Category Archives: Weird Tales

Birthday Reading: Manly Wade Wellman

Manly Wade Wellman was born, this day, May 21, in 1903 in Portuguese West Africa.  He was one of the greatest writers of horror and dark fantasy of the 20th Century, although he’s not as well known today as he should be.  His best known literary creation was John the Balladeer, and wandering minstrel of the Appalachian mountains.  Wellman began writing in the 1920s, and sold a number of stories to Weird Tales.  He was still writing in the 1970s and 1980s, and a number of his short stories were published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

In honor of his birthday, I’m going to look at two short stories.  Both were published in the pulps in the late 1930s.  I read both of them in Sin’s Doorway and Other Ominous Entrances, published by Night Shade Books in 2003.  It’s volume 4 of the 5 volume The Selected Stories of Manly Wade Wellman. Continue reading

Birthday Bonus: A Collaboration Between Bloch and Kuttner

“The Grab Bag”
Robert Bloch and Henry Kuttner
Originally appeared in Weird Tales, Spring 1991

Robert Bloch and Henry Kuttner were friends, and they collaborated on a handful of stories before Kuttner’s death.  Since the two previous posts dealt with their birthdays, I thought I would talk about one of those collaborations as sort of a birthday bonus.

I know nothing about the provenance of “The Grab Bag”.  Bloch is attributed as the first author.  I speculate on the authorship at the end of this post.  For now is a synopsis.  I’m going to avoid spoilers since this is a horror story, and I don’t want to give away the ending. Continue reading

Blogging Solomon Kane: “The Footfalls Within”

Miskatonic University Press
Weird Tales compendium

“The Footfalls Within” was first published in the September, 1930 issue of Weird Tales.  It’s a pretty straight-forward story, but one that has some depth if you know where to look.  It seems to take place after the previous tale, “Wings in the Night” (reviewed here).  Solomon Kane has continued his eastward trek.

The story opens with Kane coming across the body of a young black woman.  The corpse is fresh, and there are marks where whips and shackles have torn her flesh.  It doesn’t take long for Kane to catch up with the slavers who killed her.  He sees a train of blacks being led away by a group of armed Arabs and other blacks who have allied with them.  They’re taking their captives to a slave market.  They’re also driving them hard, neither giving them rest breaks nor providing them with ample water.

When another young woman collapses and can’t get up, the slavers decide to skin her rather than give her water or put her out of her misery.  It’s more than Kane can stomach, and he shoots the man with the skinning knife.  This brings the rest down on him, but he kills several before they can subdue him.  The leader of the group, Hassim, realizes he can get a great deal of money from Kane after he learns his captive’s identity, so Kane is treated better than the rest of the slaves.  As they march, Kane is approached by an old man named Yusef, who has retrieved Kane’s ju-ju stick from where Hassim had discarded it. Continue reading

It’s Margaret Brundage’s Birthday

I wrote a post last year on Margaret Brundage.  I don’t really have anything to add.  But given all the brouhaha about art lately (see Daughter of Naked Slave Girls, Illustrated Edition as an example of what I’m talking about), I thought I would put up a few scans of some of her work to mark the occasion.

Note to those who are uptight or only want other people to enjoy/like/appreciate the same things they like:  Brundage’s work is about as politically incorrect as you can get and often features nubile young women wearing little to no clothing and being threatened or bound (or both) in some manner.  If this might offend you, then rather than clicking the READ MORE link, do us both a favor and go somewhere else.

Continue reading

Robert Bloch Hits 99

Robert BlochRobert Bloch was born on April 5, 1917, in Chicago.  He passed away on September 23, 1994 in Los Angeles.

Although he will be remembered as the author of Psycho, and justifiably so, he was a writer of great range and depth.  While I’ve found his novels to be somewhat hit and miss, I’ve almost always enjoyed his short fiction.

Bloch was a member of the Lovecraft Circle and published in Weird Tales, but he quickly moved on to other types of fiction than Mythos pastiche.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with Bloch’s Mythos tales, but they were his early work.)  He appeared as Robert Blake in Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark.”

Bloch was adept at mystery, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.  Bloch managed to infuse humor into some of the grimmest situations.  His story “That Hell-Bound Train” won the Hugo Award in 1959.  A favorite theme was Jack the Ripper, beginning with the classic “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”.

