Sonntag, 2. November 2014

I'm BAAACK!!

 Hey all,
My deepest apologies that I've been away from here so long. I was busy beyond my wildest dreams my duties for Weird Tales Magazine. Halloween was my last day with WTs. I stepped down in order to spend time on my own writing.
Here is my first published story...

I've also been lax in my reading. So I'm going to double dip and reprint a piece that I wrote for Weird Tales. I hope that you all forgive me for not returning with an original piece. I promise that those will follow.





90 Years of Weird

Keeping the brand alive:
The Paperback Years

Don't cry, Karen, Frosty's not gone for good. You see, he was made out of Christmas snow and Christmas snow can never disappear completely. It sometimes goes away for almost a year at a time and takes the form of spring and summer rain. But you can bet your boots that when a good, jolly December wind kisses it, it will turn into Christmas snow all over again.

Frosty the Snowman 1969

As kitschy as it sounds, the above quote is a perfect analogy for Weird Tales Magazine. For you see, just like the Christmas snow that Santa was speaking of, Weird Tales never really went away. It just took on different forms between its original demise in September 1954 and it’s rebirth in 1988. The major form it took was recycled stories that were massively reprinted in paperback anthologies from the 1950s up until the end of the 1970s.



The birth of the American paperback at the end of the 1940s was one of the larger nails in Weird Tales coffin. Not that it was just the Paperback that killed Weird Tales and many of the other pulps, Television also played a large part. It's just that the paperback's duel nature as innovator and anthropophagist gave the role that they played in Weird Tales history a special irony. For not only did the paperback help kill Weird Tales by taking readership away from the unique magazine, but by cannibalizing Weird Tales corpse did they also manage to give it a pseudo form of life. The magazine literally becomes one of the Undead! Weird Tales truly became the magazine that never died.






The very first time that I remember actually being conscious of the name Weird Tales and understanding that it was a, at the time, defunct magazine was while reading the introduction to the 1971 Scholastic Books collection The Shadow over Innsmouth and other Stories of Horror. I think I actually got a nose bleed trying to wrap my 10 year old brain this collection's Lovecraftian delights such as The Festival, The Colour out of Space and The Shadow over Innsmouth! And even when I didn't know what Weird Tales actually was, I sure as hell knew that it must have been something mighty special by the time I finished that collection of stories! It still boggles my mind to this day that Scholastic was peddling Lovecraft to 10 year olds. May the gods bless who ever was on their board of advisers. And on a side note; only after producing a physical copy of the book did my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Sennef let me get away with colour on a spelling test.






This was how Weird Tales became a larger than life living entity to me. I had already discovered horror at this time, but it was only after reading that Scholastic edition of Baby's First Lovecraft did I actually start to bother paying attention to or even start caring about where all these wonderful tales came from. And From then on it was an entirely new world.







Once I started checking out the copyright pages, of the horror paperbacks I was buying, I noticed that Weird Tales was all pervasive. And even though I didn't know it until many years later, Popular Fiction Publishing Co., which was practically the 2nd most common copyright source in these collections, was also Weird Tales. You couldn't get away from the magazine even if you were deranged enough to want to. I also discovered that such divine, in my eyes, personages as August Derleth and Lin Carter held the magazine in the highest esteem. Even my beloved Alfred Hitchcock collections Monster Museum and Ghostly Gallery were reprinting stories from Weird Tales. You have to understand that up until the 1980s, horror anthologies with original content were extremely rare creatures. The anthologists back then were scavengers of the most special sort. They weren't feeding on carrion. They were taking, for the most part, only the choicest cuts. And being such fine connoisseurs, the corpse that they fed upon the most was Weird Tales. I have to be fair and point out that this was simply how business was done back then. They obviously took the most economical path and reprinted stories from the fiction and pulp magazines. And as the old saying goes, if you’re going to steal, then steal from the best. And Weird Tales had the best. Just consider their top rank authors, Lovecraft, Bob Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Catherine Moore,Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Ray Bradbury. To this day these people are the personification of weird fiction. Even Weird Tales` second tier writers  such as Seabury Quinn, August Derleth, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, Edmond Hamilton, Robert Arthur and Davis Grubb stood head and shoulders above most other genre writers of the time.





