Pulp Cover Friday Returns to the Weird!
Welcome to Part Three of our WEIRD TALES survey: the late 1930s.
The late 1930’s was pretty much like the early 1930’s, but later. Changes, though, were coming to “the magazine that refused to die.” One of the biggest was the death of Robert E. Howard in 1936. A few stories remained in the pipeline and the end of the decade saw the posthumous publication of his novel ALMURIC (which was, at best, first draft Howard, and not his finest work), but there would be no more tales from the troubled writer and no one would step forward to fill his shoes. His was a unique voice and will be forever missed.
By the end of the decade Margaret Brundage’s run as cover artist supreme was also almost over. I hope she found better employment for her unique talent, but it seems unlikely, and another great disappeared from the field. She was replaced, in a sense, by the rising star of Virgil Finlay, and you’ll see a couple of his covers this week. I may have used some of them in the column I did on Finlay, but I wanted to showcase his finest art within the WEIRD TALES context.
Howard and Quinn continue to dominate the covers, especially Quinn, though, as a gesture of fond farewell, I’m showcasing some of Howard’s greatest stories.
We’ll start, as before, with Seabury Quinn and Margaret Brundage (2-35).
This issue saw the cover debut of a series character called Dr. Satan, written by pulp veteran (and Avenger writer) Paul Ernst (8-35). Note that his robes are the approved shade of Cult Crimson.
Another Brundage eye-opener, illustrating the story “Shadows in Zamboula,” which gets the cover over another Dr. Satan story (11-35).
Howard gets the cover for this one as well (12-35), for the first installment of his only Conan novel, THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON. Unfortunately, the essence of Conan is not quite captured in this rather wimpy attempt at portraiture.
The Brundage/Quinn team at its best. I may have used this cover before, but can you blame me for repeating it? I wonder if Ackermann got the notion for Vampirella’s costume from this illustration?
New Mexico’s own Jack Williamson (4-36).
One of Howard’s finest Conan stories (7-36). When, oh when, dear god, are they actually GOING TO USE HOWARD MATERIAL as a basis for one of their movies?
Another Howard classic (12-36); he was probably dead by the time this magazine hit the stands.
Brundage/Quinn (9-37). With this we bid adieu to the Queen of WEIRD TALES.
And with this, we greet the new master (though he had previous covers not shown here). I think I’ve used this one before, too, but here it is to play double tribute to Virgil Finlay and Clark Ashton Smith, in one of his rare cover appearances (4-38).
Edgar Allan Poe makes his long-awaited WEIRD TALES cover debut (9-39). I’ll bet he was ecstatic.
Another Finlay cover for another pulp master, Manly Wade Wellman (appearing this time under the pseudonym of Gans T. Field; come to think of it, I’m not sure that this cover does illustrate the story, but, heck, it’s a great image so I’m going with it). If you haven’t read Wellman, you should. His SilverJohn tales (written mainly in the 1950s) are among the top five fantasy short story series, ever. Hey — that would make a great Cheese Magnet topic.
Virgil Finlay, again, to close out the 1930s (11-39), a magic time of dust bowls, depression, and creeping fascism. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?