECTOR'S INDEX TO WEIRD TALES (Sheldon Jaffery & Fred Cook, 1985), St. John's first work for WEIRD TALES was for the June 1932 issue, illustrating "The Devil's Pool," by Greye La Spina.

Then, In November 1932, St. John's covers featured the four-part series "Buccaneers of Venus" by Otis Adelbert Kline.




In April 1933 and May 1933, St. John's covers featured the series "Golden Blood" by Jack Williamson, and are now featured on the covers of a compilation of his work, J ALLEN ST. JOHN: GRAND MASTER OF FANTASY by Stephen D. Korshak & J. David Spurlock, published by Vanguard. (The first is the hardback edition, the second the softcover.)


Later he did work for AMAZING STORIES, including this iconic cover from July 1942.

St. John died in 1957, and it's safe to say that his influence on the world of fantasy art is beyond dispute. While his work for WEIRD TALES was not as prolific as other artists, the fact that his WT covers are some of the magazine's most famous and sought after by collectors underscores his impact on the magazine and the world of fantasy fiction.






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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Speaking of Clark Ashton Smith....

....here are some links to some of his stories that were originally printed in WEIRD TALES.

His first story in WEIRD TALES: The Ninth Skeleton. (September 1928)

The Necromantic Tale
. (January 1931)

The Seed from the Sepulcher.(October 1933).

The Garden of Adompha. (April, 1938).

If you haven't figured it out yet, these all came from the same site: The Eldritch Dark: The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith. Nice little site to curl up with on these dark and dreary nights heading towards Halloween.


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Monday, October 25, 2010

Walker Martin's Favorite WEIRD TALES covers

Here's Walker Martin's contribution to our WEIRD TALES week. Walker, who we all know as one of the most respected collectors in the entire pulp community, was one of those lucky people who was able to collect an entire run of the famous pulp magazine, and here he is to talk about his favorite WEIRD TALES covers.

MY FAVORITE WEIRD TALES COVERS
Walker Martin

In 1968 I was discharged from the army and so relieved to be out in the real world that I decided to set some goals that I wanted to achieve. Somehow all these goals concerned books and pulps, including accumulating a complete set of WEIRD TALES. Even before finding a job, I set about finding issues of what I considered to be one of the great fiction magazines. By the mid-seventies I completed the set of 274 issues by finally obtaining the second issue which is probably the hardest one to find. I had to trade an original Walter Baumhofer cover painting from DIME MYSTERY to get the issue (fortunately I managed to get the painting back in a later trade). When Laurie Powers mentioned this project of listing my favorite covers, I immediately jumped at the chance, since the magazine has been a part of my life for so long a period. This list is highly subjective and includes a couple I've picked not because they are the very best, but because they hold special meaning for me such as the first WEIRD TALES I bought and the only cover painting I managed to ever buy.

JANUARY 1934

This cover is by Margaret Brundage, a woman artist closely connected with the history of WEIRD TALES. She was just about the first woman artist to paint for a fantasy or SF pulp and her subject matter of using nudes was controversal to say the least. The letter column in WEIRD TALES were full of letters praising and condemning her art. But one thing for sure, the sexy paintings increased circulation and helped WEIRD TALES survive the Depression. Nowadays we are jaded and such images may not surprise us but back in the magazine and newstand world of 1934, such covers were unusual and many readers found them shocking. I've picked this one as my favorite because it is not the usual action filled violent scene but instead a bondage scene as the girl meekly awaits her fate as determined by the menacing masked figure. WEIRD TALES could always be depended on to appeal to the male fantasy yearnings. For instance, the excellent story by Robert Howard in this issue, "Rogues in the House," has a scene where Conan gets unhappy with a girl who betrayed him, so he casually picks her up and drops her into a cesspool.

MAY 1934

This is another Brundage cover, and if any WEIRD TALES artist deserved to be listed twice, then she certainly should be the one. This is the first issue of the magazine that I bought. In the 1950's I was a teenager and buying alot of SF books from Richard Witter of the F&SF Book Company. He recommended this as my first WT buy and it cost me $3.00. Now this issue in nice shape will sell for over $100. Several years later, while attending college, the magazine cost me a lower grade. I gave an oral discussion on the horror stories of Poe and thought I'd mention the writers that Poe influenced such as HP Lovecraft, Robert Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, etc. The professor gave me one grade lower because I wasted time talking about "sub-literary" writers, plus he was not happy that I passed this issue of WEIRD TALES around the class to illustrate my lecture.

OCTOBER 1936

J. Allen St. John may be the best painter to ever work for WEIRD TALES. He was already a famous painter in Chicago when he started painting for the pulp and probably would have done many more covers, but Brundage was far more popular with her nudes and received the cover assignments. I picked this cover since it fits in the horror and Halloween theme. However most collectors prefer his work done for the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and earlier WT covers. If you look up at the title strip of Laurie's Wild West, you will see the cover for GOLDEN BLOOD, which will give you an idea of his earlier work. There have been a few books published recently about J. Allen St. John and his excellent art.