One of the earliest Weird Tales plunderings was Ballantine Books' edition of Ray Bradbury's October Country which appeared in 1956. This is a quasi-reprinting of the earlier Arkham House edition of Dark Carnival, a collection of Mr. Bradbury's early horror stories. Several of which were debut stories written for Weird Tales. The trend really took off in 1959 when Avon Books Cry Horror! took the post-Weird Tales reprint route by being the first HPL collection to appear in paperback after the magazine folded. This is an iffy honour since it's actually a reprint of Avon's 1947 HPL collection The Lurking Fear. Still, if for nothing else, this collection, with its memorable Richard Powers cover, does have the honour of being the very collection that introduced Mr. Ramsey Campbell to the works of that oh so weird gentleman from Providence.







One of the earliest multi-author paperback collections to feast heavily upon the magazine's remains, after it's untimely, undeserved and ultimately non-final demise was The Macabre Reader edited by Donald Wolheim back in 1959. This volume contained stories culled almost exclusively from Weird Tales. The Macabre Reader utilized wonderful stories from authors such as H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard along with other lesser known but just as talented word smiths. Strangely, as far as I know, this was one of the few horror anthologies that Ace ever published. It would be such publishers as Belmont, Pyramid, Manor and Lancer who would almost immediately pick up the ball that Ace dropped. Luckily for us Mr. Wolheim did not repeat this mistake when he left Ace Books in 1971 to establish DAW Books a year later in 1972.
Not wanting to denigrate Ace, Mr. Wolheim did manage to publish two volumes of Edmond Hamilton's Interstellar Patrol stories which originally appeared in Weird Tales during the late 1920s when he was still at Ace.










The 1960s were a good time for fans of the magazine that never died. Both the H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard booms/revivals kept the memory of the magazine alive. There wasn't a single introduction written for these collections that didn't fail to mention the significance of Weird Tales and to mourn it's passing. Most of these introductions were written by August Derleth who was himself a member of the original Lovecraft Circle, Weird Tales author, and editor and co-founder of Arkham House Publishing which did more than any other entity has ever done to keep Weird Tales alive in hardback format. During the early 1960s it was Belmont books, capitalizing on the success of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, who  published 4 volumes of Robert Bloch stories. These four collections from Belmont reprinted the two Arkham House collections that contained Mr. Bloch's entire Weird Tales output from the 1930s and 1940s.








It was also during this period that Pyramid Books brought out four volumes of horror that used exclusively Weird Tales contents. These four collections were "edited" by Leo Margulies with much of the work being done by genre historian Sam Moskowitz. These were The Unexpected, The Ghoul Keepers, Weird Tales, and Worlds of Weird. These were all multi-author collections that highlighted the width and breadth of the type of story that appeared in Weird Tales. As a bonus to collectors, the covers were done by John Schonherr and Virgil Finlay. Sam Moskowitz then went on to publish three Weird Tales collections for Berkley Medallion at the beginning of the 1970s called Horrors Unseen, Horrors in Hiding and Horrors Unknown.







One of the strangest examples of cannibalizing the cannibals was Avon Books attempted revival of The Avon Fantasy Reader. 1969 saw Avon release both The Avon Fantasy Reader and The Second Avon Fantasy Reader. These were edited by Donald Wolheim who did some serious double-Double Dipping. The original Avon Fantasy Reader could probably be considered the missing link between pulps and paperbacks. It was a digest sized magazine that was distributed like a paperback. The Fantasy Reader ran from 1947 to 1952 and relied exclusively on reprinting already classic material, with a new issue appearing only after the previous issue turned a profit. And of course it is no surprise that Weird Tales was a very large source of material for the digest. So what Mr. Wolheim did was to reprint material that have been first reprinted in the digest during its original 5 year run that had ended 17 years earlier. So what you bought was two collections reprinting reprints. Thank the gods that at least Weird Tales appeared on the copyrights page.

