Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, May 5, 2017

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: WEIRD TALES ONLINE

Weird Tales, that venerable magazine which ran from 1923 to 2014 -- often in later years in fits and starts and in various forms -- is looked at fondly by fans of pulp horror fiction.  In its pages over the years were stories by H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Seabury Quinn, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, August Derleth, Edmond Hamilton, E. Hoffman Price, Otis Adelbert Kline, David H. Keller, Arthur K. Burks, Frank Belknap Long, Joseph Payne Brennan and -- in later years -- Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, F. Paul Wilson, and many others near and dear to fans of the macabre.  Weird Tales was a magazine that legends were made of.

One thing that should be understood from the start:  Weird Tales published a lot of crap.  It was a low-paying market and, often, a long delayed paying market.  Many of its stories were just plain lurid and excessive.  Its most popular author in its first incarnation was Seabury Quinn, who produced (among other tales) an astonishing 93 stories about his occult detective Jules de Grandin.  In one memorable tale, de Grandin comes across a misogynistic mad doctor who kept prisoner once-beautiful women whom he removed all the bones from their bodies so they just lumps of pulsating flesh.  (Eww!)

Copies of Weird Tales are expensive to attain, although many have been republished in facsimile form, they remain elusive and out of reach for many fans, who have to make do with various anthologies and collections that have mined the magazine for their contents.  Now many of the issues are available online through the Internet Archive web site.  By my rough finger count last night, their have been 266 separate issues of Weird Tales published in its various forms.  Internet Archive has available 207 of them.

Let me go through a brief rundown of the publishing history of Weird Tales, indicating which issues are now available for the curious and/or devoted.

The magazine started in March 1923 under the editorship of Edwin Baird and was published by The Rural Publishing Company.  It was not strictly a horror magazine but published any sort of "weird" fiction, which often included science fiction and contes cruel.  The first story in the first issue was Anthony Rud's "Ooze," often reprinted because of its status as the first tale ever published in Weird Tales.  Internet Archive (IA) has published this story separately, but does not have the rest of the issue.  Baird's editorship lasted for eleven issues.


  • 1923 - 9 issues published, none reprinted by IA
  • 1924 - 7 issues published, none reprinted by IA
Baird's editorship ended with the May-June-July 1924 issue.  Farnsworth Wright began editor with the next issue, dated November 1924, and now published by Popular Fiction Publishing Co.
  • 1925 - 12 issues published; 1 reprinted by IA
  • 1926 - 12 issues published; 1 reprinted by IA
  • 1927 - 12 issues published; 7 reprinted by IA
  • 1928 - 12 issues published; 3 reprinted by IA
  • 1929 - 12 issues published; 8 reprinted by IA
  • 1930 - 12 issues published; 10 reprinted by IA
  • 1931 - 12 issues published; 4 reprinted by IA
  • 1932 - 12 issues published; 7 reprinted by IA
  • 1933 - 12 issues published; 9 reprinted by IA
  • 1934 - 12 issues published; 8 reprinted by IA
  • 1935 - 12 issues published; 10 reprinted by IA
  • 1936 - 11 issues published; 10 reprinted by IA
  • 1937 - 12 issues published; 10 reprinted by IA
  • 1938 - 12 issues published; 12 reprinted by IA
  • 1939 - 11 issues published; 9 reprinted by IA
With the November 1939 issue, Weird Tales became its own publisher.  Wright would be listed as editor for four issues published by Weird Tales.
  • 1940 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
In 1940, Weird Tales switched to a bimonthly schedule.  Dorothy McIlwraith took over as editor with the May issue.
  • 1941 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1942 - 6 issued published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1943 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1944 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1945 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1946 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1947 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1948 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1949 - 6 issues published; 5 reprinted by IA
  • 1950 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1951 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1952 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
  • 1953 - 6 issues published; 6 reprinted by IA
Beginning with the September 1953 issues, the magazine once again switched publishers.  It was now published by Short Stories, Inc. 
  • 1954 - 5 issues published; 5 reprinted by IA
The magazine closed with the September 1954 issue.  