Bloch worked in Hollywood, and many of his stories reflect his experiences there.  He wrote two sequels to Psycho which had nothing to do with the movie sequels.  I’ve only read the first sequel, but it’s set almost entirely in Hollywood.  I wondered how many of the scenes in it were based on actual events.

Anyway, Bloch isn’t as well remembered these days as he should be.  Subterranean Press (among others) have published collections of his work in the years since his death, but those are starting to go out of print.

I’m going to read one or two of his stories this evening and toast his memory and literary legacy.

With the lights on and the doors locked, of course.

 

In Observance of Henry S. Whitehead’s Birthday

Weird_Tales_March_1929Henry S. Whitehead was born today, March 5, in 1882.  He wrote a number of stories for Weird Tales during its early years before his untimely death in 1932.  Much of his fiction focused on the Caribbean, where he was stationed for a number of years as a minister of the Episcopal Church.  H. P. Lovecraft visited Whitehead for several weeks in 1931.  He had a great respect for Whitehead as a person and as a writer.

To mark the occasion, I read “The People of Pan”, which was first published in the March 1929 issue of Weird Tales.  The story is available in Voodoo Tales  The Ghost Stories of Henry S. WhiteheadContinue reading

Blogging Jirel of Joiry: Black God’s Shadow

weird_tales_193412“Black God’s Shadow”
C. L. Moore
First published in Weird Tales, December 1934

“Black God’s Shadow” is the second Jirel of Joiry tale, a direct sequel to “Black God’s Kiss“.  The story opens while Jirel waking from a dream in which Guillaume is calling her named.  She’d sent Guillaume to his death with a kiss from the Black God she had encountered in a strange world she’d entered through a tunnel beneath her castle.

Now she realizes that she’s doomed him to an eternity of torment.  Overwhelmed by guilt, Jirel returns to that strange otherworld to seek some way of freeing Guillaume’s soul so he can go to his eternal rest. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith (8)January 13, 1893 saw the birth of Clark Ashton Smith.  Along with his friends and correspondents Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft, Smith was regarded as one of the Big Three at Weird Tales during was is generally regarded as the magazine’s golden age.

Given his stature in the field, it’s a little surprising how brief his career as a writer of fiction was.  Most of his fiction was written between 1929 and 1934.  Smith’s first literary love was poetry.  He also worked as an artist.  Clark Ashton Smith was never able to completely support himself through his artistic endeavors, and he frequently did manual labor around his hometown of Auburn, California.

Smith’s fiction is not for the week of vocabulary.  He wrote several story cycles that take place in exotic imaginary lands in prehistory or on other planets.  Smith’s Collected Fantasies is back in print in paperback and electronic editions.  (Click the individual titles for links to electronic versions.)

Happy Birthday, Margaret Brundage

Brundage WT Bat GirlMargaret Brundage was born on this date in 1900.  Brundage gain fame, some would say infamy, illustrating covers for Weird Tales in the 1930s.  She was born Margaret Hedda Johnson and was married briefly married to “Slim” Brundage, a painter with radical politics.  The had one son.  I guess that means the rumor I heard that she used her daughters for models isn’t true.

The best way to honor Brundage is to show examples of her work.  Since the illustrations won’t be to everyone’s taste, and some folks get offended waayy too easily these days, the illustrations will be after the “Continue Reading” break.  What follows may not be approriate for youonger readers and the uptight.  There’s a reason she’s been called “Margaret Bondage.” Continue reading

RIP, Jon Arfstrom 1928-2015

Weird-Tales-52-01-204x300Jon Afrstrom passed away December 2.  He was believed to be the last surviving artist to work on the original Weird Tales.  While he wasn’t as well known as Margaret Brundage or J. Allen St. John, Jon Arfstrom created several striking covers in the final years of the magazine, such as the one shown on the right, which from January 1952.  This was his first cover.

In recent years he’d returned to fantasy art and provided cover art for publishers such as Haffner Press and Fedogan & Bremer among others.  He was the artist on the Stoker Award winning collection The Early Fears by Robert Bloch.

Fortunately, Arfstrom was a guest at PulpFest 2015.  You can see an interview with him here.