Lin Carter has a special place among the ranks of Weird Tales preservationists and revivalists. During the late 1960s and early 70s he edited and reprinted many H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith collections as part of his Adult Fantasy Series published by Ballantine. Mr. Carter never failed to sing praises to Weird Tales from the roof tops in his numerous introductions to the collections in this series. At the beginning of the 1980s Mr. Carter even went as far as to revive Weird Tales in paperback format for four issues. This incarnation wasn't a darling of the critics, but I found it to be enjoyable and true to the original vision of the magazine. Even if Mr. Carter's editing of the Lancer Conan editions along with L. Sprague de camp is highly controversial, this more than made up for by championing the cause of Weird Tales Magazine and weird fiction in general. Thank you Mr. Carter, I drink to your Shade!

Weird Tales was also kept alive in the UK thanks mostly to anthologists Peter Haining, Christine Campbell Thompson, Kurt Singer, Mike Ashley, and August Derleth. Peter Haining alone, edited over a dozen anthologies that utilized the unique magazine. Most notable were his two Weird Tales best of collections Weird Tales and More Weird Tales. Mrs. Thompson was active during 1930s by publishing a series of UK hardback horror anthologies know as the Not at Night collections. Four of these collections were reprinted during the 1960s and early 70s. Kurt Singer was also not opposed to using many post WWII era Weird Tales stories to fill up many of his anthologies. But Mike Ashley has the honour of printing the first Weird Tales tribute collection in the UK with 100 % Weird Tales content called Weird Legacies. This collection came out in 1977. One year before Peter Haining's two Best of collections. It must be noted that the situation with August Derleth is the strangest by far. During his time running Arkham House, Mr. Derleth edited and published 8 horror anthologies consisting entirely of reprinted material. And as usual in the situation, these collections relied heavily on Weird Tales as the source of many of the stories used. Now here is what seems so odd with the situation surrounding these eight collections All were reprinted in the UK as paperbacks while only two of them were released in this format in the U.S. The two that were released as Stateside paperbacks were Stories from Sleep no More and Nights Yawning Peal. This is a terrible shame considering the high quality of content in these eight collections. Mr. Derleth was an outstanding editor and anthologist who was always digging up lesser known but superb stories from the pages of Weird Tales.Two prime examples of which are Clark Ashton Smith's The Seed from the Sepulchre and The Canal by Everil Worrell.

The UK also was fortunate in that they saw many single author collections being published several years before they ever appeared in the U.S. One notable example was the two volume collection which consisted of Jumbee and other Voodoo Tales and The Black Beast. Both of these volumes showcased the Weird Tales appearances of the Rev. Henry S. Whitehead for the first time in paperback. Two collections of Carl Jacobi's weird tales were also available in the UK several years before any American paperback collections of Mr. Jacobi's works appeared. And I can't neglect to mention that the number of British paperbacks collecting Lovecraft, Howard and Smith during their initial revivals were just as large, numerous and popular as they were in the States.
So even with the magazine's blood on their hands, the paperback houses and their editors were the driving forces behind keeping Weird Tales alive in the hearts and imaginations of millions of readers who never had the opportunity read the magazine during its initial incarnation.
I don't know whether it was luck or fate, but the trend of using magazine reprints as the main source of material for paperback anthologies lasted up till the beginning of the 1980s when the publishers switched over to using more and more original material for their anthologies. Even though Lovecraft, Howard and Smith are all still around in paperback format, most other Weird Tales authors are now the stuff of inter-net auctions, small specialty publishers or simply forgotten. What's amazing for Weird Tales Magazine itself, was that this trend in paperback anthologies using only original material would have removed the magazine from the consciousness of  younger and newer genre readers. But it was exactly at the same time that this shift in focus was happening that Lin Carter attempted his Weird Tales re-launch paperback which only lasted for four issues from 1980 until 1983. All was mostly quit for the next few years and it looked dire for the unique magazine's memory and legacy. But, it was then during 1988 that the magazine was finally revived and still exists to this day, 25 years later.
So even though the paperback played a major role in killing the pulps, it also saved Weird Tales from becoming simply a footnote in the history of the genre. Just by looking at my own collection alone and using Justin Marriot's Paperback Fanatic Weird Tales Special as a quick reference, I've counted 58 multi-author anthologies that each use at least several Weird Tales stories each. If you want to count single author collections, then the number would at least double. That's quite a legacy for a magazine that was supposedly dead at the time. I guess that this proved for once and for all that Weird Tales truly is the magazine that never died.
 Thanks fro stopping by!
Take care.
Doug
 All Scans were made by me from books in my collection.
Doug Draa