In 1973, Leo Margulies acquired the rights to the Weird Tales name and began publishing a short-lived run edited by Sam Moskowitz.  Again, the publisher was listed as Weird Tales.
  • 1974 - 3 issues published; 3 reprinted by IA
  • 1975 - 1 issue published; 1 reprinted by IA
In 1975 Robert Weinberg and Victor Dirks bought the rights to the Weird Tales name.  In 1981, they licensed the name to Lin Carter, who edited another short-lived run in a mass market paperback format issued by Lancer Books.
  • 1975 - 3 issues published 3 reprinted by IA
  • 1976 - 1 issue published; 1 issue reprinted by IA
The Zebra publications failed.  Weinberg and Dirks then licensed the title to Belleraphon Network, owned by Brian Forbes.  Thus began another short-lived incarnation, this time edited by Gordon m. D. Garb.
  • 1984 - 1 issue published; 1 reprinted by IA
  • 1985 - 1 issue published; 1 reprinted by IA
The Bellerophon issues were poorly funded and poorly distributed.  Original issues are rare.  In 1988 George Scithers took up the mantle via his publishing company, Terminus.  Scithers was editor, with Darrell Schweitzer and Jophn Betancourt serving as assistant editors.  A number of the Terminus issues were also published in hardcover.
  • 1988 - 5 issues published; 1 reprinted by IA
  • 1989 - 4 issues published; 1 reprinted by IA
  • 1990 - 4 issues published; 2 reprinted by IA
In 1991, Schweitzer took over the editorship.
  • 1991 - 4 issues published; 1 reprinted by IA
  • 1992 - 2 issues published; 2 reprinted by IA
  • 1993 - 1 issue published; 1 reprinted by IA
  • 1994 - 1 issue published; none reprinted by IA
With the spring 1994 issue, the license to the Weird Tales expired.  The magazine changed its name to Worlds of Fantasy & Horror and soldiered on.
  • 1994 - 1 issue published
  • 1995 - 1 issue published
  • 1996 - 1 issue published
In 1998, the Weird Tales title resumed with Scithers and Schweitzer as editors.  The first issue was a joint publishing venture betwee Terminus and DNA Publications, after which DNA publications became the sole publisher.
  • 1998 - 2 issues published; 2 reprinted by IA
  • 1999 - 4 issues published; 2 reprinted by IA
  • 2000 - 4 issues published; 1 reprinted by IA
With the Fall 2000 issue, Terminus again joined DNA Publications as publisher.
  • 2001 - 4 issues published; none reprinted by IA
  • 2002 - 4 issues published; 1 reprinted by IA
  • 2003 - 3 issues published; none reprinted by IA
For the September/October 2003 issue only, Wildside Press joined in as another co-publisher.
  • 2004 - 3 issues published; 1 reprinted by IA
Now it gets confusing.  For the first and third 2004 issues, DNA Publications, Wildside Press, and Terminus were published; for the second 2004 issue, only DNA Publications and Wildside Press were.
  • 2005 - 1 issue published; 1 reprinted by IA
In 2005, Wildside  is listed as the sole publisher and John Betancourt joined Scithers and Schweitzer as editor.
  • 2006 - 5 issues published; 1 reprinted by IA
Wildside Press is listed as the sole publisher of the second 2006 issue; Wildside and Terminus as co-publishers for the other four issues.  After 2006, no further issues have been reprinted by IA.
  • 2007 - 5 issues published
Stephen H. Segal became editor for the three middle issues of 2007 and Ann VanderMeer began her run as editor with the fifth 2007 issue.  Wildside was the publisher for the first two 2007 issues.  Wildside and Terminus co-published the remaining three 2007 issues.  Wildside became sole published beginning with the first 2008 issue.
  • 2008 - 5 issues published 
  • 2009 - 2 issues published
  • 2010 - 2 issues published
Stephen H. Segal was editor for the second 2010 issue.
  • 2011 - 2 issues published
In 2011, Nth Dimension Media became publisher.  VanderMeer returned to edit the first two 2011 issues, after which Marvin Kaye took over the editorial reins.
  • 2012 - 2 issues published
  • 2013 - 1 issue published
  • 2014 - 1 issue published
With the Spring 2014 issue, Weird Tales ended its long run.  But the magazine has been dubbed 'the magazine that never dies."  Will it reemerge from the ashes some time in the future?  Your guess is as good as mine.

About 80% of the total issues are now available on Internet Archive.  The Archive also has complete runs of Galaxy and If, as well as many issues of F&SF, Amazing, Astounding/Analog, Wonder Stories, and many other SF magazines.  They have a few scattered issues of various western, mystery, love, sports, and general pulps.  Internet Archive is continuing to add magazines, books, films, and recording to their inventory.  I hope that the future may see major runs of other pulp genres.

In the meantime, enjoy the many pulps available.

8 comments:

  1. WEIRD TALES will probably emerge in another form. I'm with you on the hope that complete runs of the major (and minor) pulp magazines show up on the INTERNET ARCHIVE.

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  2. And while Dorothy McIlwraith's issues published some crap (all magazines do, to avoid printing blank pages if they are published at all regularly, and sometimes to simply take a flier on something marginal that has some quality that strikes the editor as valuable enough that turns out to be insufficient for a given reader such as you or me), most of the real excrement in the first run of WT appeared in Farnsworth Wright's issues and in highest percentages in Baird's, because Wright liked anything raw or refined that was his kind of Weird (and categorically hated anything that wasn't), and Baird didn't have a clue. Some of the later editors have run some shoddy stuff as well, of course, since Sam Moskowitz and Lin Carter and all were also tone-deaf in certain ranges, atop the exigencies of regular publication with modest budgets (or even lush ones). And even though it has been several years, I don't believe Kaye's actually thrown in the towel yet.

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  3. Also, I assume you include above those Schweitzer issues under the substitute title WORLDS OF FANTASY AND HORROR, during that brief period Hollywood was toying with Robert Weinberg about producing something with the trademarked title...

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  4. Moskowitz was essentially editor of the Margulies '70s revival.

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  5. And, of course, WT published a Lot of high fantasy, if most of it Dark, introducing Conan among other Robert Howard characters and C. L. Moore's Jirel and all...and "low" or "modern" or proto-"urban" fantasy by any number of people, some of the stories refugees from the failure of UNKNOWN, that went to WT eventually rather than to FANTASTIC ADVENTURES or F&SF or FANTASTIC or IMAGINATION and all the others...and a fair amount of sf, Edmond Hamilton's and others'...along with no few non-horror suspense stories areguablly on the borderlines, by Robert Bloch and others.

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