MARCH 1940

Hannes Bok was one of the top fantasy artists of the forties and this cover is an example of his unusual and stylish art showing the influence of Maxfield Parrish. He also wrote fantasy fiction and died an unfortunate early death at 50. I've read that WT paid approximately $8 to $11 for interior art and around $100 for cover paintings. Not bad money for the times.

JULY 1946

I picked this cover because I like the work of Matt Fox and it strikes me as a nice horror/Halloween image. He did most of his pulp art for WT and also had a career in comic books.

NOVEMBER 1946

Boris Dolgov was a close friend of Hannes Bok and it is easy to see the influence of Bok. In fact the two often collaborated on artwork. I picked this cover because it is the only WEIRD TALES cover painting that I ever managed to buy. Back in the late 1970's, I mentioned to Bob Weinberg that I was looking for a WT cover painting and he found this one for me. I paid the owner $700 for it and this was the most I ever paid for art up to that date. Since most pulp paintings show images of violence and women in distress, my wife was not too happy with our walls being covered with such art. But this one she liked so we avoided the usual discussion about our artistic preferences.

MARCH 1948

This issue was the 25th Anniversary issue, and so who better to paint the cover but the great artist, Lee Brown Coye. Actually his interior illustrations for WT are even more impressive and he drew the popular series called "Weirdisms." Most of his work appeared in WEIRD TALES but he also did a lot of dust jackets and interior art for hardcover fantasy and horror publishers. He won the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist twice. Recently an excellent book was published about Coye titled, ARTS UNKNOWN: The Life and Art of Lee Brown Coye. Written by Luis Ortiz, I consider it one of the best books written about a fantasy artist.

SEPTEMBER 1952

Virgil Finlay was one of the very best SF artists and probably the most well known of the painters listed in this post. He certainly did more work than the others and this cover illustrates a scene from "Hallowe'en in a Suburb". There have been several books about Finlay. He did a lot of work for the two great and beautiful fantasy reprint magazines: FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES and FANTASTIC NOVELS.

So ends my discussion of some of my favorite covers from that great magazine of the horror and supernatural, WEIRD TALES. I hope some of you will join in the fun and tell us about your favorite covers.


Thank YOU Walker for contributing!

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A Trio of Lovecraft WEIRD TALES stories

Want a sample of classic WEIRD TALES stories? Dragonbytes.com has the complete text of H.P. Lovecraft's WEIRD TALES stories, as well as other stories he had in other publications.
Go here for THE RATS IN THE WALLS, first published in WEIRD TALES in March 1924.

Go here for THE HOUND, first published in WEIRD TALES in February 1924.

Go here for DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE, first published in WEIRD TALES, July 1933.


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A WEIRD TALES Film Bonanza On The Way

Meteor 17, a film production company, has, according to its Web site, obtained all of the media rights to WEIRD TALES collection of stories, graphics, and comic elements. A press release on their Web site says: "We are producing a series of science fiction, horror and fantasy direct to DVD movies, launching a genre web site, producing a television series, graphic novels, coffee table books, science fiction, horror and fantasy animation for youngsters, as well as a number of feature films, partnered with well known producers, directors and writers. Each of these platforms will contain hip contemporary music with accompanying soundtracks and downloads."

An ambitious project to be sure. I couldn't find a date of the press release to find out how current it is, but the bottom of the page indicates the page was created in 2010. You can read the entire press release here.

Considering how many film productions go, the appropriate WEIRD TALES cover might be this one.




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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Barry Traylor's Favorite WEIRD TALES Covers and Why

Barry Traylor is a long time science fiction and horror enthusiast, which makes him a also a die-hard WEIRD TALES fan. This is a man who's favorite holiday is Halloween; he starts the countdown to October 31 in August.

At WEIRD TALES, the cover art was an unusual and as boundary-crossing as the stories it printed. Here are Barry's favorite WEIRD TALES covers with his explanations.

February 1929 is on the list as it was the first one I acquired with a Hugh Rankin cover, plus it has The Star Stealers by Edmond Hamilton.

February 1933, because of the J. Allen St. John cover.

December 1933, because I love this Brundage cover and have since I first laid eyes upon it years ago. And it has the added advantage of not being a bondage cover (so it does not offend anyone). Also I like that it has no overprinting on the cover. I could be wrong but I think it is one of only two WT's like that. The other is the month before (Nov. 1933).

November 1941 is on the list because I just love skeletons on a pulp cover (not a shabby lineup of authors either).

July 1948. This is a Matt Fox and is the first Weird Tales I ever bought (from Richard H. Minter).

March 1948, just because I love this Lee Brown Coye cover.

May 1950. Boris Dolgov is a big favorite of mine and I love the composition and the colors in this one.

Thanks Barry for contributing. I really like the last two myself. Is the March 1948 a 25th anniversary special edition? Were the tales reprints from the first issue?

Next up: A link to three complete WEIRD TALES stories written by the master himself, H.P. Lovecraft. So you can really get in the mood for Halloween.

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