Sonntag, 1. September 2013

Alfred Hitchcock's MONSTER MUSEUM edited by Robert Arthur



Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum
Edited by Robert Arthur
Random House 1965
Armada Lion 1973


My Random House 1965 hardback


                                    The 1973 Armada paperback "sissy" edition


Contents:
· Introduction: A Variety of Monsters · Alfred Hitchcock · in
1 · The Day of the Dragon · Guy Endore · nv Blue Book Jun ’34
29 · The King of the Cats · Stephen Vincent Benét · ss Harper’s Bazaar Feb ’29
46 · Slime · Joseph Payne Brennan · nv Weird Tales Mar ’53
73 · The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles · Idris Seabright · ss F&SF Oct ’51
79 · Henry Martindale, Great Dane · Miriam Allen deFord · ss Beyond Fantasy Fiction Mar ’54
95 · The Microscopic Giants · Paul Ernst · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct ’36
114 · The Young One · Jerome Bixby · nv Fantastic Apr ’54
144 · Doomsday Deferred · Will F. Jenkins · ss The Saturday Evening Post Sep 24 ’49
162 · Shadow, Shadow, on the Wall · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Imagination Feb ’51
174 · The Desrick on Yandro [John] · Manly Wade Wellman · ss F&SF Jun ’52
188 · The Wheelbarrow Boy · Richard Parker · ss Lilliput Oct ’50
193 · Homecoming · Ray Bradbury · ss Mademoiselle Oct ’46

“Monster Museum” is my favourite of the three “Alfred Hitchcock” young reader’s horror anthologies that came out in the 1960s when I was just starting grade school. I’m still amazed to this very day that they got away with peddling such grizzly fare to little kids. Not that you’ll ever see me complaining.  I think that simply fact is that horror stories being offered to children was underneath any sort of PC radar that might have existed back then. There are some seriously grisly stories in this collection. Two tales deal with the probable end of the world, three with grisly agonizing deaths and one with child abuse. Those are some pretty heavy themes for a ten your old to wrap their mind around. Of course there’s nothing unusual when you realize that the stories are all pulp magazine reprints selected by Robert Arthur. All of these tales originally appeared in such magazines as Blue book, Fantastic and Weird Tales. Not a single one of them was written with children in mind. I’m extremely happy though that Robert Arthur and the folks at Random house decided that these stories were just the thing to get youngsters interested in reading. I know that these Alfred Hitchcock horror anthologies changed my life by turning me into a life long fan of the macabre.
Robert Arthur is probably the most read, but least known or appreciated anthologist of the 20th century. He was responsible for almost all of the Alfred Hitchcock anthologies up till the middle 1970s. He was also a fine writer of mystery and horror. His most famous novels have to be the firsts 20 or so books in the “Three Investigator” series that was released under the Alfred Hitchcock by-line.
Now let’s take a look at a few of the stories that left such an impression on me that I haven’t forgotten them even after more than 41 years.


Slime by Joseph Payne Brennan
     
     Mr. Brennan was one of the last great “Weird Tales” authors to arise during the magazines final years of its first incarnation. “Slime” is a wonderfully gory and chilling story of a living mass of slime, which due to a massive undersea earth quake, gets washed up on a New England beach only to wreck death and havoc on a small community before being roasted alive by a national guardsman wielding a flamethrower. Reading about hunters, boyfriends and hobos getting ingested alive in the most horrible manner imaginable makes this an excellent bedtime reading for small children. God bless you Mr. Arthur! I did feel sorry for one particular dog though.


“The Man who sold Rope to the Gnoles” by Idris Seabright (Margaret St. Clair)

     A rope salesman tries something that no other salesman before him ever succeeded at. He decides to sell rope to the Gnoles. The Gnoles are a race of gnome like beings. They are small in stature, tentacled and possessing jewelled eyes. It turns out that the Gnoles eat flesh and don’t like being cheated. The rope peddler doesn’t know this and goes about swindling the Gnoles to his regret. He is bound with his own samples, taken prisoner, put in the pens, fattened and slaughtered ( without being tortured) in the most humane manner.  The story is told in such a gleefully low key manner that makes it’s ending all the more horrible. I go back and re-read this one every few years.
Mrs. Sinclair was one of Weird Tales magazine’s most popular writers during its later years. She used the “Seabright” pseudonym when selling stories to other magazines.


“Doomsday Deferred” by Paul Ernst

     “Doomsday” has to be the first ant oriented horror story that I can remember reading. IA young and ambitious Lepidopterist is underway in the Amazon Basin looking for one of the worlds most valuable butterflies. He is contacted by a poor farmer from the interior who promise the young man all the butterflies and cocoons he wants in exchange for 50 head of cattle to be shipped upriver to the farmer’s small parcel of land lying between the river and the jungle’s edge.  To seal the deal the farmer even leaves a large amount of gold nuggets behind as collateral. The young Lepidopterist puzzled by the whole situation tells the farmer that with so much money he can buy all the cattle he needs with out also having to search for butterflies and cocoons. The farmer says he can’t stay away from his farm for such a length of time needed to travel down river to make the purchase on his own. The young scientist agrees to assist him. A few days later he visits the farmer’s small piece of land. Anyways it turns out that a colony of dreaded Army ants have finally become sentient and are using the farmer to assist them in obtaining enough food to be able to leave the jungle for the wider world outside.
This was written when the theory of “Hive Minds” was first publicized and uses this theory in a very effective manner. The story is genuinely frightening in its implications.  And once more it’s great to consider what they were thinking when they decided to add this one to a children’s anthology. You have various farm animals and a family getting eaten alive by ants before the story is over.  This is another masterpiece of “grue” chosen by Mr. Robert Arthur. Bravo Robert!


“The Desrick on the Yandro” by Manly Wade Wellman

     “Desrick” is the first “Silver John/John the Balladeer” that I ever read. Silver john was a balladeer who wandered the back ways of Appalachian North Carolina. s always coming to the assistance of the mountain folk who were being threatened by various supernatural entities and dangers. To combat these evils John would use his belief in God and his own knowledge of white magic. These have to be some of the most beautifully written fantasy/horror tales that have ever been written.  This particular story deals with disbelief, arrogance, greed, unrequited love and revenge, with some really cool Appalachian monsters thrown in.
These stories are still in print, so go to Amazon and buy the collection “Who Fears the Devil?”. You be glad that you did.


“Homecoming” by Ray Bradbury.

     “Homecoming” has to be one of Mr. Bradbury’s most famous stories. It is also the greatest Halloween story ever written. Did you know that the “Family” is also the inspiration for “The Addams Family”? Well now you do!
Timothy is the only mundane/mortal member in a family of immortal, but completely human in their own way, family of monsters. It’s Halloween and the “Family’s” once in a hundred years reunion is being held at timothy’s family house. The story describes Timothy’s excitement over the upcoming festival and also his sadness at being an outsider within his own family, and one who is doomed to die a mortal death one day. This story captures the feeling and spirit of Halloween and the autumn season. It’s spooky and bitter sweet. Just like many of the best childhood memories are.



     “Monster Museum” is a wonderful collection of stories culled from the pulps, by a master anthologist, which is by no means “just for young readers”. It’s fairly easy to find at affordable prices on EBay of Abebooks. So please do yourself a big favour and look it up.  I have to point out that only the hardback Random House edition has the monumentally cool interior art by Earl a. Mayan.

Take care and thanks for stopping by.
Doug


Donnerstag, 18. Juli 2013

Weird Tales and Worlds of Weird edited by Leo Margulies

Leo Margulies' Weird Tales Anthologies


Weird Tales
Pyramid Books. May 1964
$0.50

Worlds of the Weird
Pramid Books , January1965
$0.50
                                                 My copy


„Weird Tales“ Contents:




                                                                    My copy

„Worlds of Weird“ Contents:


It's „Weird Tales“ week here at the Bunker!

„Why“, do you ask, „Is it Weird Tales week?“

Well, I'll tell you.

Since last week I am the new „contributing editor“ over at Weird Tales Magazine!
It's true! The magazine that never dies is still alive and kicking and I'm officially part of it. And to celebrate this I figured that this would be “Weird Tales Week”!

Ok, and to be honest I needed to get off my lazy butt and provide some content here.

These two paperbacks first crossed paths with me during the early 70s. I was already aware of Weird Tales at the is time from the introductions and copyright pages of several other horror anthologies that I had read. So I new that the magazine must have been something special if it was home to H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard among many others. There was nothing that I loved more as a kid than to see the phrase “copyright Weird Tales Magazine 193*. Seeing that phrase guaranteed good time ahead.

Almost every major genre writer of the first half of the twentieth century appeared at one time or another between the covers of the Unique Magazine.

If I was to pick a definitive “WTs” collection from among the many that appeared since these, the first of many “WTs” tribute anthologies to be published, came out I would honestly say that to this day no one has topped the choice of Stories made by Mr. Margulies.

Leo Margulies was a master editor and anthologist. He reportedly edited 46 magazines. Among which were Startling Stories, Fantastic Universe, Thrilling Mystery and Thrilling Wonder Stories. Later on from the late 40s up to the middle 1960s he edited 12 paperback SF and Horror anthologies. Being from the pulp era gave him great familiarity with the writers and stories of that age. His choice of stories for these two anthologies were totally lacking in any pretensions other than picking stories that were well written, representative of the magazine and highly entertaining.
Another thing that I like about his choice of stories is that they are neither obscure Forgotten Treasures nor tales that had alredy been reprinted to death up to that time.

So if anyone ever asked me “what was Weird Tales about?” I would just hand them these to slim paperbacks.

Now let's take a look at some of those stories!

The Man who Returned by Edmond Hamilton

Even though Ed is most famous as a SF writer he was a heavy duty WTs contributor back in the 1920s and 30s. TMwR tells the story of some poor schmuck who wasn't quite dead when he was interred in the mausoleum. He wakes up an heads back to town where he does a bit of window peeping on his friends and family only to discover that even though he might not be better of dead,everyone else in his life is better off with him dead. The story ends with him returning to the mausoleum,climbing back in his casket and closing the lid on himself. This shook me up quite a bit when I read it back in 71 or so.


Spider Mansion by Fritz Leiber

Spider Mansion is so goofily bad that Mr. Leiber had to have been pulling a fast on and wrote this actually as a satire of Pulp Tropes without ever bothering to let anyone in on the joke. That just has to be the case here. Fritz Leiber never wrote a bad story in his entire career. Not a single one! So this piece of cheesy schlock just has to be on purpose.

A fellow gets invited out to an old school mates creepy Gothic mansion out in the boondocks. Upon arrival is seems that his old chum has been conducting some glandular experimentation. His friend isn't a insecure midget any more. It seems that he has some how become a muscle bound seven foot tall megalomaniac! Oh, and there's a spider the size of a Shetland pony running about the place eating people! This just has to be a non-self referential piece of satire. I just can't accept anything else.


Drifting Snow by August Derleth

I've probably mentioned this story half a dozen times since starting the blog. I'll say it again though. I love this story. It's one of the finest horror stories ever published and the 2nd best story that Auggie ever wrote.

A monied Wisconsin family is spending winter weekend t their country estate way out in the middle of no where. A blizzard come up and the men of the family are lured by a figure that they see out in the storm to their deaths. The end up being frozen solid and drained of blood. Yep, it's those pesky snow vampires. So what does the story teach us? Never go and kick out young servant girls during blizzard just because the are in a family way out of wedlock. Especially if you are the one who knocked them up. Brrrr! Good story!


Pigeons from Hell by Robert E. Howard

Old Two gun Bob shows us,that when he set his mind to it, that he could writing a genuinely chilling horror story with out having to resort to buckets “Blood and Thunder”.

What we get instead of Swords and Sorcery is two crazy old sisters and an ex-slave who turn out to be axe welding Zombies who love dispatching travelers who are foolish enough to spend the night in their decayed and seemingly deserted southern mansion. There's a lot more to it than that, I just don't feel like going into it at this time. Mr. Howard deliver with authentic seeming local color and history. An intriguing back story and suspenseful plotting. The story is a genuine classic and even got filmed on on the old Boris Karloff “Thriller” show.


Roads by Seabury Quinn

Well, it does qualify as Weird. A Roman soldier who was at Christ's crucifixion is cursed with immortality and becomes Santa Claus. This is what the creator of “ Jules de Grandin” considered lite fantasy circa 1938.


The Valley of the Worm by Robert E. Howard

That REH is he only author who appears in both volumes goes to show just how much impact he had on both the magazine and the genre itself.

Valley of the Worm is one of those stories that you will never forget if you read it a young enough age. Howard manages to unite his own Hyborian Age with HPL's Cthulhu Mythos. We get a world spanning migration of the Aryan race (no, not those Aryans!) as they seek a new home in a prehistoric world full of dangerous beasts and even more dangerous humanoids and their primeval Gods from beyond.
This is absolutely gorgeous story telling that only REH could write. Read it and you'll grok “Blood and Thunder”.


Mother of Toads by Clark Ashton Smith

Nobody did weird like CAS. His stories were so different from his contemporaries and so ahead of their time that it's no wonder (and a shame) that he's not nearly as adored today as his friends HPL and REH. If I wanted to be cynical, I'd say part of the problem with his lack of fame is that he didn't die young and tragically. He just lived to long to become a legend. His fantasy and horror stories have to be read to be believed. Imagine mixing REH and HPL together and then ad good doses of kinkiness and droll humor. That describes CAS in a nutshell.

Toads is one of his fantasies set in the imaginary medieval French province of Averroigne. A place of deep forests, magic, danger and kinky sex.

I'll sum the story up in one sentence. A young man gets tricked into carnally servicing a beautiful witch who turns out to be a ghastly frog woman.
Sadly this is the version that got butchered by, the at the time editor, Farnsworth Wright.

This is just the way I like them, weird and nasty.


The Thing in the Cellar by Dr. David H. Keller M.D.

This has to be one of the meanest f##king stories that I've ever read. It's been said by critics that Dr. Keller was a misanthrope. And after reading this story you will surely believe that yourself.

No one believes a little kids fear of the cellar and so as punishment his father forces the little boy sit sit alone evenings, alone in the kitchen ,in front of the cellar door. Well guess what! The little guy gets killed and eaten by what ever is in the cellar. This story completely blew my mind when I first read it. Stories aren't supposed to end that way. They should end with the little guy being saved by his repentant father. With lots of hugs, tears and forgiveness at the end. Well it sure a s shit doesn’t happen in this story. Thank you very much Dr. Keller you old bastard!

Seriously. This is a power house in only a few pages. One of the best genuine horror tales that I've ever read.


Well that's it this time around.



                                                 Weird Tales Issue 361 Front and Back covers




Take care and thanks for stopping by!

Doug